The Final Girls (2015)

There I was sitting on a curb waiting for a waaahhhm-bulance because it was almost mid-October and I had no reliable prospects as far as a new, decent horror movie went. CRIMSON PEAK looked splendid but it was yet to be released and the only horror representative playing in the theater was GREEN INFERNO which I’d heard was OK-ish but still looked about as appealing as a LIMP BIZKIT reunion to me. But then Mr. Aunt John suggested we watch THE FINAL GIRLS because, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, it was available on demand for way cheaper than any movie ticket and guess what?! It turned out to be better than so very much of the stuff I shelled out twice as much for and I didn’t even have to leave my house and court bedbugs! In fact, I just invited a chum over to watch it again before it expires!

I’ll be for real with y’all and admit that I’m not the biggest fan of reductive terms like “final girl” especially when attached to bogus slasher “rules” about characters needing to maintain their virginity in order to survive. I know it makes folks feel clever and academic to speak of such things but I’ve got shelves of movies that tell a different story. I’m putting that out there to let you know that I had that little hurdle to jump over before me and THE FINAL GIRLS got cozy. I suppose somebody was going to utilize the popular buzz term as a title eventually (2015 also saw the release of a non-plural FINAL GIRL movie with ABIGAIL BRESLIN) and it’s good news that this movie makes it such an easy pill to swallow by being so genuinely funny, heartfelt and all around affable (i.e. non-douchey).

As it turns out, THE FINAL GIRLS is far from your standard condescending mockery of the delicious slasher tropes some of us authentically adore. It does make light of several clichés but its main interest is affectionately pointing out how blurry the line between our lives and movies sometimes get. Anyone who has ever used a movie to escape from life’s darker realities is going to have zero problem connecting with this flick. It’s kind of THE WIZARD OF OZ of horror films and the way it speaks about relationships, loss and even the ability for people to break out of the limiting way they might view themselves is truly noteworthy. Gosh darn it, something got in my eye when I watched this and that’s my favorite thing in the world.

I do have two complaints though and I’m going to share them because it’s important to remember you don’t have to like every single thing about something in order to love it. Firstly, there was a giant missed opportunity here to get some laughs from over-the-top gore. Due to most of the action taking place in a false, dream-like reality I’d assume the movie could get away with more than most and I for one would have enjoyed that. Secondly, and I know I’m being persnickety here, but I really hated the killer’s mask! Is that too incidental to complain about? I dunno. The rest of the movie was so spot on visually that it was kind of a glaring lack of taste in my book. Making it worse, the killer carved the mask himself, which means the sky was the limit as far as what it looked like and it ended up looking like a froggy-tiki mask. Maybe it will grow on me. I plan to return to this jaunt many times in the future, so we’ll see.

Those little qualms aside, there’s not much to complain about here. The script by JOSHUA JOHN MILLER (Yay, TEEN WITCH!) and M.A. FORTIN is rather brilliant in the way it juggles the familiar while still bringing something uniquely its own to the table. TODD STRAUSS-SHULSON’s direction too is a breath of fresh air and it’s so nice to catch something in the genre that is so colorfully epic looking rather than relentlessly poseur gray.

Horror comedies are famously difficult to pull off, so in the future let’s say we all take a tip from THE FINAL GIRLS and cast people who are actually funny? ADAM (WORKAHOLICS) DeVINE, THOMAS (SILICON VALLEY) MIDDLEDITCH, ALIA (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) SHAWKAT and especially ANGELA (HALLOWEEN II) TRIMBUR basically hit everything thrown at them out of the park. AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s TAISSA FARMIGA is the real deal and somehow able to convincingly alter her age three years using little more than a pony tail and facial expressions and I gotta say the MVP award goes to MALIN ACKERMAN (who is also great in another comedy/horror, 2013’s COTTHAGE COUNTRY). She’s pretty much the heart and soul of the movie and like the movie itself, she’s hard not to love.

