Category Archives: Lists

5 more things I wish they’d stop doing in horror films

In 2011 (!) we enjoyed a good long moan about the shitty tropes that keep cropping up in horror movies. Well, now that I’m officially in my 40s I’d better get used to moaning more… Here are another five things that need to fucking fuck off:

Conveniently named towns and/or psychos


A killer who goes to work ridding the local area of virgins in a town that happens to be named Cherry Falls? Or the Tooth Fairy who can’t go into the light torments the townsfolk of Darkness Falls? Gimme a break!

Oh, but then we have loons ‘ironically’ named Marty Sickle, Jack who uses a Jackhammer, and Bobby Carver who likes to carve people up.

Waiting patiently for Bob Knifewielder to start offing the residents of Murderville, Missouri.

Grindhouse homages

The House of the Devil looked the part alright, but suddenly we’ve got all these ‘back to basics’ or ‘lost classics’ tumbling out of the sky: The Sleeper, Lost After Dark, The Final Girls, Terrifier, Pool Party MassacreSummer of ’84Party Night…  Rough-around-the-edges production attributes are one thing, but missing reels? Rubik’s cubes and Cabbage Patch Kids everywhere while Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Karma Chameleon blast from the radio?

Give your cast short-shorts, big hair, and make them say ‘rad’ a lot, but the biggest giveaway though is always the eyebrows: So preened, so post-millennial. No one is fooled!

5, 10, 20 years later…

It's not that hard, is it?

It’s not that hard, is it?

Some killers wait a year for their revenge, Kenny Hampson waited three years, Alex Hammond waited six, Mrs Voorhees waited 21… but most appear to be so crippled by OCD that they can only work in multiples of five, with a 10 year wait being the most common anniversary for sexy teens to go hangout at the olde rollerdome.

“What? No nudity!?”

This is more a complaint about the short-sightedness of some genre fans who flock to various forums and boards to complain that any given film is “the worst ever” because it doesn’t feature a pair of tits, seemingly living under the illusion that slasher movies have to have them. Hell NightMy Bloody ValentineHappy Birthday to Me… all nudity free. Hell, even the original Friday the 13th shows nothing but a fleeting, under-lit glimpse.

Invincible killers

Randy told us: “This is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life for one last scare!” Unless your surname is Voorhees or Myers, or you exist beyond the plain the rest of us live on, being shot, impaled, burned in an explosion should kill you. Loons who successfully avoid death more than a couple of times are becoming a little too prevalent – Mick Taylor, I’m looking at you here, mate.


It took a good 20 years, but people finally cottoned on that I kinda like slasher movies, so ensuing birthdays have resulted in some garments to be proud of.

My wardrobe, everybody… Be forewarned – I don’t iron.

halloween t-shirt slasher michael myers jason voorhees freddy krueger abbey road

love my Haddonfield High Class of ’78 t-shirt. Though someone recently pointed out Laurie would’ve been Class of ’79. Cheers, Paul.

My friend Kevin picked me up the awesome Abbey Road one, which nobody where I work can get their head around. Lonely life.

jason voorhees t-shirt friday the 13th part vi 6 jason x

My newest (left) and my oldest: The Japanese VHS artwork on a stretchy fabric and super comfortable.

College roomie Grace bought me the New Line Jason shirt, which once terrified a child walking past me in the opposite direction.

friday the 13th camp crystal lake t-shirt jason voorhees

If we’re going to be pedantic, it was the summer of ’79 that Mrs Voorhees ran amok at Camp Crystal Lake, but that doesn’t make this baseball shirt any less awesome. Currently my favourite.

The many faces of Jason came on the same day. I was asked not to wear this to work.

camp crystal lake t-shirts friday the 13th jason voorhees

Sadly, the white one has stretched into a warped shape, and the yellow one (with ‘Counselor’ printed on the back) has faded over time.

prom night t shirt friday the 13th part 2 t-shirt jason voorhees

Classic Prom Night artwork and Japanese Friday the 13th Part 2; I can’t wear the latter as they sent a size too small.

