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!

Oct 27, 2020

FAVE 20: Mats Strandberg

Author Mats Strandberg has been called "the Swedish Stephen King" and while that is certainly a compliment, maybe Stephen King is the American Mats Strandberg, huh? Did you ever think about that? You should! But I get it: Mats's stuff is character driven and scary. But unlike Stephen King, Mats populates his work with characters that aren't so...I don't know, homogenous. Look! Comparisons aren't entirely useful. But if you give Mats's Blood Cruise a whirl--it's out in the US today!!--then you'll see what I mean. It's 'vampires on a booze cruise,' it's scary, it's gory, and it's a lot of fun (I really, really need Blood Cruise to be a mini-series, thanks), and I love that his characters that might be considered disposable in other works are really given a time to shine. I can't recommend the book enough, so I won't try! You lucky Europeans have access to more of his work (including The Home, which is out now in the UK)...have fun reading it while waiting for your free healthcare, you savages!

PET SEMATARY (1989, Mary Lambert)

When I grew up, my mother was very ill. I loved her, but her pain sometimes made her into something scary, something I didn't recognize. It was a fear that dared not speak its name. I couldn't have put it into words even if I had wanted to. Seeing Zelda in Pet Sematary traumatized me, but I kept going back to those short scenes with her, again and again. I was 13 and didn't understand it then, but it was the first time that I used fictional horror as a release for very real anxieties. That's why this movie, flaws and all, will always be closest to my heart.


My favourite part of the whole Twin Peaks saga finally puts Laura Palmer front and center. She's the relatable queer martyr we all deserve, trying to save her own soul from the evil clutches of patriarchy.

SUSPIRIA (2018, Luca Guadagnino)

How do I love these mothervolking witches? Let me count the ways. Or actually, I don't have to. The Gaylords of Darkness and this very blog have already done it way better than I ever could. I did try though, in the Suspiria fanzine that Stacie masterminded. (FG note: zine coming next month, woo! I will update with info when available!)

EVENT HORIZON (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)

This is one of those movies that I keep coming back to, over and over. It is by no means perfect, but the imperfections are part of its magic. It always feels like I just have to watch it one more time, and then I'll somehow be able to unearth the perfect horror movie hidden just beneath the surface. (By the way: I feel the exact same way about another Sam Neill vehicle; Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness from 1994.)

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955, Charles Laughton)

This dark fairytale is of the most visually stunning movies ever made.

Gets me every time.

Every. God. Damn. Time.

STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997, Paul Verhoeven)

So in about a week, the future of the entire planet is decided in a rigged US election. No biggie, right? There couldn't be a better October to watch this movie.

GET OUT (2017, Jordan Peele)

Speaking of November 2020; I am so, so happy that this movie exists.

HOUR OF THE WOLF (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

It's a bit of a dilemma: Swedes are very proud of Ingmar Bergman. But we look down upon the horror genre. So how to deal with the fact that Bergman made some excellent horror movies? Well, the answer is that we don't talk (or think) about the fact that they're horror movies at all. Instead we throw around terms like "psychosexual" and"dreamlike." or simply call them BERGMAN MOVIES. But Bergman himself loved horror, unapologetically. I think he got a kick out of it when Wes Craven "borrowed" the whole plot of Last House on the Left from Bergman's The Virgin Spring. And Hour of the Wolf is so damn weird and jarring it's no surprise that David Lynch has named it as a big inspiration.

BLITHE SPIRIT (1945, David Lean)

This scratches the same itch as Death Becomes Her (1992) and Addams Family Values (1993) for me; horror-adjacent, family-friendly comedies with very queer undertones. Blithe Spirit is based on a play by Noël Coward, so you know there's going to be campy fun, amazing ladies (both dead and alive) and one-liners galore.

HALLOWEEN: H20 (1997, Steve Miner)

My favourite incarnation of Laurie Strode. I think I might love this movie even more than the original Halloween. Yeah, I said it. *ducks for cover*

THE EXORCIST III (1990, William Peter Blatty)

I will never forgive Stacie and Anthony for the fact that this wasn't part of The Three-ening.


A newlywed woman discovers that her husband sneaks out at night to meet up with other dudes in the park. Turns out he belongs to an alien species who secretly breed with Earth women. One of my favourite gay-panic movies from the lavender scare era. It's really hilarious or really depressing, depending on how you look at it.

FRIDAY THE 13th PARTS 1-7 (1980-1988)

These movies will always be part of my horror DNA. I will always enjoy them. I tell you what is scary though: going down the rabbit hole of erotic fanfiction about Jason Voorhees.


By far the best set of queens in any of the major franchise movies. I love all the characters so much.

ALIEN (1979, Ridley Scott)

Yes, Ripley is a queen. That goes without saying. But all the characters are amazing. This movie was a huge inspiration for my book Blood Cruise. On the Baltic Sea, no one can hear you scream either. A cruise ship and a space ship are both isolated settings that you can’t escape from, surrounded by a cold darkness that would kill you if you fell overboard. But my biggest inspiration was the way this movie depicted the crew: tired, unglamorous, human. They never asked to be heroes, but they stepped up when the blood hit the fan.

FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011, Steven Quale)

I have such a sweet spot for this campy franchise. It seems severely underrated in the horror community, but it's ridiculously entertaining with all the deliciously gory slapstick killings. Also: Ali Larter. Also also: The idea of having Death itself as the boogeyman is beyond brilliant. The franchise (created by our fellow gay, Jeffrey Reddick) has its ups and downs, for sure, but number 5 ties it all together beautifully.

THE WITCH (2015, Robert Eggers)

I wouldst like to live deliciously too, please. (By the way, have you seen Daniel Malik who does the voice of Black Phillip? Delicious indeed.)

STAGEFRIGHT (1987, Michele Soavi)

My favourite giallo movie and definitely the gayest.

THE INNOCENTS (1961, Jack Clayton)

Honestly, it was a toss-up between this one, The Haunting (1963) and The Others (2001). I chose this one simply because it came first, and because it was written by Truman Capote.

CURSE OF THE BLAIR WITCH (1999, Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez)

Wait, I'm at the end of the list already and I haven't even mentioned a found footage movie? Even though it's one of my favourite subgenres? Ok. (deep breath in) I promised myself not to overthink this list. I would simply choose the movies that first came to mind. (deep breath out) I could have gone with As Above, So Below (2014) or The Banshee Chapter (2013), or Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), the standout gem of the franchise. But I'll go with this mockumentary, which to me is much scarier than the movie it was made to promote.


Susandoku said...

I cannot agree enough about Exorcist III and Event Horizon. They are both just excellent films. The ceiling part of Exorcist III is so scary!!!

Unknown said...

So looking forward to reading Blood Cruise, just bought and downloaded. And great list!

Anonymous said...

Blithe Spirit! That is a blessed choice, and not one I expected to see at all.

AE said...

I watched Starship Troopers last week (and will probably watch it again next week). Sir, I get you, sir!