Archive for October 2011

In Which Fall Will Soon Give Way To The Cold, Dark, Depressing, Endless, Bleek, Hopeless Days of Winter

Happy November, everybody!

SHOCKtober Day 31

Here we are. The end of the month already! I'm fixin' to put on my costume (plague doctor...or, at least, a janky-ass plague doctor) and head out the door...but first, the all-important last couple of favorite characters! These are the only characters who got more than one y'all must really love 'em. I don't blame you.

Ash Williams (The Evil Dead)

I don't think anyone could have predicted that the last man standing in The Evil Dead would go on to become a favorite character. People loves some Ash! I wonder how many heads will explode when a casting decision is made should the Diablo Cody-penned E.D. remake come to pass.

Gill-Man (Creature from the Black Lagoon)

What is it about ol' Gilly? I can't quite say, but I know he's always been my favorite movie monster. There's something so cool about him...and believe me, I know cool! One time I saw Rick Springfield in concert.

Dracula's Digs

Even Transylvania had some style...Happy Halloween!

Photo Credit: Universal

SHOCKtober Day 30

Ah, drawing to a close! Day 30 means tomorrow is Day 31 which means tomorrow is Halloween. Man oh man. Time sure flies when you're something something, huh? I feel particularly Halloweenie this year, as I've already even carved a pumpkin, scared some children, watched at least one terrible Halloween sequel on AMC, and had more than my share of Pumpkin Spice coffee. It's glorious! Now on to your choices, so few of which remain...

Phyllis (Last House on the Left)

You know, I've never seen this and I kind of doubt that I ever will. I did see the remake, though.


Tarman (Return of the Living Dead)

Ten kinds of awesome, at least.

Kaplan (Resident Evil)

Sayeth the chooser (which is probably more than anyone has ever said on a character from Resident Evil, which is also ten kinds of awesome at least):

"When the RE movie comes up, Martin Crewes' performance is often mentioned. It kind of encapsulates part of what sets the first movie apart from the other, sucky ones - he does fear well. The sequels dispense with fear in favor of displays of effortless badassery, but fear reminds us that this screwed-up scenario is happening to actual (well, you know) people
and makes the threat more real.

More specific to Crewes' character, though, is a variation on the NotLD Barbra problem. He does the things we hope we wouldn't in that situation: mentally freezes and forgets the elevator password, is unable to beat the computer safeguards before everyone gets diced, etc. And yet, despite this, he proves capable of great courage in more considered moments: he pushes himself down the laser corridor with all the corpses alone; he insists on staying behind for a bad death so as not to endanger the others. These are not, in the scheme of things, grand actions - walking
down a hallway, staying put - but they become big, tense set pieces just because they require such courage - and because the character has such fear to overcome.

Crewes' character gives the impression of a techie who wanted to make more of himself in the field, which makes his ultimate stepping-up (despite his last-act demise) that much more satisfying. He's a quieter sort than many modern zombie flicks have time for, a less-assured, less-glamorous hero character, and the actor's more messily human than one would expect in a
videogame adaptation - but he gives a display of fortitude that's more memorable for me than that of most any movie."

Out with the Dead

And so October draws to a close.  Between here and the Morlocks, I got a few good October posts out but not nearly as many as I would have liked.  There's a reason for that, outside of the usual, pained and pointless excuses of "I got too busy!"  Yes, that's true, that happens, often, but that's not really why. 

The real reason why is because I'm sick and tired of discussing the same goddamn horror movies over and over and over again.  In my last post at the Morlocks I even gave a kind of semi-apology for bringing up The Exorcist because, hell, I've brought that movie up 43 times in the last four years during October.  Enough already!  

