“Mr. Cop, Can You Put Away Your Gun? Cause You’re Making Everybody Nervous.”

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You know what this means.

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So-Bad-It’s . . . no, it’s really just bad horror.

Your entry for this year’s Bloody Hearts is a spectacularly terrible film called House of Nine, a movie that’s so smalltime it doesn’t even have a proper Tomato Meter on Rotten Tomatoes. Although audiences, at least, apparently blessed it with a 36% approval rating, which, while not a good score, is probably about 35% higher than it should be. I would like to know who these people are and have a serious conversation with all of them.

Considering that seems unlikely, I guess I’ll just settle for some wordy analysis and snark.

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“Have You Guessed Who The Werewolf Is?”

Splatterfest 2015 has come and gone. Junk food was procured and devoured, bad horror movies were rented and voted upon. The movie my friends chose to watch: The Beast Must Die, a 1974 horror whodunnit starring Grand Moff Tarkin and Albus Dumbledore.

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The premise is fantastic, just full of cheesy good potential. There’s even a Werewolf Break! (It may be the best thing I’ve ever seen.) Unfortunately, the rest of the film . . . well, the rest of the film leaves a lot to be desired.

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Make Me Watch a Terrible Movie: The Schadenfreude Poll

Apparently, failure begets failure. I’m looking at my Best Picture Challenge that I’m miserably behind on, and while I totally have time to catch up — I just don’t want to. Considering these are made-up and deeply insignificant challenges that I’ve entirely created for myself — yeah, I think I’m just going to bite the bullet and call it a loss now, rather than stretch it out and be needlessly miserable for the rest of the year.

I’m already looking ahead to next year’s possible challenge (current contenders are Disney Princess Movies vs 80’s Classics I Somehow Missed) but today’s poll is all about punishment. Last time I failed a movie challenge, I had to (sob) watch and review Battlefield Earth. I have never properly recovered from this trauma.

Which movie (or television show) should I traumatize myself with now?

Manos: Hands of Fate
Jaws: The Revenge
The Wicker Man (with Nicolas Cage, obviously)
Showgirls
Troll 2
Spiderman 3
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Room
The first three episodes of Birds of Prey

Please leave your vote in the Comments (or on Facebook/Twitter/whatever — just make sure I can find it.) I’ve linked all the trailers here, if you’d like a more fully informed decision. (I’m sort of hoping that no one has seen all of these movies, or else I’ll have to feel sorry for you.) I was also going to offer to watch the first three episodes of Cop Rock, but the total lack of availability made that impossible. (It’s almost too bad. I’m pretty sure I could have come up with an entertaining review of a 90’s police procedural where everybody sang.)

The poll will be open for one week, and I (the Despairing) will have to watch and review it before the end of the year. Fair warning: alcohol may be involved.

“I Am Turning Thirty Next Week, and I Just Want to Go Home and Grow Oranges!”

A few months ago, I went to San Francisco. I don’t make it out to SF all that much, primarily because I don’t have a car and it’s a long damn bus ride. But when I do go, I usually try to get in a trip to Rasputin’s because, man, I just love that place. On my last visit, I bought a movie for three dollars purely because I knew it’d be fun to review. That movie?

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Oh, Identity. I’m not even quite sure where to begin with you.

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Top 10 Favorite Final Girls

Last week, a friend of mine sent me a list of someone’s favorite final girls. I eagerly clicked on the link — because lists plus horror equals yay! — only to find myself completely enraged by the inclusion of Marie from High Tension, which . . . no. I absolutely refuse to accept Marie as a final girl because she fucking isn’t one. The term is somewhat open to interpretation (as I’ll briefly discuss later) but seriously, no. That movie, I swear to God.

Moving on. I knew I’d have to make my own list of favorite final girls in response, which would be difficult because most lists include boring heroines like Sally from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Jess from Black Christmas. I like these movies, but unfortunately, final girls with actual personality is a relatively modern invention — and even modern horror regularly fails on that score. And as much as I felt like I should include Sarah from The Descent — for being, you know, all competent and kick-ass, I just couldn’t get past the fact that I really, really disliked her. So until I finally make myself give that movie a second chance, she’s out of the running.

With that in mind — and continuing my penchant for creating blog posts at least one week after time-of-the-year relevancy — here are my favorite final girls.

DISCLAIMER:

There will, rather obviously, be spoilers. In fact, there will be ALL the spoilers. Please don’t assume I’m kidding about the spoilers. Read at your own peril.

Top Ten Favorite Final Girls

10. Jenny (Renée Zellweger) – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

If you haven’t seen this movie, please understand: this is a terrible film. Do not rent this with the expectation that it will be good, or even vaguely coherent. It will not, and you will be highly disappointed. Even as a so-bad-it’s-good film, it’s . . . well, special. Leatherface alone, I mean, wow. And Jenny, by and large, is not a particularly great heroine because that would imply that she, or any of the other characters in this story, are well-drawn. Obviously, this is not the case.

