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 7, 2019

Desperately Seeking Zombies

I recently finished a run-through of Resident Evil 2, the new remake of the classic 1998 game. It's a terrific update-ening, full of puzzles and action and gore, gore, gore, baby! Oh lawd the gore. The game is gross with a capital EWW.

Bodies are torn and chewed, heads explode in a fountain of the stuff inside heads, guts spill all over the's not a game for the squeamish. As a devout lover of the original game and heroine Claire Redfield and, well, all things Resident Evil, I seriously dug it. Sure, the A/B scenario ("2nd Run" in the remake) is seriously janked, but we can't have it all, I guess. (I'm not going to explain the whole A/B scenario concept to those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about because one, do you care? And two, this isn't a full review of the game. And three! Resident Evil 2 isn't even really my point here, just hold on.)

One thing the game gets right (and I mean really, really right) is zombies. These are absolutely the best zombies I've seen in a zombie-flavored game, and likely the best zombies I've seen in any media. Their movements and postures vary greatly. They hiss and shriek when they spot you and shamble your way, arms outstretched. They're slow–no rage-y sprinters here–but if you get too close they'll snatch at you. They take a lot to put down, and if you don't dispatch them completely they will just. Keep. Coming. Blast off both arms and both legs and they'll still try to get you, worming their torsos around and snapping their teeth when you run by. You're not always safe behind closed doors, even less so behind windows, and they can climb stairs. They are slow, steady, relentless, and terrifying.

From time to time I am gripped by Resident Evil Mania, wherein I just want to consume all things Resident Evil. They're the only games I want to play. Heck, I even (re)read the absolutely trashy novel series. (I can't believe I just admitted that.) Obviously the Mania set in after I finished RE2, but instead of starting a new game or something I found myself wanting to take in a bit of zombie cinema.

Now you might think a-DOY, so you watched some Resident Evil movies! I mean, that's like a guaranteed a-DOY. But no, my friend, I do not turn to the Resident Evil film series when I am in the throes of Resident Evil Mania, nor when I am in the throes of zombie mania, nor anytime ever. That franchise is its own thing, you know what I mean? And I'm not super interested in that thing. (However, Anthony and I will be covering the series at some point on Gaylords of Darkness, so I'll have to check out parts 3-936445 one day. I've seen 1 and 2 already, and that was enough! But I'm sure I'll embrace the cheesiness when the time comes, worry not.)

All of this got me to finally watch a film that's been lingering in my queue for well over a year now: the 2016 South Korean zombies on a train flick Train to Busan. Hey! It's as enjoyable as everyone says. It's about a father and daughter on a train (you know...a train to Busan) that quickly fills up with zombies. What's not to love?

Well, yes, fine, at times it's a little too computer for me, particularly when these insta-turn, speedy, rage-y zombies pile up and pour over each other à la World War Z. But it fits the tone of the film: this is action-flavored zombie cinema. Speedy train, speedy undead, it's all genuinely a nail-biter right up until the end.

The supporting characters are terrific and get you all, like, carin' about 'em and stuff. As I am strictly an EAT THE RICH kind of lady it's possible that I enjoyed the class warfare aspects of it the most. It ticks all the zombie cinema must dos: you lose some people you care about, you lose some people you are really psyched to lose, you wonder how you would fare in this situation. Well, I don't wonder. I know I would be toast in the first five minutes of the outbreak, if not sooner. I have come to accept the fact that I am not post-apocalyptic material, and that's fine. I just wanna leave a pretty corpse!

I've had worse experiences on public transportation, tbh

But! As this is not a review of Resident Evil 2, this is also not a review of Train to Busan. So why am I wasting everyone's time? Well! It's because after I finished Train to Busan, I wanted more zombie cinema. I browsed Netflix and shuffled through Shudder looking for something to satisfy my flesh-eating urge for flesh-eaters. Something good I should say. And reader mine, it seems ridiculous to say, but say it I must, for it is how I feel: I feel like I've seem 'em all.

Now surely I haven't seen every zombie movie out there. I'm hoping that I haven't seen all the good ones, but...

I've seen all the Romero Whatever of the Deads, including all the ones I wish I hadn't.

I've seen the Italian gross-out gut-munchers. I love 'em even when they're not great! They're crazy. I mean...Peter Bark, amirite?

