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? Doesnâ€™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 Iâ€™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 decadeâ€™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.
Iâ€™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 ainâ€™t brokeâ€¦) 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, â€œdeathâ€ 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 â€œno relation to Whoopsieâ€ 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. Whatâ€™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 filmâ€™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 â€œsignsâ€ 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 â€œartâ€ 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.)…
Oh man, UNK, the scene with Kristen Cloke brought back a ton of memories. The second season, two part ender (“The Fourth Horsemen” and ‘The Time Is Now”) was easily, the darkest, blackest two hours of television I had ever witnessed. For those who did not watch Millennium, the episodes involved an Ebola-like outbreak in America, and gave viewers not only one of the most shockingly graphic depictions (for prime time especially) of what Ebola could do, but sent two, TWO of it’s main characters off for good. An elongated nightmare that just got worse and worse, I was literally speechless as the two-parter finally ended.
As an adult, nothing has really affected me more (other than perhaps the episode of Twin Peaks where we see who Bob at long last resides inside.) I really, really like Cloke’s character, Laura Means, and at the end of this ten-minute, Patti Smith scored stunner, knew this character would never, ever return from the abyss. Still breaks my heart.
Huge Final Destination fan right here, Unk! I’ve loved this series from the get-go with 2 being the high point so far. I’m hoping that with Ellis back in the directing seat and with the added bonus of 3-D that this will be the new standard in FD mayhem. At the very least, the trailer has me stoked.
And I know exactly what Millenium clip that is and that’s why I can’t bring myself to watch it – that’s a scene that’s too disturbing to go back to! What an incredible second season Millenium had. I’ve read that Henricksen wasn’t keen on the more supernatural direction the show went that year, which is a shame as its year that really made the show special, in my opinion.
Jeff & Ratsaw,
Glad to hear you guys are Millennium fans too. I found season 1 sort of hard to get into and season 3 a bit too standard but season two was absolutely amazing to me.
(Strangely some Millennium fans find the second season to be the weakest.)
Personally, I would go so far as to recommend that people watch season two as a stand alone series. It really knows no bounds and is highly original television.
Ratsaw, when you mention the virus – I wonder if you are referring to a particular scene that occurs at a family dinner table or maybe a barbecue? I remember it freaking the hell out of me.
YES. It’s a family who barbecues chicken on a grill outside, then sits down indoors to eat. For those who haven’t seen it, within seconds they are bleeding out their eyes and mouth and convulsing. The moment that actually made me scream out loud is when one of the family members grabs the phone to dial 911, then his fingertip ruptures and squirts blood as he’s hitting the digits on the phone. It’s effective because it happens so fucking fast.
I was really upset when I read about the knocks the fans, then Henriksen himself, gave season two of Millennium. It was the boldest and the best. There are season one and season three episodes like, but nearly all of my favorite episodes come from season two.
Oh, and Lucy Butler! Man, she freaked my shit out. What Sarah-Jane Redmond created in that character was one of the most underrated villains to ever appear in a genre series, like, EVER.
Finally, need I mention how utterly heartbroken I was that this series was canceled just one year shy of the actual millennium itself?
Ah, Millennium. I loved it in its original run, and I’ve watched each episode at least 3 times in the past few years on the “Chiller” channel on DirecTV.
The episode that totally freaked me out was “A Room With No View”. Lucy Butler holds teenagers hostage in rooms where the instrumental “Love is Blue” is played over and over and over….
I found it upsetting for two reasons: I think that hearing the same song over and over again constantly would surely drive me insane, and when I was a child my mother often played “Love is Blue” on a record player while she did housework. I hadn’t thought about that record for decades, and now my childhood memory of happily being with Mom while it played is forever connected to the idea of psychological torture.
As a horror fan, I committed the sin of avoiding these movies like the plague for the longest time. One of my biggest phobias is freak accidents, and the thought of dying unexpectedly by some freak accident scares the hell out of me.
However, the notion of not watching a particular movie out of fear also bugs me, so a couple years ago I made myself to watch all of the Final Destination movies. You know what? They kind of amused me and made me feel silly for being afraid. You see, death came after these characters specifically, because they cheated death and it was angry. I’m in no danger of death coming for me specifically. Of course, it is possible for me to die in a freak accident, but some of the deaths in the films are so ridiculous that it’s silly to be afraid of dying that way.
So now I am a fan of The FD films. I still won’t watch The Human Centipede though. It’s not out of fear, though…it’s out of sheer revulsion.