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.