I'm not a huge horror-comedy fan, so Shaun of the Dead, Fido, Dead Alive, and Cemetery Man are enough for me.

I've seen enough alt-zombie / zombie-adjacent kind of stuff to get my fill. Pontypool is great, so is Deathdream. Night of the Creeps.

I've seen European art house stuff, Grapes of Death and whatnot.

Some films are dabbling in "what about if they can be cured / return to society" themes and while that's a fine idea, I'm not particularly interested at the moment.

I've indulged in Nazi zombies or zombie Nazis or whatever. Dead Snow, Shock Waves, and so on.

I've gone the traditional / voodoo route with, like, I Walked with a Zombie and The Serpent and the Rainbow, etc.

Look man, I just want zombies doing their zombie thing. Rise from the grave, eat people. There must be something out there I haven't seen yet, something that will satisfy this Resident Evil (tasty) itch. Right? What am I missing? Has there been a zombie movie that's eaten your face right off? Have I reviewed it already? Let me know. My Mania has not yet abated!

Feb 6, 2019

Sit on It and Click It

In this week's episode, "Sit on It and Click It," Anthony and I discuss the Mary Lou Maloney saga, aka Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) and Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990).

I've written about Prom Night II before, extolled its many virtues and revealed the special place it has in my heart. Watching it for this episode of Gaylords, I found that it only gets better as time goes on. It's truly and underrated—if not outright ignored—gem of a horror film. It's blackly comic, queasily horrific, and stupendously mean. And in Mary Lou Maloney, vengeful, undead prom queen, we have one of the genre's greatest (unheralded) villains.

We meet her in the film's opening scene, wherein she delivers a confessional on a dark and stormy night in 1957. It's your typical confession-type stuff: she hates her parents, she has lustful thoughts about boys, and she even sexes the boys up. Mary Lou doesn't take the priest's advice and offer contrition, though. She had a great time doing all that sinnin', and she's gonna keep on doing it. She writes “For a good time, call Mary Lou” on the confessional in lipstick. Take your 1950s mores and shove 'em! Mary Lou does what she wants with who she wants, and she's having the time of her life.

It all comes crashing down at the prom as she falls victim to a tragic stink bomb accident during her prom queen coronation. Mary Lou dies a horrible death, but that can't keep her down. When released from the old steamer trunk that holds her tiara, sash, and cape, Mary Lou's spirit possesses high school senior Vicki and sets about wreaking havoc up and down the halls of Hamilton High. Some of it is revenge for a life cut short, but mostly she just wants her moment in the spotlight. That stink bomb interrupted her crowning ceremony and dammit, she's gonna make it happen.

I love Mary Lou Maloney. She's the type of female character we don't often see in horror movies or otherwise: she's confident, she's gorgeous, she's independent, and she's mean. Hello Mary Lou plays with slasher tropes by making the title character compelling and unrepentant before she goes on her killing spree. She's not poor Kenny from Terror Train or the grieving Pamela Voorhees from Friday the 13th, normal folk driven to insanity by the wrongs done to them. Sure, Mary Lou had a very wrong wrong done to her at the prom, but she wasn't the typical “good girl” victim. She's not an accidental killer, manipulated by circumstance or outside forces. She's not possessed. She's just an asshole, and it's so damn refreshing.

This episode forced me to watch Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, a movie I'd sworn off forever. My NO THANK YOU, PLEASE was rooted in 1) my love for Prom Night II 2) the fact that Lisa Schrage doesn't return as Mary Lou, and 3) the cover.

I had a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn't end well for either of us. How could it? Turns out...I was right! I should mention that my co-Gaylord Anthony loves The Last Kiss, so hey, your mileage may vary from mine. But as far as I'm concerned, the Mary Lou Maloney Saga consists of only one movie, and that one movie is Prom Night II.

While I think Prom Night III's biggest crimes are crimes against Mary Lou herself, I wouldn't have much been into it even if it charted the undead escapades of, say, Betty Sue Baloney. Hello Mary Lou certainly has more than a whiff of A Nightmare on Elm Street about it, in particular Part 2, Freddy's Revenge. There's the entire possession/”There's a woman inside me!” angle and the dreamy quality of it, the way Mary Lou can manipulate reality to her liking. The Last Kiss goes hard on this concept and plays like one of the latter Nightmare sequels where, you know, Freddy turns people into meatballs or whatthefuckever. Maybe that is your bag! That is not my bag. Couple this with the film's full-on descent into comedy and I was not having the time of my life with Prom Night III.