There we go. Worn with cargo shorts circa April to October, cargo pants the rest of the year.

Hair Don’ts II: The Revenge of Aqua Net

Somehow, since last time it’s taken ages to accrue more terrible hairstyles, but here they are:

bad hair final exam 1981

“The Walking Bouffant,” modelled by Final Exam (1981) Matthew Perry-esque frat dude.

I worry about how much hairspray went into creating this bonfire mound of hair, worsened by the centre parting and general volume. It lends well to the character’s general smarminess and eventual knife through the torso.

grotesque 1987 bad hair

“Wind Shear,” by Gang Member from Grotesque (1987)

Looks like actress Bunky Jones – also modelling a huge do in Hide and Go Shriek that same year – stuck her head out the window on the freeway and was hit in the face by a blueberry pie.

sleepaway camp judy bad hair

“The Cricked-Neck Counterbalancer,” sported by Judy in Sleepaway Camp (1983)

The entire 80s Sleepaway Camp franchise is full of fashion faux pas’ and bad hair, and it’s possibly Judy started it all by pulling her entire mane of thick, dry hair into a side-ponytail, which must have had consequences for her skeletal musculo something something.

child's play 3 bad hair

“What ever happened to Tiffany?” on random girl from Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Shaggy perm, scrunchie on top, was this look still around in ’91? I guess so. Perhaps Chucky was too weirded out by it, because this chick exits the film intact.

bad hair girls nite out 1982

“2-for-1 on Bad Hair,” with Pryor from Girls Nite Out (1982)

A classic 80s mullet and 90s curtains together at last, somehow before either became fashionable, on Hal Holbrook’s son as the is-he-or-isn’t-he killer, who understandably would’ve donned that bear costume after glancing in the mirror at this atrocity.

bad hair trampa infernal

“Perm-A-Mullet,” by lead-guy in Trampa Infernal (1989)

This guy is the hero, aided probably by extra protection afforded to the skull by the thickness of his curly mullet. I need to go to Mexico and see if they still have this do.

bad hair grotesque 1987

“The Morning After,” by Shelly in Grotesque (1987)

Grotesque – surely named for the hair-don’ts that litter it – strikes again, with another of the punkz, who looks like she lapsed into a two-week coma under a hairdryer.

christine elise child's play 2 1990

“Push it all aside,” with Kyle from Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Probably the least offensive ‘do on the list, but this is a nice compensation for Judy’s heavy list to one side, with Kyle pushing it all to the other, but with less length to slowly pull her neck over.

bad hair bloodstained shadow

“Insane Asylum Special,” for deranged son of nurse in The Bloodstained Shadow (1978)

It may be hard to see clearly, but this poor chap has a standard buzz-cut on top and then a sort of mullet at the sides. The character was kept in a room on a remote island off Italy, so maybe that’s how they rolled there in the late 70s.

linda blair bad hair grotesque 1988

“The Career Flatliner,” from Dame Linda Blair in Grotesque (1987)

Maybe she was possessed by a demon again, as that’s surely the only explanation for this hairspray-OD’d combo of several terrible mid-80s styles, which I fear still exist at roadhouses in the square States.

Obligatory Before-They-Were-Famous Post

We all know Johnny Depp made his debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, that Kevin Bacon was skewered with a spike in Friday the 13th, and Brad Pitt avoided a blade to the face in Cutting Class, but budding thespians are still paying their dues in B (and C!) movies before the big time calls… Spoilers follow.


Amy Adams in Psycho Beach Party

amy adams psycho beach party

Legit Hollywood royalty Amy Adams had already been in the awesome Drop Dead Gorgeous before playing bitchy Marvel Ann in obscurely amazing stage-adaptation Psycho Beach Party, where she gets to take part in the best dance-off this side of Grease. And way more enjoyable than either of the recent Superman movies.

Fate: Despite her love rival role, Marvel Ann does not meet the business end of a knife, as the killer in this one only goes after those with physical imperfections.


