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 31, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 31


Well, this is it pal...end of the line! Boy, depending on intonation that can really sound like a threat, huh? Since this is text, I guess you'll have to figure out for yourself how I meant it.

No matter how I meant it, it is true that today marks SHOCKtober's end. By next week it'll be soft and sagging and browning and leaking. You know, like an expired jack-o-lantern. Will anyone scoop it up and toss it by some far away-ish trees, where it can be eaten and enjoyed by some local animals until its remains return to the soil from whence it came? Or will we all pretend we don't see it in the hopes that someone else will do the scooping? What am I even talking about anymore? Who knows, it's been a long month, okay! It's time for what the French might (don't) call le last favorite character... 

RHONDA JOHNSON'S WIG IN KILLER WORKOUT (1987)


According to the legends, Rhonda Johnson was born Valerie Johnson. On the eve of her big modeling break--a Cosmopolitan cover shoot in Paris--she suffered a tanning bed accident that left her upper back, her breasts, and the top and back of her head horribly scarred. But while you couldn't see them, her heart and soul suffered the most scarring! 

Valerie changed her name and opened a business: Rhonda's Workout. But all those beautiful people reminded her or everything she lost (her modeling career, her nipples, her hair) so she started killing them. It's a terrible business plan.

This is all revealed late in the movie, when we get a glimpse of her wigless and then bewigged:



And I love that the wig is so bad!


Like it was clearly the best they could do with the budget and that's great. But I can't get enough of the idea that we're supposed to think she's been wearing that nest on her head through the whole movie! Until that reveal, her hair looks like it does here, in a scene where she does the two things she does best (business and being mad at someone):



Rhonda Johnson and her wig are the perhaps the greatest movie duo of all time. Why weren't they given a whole franchise? They could travel the world, starting beauty/fitness-related small businesses (though to be honest I'd be happy with her starting any kind of small business, so long as it triggers her murder rage) and then kill off their customers and any nosy cops. Yes, it would just be Killer Workout over and over with a new skin, but I don't see how that's a problem. I'm a ride-or-die for these two queens!

And so, here we are at the end of another SHOCKtober. Until next time...like scar tissue through the hourglass, so are the wigs of our lives. 

Or something. I don't know, it's been a long month!

Oct 30, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 30

Now that SHOCKtober 2022 has begun gurgling its death rattle, for today's favorite character I say it's time to pay respect to one of the reasons for the season: Mr. The Shape himself, Michael Margaret Myers. But not just any old iteration of le booeyman, no! I'm talking about the one and only...

BESPECTACLED AND BESHEETED MICHAEL MYERS IN HALLOWEEN (1978)

It's an iconic lewk, to be sure. But it's also...really effing weird. We hear so much about how Michael Myers is sooo evil but we don't hear a lick about him being sooo strange. Laying out Annie's body on the bed with his sister Judith's headstone, we could chalk that up to ooh, spooky and macabre. On one level, Michael standing there under that sheet and breathin' real heavy is also ooh, spooky and macabre. But also, Michael went through a lot of trouble to...play a prank? I can't decide if that makes him more terrifying or less, to be honest.

While Lynda waited upstairs for her post-coital beer, Michael killed Bob and took his glasses. Then he rummaged around in drawers or closets to find a white sheet, figured out where the eye holes should go, cut 'em just right, then got himself all garbed up for Lynda's big surprise. I just imagine him thinking--and maybe uttering, who knows--a few "hee hee hee"s while he's putting this all together.

Side note, I also imagine him thinking--and maybe uttering, who knows--a few "Where the fuck is it?"s while walking around the cemetery in search of Judith's grave, since he would have no idea where she was buried.

That Michael, what a prankster! What would Dr. Loomis make of all this? (Probably something about the devil's jokes and evil, no doubt.)

Oct 29, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 29

If you were to ask me how I feel about The Slumber Party Massacre (which by reading this, you kind of are), my knee-jerk would be to say that I love it. But then the next time I watch it, I would say to myself...do I love it? Did I lie to that strange (but nice) person who asked me about it? Yes, it's true. There are two wolves inside me, and they're both about that movie.

Here's what it comes down to, I think: I love a lot of things--like, a lot of things--about it! But as a whole, it honestly leaves me feeling pretty meh. Perhaps this is because its roots lie in satire, but along the way to completion the film just kind of became the very thing it was supposed to satirize. The satirical bits are still ace. But overall it plays out like a regular old slasher movie and as a regular old slasher movie it's...well, it's pretty dull. It's mostly a series of fake-out jump scares; the actual kill scenes are devoid of any tension, the pacing is odd, and it's a bit of a slog.

But when I think about all those things I love about it--the pervy little sister, the pizza eating, the coach trying to save the day--my heartplace swells and the next thing you know, I'm telling strange (but nice) people that I love it. SIGH.