Still, Jenny has earned a tiny spot in my odd little nostalgic heart. This is partially because TCM: TNG is the movie that introduced me to my love of mocking absurdly awful horror films. But it’s also because of this one moment, where Jenny — wearing the most hideous dress, complete with this weird silver fringe shit and one ridiculously large red flower  — tells Leatherface to “sit the fuck down and shut up.” The delivery is amazing. This is the sound my heart makes when I’m continuously surrounded by aggressively annoying people, and I kind of love her for it.

9. Allison (Katrina Bowden) – Tucker and Dale vs Evil

In a movie where the hillbillies are the good guys and city kids accidentally leap headfirst into wood chippers, Katrina Bowden has the not-entirely-enviable task of playing the stereotypically sweet heroine straight whilst simultaneously making her likable at the same time. But she does a good job with it because I do like Allison. Her best moment in the whole movie is when she tries to do a sit-down therapy session with both Dale, our primary hillbilly protagonist, and Chad, our would-be hero and clear antagonist. It doesn’t work at all, of course. In fact, considering that it ends in three deaths and one cabin explosion, it could be considered a colossal failure, but hey, what’s important is that she tried, right?

8. Cassidy (Briana Evigan) – Sorority Row

Cassidy is your fairly typical final girl: she’s the nice girl in the sorority, the only one who wanted to go to the cops when a prank got their friend killed. (She’s also the first girl on the list who, technically, isn’t a final girl. Final girl and survivor girl are often used interchangeably, but I’m not sure a final girl actually needs to survive. Really, she just needs to be the last girl standing, but Cass isn’t standing alone: two other girls survive with her. But honestly, that’s generally allowed these days. That’s way more acceptable than the idea that Marie from High Tension is a final girl. Sweet baby Christ.)

The thing that makes Cass different from so many other final girls: she’s snarky as hell. Sure, she has a couple of dumb lines that I’d erase if I could. But for the most part, she’s funny and likable, and the chemistry between her and Leah Pipes makes this movie so much more entertaining than I ever thought it would be. (And obviously, Carrie Fisher doesn’t hurt either. Carrie Fisher should play the den mother in every sorority horror film from now on.)

7. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) – Halloween, Halloween 2, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later 

Laurie Strode is one of the few classic final girls I have on my list, and surprisingly, this mostly has to do with H20. I’ll have to give Halloween another chance at some point, but despite some truly awesome music, I never fully warmed up to that movie. (Though, to be fair, it has been quite some time since I’ve seen it.) I did like the sequel, but I barely remember anything about Laurie herself. I got absolutely zero sense of her personality in that film. In H20, though, we get to see what’s become of her after twenty years — has a kid, became a teacher, basically living in fear — and all of that pretty seemed believable to me. I’m all about the evolution of characters, and Laurie Strode’s worked.

Best moment, hands down, is when Laurie decapitates Michael. (We don’t speak of any later films in that franchise because they have ceased to exist. Such is the mighty power of my will. Think about that, and FEAR ME.)

6. Riley (Shanley Caswell) – Detention

So, this movie is nuts. In a much better way than Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, obviously, but still. NUTS. A surprising number of teens actually survive this movie (including the goth girl, which never happens), but since one of them is an alien and a handful of others travel back in time to save the world — or at least the school — that’s hardly the weirdest thing about Detention.

Every character is kind of a parody in this movie. We have jocks, hipsters, mean girls, nerds. Riley, our heroine, is a sarcastic, vegetarian feminist, and while the movie pokes some fun at her, like it pokes fun at everyone, I personally was never offended. (For the record: I’m sarcastic and a feminist, but not a vegetarian.) Riley’s very funny and likable, and she and Josh Hutcherson make great co-leads. I’ve never seen the actress in anything else, but I’d like to based on this alone.

Best moment? Well, I’m a sucker for the Dirty Dancing esque dance scene to “MMM-Bop,” but that just doesn’t sound very horror, does it? Well, too bad, because it’s what I have at the moment.

5. Dana (Kristen Connolly) – The Cabin in the Woods

Dana makes for a very atypical final girl. When we meet her, she’s dancing without any pants on in full view of an open window. She’s also decidedly not a virgin, although the people who intend to sacrifice her and her friends more or less overlook that. Dana intentionally releases all the monsters trapped in the secret underground lair. She even tries to kill her own friend at the end of the movie, although to be fair, she is trying to save the world at that particular point. I can’t decide if hitting the big red button is her best moment — because it’s pretty badass and leads to the best slaughter scene ever — or if it’s when she apologizes for trying to kill Marty and agrees that maybe the whole world is better off without humanity. That scene is both funny and surprisingly sweet, and it is definitely one of my favorite movie endings of all time.