James McAvoy & Isla Fisher in The Pool

james mcavoy isla fisher the pool

Playing a couple in the 2001 Prague-set actually quite fun slasher-in-a-swimming-pool, McAvoy would later play Professor X and land lead roles all over the show (including the objectively shit Wanted) and Fisher starred in Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Now You See Me.

Fates: She runs straight into a machete, which is later used again to skewer him as he’s crawling through an air duct in hope of escape.


Finn Jones in Wrong Turn 5

finn jones wrong turn 5

Future star of Marvel’s Iron Fist and Loris Tyrell in Games of Thrones, the British actor was one of many countrymen shipped off to Bulgaria to fill out one of the straight-to-DVD Wrong Turn sequels.

Fate: I can’t remember, but apparently he doesn’t croak.


Anna Faris in Lovers Lane

lovers lane 1999 anna faris

Shortly before she headlined the Scary Movie franchise, led The House Bunny with a pre-stardom Emma Stone, and married Chris Pratt, Anna had a rare straight role as nice cheerleader Janelle in the straight-to-video flick that came at the height of the genre resurgence.

Fate: Gutted with a hook.


Kaley Cuoco in The Hollow

kaley cuoco the hollow

Before she was Penny in The Big Bang Theory, Kaley was Kevin Zegers’ object-of-lust in low-end, but kinda fun, The Hollow, also with Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Stacy Keach, and Judge Reinhold. She later also appeared as a ditzy actress in Killer Movie, dying in neither.

Fate: Survives to fall in love with Zegers.


Rebecca Ferguson in Drowning Ghost

rebecca furguson drowning ghost

Still on the rise in Hollywood thanks to her recurring role opposite Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible movies, Rebecca started out in dull killer-at-a-posh-school chiller from Sweden, Drowning Ghost as a bitchy rich kid.

Fate: Dies, but I can’t remember how.


Olly Alexander in Tormented

olly alexander tormented

Olly may have played geeky Jason Banks in the British 2009 revenge-from-beyond slasher, but he went on to front BBC Sound of 2015 winners Years & Years, scoring a string of chart hits in the ensuing years.

Fate: Pencils placed up nostrils and head pushed down on to desk. Ouch.


Kate Mara in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

kate mara urban legends

Before landing big roles in House of Cards and as Sue Storm in the 27th attempt at a Fantastic Four movie franchise, Kate Mara – sister of Rooney, who went from the Elm Street remake to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake – was cast as the plucky heroine in made-for-DVD Urban Legend threequel Bloody Mary.

Fate: Final Girl! Saves the day!


Bradley Cooper in My Little Eye

bradley cooper my little eye

I can’t remember much of My Little Eye because it was boring as fuck. Bradley Cooper, not one of the main five protagonists, went on to find major Hollywood success with LimitlessThe Hangover trilogy, and, uh, that A-Team movie. And let’s not ever discuss that woeful Limitless TV series.

Fate: I think he’s one of the bad guys in on the conspiracy?


Naomi Watts in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

naomi watts children of the corn iv

Mrs Liev Schreiber and star of a gazillion hit movies, Watts played the heroine – and Karen Black’s daughter – in the barely-related-to-the-others sequel, as big sister to disgraced (and now dead) Glee star Mark Salling.

Fate: Final Girl! Saves the day!


Eva Mendes in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

eva mendes children of the corn 5

From model to actress, Mendes was packed off for the straight-to-video fourth sequel to the Stephen King adaptation. She thinks it’s a load of crap, but as far as this series goes, it’s at least gruesomely fun, and she got to star opposite the late Alexis Arquette.

Fate: Reads a thousand-page book in one night and voluntarily jumps into a silo!?


Paul Rudd in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

paul rudd in halloween 6

We all know this one. On the brink of his big break in Clueless, Rudd played a grown-up (and slightly unhinged) Tommy Doyle. The Judd Apatow staple reportedly doesn’t think much of the movie, but he’s effective in the role, giving Tommy a can-he-be-trusted edginess lacking in most final boys.

Fate: Final Boy! Saves the day… with help from Dr Loomis, and Laurie’s cousin.