And the lists!  Oh, the lists, from all around the internet, from critics and professional sites (like Cracked) to freakin' Martin Scorsese, that are all intelligent and worthy, yes,  but also happen to have the same movies on every goddamn list!  Look, I love most of the horror movies on most of those lists but here's the thing:  The folks that come here know those movies.   We all know those movies.  For the immediate future, do we really need to call up The Shining again, or Psycho, or Night of the Living Dead?  Do I love each and every one of those? Yes!  Absolutely.  Do I fault a single writer out there for bringing them up?  No!  Never.  Christ, I brought them all up, around the internet, this October.  But I don't want to do it anymore.  I really don't.  I'm done with it.  It's kind of like if you're a classic film blogger (how this blog started out) and you spend all your time writing about Citizen Kane or Casablanca or Singin' in the Rain.  I mean, sure, those are great movies and they're going to make plenty of lists but, ahem, can we talk about something else?  Something that hasn't been written about, discussed and digested 93,457 times?

When I started doing October at Cinema Styles back in 2007, it felt fresh, new, exciting.  Now every goddamn newspaper and media organization that used to shun the internet and bloggers like little unwanted bastard children is out there bombarding us with bullshit October horror movie themes, slide-shows and lists,  a lot of it coming from people who don't know fuck-all about horror.   As a result, there's a numbing, pervasive, zombie-like sameness to the October film selections I see all over the internet and when I look at my own pathetic foray into horror this month, I see the same thing!  Ugh.

So I want to go in different directions with this.  I love Universal Horror and Hammer Horror and Amicus.  I love Corman and Castle and Francis and damn, I'll watch any of their movies, any time.  But for now and into the foreseeable future, I think they're covered on these here internets.  Really, I do.  Earlier in the month, I tried to go a different direction with it by posting on Ingmar Bergman at the Morlocks from the point of view of horror.  But I didn't branch out beyond that single post.  I wish I had.  I wish I had ventured forth more courageously but, for various reasons, I didn't.  The main reason is this:  I simply haven't devoted enough time to watching different horror movies.  

Peter Nellhaus, the prolific critic and blogger at his own place, Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee, is constantly recommending I watch Thai horror and I rarely take him up on it.  Well, I'm going to.  I have to.  There are so many great horror films being made all over the world and I'm missing out by not exposing myself to them.  Another great writer and friend, Richard Harland Smith, recommended I take in Eastern European productions to break out of the rut.  That message, too, has been received and acted upon.  And I take it seriously.  The reason people like Peter and Richard and Tenebrous Kate and Kimberly Lindbergs and Arbogast have much greater horror creds than most other writers out there is precisely because they don't limit themselves, as I've done, to the same old, same old.  Hell, each one of them has, at one time or another, written up a horror movie that I not only hadn't seen, I hadn't even heard of it!  

Next October, I'm bringing out the dead.  The familiar, comfortable horror movies I've leaned on year after year after year are getting tossed onto the funeral pyre of horror homogeny as I stagger out of the corner I've lazily painted myself into and wander down some of those dark alleys that have no sign posts, no lights and no sense of security at all.  What they lack in security they make up for with the exhilarating chill of the unknown and that's something I'm desperate to discover again.    For next October, I vow, here and now, to not write a single word about a single movie I have written about before.  Old October is done.  Bring out your dead. 

SHOCKtober Day 29

Jack Torrance (The Shining)

What? Jack and not Wendy? You people, I swear! Sigh, fine. Make your own choices. See if I care!

Brenda Bates (Urban Legend)

The chooser linked to this video, in which Brenda has clearly gone from zero to ca-RAY-zay, as the reason why:

awesome movie poster friday - the SHOCKTOBER 2011 edition!

Each of these movies feature one of your favorite characters. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

SHOCKtober Day 28

Lynda (Halloween)


Jerry Dandridge (Fright Night)

Sayeth the chooser:

"Elegant, brutal, funny, suave and fingernails that would make a Jersey house wife jealous. When I think vampire, I think of ole' Jerry."


hello fellow friends from around the world, welcome.

SHOCKtober Day 27

I can't believe SHOCKtober is winding down already! Geez. I still haven't picked my favorite character yet! Oh well. Today y'all've chosen a couple of lovely ladies...

Yes, "y'all've".

May Canady (May)

I don't know, you guys. May is one of those movies that makes me feel like the odd woman out- people love it and I thought it was "okay...okay...what's going on...aww no." Maybe I should give it another try? After all, it took me a long time to really warm up to Rosemary's Baby.