NOTE: YOU can see THE FINAL GIRLS! If it’s not at a theater near you or available on your cable service, it’s all over your computer on iTunes and Amazon and Google and such. Trust me, it’s the cure for whatever ails ya and the treat that horror fans deserve this Halloween.

Sunday Streaming:: The Paramount Vault

Critter peeps, I’m happy to say we’ve got quite the Streaming bonanza today. Have you all heard about the PARAMOUNT VAULT channel (HERE) that just popped up on our beloved YouTube? It’s a brand new joint where you can watch a ton of great movies for the mere price of withstanding a few commercials!

I’m taking back every derogatory thing I’ve ever said about Paramount Pictures and officially forgiving them for not always treating the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise like the invaluable contribution to world of cinema it obviously is. Their new channel is the coolest and here’s hoping other folks are kind enough to follow suit.

As a lifelong movie lover who has shelled out every extra dollar that ever came my way to the industry, I’m getting pretty tired of being treated like a thieving flea-ridden freeloader every time I should happen to catch something for free online. I’m much more likely to purchase a movie once I’ve seen, enjoyed or at least been made aware of it! Movie viewing begets more movie viewing says me and frankly, fans deserve to be thrown a bone once in a while. Good on you PARAMOUNT!

Anyway, from what I’ve heard, the films on the channel will change form time to time so make sure you watch stuff while it’s there and that you check back for new titles. We’ll try to keep you up to date around these parts and here’s some currently available movies (links in titles) that I’d recommend….

This personal favorite used to be rather difficult to track down. Now, you no longer have any excuse to not see it! Full review HERE.

I don’t think we covered this one enough around here because I caught it rather late but I’m pretty sure this disturbing gem from Australia showed up on a couple of our reader’s underrated lists. I’d certainly file it under “must see.”

You’d think director Mark Jones had done enough for humanity by gifting the world with LEPRECHAUN (1993) but nope, he went one step further and dropped this hilarious bad boy on our laps too. What a guy!

IN DREAMS (1999)
Sure it’s all kinds of flawed and nonsensical and it may be the only film in existence not helped in any way by a ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. performance but it’s fascinating nonetheless, and we all know director NEIL JORDAN rarely skimps on the arresting visuals.

I admit that I find the second half of this flick kind of dull but the first half terrifies the living crap out of me, so it’s all good. As a rule of thumb, you should just watch anything with the word “chainsaw” in the title anyway. Enjoy.

Five (Eleven?) Underrated Slasher Flicks By Unk

Inspired by Mathew A’s recent Five Underrated List, I figured I’d do another 5 Underrated List myself this time focusing on slasher films because they are non-stop joy machines in my book. Plus I like doing lists because it’s like writing with all the hellish torture parts removed!

Absurd (AKA Monster Hunter) & Nightmare (both 1981)

ABSURD is the kinda/sorta the sequel to ANTHROPOPHAGUS (aka THE GRIM REAPER) but not in any way that matters. Yep- it’s directed by good ol’ JOE D’AMATO and yep it stars lovably lanky GEORGE EASTMAN but any other connection is, I guess, more to do with marketing. In the world of my tiny mind, it’s known as MONSTER HUNTER and it stands alone as adorable, Italian HALLOWEEN wannabe. This is one of those movies I suspect I enjoy more than I’m supposed to but I’m in no way strong enough to resist the bare bones synth score, the bonkers pseudo science that abounds or a poor victim trapped in a cringe-worthy head brace. My feelings toward this far too forgotten gem perfectly coincide with my feelings toward the equally simple and sleazy NIGHTMARE (aka NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN), a film I think it shares a lot more in common with than its previously mentioned sibling. Watch these two disturbing and tastefully tasteless twins back to back while eating a Burger King Halloween burger and then feel free to worry about what’s wrong with me that I would suggest such a thing.

Flashback (2002) & Madhouse (1981)

The best slashers always have to concern crap from the past that isn’t going anywhere no matter how hard you try to bury it and long suffering put upon ladies who are all types of sick of suffering the psychosis of others. Nobody ever mentions FLASHBACK (full slobbering review HERE) or the delicious MADHOUSE (full equally slobbery review HERE) enough to satisfy my needs! I don’t understand why.