4. Ginny (Amy Steel) – Friday the 13th: Part Two

I haven’t watched them all yet, but of the Friday the 13th movies I have seen, Ginny is easily my favorite heroine, certainly more interesting than Alice (the girl who directly preceded her) and a thousand times less annoying than Chris (who came directly after). Ginny is smart and sarcastic and doesn’t take any shit from anyone, least of all her boyfriend, which, man. That’s such a refreshing quality in a horror movie heroine.

Also, if memory serves, Ginny is not a virgin, which is even more unusual, considering this movie was made in 1981. (Of course, this is also the movie where going out drinking totally saves one dude’s life, further proving that Part Two is absolutely the best Friday the 13th movie there is.)

Ginny takes Jason down with child psychology and a machete. And admittedly, this is a temporary takedown because Jason always has to pop up for one last annoying scare, but come on . . . you’ve gotta like a final girl whose weapons are child psychology and a machete, right? That’s pretty amazing.

3. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) – Alien, Aliens

Ripley is the only final girl on this list who’s trying to survive an evil alien instead of a psychotic killer, but that doesn’t disqualify her from the running. In fact, Ripley is a fantastic final girl: one of my favorite things about Alien, actually, is that she’s a competent woman but decidedly not an action hero. Or, honestly, even the clear survivor girl. If you could somehow watch Alien for the first time without knowing anything about the franchise or the stars involved — good luck — it wouldn’t be immediately clear that Ripley is your protagonist. Which I think is kind of cool, actually. As a rule, horror tends to be an unfortunately predictable genre where you almost always know who’s going to make it and who won’t. But wouldn’t it be so much more interesting if you didn’t know those things? If watching a scary movie was like watching an episode of Game of Thrones or, come to think of it, The Walking Dead? Horror should really embrace the idea that anyone can die.

By the time Aliens came out, Ripley kind of morphed from an everywoman to a Big Damn Hero, but — much like Laurie Strode — I really enjoy the evolution of her character. Her trauma and fear makes her relatable, but her badassery is empowering and never feels out of character or ridiculous. There aren’t a lot of heroines like Ripley, which is unfortunate and why we need more female-dominated action films, not to mention horror movies with competent, realistic women — not just Nice Girls Who Never Do Bad Things.

As far as Best Moment goes, honestly. Do I even need to say it?

2. Sidney (Neve Campbell) – Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4

Hard core nostalgia for this one, considering Scream was my introduction to the slasher genre. Sidney was the first girl to criticize horror movies for being insulting and horror movie heroines, in particular, for being stupid. She punches Gale Weathers, which possibly isn’t a very mature response but is pretty funny, regardless. I’d been thinking that she was the first non-virgin to survive a slasher movie, but I’m actually pretty sure now that’s Ginny. Still, Scream changed the game entirely for horror, and Sidney ushered in a new line of horror movie heroines.

Her best moment is hard to pick. I love when she turns the situation around on Stu and Billy, donning a Ghostface mask and calling them on the phone. I also like when she kills Emma Roberts with a defibrillator in Scream 4 and creepily lies down beside her corpse. (That movie has so many problems, but I LOVE that creepy ass moment.) Still, I think I might have to go back to the original film, when Sidney shoots Billy in the head as he tries to come back for one last scare. That was pretty awesome, especially the first time you watched it.

1. Erin (Sharni Vinson) – You’re Next

I reviewed this movie only last week, so I don’t know I have anything particularly new or insightful to say here. But if you’ll allow me to briefly sum up: Erin takes out seven people in this movie, six of whom are bad guys and five of whom actively try to kill her at least once. She tries her best to keep everyone alive, and she might have managed it, too, if three of her supposed allies weren’t actually evil, money-grubbing bastards. Erin improvises, sets traps, and kills her attackers with all manner of weapons, including blenders. I can’t tell you how much I want to see a crossover fanfiction where she and a now grown up (and presumably much darker) Kevin McAllister defend their position with whatever they can find around the house.

I also really like that Erin’s not an obvious badass from the beginning, that she seems like a relatively normal, well-adjusted person who just happens to have grown up on a survivor compound. I like that her past helps her survive, is a part of her, but doesn’t define her throughout the entire movie. That’s a nice touch.

Erin’s best moment? No question. It’s gotta go to the blender kill. That was AMAZING.

Well, there you have it, folks. There’s my list, only one week past Halloween. Don’t see any of your favorite final girls? Think there were worthier contenders? Sound off in the comments below.

“You Go Through All This And It Comes Down to Some Bullshit Guess?”

