Four Underrated Final Girls by Mathew A.

Hello, Unk! The twitch to write about horror movies doesn’t hit me often, but when it does I immediately think of you. You are forever my #1, Kindertrauma.

I started to write another piece about underrated horror flicks (I have LOTS of thoughts on Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2), but then I realized there was something else I needed to get off my chest. That “something” is a love of final girls who don’t necessarily get their due. If you are like me and inherently understand that Sarah Michelle Gellar should’ve been the final girl in IKWYDLS instead of whiny Jennifer Love Hewitt, then you are awesome and you probably see where I’m going with this post. If not, don’t worry. You might still be awesome. Perhaps you just have a soft spot for J-Love. I will forgive you.

As I’ve mentioned before, “underrated” is a term that doesn’t mean much; what I consider underrated might be totally different than what you consider underrated. It doesn’t really matter. It gives me an excuse to write about horror movies and the final girls who might be a little under the radar compared to Laurie Strode, Sydney Prescott, Nancy Thompson… the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I love Laurie as much as the next horror fanatic, but we’ve been there and done that to death. Let’s dig in. Oh, and SPOILER WARNING, obviously.

Rachel Carruthers (Halloween 4-5)

Played perfectly by actress Ellie Cornell, Rachel is the best unsung heroine in the Halloween franchise. To be honest, Halloween 4 is an underrated movie in general. It was actually the first Halloween movie I saw, so nostalgia might be fueling this a bit. I don’t care. I’m telling you, this movie holds up. And a big reason for that is the character of Rachel. She has the unenviable task of filling the shoes formerly filled by Laurie Strode, and she is more than up for it. She’s equal parts tough and kind, and she’s more responsible than any teen in her situation has any right being. Most of all, she’s just incredibly likable. If you’ve seen her in action, hopefully you understand what I mean. There’s just *something* about her that makes you root for her and willingly follow her to the depths of Haddonfield Hell.

P.S. Halloween 5, while enjoyable in parts, kinda did Rachel dirty. SHE DESERVED MORE, I tell ya!

Yasmine (Frontier(s))

In the mid-2000s, French horror films had quite a moment. Remember Inside and High Tension? Martyrs? They were bloody, nihilistic, and pretty grim, especially compared to their American counterparts. While I enjoyed these films, I don’t really find myself coming back for repeated viewings, mostly because I look at horror films as an equivalent to comfort food. That being said, let’s give Yasmine (Karina Testa) her due.

Frontier(s) seems influenced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its ilk, and much like poor Sally from the abovementioned classic, Yasmine is PUT THROUGH THE RINGER. She takes a beating, both literally and figuratively, to the point where it almost makes you want to stop watching. Luckily for us, Yasmine is way stronger than she looks. Right when you think she’s at the point of giving up, she digs in her heels and brings forth some spectacularly bloody vengeance on her captors. Speaking of…

Erin Harson (You’re Next)

I know, I know… this movie is more action/thriller than horror, but don’t think I’m letting that stop me. Erin (played by the most beautiful woman in the world, Sharni Vinson) is a force to be reckoned with, and I appreciate that. The “home invasion” genre in horror is certainly popular, but I for one don’t love it. The protagonists typically make terrible decisions, and rarely do they fight back against the intruders in a way that is cathartic. The movies might be more realistic in that sense, but I don’t watch horror films for realism, nor do I watch them to see average people getting tortured throughout the length of the movie. I LOVE that the filmmakers gave Erin a reason for being a badass, and it actually made sense! She’s a charming, one-woman killing machine, and it’s glorious to behold. Thanks to Erin and her survivalist skills, I would much rather watch this movie than other, more popular home invasion flicks (e.g., The Strangers) where the homeowners are pretty much intruder fodder. Please don’t hold it against me.

Chris Higgins (Friday the 13th Part 3)

This might be a controversial choice, and it’s what got me thinking about this topic in the first place. Chris Higgins (played by Dana Kimmell) is not discussed very often. Perhaps she is overshadowed by Ginny Field, the (admittedly awesome) final girl from Part 2. Yes, Ginny is super smart and spunky, and the way she used Jason’s mother issues against him at the end of that film was genius. But I feel like you already know that. Most horror fans have come to this realization. Chris, on the other hand, never really gets the recognition she deserves. Hear me out.