Helen Lyle (Candyman)

Yes yes, a thousand times yes! Helen is a terrific character (thanks in large part to Virginia Madsen) and you know, Candyman just does not get enough love. Not enough! Not enough. Let's change that Sayeth the chooser:

"The film's one of my all-time fave horrors (for obvs reasons) and Virginia Madsen was awesome in it. It's pretty sad but I even said 'Helen' 5 times in a mirror (when I was a kid!) because after she becomes her own urban-myth-thing at the end, only Trevor is really going to ever say her name in a mirror 5 times; I felt kinda sorry that she'd end up being a neglected urban myth. I guess I'd had an awful lot of sugar that day.

So yeah, Helen - for the additional reason she didn't have to deal with Farewell to the Flesh. Gah what a bad film."


On Tuesday The Guardian's Film website published a review I wrote for their Cine-Files blog, a weekly look at cinemas across the world. My review was for the Amsterdam cinema Kriterion, a beautiful cinema in a city filled with gorgeous cinemas.

Kriterion is at the heart of the film industry in Amsterdam, and everyone I know in that city has worked there at some point or another.

You can read the article here.

SHOCKtober Day 26

Mrs. Voorhees (Friday the 13th)

Aww. Ain't that a sweet picture? Poor Jason. Poor Mrs. Voorhees. If only those counselors hadn't been sexing it up and Jason didn't drown. Or if only Mrs. Voorhees could have afforded to send Jason to a daycare center. Or if only Mr. Voorhees hadn't been such a deadbeat dad. Things would have worked out so differently for the whole clan! But then if things had worked out differently, then Jason never would have (ever-so-slowly) made his way to Manhattan and punched off Julius's head, and truly that would be a shame.

The Bride (The Bride of Frankenstein)

Icon. Icon! And this delightful shot of the Bride taking a tea break comes from a terrific write-up on the film over at Moviediva:

Wednesday Comix: NIGHTMARE WORLD

I can't believe how lax I've been in the pimping department. You see, there's a story in Nightmare World Voulem 3: Demon Days that's drawn by yours truly and I've neglected to tell you about it. What is wrong with me? Your Stacie Ponder shrine will be incomplete without it!

You DO have a Stacie Ponder shrine, don't you? I hope so. And I sincerely hope it looks like this:

So. You can add Nightmare World Volume 3 if you like, and not only will your shrine be at least 7% improved, you will also get 13 horror stories written by Dirk Manning and drawn by different artists! Wow, what a deal. I drew "Hungry Like the Wolf", a werewolf tale done stick figure style. In fact, I believe this volume marks the first time my stick art has officially appeared in print, so I'm pretty excited about that.

There, pimping complete. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled nonsense.Link

Final Girl's The Review

When word of this so-called "John Carpenter's The Ward" began circulating, my ears were all like "We're perking up! A new John Carpenter movie? That takes place in a mental hospital? And Amber Heard is in it? Yes. Yes, we are definitely perking up." The Ward played a bunch of festivals and my brain was all like "Hey, yeah, still want to see that." Last night I finally made that dream come true, and now my ears and brain (and even, to some extent, my eyes) are all like "NO THE WARD, NOOOO. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD! WE WAITED FOR YOU AND THIS IS HOW YOU REPAY US?"

Honestly, my ears and brain and eyes have a point. The Ward, you see, is a fucking slog to sit through. A slog I say! And so this review will probably be a slog to sit through as well, but at least there's not the extra layer of disappointment that The Ward boasts. I mean, it's a John Carpenter movie! While I don't expect everything to be a classic on par with his best work, there's still a bit of expectation on the part of a horror fan when the director's name is slapped onto the title. Here at Final Girl, there are no expectations! Therefore, when a review is a slog or some such, it's only one layer of suckiness. One layer of suckiness: that's my gift to you.

Anyway, The Ward. Way back in the mythological time known as "1966", a young lass named Kristen (Heard) sets fire to a farmhouse and is carted away know, the ward. The psychiatric ward, that is! I know, you thought maybe she'd be taken to Montgomery Ward for some dungaree shopping, but nope- it's off to the "nut" "house" for Kristen.