And then there's Mary Lou. In Prom Night II, she's sassy, self-assured, and takes no shit. She doesn't really have a heart, before or after her tragic death. This latter-day Mary Lou, on the other hand, wreaks some supernatural havoc but she feels largely dull and neutered. She's obsessed with one average high schooler and kills everyone that gets in the way of their “relationship,” and along the way she dresses up as a housewife, an ice cream parlor jockey, a football player, a news reporter...I just don't know who this character is. Maybe if I'm feeling generous I could say that there's a touch of the “Mary Lou gets what she wants no matter what” in there, but I'm not feeling generous! I'm feeling the opposite of that! She is HashtagNotMyMaryLou, and I will not acknowledge her Great Value Freddy Krueger antics anymore.

Prom Night II: perfect queen, heartless goddess

Prom Night III: no, absolutely not, crime against humanity

Seriously, Prom Night III is a terrible film. If you like it, that's fine, we'll get past this bump in the road. It's nice to like things. But I'm throwing a big stink bomb at it and hoping for a tragic accident.

Jan 4, 2019

Mistress Loretta's Bathtub

On the most recent Gaylords of Darkness, Anthony and I returned from a week off to perform a post-mortem on the year that was. The last year that was, I mean. You know, 2018. We gave some cheers, some jeers, and a whole lotta other nonsense. Honestly, the nonsense (as always) is like 99% from me. I don't know what happens, exactly, but whenever we record it seems that I go into a kind of fugue state. In lieu of "making" "points" or "saying" anything "worthwhile," it's mostly just rambling, stories unrelated to the topic at hand, and wasting everyone's time.

Unlike this blog! Which has been nothing but insightful in the 77 years of its existence.

Okay, so it's just like this blog. But the difference is, when I'm editing (HA HA) a post here, I don't have to listen to myself. When I edit an episode of Gaylords, however, I hear myself going on and on about whatever and I get filled with a weird "STOP TALKING, why are you SAYING THAT"...insecurity? Or something? I don't know. I don't know why I'm mentioning it here! Hmm, maybe in 2019 I will just own it.

But enough about what I might do, I'm here to talk about what I done did do in 2018. And what I done did do was like some horror movies, and not like some other horror movies. Some might even register as "meh" on the like-do not like scale. So let's get to 'em!



If you and I are cyberfriends on a social media, or if we are in person friends, or if you've listened to any Gaylords episode since I saw Suspiria, then you know that I am completely in love with / absolutely obsessed with Suspiria and you're probably sick of hearing me talk about Suspiria.

But I won't stop! I love it too much! I'm too obsessed! And with a home video (or whatever it's called these days) release coming at the end of this month, I'll be even more obsessed. I might forego all other movies altogether thereafter! Who can say. But you can tell by all the exclamation marks that my feelings are true!

I was expecting to like it as I am a hungry hungry hippo for witchtastic goodness. (Side note that will probably be explored here at some point: man, I've been crying about a lack of witches in horror forever, but it seems they are finally, finally having their moment.) But I was not expecting to be completely subsumed by this film. As I mentioned on our Suspiria-flavored episode, it was honestly something akin to a religious experience. This shit moved me, y'all, and the...connection, I suppose, that I felt (feel) to it is very rare for me and any movie, never mind a horror movie. It's difficult to explain, but once it's out and more people have a chance to see it and I feel okay about unleashing the spoilers (Amazon really botched the release, particularly when you consider how much promotion it got; the release itself was staggered and small), I'm gonna try to get my feelings about it outta me. With words! Exclamation mark!


What a powerhouse of a movie, anchored by an unbelievable performance by Toni Collette. She should be nominated for every award forever for her turn as Annie, if only for the scene that is the single most heart- and gut-wrenching portrayal of grief I've even seen in a film. And I didn't even see it! It's off-screen, but her guttural howls of abject despair are too much to handle even then. She's astonishing.

I love this movie. I love the way it plays with audience expectations. I love that it's keeping in line with a certain old school horror lineage. I love that it burrowed under my skin the first time I saw it and it's stayed there ever since. I think it's a permanent resident.