I will admit that Chris is not very likable. Don’t get me wrong, I know being likable and sweet is not a requirement for a great final girl. I’m just thinking of reasons why other people might not appreciate her. Chris comes off as slightly cold and distant, which is either part of her character or just the way Kimmell was as an actress. I happen to appreciate it, but I naturally gravitate towards cold or slightly unlikable characters. Also, let’s not forget, Chris was dealing with past trauma involving Jason. It’s an icky subplot in the movie, but it also gives you all the more reason to root for her when she kicks his ass during the climax. And HOLY HELL, kick his ass she does!

I can’t think of any other Friday the 13th heroine who gets the best of Jason quite like Chris Higgins. I won’t give you a complete rundown of every little thing she does to take Jason down, but believe me; she earns her “final girl” title like no other. It’s fun to watch, and it’s thanks to Chris that I find myself coming back to Part 3 more often than the other sequels.

Well, there you have it, folks. Can you think of any other underrated ladies in the “final girl” pantheon? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday Movie:: The Immortalizer (1989)

I swear I had every intention of broadening my horizons beyond COMET TV this weekend but how can I when they perpetually insist upon showing such awesome stuff? I can’t escape! Tonight they are showing this weird obscure cult-ready fiasco called THE IMMORTALIZER from 1989 (1990?). From what I can tell everybody and their mother hates this movie except me. I caught it on MGM HD in the wee hours about two or three years ago and it was basically everything I wanted it to be and then some. It’s got that weird uncomfortable tortured captive thing that you might find in HELLHOLE or MANSION OF THE DOOMED but it’s also got that campy search for eternal youth plotline that you might recognize from DEATH BECOMES HER, ETERNAL EVIL, SKELETON KEY and this year’s critically acclaimed GET OUT. Plus it’s pretty darn hilarious in its brazen ineptitude and slightly sleazy vulgarity. Did I mention it takes place in the same building as SORORITY MASSACRE PART 2 (More on that HERE)? In any case, the important thing here is that this may be your last chance to see THE IMMORTALIZER for a while. It doesn’t seem to be readily available in any format and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be building a demand for such a thing any time soon. Check it out while you can right HERE at 6 (ET/PT) before it sips away! You’re not getting any younger!

VHSaturday:: Bad Ronald and The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane.

Somebody needs to make gold Popsicle stick thrones for these two VHS tapes to sit on. Did I mention they are married and should never be separated? Both THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE and BAD RONALD had an immeasurable impact on my youth. Although I’m sure I was born attracted to horror, I can’t say that I became a true horror freak until I caught HALLOWEEN as a teen and therefore my love of both of these gems can be said to predate my more ravenous fandom. Why does that matter? It doesn’t. It just blows my mind that I’ve known Rynn and Ronald longer than I’ve known Laurie Strode. It seems impossible.

These two crazy kids helped me to forge my identity and their example always made me feel less alone. I know I’ll never be as cool as TLGWLDTL’s Rynn (JODIE FOSTER) but I understood at an early age her desire to live by her own rules, in her own house, separate from the toxic notions and shallow values of the outside world. I understood instinctively her attraction to animals, books and the ownership of her own free time and I easily recognized the enemies who wanted to control her (Mrs. Hallet!) or exploit her for sport (her entitled son Frank). And oh how I related to Mario (SCOTT JACOBY) who admired Wren the same way that I did and leaned on illusion to escape the body that so betrayed him. JACOBY of course, also stars in BAD RONALD and although Ronald certainly has his creepy side I can’t help but respect his boundless and self-reliant creativity. Furthermore, I can’t say I ever blamed him for losing his temper when he was pushed too far (and yes I know I’m starting to sound like an impressionable lunatic gushing over a J. D. SALINGER book).

But wait! This is a post about the VHS tapes and not the movies themselves! I will save that worship for another day! Naturally, I’ve got the DVD upgrades for both of these (BAD RONALD even sports a quote from yours truly on the back!) but I shall never discard these tapes that have meant so much to me (and are kind enough to rewind themselves when done). Truth is, both of these VHS covers are sort of oatmeal bland and borderline frumpy. TLGWLDTL’s illustration is basically from Mars and poor BAD RONALD’s sun damage renders its very title nearly invisible. Luckily they both are adorned with quirky stickers that answer questions that nobody asked like the vaguely judgmental “previously viewed” on TLGWLDTL and the equal parts cajoling and insufficient “horror” and “mystery” badges on BAD RONALD.