Cold Prey 1,2 & 3

The greatest slasher series this side of whatever decade it no longer is! I’m just going to go ahead and call the first two masterpieces and then add that reports that the third one ain’t so hot are greatly exaggerated. Sure, Part 3 regrettably has to stumble along without the series’ grandest asset, its charismatic lead (INGRID BOLSO BERDAL) but the sad truth is, it’s still miles better than any American horror flick I’ve seen in the theaters since what seems like roughly forever.

Just Before Dawn & The Prowler (1981)

Isn’t it sad that these two other slashers films from 1981 were somehow never seen by me in my youth? I do remember eyeing the newspaper ad for JBD on the day it came out in the weekend section of the Philadelphia Inquirer but alas, that was the closest I got! For some reason no video store I ever belonged to carried either and frankly I was not terribly keen on checking out THE PROWLER anyway because the title was so boring and just made it seem like it was about some sneaky guy who roamed around looking in windows. Fate would have it that I would catch up to these two fine flicks somewhere around ten or so years ago whenever they hit DVD.
Point is, I think they are both great examples of exactly my favorite thing to watch and I’ll add a bonus compliment to JBD and say I dig its color palette especially that groovy florescent orange that shows up from time to time (full review HERE).

My Bloody Valentine & The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2009 & 2014)

I can understand why people hate remakes like PROM NIGHT (2008) because that one sucks horribly, has nothing to do with the original and every attempt it makes to pander to contemporary audiences reminds you that we can never go back to a time when people weren’t super annoying. On the other hand, both MBV and TTTDS are awesome and wonderful tributes if you ask me. I’m just going to point out that both of these remakes seem to respect the originals and have a real interest in their respective small town settings and have the capacity to acknowledge various variant characters. I’d say in the case of both films too that when they ended, I didn’t feel like I had just been talked down to or treated like a complete idiot for the sin of wanting to see them. I don’t know, I guess what I’m talking about is that there’s a real lack of audience disdain that I find super pleasing. Ya know? I dig that. Gold stars, kisses, thumbs up and kudos on a decapitated head.

Killer Scene:: Mickster on Fright Night’s Dance Seduction

It is hard to believe Fright Night is thirty this year! I was not lucky enough to see this fantastic film in the theater. I had to wait until it was released on VHS (sometime in 1987). The movie is a classic for many reasons. It has a great blend of comedy and horror. William Ragsdale is great as noisy neighbor, Charlie Brewster. Stephen Geoffreys is fantastic as Charlie’s sarcastic friend, Evil Ed. Amanda Bearse is exemplary as Charlie’s skeptical girlfriend, Amy Peterson. Roddy McDowell is perfect as the non-believing vampire hunter, Peter Vincent. Jonathan Stark is quite humorous as Jerry’s daytime guardian, Billy Cole. Dorothy Fielding is believably flaky as divorced mom, Judy Brewster.

But let me cut to the chase by saying the real reason I have watched this movie repeatedly over the years is Chris Sarandon‘s portrayal of the ultra sexy vampire, Jerry Dandrige. I have a problem. I cannot get enough of a particular scene from Fright Night…the nightclub seduction scene. I guess it is sad, but I have been waiting for that to happen to me since I first saw the movie. The thought of having Jerry Dandrige possess me on the dance floor is very appealing. Don’t judge me because this is my biggest fantasy (I know, I’m sad). Let’s examine the scene…

*Jerry expertly entices Amy to the dance floor.

*Jerry begins dancing with Amy, while she appears to be in a trance of the vampire persuasion.

*Jerry drops Amy; giving her the chance to escape, and seconds later, she turns around transformed.

*Hot dancing between Jerry and the newly transformed Amy ensues.

*Then that dolt, Charlie, tries to foul up this sexy moment by attempting to punch Jerry. Hope you enjoy that crushed hand, Charlie!