Many a post ago, I expressed interest in seeing a horror movie version Jumanji. Cause how awesome would that be, right? Well, Teacups helpfully commented that someone actually did make a horror movie version of Jumanji. Intrigued, I looked up the film, and with the winning combination of Eliza Dushku and that guy from Under the Dome, I was pretty sure Open Graves would be a solid bid for either Bloody Hearts or Splatterfest. Which is another way of saying that it looked terrible.

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People. I was not wrong.

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“Wow, You’re a Winner, Ain’t Ya?”

Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. You get to dress up in fun costumes, have an excuse to eat junk food that you were going to eat anyway, and watch a bunch of scary movies. Also, it’s not a traditionally Family Gathering kind of holiday, so it comes with a lot less drama than, say, Thanskgiving or Christmas.

Also, in my house, Halloween is a time to savor truly terrible horror movies.

We will begin Splatterfest 2014 with our first film: Nine Dead.

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“Either You’ve Got the Car Started, or You’re a Dead Man.”

Interesting. By happy coincidence, Kirsten and I both recently ended up watching sequels from different horror franchises where an emotionally traumatized survivor named Tommy has to come face-to-face with the monster from his childhood.

Luckily for me, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is a little better than Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not ART. But I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

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“Michael Myers is My Business.”

My friend Kirsten wrote me and said that she had, for some unknown reason, decided to watch Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. She’d also written a review and was like, “Hey, do you want this?”

What I heard:

“Hey, Halloween’s around the corner, and you have stories you’re supposed to be working on, stories that people are actually planning to pay you for. You want a Free Day from MGB to go, you know, do something about that?”

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Thus Kirsten presents the majesty of The Curse of Michael Myers.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Ouija Boards, Twelve Monkeys, and Dudes With Horns

Horns

I actually own this book, but I haven’t quite gotten around to reading it yet, and I’m not sure it’s going to happen before I see this movie, despite how much I enjoy Joe Hill’s work. (Well, maybe. If I could just force myself to finish all my old books before I pick up new ones, but who am I kidding? That is absolutely never going to happen.)

I do plan to see this, although I’ll admit, there’s nothing in the teaser that particularly wows me. Maybe when I see a full-length trailer. All I really got from this one is that Juno Temple is blonde and dead, and Daniel Radcliffe’s American seems a bit on the shaky side. (I mean, it’s better than my English. But that’s saying absolutely nothing.)

Suburban Gothic

Okay, I’d never even heard of this movie before last night, but while watching the above teaser for Horns, I saw a trailer on the sidebar that boasted the acting talents of Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, and Ray Wise. And I was like, Oh this, I need to see.

This looks spectacularly weird, and I already know I’m going to rent it at some point. Will it actually be good? Possibly not. But Matthew Gray Gubler and Kat Dennings join forces against paranormal forces? And IMDb is telling me that Jeffrey Combs is also involved? SOLD.

Young Ones

Oooh. This looks cool.

When I first heard about Young Ones a few days ago, somebody referred to it as ‘dystopian YA,’ which, well. They aren’t wrong. (At least about the YA part, though it lately seems like the definition of ‘dystopian’ is changing from ‘supposedly functional yet secretly deadly utopia’ to ‘sucky future.’) But that classification might make you think of The Hunger Games and Divergent and The Maze Runner and The Giver, and this really feels like something else entirely. (Not to put those movies down, as I’ve enjoyed the Hunger Games films so far and have every intention of watching The Maze Runner for Dylan O’Brien alone.)

Young Ones, however, appears to be a science fiction western with romance and violence and robots, and really, how do you beat that? Add in some very nice cinematography and a damn solid cast — Nicholas Hoult, Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Kodi Smit-McPhee — and color me officially intrigued.

Twelve Monkeys

So, I saw 12 Monkeys a gazillion years ago (with the ending already spoiled for me), and I can’t say I loved the film. Like, I don’t remember it very well, and I’d be willing to give it a second go, but other than the sheer amusement of watching Brad Pitt play crazypants, I’m apparently the rare bird who didn’t find the movie all that amazing or original.

When I found out that Syfy was developing a TV show based on the film, well, I couldn’t work up a whole lot of interest. But I checked out the trailer anyway, and I have to say, it doesn’t look too bad. I like a fair number of the main players, and the production quality looks pretty decent, at least for Syfy. I’m not sure if I’m going to check this out or not, but it’s at least a maybe now. Considering that it was a definite no yesterday, I’d say that’s at least a step up.

And finally . . . Ouija

Oh, I think I’ve found a contender for Bloody Hearts, 2015. This looks pretty hilariously bad. Obviously, I can’t wait to see it.

Also, Shelly Hennig, I’m officially adding you to my list of perfectly decent or even quite talented young actors from genre shows (in this case, Teen Wolf) who pop up in clearly terrible horror movies. I’m starting to think it’s like a required thing — oh, you’re in a show that features werewolves? Let’s find you the worst scary movie out there this year so you can die gruesomely in it.