In both cases there are no images from the actual movies to be found on the back of the box and in both cases, it’s a missed opportunity. Let’s check out the inside tape of BAD RONALD! Oh, look it’s got a shiny silver U.S.A. HOME VIDEO label! Plus a security sticker claiming it belongs to VIDEO WORLD in North Carolina? Wrong! It belongs to me! TLGWLDTL’s inside looks like a bomb went off in there. I’d like to think I was the type to reattach a label with some thinly and evenly spread glue but apparently at one point in my life I though clear plastic tape would suffice?!! Huh, well, at least that dispels the myth that I haven’t grown over the years. Ok, back up on the high shelf with you two tapes! Settle down and curb the killing! Don’t make me separate you!

Name That Horror Dog!

We’ve gone to the dogs! Below are ten images of ten dogs from ten horror films. How many can you identify? While we’re on the subject, there’s a brand new book coming out all about the making of the classic movie CUJO ! It’s called NOPE, NOTHING WRONG HERE: THE MAKING OF CUJO and it’s written and edited by good old LEE GAMBIN! There’s no need to beg- you can pre-order the hardcover HERE or the softcover HERE!

It’s a Horror to Know You:: Long Time Fan Lake!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

The first one that really got me was Tourist Trap. I caught the plaster on the face scene on TV when I was around seven. It scared me so much I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I told my mom and she told me to visualize the actors between takes, smoking a cigarette, having coffee, flirting with each other, all while still in costume. Putting them in the context of just regular people at work really helped me get through being frightened. Thanks mom!

2. What is the last film that scared you?

The indi horror Resolution (2012). It’s a simple yet unnerving little gem and something about it is just off enough to freak me out. There were also a few scenes of the underrated Sy-fy channel series Channel Zero; Candle Cove that got me. If you’re a fan of indi or slow burn horror you should give this unusual show, where each season is based on a different Creepypasta, a chance.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Housebound (2014). A brilliant horror-comedy. Sharp, unusual, and cleverly done.

Dark Touch (2013). Tragic and odd, with a gut punch ending.

The Canal (2014). I’m a sucker for haunted house stories, especially ones with a madness “is it really happening?” vibe.

*Bonus!! Kill List (2011). A fairly standard hitman tale takes a surreal cult turn. Well acted, well paced, and surprisingly scary.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

Ghosthouse (1988). Oy this movie. It’s just terrible. And it never answered the question of who is more popular in Denver, Kelly LeBrock or Kim Basinger.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). This movie is not good. Rooney Mara is a terrible heroine, the art director was apparently in a Xanax coma, and why is every color so muted and blue? But, for whatever reason (Kyle Gallner, it’s totally because of Kyle Gallner), I don’t hate it.

Transylvania Twist (1989). It’s not a Horror per se. It’s not even a horror-comedy so much as it is comedy trying to be bad horror? Or trying to poke fun at bad horror? I don’t know. It’s eighties and awful and god damn do I love this bastard.

5. Send us to five places on the Internet!

Listverse. Fans of Kindertrauma might dig the “Creepy” “Weird Stuff” and “Crime” sections.

The Movie Pooper. Because sometimes I want to know what happens in a movie without having to watch said movie.

Mental Floss. Facts and stuff being fact-y!

Cracked. If you like reading pop culture nonsense and wasting time, boy is this site for you.

Good Bad Flicks. Anyone who loves bad eighties/horror will like this. Our host Cecil gives witty recaps of so bad they’re good movies as well as interesting production notes and backstories.

Thank you so much! It’s been a Horror to know you and hopefully a Horror to know me too!

Sunday Movie:: The Video Dead (1987) (Via Comet TV)

There is no reason to leave the house today! There is nothing out there in the sun. As long as you have popcorn for popping you should be all set. You see, the generous folks at COMET TV are showing THE VIDEO DEAD at 4! Let me tell you, THE VIDEO DEAD is a true one of a kind flick. It’s sometimes legit creepy, sometimes legit hilarious and all the time legit charming. It’s never stingy with the gore and the surprisingly impressive special effects and some of the ghouls shambling about have some serious personality (wait till you meet the bride)! There’s a sweet homegrown backyard feel to this 1987 straight to video release but it runs at a good clip and features more creative set pieces than a dozen Hollywood productions. Mostly, it’s just pure unadulterated eighties-style fun and the fact that writer/director ROBERT SCOTT never went on to make another horror movie is a crime against the undead. Check out this suburban nightmare on your computer (at 4) HERE or rumor has it you can now find COMET TV on that newfangled ROKU device! What will they think of next? COMET has me feeling like I’m reliving the glorious UHF days of my youth (aw, channel 48 how I miss you!). I’ll be watching on my rabbit ear set with the glow in dark skull on top as it is the most likely to have a zombie pop out of it!