Do you know what traumatizes me as an adult? Thinking you know somebody and then suddenly finding out that they are an utter stranger. Case in point, I recently discovered that one Aunt John had never seen ANY of the FINAL DESTINATION films. What is that all about? Doesn’t that seem like a fact that one should disclose early on in a relationship? How did this slip by me? What other cultural blind spot is he hiding? Next I’ll be finding out that he has never seen CHOPPING MALL!
Luckily such a blistering personality flaw is easily repaired with a white-hot, non-stop FINAL DESTINATION MARATHON and that is exactly what took place within the cat fur carpeted halls of Kindertrauma Manor this weekend (a weekend that due to back to back tragedies in the real world, will be forever henceforth known as “THE WEEKEND OF DEATH“).
You see, Aunt John simply had to be schooled in the last decade’s greatest horror franchise as soon as possible, especially if I was going to drag him to FD‘s 3-D fourth installment this summer. The good thing was that I did not have to worry about whether or not A.J. would take a shining to the series because I knew that the disaster film elements inherent within them would be simply irresistible to him. Sure the series is sans cameos of B-grade stars like HELEN REDDY and GARY COLLINS but things blow up and they blow up real good.
I’ll save you dear readers individual synopsis of each of the three films on account of they are all for the most part wonderfully the same (if it ain’t broke…) At the beginning of each film a character has a vivid premonition of a disaster that kills a bunch of folks that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That character then warns and saves a small group of these individuals from their fates. Next, “death” represented as a mostly invisible force, gets all pissed and kills them all anyway in exceedingly elaborate and devilishly gruesome ways (please give me one brownie point for not mentioning Rube “no relation to Whoopsie” Goldberg). In other words, some absolute genius out there figured out a way for you to see the same characters killed twice(!) in one horror move. What’s not to love?
My favorite aspect of the series is the fact that it does not shy away from the actual horror and fear of dying. In all three films there is a palpable sense of mortality that is sadly missing from most modern horror (and especially the film’s contemporaries.) Characters are required to be aware of their impending downfall and to squirm like flies in a spider web waiting for the scythe to fall. These are also films that incite a lingering paranoia within the viewer (I am always particularly careful not to walk in front of buses after having viewed the first installment.) In addition, they all inspire you to be hyper aware of “signs” and to look for double meanings within the everyday. In my opinion any movie that makes you see the world around you differently is called “art” even if it does incorporate someone almost choking on a rubber fish and sometimes involves a JOHN DENVER tune being used as a harbinger of doom.
Anywho, Aunt John did love the series all in all. We both agreed that the third and most financially successful of the group is the weakest (but still worthy) and that the best death belonged to JONATHAN CHERRY in the second film where he got spliced apart by a flying wire fence. We both cooed over KRISTEN CLOKE, gave props to ALI LARTER and laughed when that kid got flattened by a falling plate of glass. We both recognized the dude from LIVING SINGLE and balked at the duel tanning booth deaths, yet were impressed by how the tanning beds dissolved into coffins at a funeral. Gee, now that I think about it, maybe I really do know do know that Aunt John after all.
NOTE: Speaking of the KRISTEN CLOKE, the reason I carry such a torch for her is because of her stint on the second season of CHRIS CARTER‘s MILLENNIUM in which she co-stared opposite my hero in life LANCE HENRIKSEN. The below scene is one of the coolest things that I have ever seen on television (plus it kind of fits in with the whole “death” theme.)…