Mandy and I have what you might call a complicated relationship. It actually made it to theaters (well, a theater) here and I saw it one afternoon with the six or so other people who composed the audience. Two of them were an elderly couple, and I'm not sure what they thought they were going to see, but they certainly weren't expecting the gonzo, trippy bloodbath that is Mandy. They complained about it out loud and often–the film was just too distasteful–but they stayed through the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I had a blast. The film is a heavy metal fever dream, a bootleg Frazetta painting on the side of a van come to life. The last third, in particular, is completely unhinged and off the rails, and it's possible it's not any kind of reality at all. There's a chainsaw fight, spectral cenobite-types, and a battle axe forged in the flames of vengeance. It is exhilarating, a ride and a half. And that's not even counting Cheddar Goblin.

Soon though, my feelings about it began to cool a bit. Heck, even during the film I found my mind wandering to "what if"s: what if, instead of a man getting revenge when his Mandy is burned alive in a sack, what if the genders were flipped? What if it was actually fucking about Mandy? What if she got her revenge? What if it was a same sex couple? What if it felt new beyond the visuals?

It's a Death Wish-style revenge flick. A pretty one. A stylish one, a fun one because it's just plain nuts. But it's also a tale of "man loses woman to outside forces, man kills outside forces," which we've seen plenty of times before. I could go on, about the (largely) gendered online reaction to Mandy versus Suspiria, how what is lauded in one is criticized in the other. There's something to be said about the way Mandy deals with masculinity and sexuality–yeah, there's a tang of homophobia to the whole affair. I find myself talking shit about Mandy somewhat frequently, but it's always followed with a qualifying "But I liked it!" I mean, I must have–here it is on my DO LIKE list. As I said, it's complicated!


Much like Suspiria, Annihilation really got a botched released: extremely limited, then dumped on Netflix. And boy, the sound design of this film was enough to warrant a proper theater viewing. To be fair, it likely still wouldn't have done gangbusters at the box office; it's science fiction that offers few answers, none of which are easy to come by. It's largely inscrutable to the end–particularly at the end, with that climactic lighthouse sequence with Natalie Portman and her mirror image. I love picking apart its puzzles and teasing out meanings, even while being dazzled by the visuals (and that sound design). The bear scene shook me so much that even if I'd hated the rest of it, Annihilation would still be here as a DO LIKE.

(Warning: if you watch it with that one friend who always asks questions during movies, chances are at least one of you will suffer a Scanners-esque exploding head. Whether or not this is a favorable outcome is up to you.)

Unfriended: Dark Web

Get lost, haters! I have a fondness for the Unfriended series that I'm not entirely sure it deserves. I rented the first one out of sheer curiosity, expecting a big pile of trash. Instead, I found a big pile of delight; while it's certainly not, you know, high art, I thought it was a clever update-ening of the ol' (tired) slasher formula. The central conceit, wherein our view is limited to computer screens, is clever and complex, and it also serves to give a bit of tension at times. When it was over, I was shocked to find myself muttering "Wait...that was...pretty good?" And sober!

The sequel, then, became an "Oh heck yeah," one worth paying theater ticket prices for. (I'm not one of those hundredaires who goes to see everything.) Dark Web is more of the same, essentially, with a wider scope and better characters. It's silly–you know it's silly, the film kind of knows it's silly, and it's best if you all agree to just get into it. It's like, I don't know, getting wrapped up in doing the chicken dance at someone's wedding. I mean, I've never done that, but I know it's a thing. You all just do it and you go for it and you have a good time, and then the next day you know what a great time you had and how much you liked it, even if you're a little embarrassed by just how much you enjoyed it. People who did not or do not chicken dance might question your passion–heck, you're questioning your passion–but passion it is regardless.

Do I recommend the chicken dance that is Unfriended: Dark Web? Wholeheartedly and also not at all! Perhaps the Unfriended series and I are private dancers, and we do what we want each other to do. I'm fine with that. And if there's another one at some point about the super deep dark web, well, I'll be there. Any old theater will do.