UNK SEZ: Hey, is it getting warm in Kindertrauma Kastle today? Aunt John and I would like to thank Alabama’s favorite daughter Mickster for taking time off of her busy teaching schedule (Yay teachers!) to stop by our humble abode and share this killer scene. If you have a favorite scene from a horror film, traumatic or not, feel free to send it in!

Neoteric Traumafession:: Melody M. on The Bay (2012)

I have a very, very recent Traumafession to make; in fact, I literally just watched the movie that scared me the night before last!

I’ve recently been on a found-footage horror movie kick–actually, I watched The Taking of Deborah Logan solely on your recommendation, Unk!–and I came across a movie that came out in 2012 called The Bay. From what I gathered about the description, it sounded promising: The Gov’ment had covered up a horrifying incident involving a small Maryland town in the Chesapeake Bay area back in 2009, and the footage taken during that incident was now being released to the public. Since it seemed like a detour from the usual demonic possession/monster theme these kinds of movies always seem to have, and with a very prominent director attached to it (Barry Levinson) I figured, why not? I’ll give it a go!

WELP. I can handle demonic possession/monster movies, because while they are scary, I can chortle about them later, content in the knowledge that they’re not real and the beasties in those movies won’t be showing up in the real world any time soon. What I CAN’T handle are movies about contagions/ecological horrors that are plausible enough to actually happen in the real world. And this movie had just that: nasty water-borne parasites, mutated by agricultural run-off, gruesomely eating people from the inside out. GUH! Talk about getting under your skin! After watching this, I’m pretty sure I’ll never go swimming again, and only drink bottled water from now on.

UNK SEZ: I hear you loud and clear, Melody! That kind of stuff gets to me too. I could not eat tuna for months after that ZANTI MISFIT face showed up in a tuna can! Listen folks, it’s October and we all need as many scares as possible! If you’ve had a modern, new wave, recent-style trauma like Melody, feel free to send us a trauma-FRESH-ion telling us all about it!

Name That Trauma:: Rudy from the Netherlands on Three Men and a Dinosaur

OK, sorry if I am cheating a bit here for the film I’m looking for probably traumatised my parents more than it did me. I distinctly remember when I was a child, my mom and dad took me to a local video store here in Holland. I come from a tiny village with its nearest city being a 20 min. car-drive away. As it was only worthwhile for us to rent films from the video store in that place for a week, my parents never exposed me to the shelves displaying the latest titles. Of course I didn’t know that, so one day I rented a tape really hoping it was THREE MEN AND A BABY, only it turned out to be the original French film. I couldn’t have been a day older than 10 years old, so imagine my confusion. It distinctly wasn’t in the language my prepubescent ears were more or less familiar with, meaning it sounded a whole lot different than the language being spoken on my favourite show back then (PUNKY BREWSTER (The “The Perils of Punky” – episode must have popped up on this site SOME TIME), it definitely scared the bejesus out of me back then!) not to mention it lacked one very famous black mustache I was pretty acquainted with already. I never knew what was going on, because it clearly had three men and a baby on its cover, so how could have it been anything else than that Guttenberg/Danson/Selleck-masterpiece? Back then I always stuck to comedy-films, as my parents didn’t let me rent anything else, and I just loved ‘funny things’. I ended up taking home loads of tapes, the titles of which I can’t remember now, but more often than not turned out to be lousy European films I didn’t enjoy a second of.

Now about the tape I’ve always wondered about and can’t seem to find any information about. It was a compilation tape of sorts and featured a T. Rex in a director’s chair on its sleeve. I thought it would be fun , because after tons of unfunny euro-sleaze, I probably ached for a comedy featuring an American (how could it possibly be from somewhere else with a T.rex in a director’s chair??) Alas. I remember when I popped it in one day with my parents being present. It started with a reel of clips mostly featuring sex-scenes, some insipid humour, and then supposedly ‘funny’ sex-scenes. And yet more sex-scenes. After watching 10 minutes of it my parents thought it best to yank it from the VHS player and to run off with it to the kitchen, where they probably hid it in the deep fryer. So that was that. I remember also that I was still of so ripe an age, that the sight of copious amounts of bare titties didn’t make up for what I was really aching to see: a T.rex in a director’s chair…