Things at the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital are about as you'd expect: nurses are mean, orderlies are mean, doctors seem nice but are likely secretly mean, there are only five patients, all five patients are hot young women, each patient is easily-labeled (the "sexy" one, the "childlike" one, etc), the patients get to wear makeup and regular clothes, and so on and so on.

Kristen ain't havin' none of this "locked up" shit, though. I don't see why! These mental patients are kooky. Oh, and if you put on a record, they totally know how to have a good time. Yes, it's the obligatory "we're not crazy, we're whimsical" dance scene!

They also take super steamy showers together, because as I have intimated, they are not only crazy, they're crazy hot! In the face! And also the side boob! But! before you start thinking this is some Designer Imposters Girl, Interrupted, we get to the reason why we're here, and why The Ward is purportedly a horror movie: a ghost shows up in the shower and puts the scare into Kristen. See, she's not there to borrow some soap on a rope, oh no- this crunchy-looking dead girl is there to get homicidal.

"Do you have any moisturizerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I can borrowwwwww?"

No one believes Kristen about the ghost, of course. Or do they? Well, the staff doesn't. Probably. But her fellow patients do. Probably. It's all so mysterious!

At this point in the proceedings, The Ward chugs along in what one hopes is a forward-motion but in actuality it feels like it's chugging in place. This happens a few times:
  • Kristen says "I'm getting out of here!"
  • Kristen tries said getting out, is caught, is drugged and/or restrained
  • Kristen says "Hey, there's a ghost here, and she's gross and mean." (I'm paraphrasing that) (unfortunately)
  • Everyone is like "Nuh uh."
  • The ghost shows up behind a patient, wraps her Crackin' Oat Hands around the patient's throat, and kills the patient with some form of asylum therapy (Electroshock, lobotomy, etc)
  • Kristen says "Where is patient so-and-so?"
  • Everyone is like "She left".
AND SO ON. There's some sort of larger puzzle to be solved, and questions to be answered- what dark secret do the patients all share? What dark secret does Kristen have? Does the doctor have a dark secret? WHy haven't I watched that copy of Dark Secret of Harvest Home that I bought? It has Bette Davis and Tracey Gold in it! And by the time the answers all arrive, you likely shrug and give a "Oh yeah, that. Okay." It's not fresh and it's nothing you haven't seen before (and better), but still, I felt the explanation redeemed the boring-ass preceding 80 minutes a bit. A bit! It was familiar, but I didn't mind. That happens. I mean, I've had pancakes more than once, and it's not as if I've said every time after the first "Oh yeah, pancakes. Whatever." They're good, so I don't mind them.

Sorry, I've been thinking about pancakes a lot lately.

But then. But then! The Ward can't leave well enough alone and simply end and go away. Nooo, it has to have one of those ridiculous last-second "This makes absolutely no sense but SHOCK ENDING CUT TO CREDITS!" endings. There haven't been many of those that have actually worked, in my opinion. You've got your Friday the 13th, where the ending makes no sense but it's startling enough to be effective. Then you've got your Pieces which is so nonsensical that it actually obliterates the space-time continuum enough that it loops around on itself and ultimately makes perfect sense. But you, The Ward...just don't. On you it's cheap. Gauche, even!

"No, seriously, I need some moisturizer."

What's good about The Ward? Hmm. The ghost looked kind of neat, I guess. Amber Heard gave it her best, which isn't half-bad. Or maybe I just think that because she's so pretty. Pretty people are better at everything!

But I tells ya- if this wasn't a "John Carpenter" movie, I probably wouldn't even review it. There's a chance I wouldn't have even watched it. But, like virtually every other horror fan out there, I was curious (and yes, excited) to see what he'd do after a decade away from the big screen. And what he did...doesn't feel like a "John Carpenter" film. Sure, his ability kept The Ward from being total crap, but that's about it. There's no tension, only cheap jump scares. It's a plodding slog of a bore to sit through. Both the signature Carpenter score and his use of Panavision are sorely, sorely missed. The Ward falls into that dreaded no-man's land of "I've seen worse, but I've seen way, way better." Oh well. At least I've now seen it. That's...something, right?