Well, who cares. Maybe I'll sort out my feelings about it one of these days, or maybe I won't! Maybe my feelings are as sorted as they could possibly be, and those two wolves are going to have to learn to--as the bumper sticker says--☪☮⚥✡i☯✝.

And today they are in fact coexisting. The two wolves and I are all united by one thing, at least, and that's today's favorite character...

KIM'S 'SPACE BABY' T-SHIRT IN THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982)

See what I mean? There goes my heartplace, all a-swellin' again. How could I ever feel otherwise? I love The Slumber Party Massacre!


Oct 28, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 28

Wow, the end of SHOCKtober is nigh already! It really makes you think, doesn't it? The way time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'...into the fyoo-chuhhh *space noises* 

In case you have not memorized the names of the twelve months (in English) and/or you do not have your calendar of, like, baby animals or hot firemen or whatever nearby, in practical terms the nighness of SHOCKtober's end means that it's almost time for November's Revenge. BLOODvember, if you will. The continuation of all things pumpkin spice. The crunch of fallen leaves, the chill in the air on a clear day! And the perfect time to watch today's favorite character in her natural setting (aka the movie she's in)...of course I'm talking about...

MADDY IN BLOOD RAGE (1987)

If you've never seen Maddy before, well, trust me when I say you've never seen a character like Maddy before, either. If you have seen Maddy before, well, you probably don't know exactly what to make of Maddy, but you know you love her. That is as it should be.

I love the horror movie moments that hint at the more mundane moments of a character’s life (bonus points if it’s moments of the killer’s life). Give me Valerie Johnson filling out paperwork to change her name to Rhonda Johnson and acquiring a small business license before embarking on her aerobics-n-murder career in Killer Workout. I love the image of Michael Myers having to stop for gas during his cross-country road trip to find Laurie Strode in Halloween H20.

That said, I am not one to bemoan a lack of mundane details when watching a horror movie. I spend no time at all wondering why Rose never said “I’m hungry!” and stopped for a snack whilst wandering around Silent Hill in search of her daughter. Did the women in The Descent need bathroom breaks during all that time they spent trapped in that cave? Did any of them have to find a dark corner for peein'? I don’t care, it’s none of my business! 

Usually the weird character gets a brief moment of, you know, weirdness before focus shifts to the killer and their would-be victims, but in Blood Rage we are treated to an entire subplot revolving around Maddy, who is never in mortal danger at any point. The movie revels in the banal details of her life at home while a fairly standard—if low-budget and quirky—slasher flick happens outside her door. Teenagers run around a Florida apartment complex and engage in typical horror teen behavior such as having sex, getting killed, and, uh, playing tennis, but Maddy is living in her own private Douglas Sirk by way of John Waters melodrama, engaging in housework as a means to combat her stress over the idea that her psychotic son is ruining her Thanksgiving holiday. 

She scrubs the oven to a shining gleam. She drinks copious amounts of wine. She vacuums. She drinks wine while vacuuming. She sits on the floor in front of her open refrigerator, scooping up leftover green beans and shoveling them into her mouth. When her calls to her fiance Brad’s office go unanswered, rather that walk over there (it's like two doors away) she spends a good 20 minutes trying to convince a phone operator to help her and delivers not one but two of the weirdest, greatest monologues that horror—nay, that cinema!—has ever seen.

Oh no no no, that’s impossible. You must have dialed the wrong number. No, he’s definitely there. Could you please just re-check that number for me? Because this is a real emergency. Why not? Look, look, look, you don’t seem to understand. This is a real emergency. This is a real emergency! I mean he’s definitely there. He is waiting for my call right now, he’s sitting there and waiting for my call. This is very important! Operator, I’m begging you, this is a real, real emergency!
It probably won’t surprise you if I say that Maddy constitutes the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table of my mind, like one of those expandable crepe-paper turkeys, thanks in particular to the delightfully unhinged performance of Louise Lasser.

I don’t know who made the final decision to let Louise Lasser loose in front of the camera and let her indulge in every strange whim she had, but that person will forever hold a special place in the big bowl of not-cranberry sauce of my heart. In fact, I love it so much that it’s got me rethinking my stance on mundane details. If they’re going to be this bizarre, give me all the mundane details! In the inevitable re-re-reboot of Halloween in ten five years, I sure hope to see Laurie Strode shoveling green beans in her mouth, unaware that Michael Myers is somewhere out there…filling up his gas tank.

Oct 27, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 27

Are being a Dracula and being a responsible pet owner mutually exclusive? Honestly, even after watching Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (aka Dracula's Dog) that philosophical quandary will still be swishing around in your brain place because (spoiler) Dracula isn't even in the movie. I'm not even sure that Zoltan's unceasing loyalty to his master indicates much. Is he something of an undead Hachikō? Or is he just a vampire dog who does what vampire dogs do (he bites!)? When you come right down to it, aww who cares?? Why talk about these clearly high-falutin' esoteric matters when we could be talking about...