(or, the cranky pants portion of the show)


I admit, I was unenthusiastic about Halloween long before I plopped my butt down in the theater. While my love for parts 1-3 will never wane, I haven't been invested in the series or Michael Myers or any of it for a dog's age. And old dog, that is. I'd completely checked out, and to be honest, I've checked out of all modern slashers with the exception of a few. I'll rewatch a vintage fave or check out a vintage flick I've never seen (such as Blood Rage, which rules!), but it's been a while since it was my genre of choice and as such, new ones don't hold much interest for me. The promotional circuit for Halloween was nuts, with Jamie Lee Curtis everywhere talking up her latest turn as Laurie Strode, and everyone touting how it would be a direct sequel to the 1978 original and a return to that film's style and atmosphere and blah blah blah. We were all to act like parts 2-infinity didn't exist, which was fine as I never liked the Michael and Laurie are siblings angle, and the less said about Laurie's demise in Resurrection, the better. So I wasn't excited, but I was curious.

And yet, I was still so let down. For a movie that was supposed to be about Laurie Strode and the aftermath of that fateful Halloween night 40 years ago, we ultimately know incredibly little about her when it's all said and done. Apparently she "trained" as some kind of survivalist her whole life,  booby-trapping her house and forgoing family relationships in case Michael ever, you know, comes home. But she still interacts with her daughter and granddaughter regularly, and they all live within a couple of miles of each other. Not to mention, Laurie could have, like, left Haddonfield if she wanted to move on. None of it is explained and none of it makes much sense, but it's necessary, I guess, for the promised Michael/Laurie showdown.

Mind you, Laurie has built her entire life around this potential confrontation while Michael simply doesn't care. He doesn't know who she is, he hasn't been thinking about her, waiting to finish the job. He doesn't come after her specifically, he just ends up at her house through a ludicrous plot contrivance.

It could have been a bold statement about what often happens to women in the wake of trauma, how the lives of survivors are completely upended, how the memories and the fear and the everything else are simply a part of their existences now. For the perpetrators, it's business as usual. They remain unscathed by the horrors they inflict.

But Halloween isn't any of that; rather, it's just poorly written and poorly constructed, a film whose best parts are simply carbon copies of scenes from Carpenter's work. (It also cribbed an awful lot from those "bad" sequels we were supposed to forget about.) However, for being a "direct sequel" to the first film, new Michael Myers is vastly different from the original Michael Myers. This one is a spree killer, offing anyone and everyone in remarkably brutal ways just for the fun of it.

Halloween made huge profits, and there are more entries in the franchise to come. If that turns you on, hey, you go enjoy it. But I hope during the next promotional cycle, there's less talk about what a groundbreaking masterpiece it is when, you know, Halloween H20 did all the same shit much better decades ago.

A Quiet Place

Honestly, fuck this stupid movie. It'd been a while since I became so openly hostile to a film as when I saw A Quiet Place, so I guess that's one good thing about it. Also there's Emily Blunt, so that is two good things.

But everything's maybe a great horror movie if you've never seen a horror movie before. Otherwise it's full of crappy clichés and contrivances, from the whiteboard with, like, SOUND=WEAKNESS??? circled to Chekhov's goddamned nail in the basement stair, (a nail that shouldn't have been there??? in the middle of the board?? sticking up?? it had been there forever?? it didn't nail two things together, it was just there?? NAIL=WEAKNESS???), to the soundproofed basement (why didn't they live there?), to the "man provides" bs and HAVING A BABY awful heteronormativity, to the stupid *cocks shotgun* "girl power" ending...I just really, really hated it. Really. In case you couldn't tell.

But if you liked it, as a shitton of people did, that's great! It's good to like things. There is a sequel on the way. I will not be seeing it.

Bird Box

If you just this minute woke up from a coma, let me tell you something, friend: everyone is going goo-goo over Bird Box. I didn't like it, but then perhaps I am not one to judge it for I'd read the book last year and while I have no attachment to said book–I mean, it was fine–I basically knew who was going to live and die and what was going to happen or not happen. While there were some minor changes, this wasn't a radical reimagining or anything, and as such the movie held zero tension for me. But I figured I'd add it here to the DO NOT LIKE because as I said, this is the cranky pants portion of the show.

If you want to hear me and Anthony go a bit more in depth on these movies (and more), check out Episode 14, "Mistress Loretta's Bathtub." If you want to cheer and/or jeer my cheers and/or jeers, feel free! I am nothing if not a know-nothing know-it-all.