I’m really curious as to what the name of the tape is …and if I can now appreciate the tape’s content for its ‘artistic worth’ more than I could back then. Funny thing, a couple of years later a new video-rental store opened in a village much closer to ours. The first thing I grabbed back then was a copy of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART IV (my interest in film-taste received a firm jolt after seeing a picture of Freddy Krueger in a teen-science magazine). Being used to the system of our former video stores, we unwisely kept it for a week, costing my parents approximately 35 dollars worth of overdue expenses in the end (!)So that’s two film-induced traumas I gave my parents before I had probably turned 12. Not bad, I hope someone can unveil the title of this life-changing piece of VHS-magic.

Rudy – a regular reader from the Netherlands

Sunday Streaming:: Terror on Tape (1983)

Having RANDI ALLEN stop by the site this week had me remembering that I may have first viewed CATHY’S CURSE in the late eighties but the first time I ever heard mention of it was when I rented TERROR ON TAPE some years earlier. Are you guys familiar with the one and only TERROR ON TAPE? It’s the crazy compilation of clips from movies all of which happen to be on the long defunct CONTINENTAL label and it’s hosted by your pal and mine CAMERON MITCHELL! Can you imagine a better place to visit than a video shop that exclusively carries those old school giant box videos? Take some time out to watch TERROR ON TAPE today! It’s goofy and sleazy and it’s going to be released on DVD exactly never in my estimation and I’d say that’s more than appropriate and fine by me!

Name That Trauma:: Gary B. on a Werewolf PSA and a Two-faced Town

Hi! I’ve submitted a Name That Trauma once BEFORE and it took your readers only about 3 hours to solve that lifelong mystery. So I’m back with two more. I think these are gonna be pretty tough. I’ve tried everything to find them, but I can’t. Let’s see if your readers can come through again!

1. We’ll start with the really difficult one. This was an anti-drug PSA that aired in the early 70s. I remember a man would go into his bathroom, and look at himself in the mirrored door of his bathroom medicine cabinet. He was in a robe, had messed up hair, and a 5 o’clock shadow. He opened the medicine cabinet, frantically swallowed some pills, and closed the medicine cabinet. But when he looked at his reflection after taking the pills, he was…gasp…a werewolf! Clearly, the message is that drug abuse causes lycanthropy. Anyway, it scared the crap outta me.

2. I think this one will be easier, because I am about 90% certain it was an episode of “Night Gallery“. Again, this aired in the early 70s. The scene was set in the old west. There were horse and buggies, and everyone was wearing old west attire. I remember a man running through the streets screaming for someone to help him (I don’t remember why he needed help). But everyone he ran to for help had ghostly white faces! They reminded me of mimes. Not see-through ghostly, just white clown paint. I specifically remember a man in a top hat with a ghostly white face, but there were many others ghost-faces also. The ghost-faced people would laugh at his cries for help, and mock him. I think I remember the scene ending with them surrounding him – pointing and laughing at him with their white ghost-faces, and closing in on him as he shrieked in terror. One last detail – I think I remember that the man did not belong in the old west. He had gotten there accidentally through some wacky time travel mishap. But I may be fuzzy on that detail.

I’d really appreciate it if you could share these two submissions with your readers. I’m hoping to finally confront these traumatic experiences as an adult!

Love your blog! Been reading it forever!

UNK SEZ: Thanks Gary! That first one sounds awfully familiar but I think I’ll have more luck helping you with the second! The movie you just described sounds a whole heck of a lot like 1971’s BLACK NOON! We’ve got a full review for that one back HERE! It’s a western with the TWILIGHT ZONE vibe you described and a real knock your socks off revelation at the end! Let me know if I got it right and if so, thanks for giving us a chance to mention that creeptastic gem again!