THE VAMPIRE PUPPY AT THE END OF ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA (1977)

Yes, one of my earliest faves here at Final Girl remains a fave. Yes, the best part of Zoltan is the vampire puppy freeze-frame that ends the film. How could it not be the best part? Look at it! I would do anything for vampire puppy. Anything! Look at me...I'm the undead Hachikō now!

What a stupid conceit for a movie. Ain't it great??


Oct 26, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 26

If you had told me at the beginning of the month that two of my highly coveted "favorite character" slots would be taken up by characters from the Sleepaway Camp franchise (spoiler), I would have said "Do I know you? What are you doing here? Psychic or no psychic, get out of my house!"

But it's true. When setting out on the journey, we never know where SHOCKtober will take us, and this year it has taken us to le Sleepaway double dip. I'm sure you immediately suspected it, but sorry, no...today's favorite character is not M-E-G's headband. Rather, it's...

MARIA'S LINE READINGS IN SLEEPAWAY CAMP III: TEENAGE WASTELAND (1989)

Sleepaway Camp III is truly awful, like barely watchable if I'm being honest. Regardless, I need to give my girl Maria props because her dialogue has intermittently been running through my head for years and years now. I'm not sure if it's Stockholm syndrome or straight-up sickness or what, but "Today's the day I'm goin' to camp" is so imprinted on my brain that since the day I first saw it, I've blessed annoyed just about every one of my friends (whether they've also seen the movie or not) with my impression of it. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they mark my final words as I lay on my deathbed, ready to shuffle off into the great sleepaway camp in the sky. Mind you, I might amend it to "Today's the day I'm goin' to camp. Didja hear me? I'm goin' to that camp today...by which I mean Heaven (I hope)."

I just...love it so much. She gives us some variation of "I'm going to camp" three times in 30 seconds, she gives us an atrocious delivery of the most unnatural dialogue ever written, she gives us that wig! Such gifts.

(NSFW)


I've never seen anyone take off their t-shirt that way before...? Wow, is there anything Maria can't do? 

Well, besides live and actually make it to camp, I guess. Yes, Angela runs her down with a garbage truck so she can take Maria's place at Camp New Horizons. 

I also love that it's so clearly a mannequin getting hit if you look closely. Ooh, maybe she was a living mannequin all along! Like in that movie! Mannequin!

 

Angela really goes to crazy lengths in this scheme of hers: She tracks Maria down, finds an outfit and wig just like Maria wears, she steals a garbage truck, waits for Maria to leave for camp, somehow gets her to run into an alley with a garbage disposal at the end of it. It might seem like a lot of hassle--and surely there were other campers that would have been easier to replace--but excuse me, this is Maria. Don't we all want to be her? Wouldn't we all do whatever it takes to wield the power of those line readings, even for but a moment? I know I would. Just ask my friends!

Oct 25, 2022

SHOCKtober Day 25

Over the last couple of years, I've really gotten a kick out of revisiting movies I haven't seen since Final Girl's nascent days, especially those movies I wasn't wild about the first time around. A few have remained firmly in the stinker pile. Even fewer have been added to the "I liked that? What the frig was I thinking?" pile. It's the "I didn't like that? What the frig was I thinking?" pile that far and away towers over the others now, though, and I love that. I ain't a-feared of changing my mind about a movie, especially if my new mind leans toward loving or, at the least, appreciating it.

I hope I get there someday about every Elm Street movie that isn't Part One or Part Three!

I do accept that even though it is a well-beloved franchise, the vast majority of the films that compose it are likely just not for me. That's okay! We all have movies that are critically and/or fan-acclaimed that we are not into, that we "don't" "get." But there is something in me--perhaps the part of me the digs the first entry, loves the third, and adores Nancy Thompson--that wants to embrace every installment of A Nightmare on Elm Street. (Side note, I think Wes Craven's New Nightmare is both rad and very good but in my brain place it isn't, like, a part of the franchise proper?) Well, who knows what the future holds.

Miss Cleo? Jeanne Dixon? Micki Dahne? Sylvia Browne? Dionne Warwick's Psychic Friends Network? Yes, all of them obviously, but you don't see them here with me right now, do you? That's because all but Ms Warwick of them are dead, but you get my point. (R.I.P. you con artist queens.)

Anyway, while chances are extremely high that I will never all A Nightmare on Elm Street my favorite franchise, it did give rise to one of my favorite characters...

MY BOOTLEG FREDDY KRUEGER CANDLE

Given to me years and years ago by a friend who would not tell me where he got it (so I assume a curse is involved somehow), this hunk of waxen perfection is a mainstay in my life. His beefy Twizzler worm lips and Chiclets teeth making that rictus of a grin! His eyes that I don't completely understand! I think he's so great and unlike the real Freddy Krueger, he will never burn.

No offense to Robert Englund, of course, but maybe if this candle starred in 2, 4, 5, 6...7? I don't even know how many Elm Streets there are!...then I would like them more already.