Clark Gregg in When A Stranger Calls

clark gregg when a stranger calls

The leader of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all round zaddy Clark Gregg played Camilla Belle’s dad in the 2006 remake of When A Stranger Calls, which mainly just entailed telling her she’d gone over her allotted minutes on her cellphone.

Fate: N/A – supporting role. Zzzz.


Billy Nighy in Phantom of the Opera

bill nighy phantom of the opera

The Freddy Krueger-inspired remake of the horror classic featured a young(er) Bill Nighy, later staple of British comedies, including Love ActuallyThe Boat That Rocked, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Fate: I saw this 20 years ago. Once. I remember nothing.

Take a walk down rip-off alley: Final Destination

As the outward ripples caused by Scream‘s splash began to calm, and the likes of I Know What You Did Last SummerHalloween H20, and Urban Legend became the likes of ValentineCherry Falls, and The Clown at Midnight, into our lives came Final Destination, delaying the decline of teen horror a little longer with its undeniably awesome premise.

Surprisingly, Xeroxing the central motif employed in Final Destination - that victims are killed by elaborate ACME-style cartoon accidents – has clearly proven quite difficult to achieve, and so what rip-offs it inspired have been relatively few and far between. Stroll with me now, through the back streets where mysterious forces might drop a piano on your head…


999-9999 2002

Thai export 999-9999 came first, in 2002, and introduced us to life at a high school where a group of prankster students are talked into dialling the freaky 999-9999 number, which will grant you any wish.

Despite transfer student Rainbow warning them of the consequences, they each wish for fame, fortune, and Ferraris and, when karma’s bill comes-a-callin’, are killed in weird car wash accidents, drowned and slashed by floating razors (!), perish in fires, fall out of windows, and in one to-be-seen-to-be-believed sequence, sucked into anti-gravity chambers along with lethal buzzsaw blades.

Asian horror is always divertingly fun, and 999-9999 is no different, making the most out of its concept, even with the “OK, what?” twist ending, and some budgetary constraints that make some of the demises a little… ropey, but as a pretender to Final Destination‘s throne, a solid effort.

Death might sue: A speedster drives his new Ferrari into an out-of-order car wash, which, when the fabric is absent, means scratchy, slashy shards of metal are spinning towards you instead.


scared 2005

Staying in the warmer climes of Thailand, they fused similar ideas with those founding in Battle Royale for 2005 flick, Scared, which sadly wasn’t released with subtitles to discern the finer details of what’s going on.

This time, a busload of students on a field trip crosses a rickety old bridge, which begins to collapse (possibly influencing those who would later pen Final Destination 5), killing a good portion and stranding others on a seemingly deserted island.

As they explore in search of help, they’re systematically done in either by mysterious killers or stumbling into traps designed to skewer them into several pieces. Come the end, it’s something to do with a reality show where being voted off the island is a more permanent fate than usual.

Death might sue: The poor bus driver cops an almost-slapstick log in the face (and through the head) during the bridge collapse.


open graves 2009

At the time Death was prepping for its fourth and ‘final’ outing, in 2009, along came Open Graves, which also knocks on Jumanji‘s door for some inspiration, as a group of surfer buddies vacationing in Spain play a cursed boardgame named Mamba, that gives players cryptic messages as to their fate, and promises the winner anything they desire.

Once the game is over, those who were out are really out as they begin dying in a series of bizarre accidents. Naturally, the non-Americans are first to go: One guy falls over a cliff; Another into into a pit of snakes; There’s a car crash, and the looks-obsessed girl ages to, like, 70 overnight.

I saw this one almost a decade ago and remember very little beyond Eliza Dushku and Mike Vogel from the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-do, and the rather uninspired twist ending. Play at your own peril.

Death might sue: The poor chap who takes a tumble over the cliff tries to save himself by holding onto – and sliding down – barbed wire, then landing on the rocks – still alive – for the crabs to scuttle out.


wish upon 2017

Into the present we come, with last year’s severely toned-down, teen friendly PG-13 quickie Wish Upon, which I saw last week.

Claire is a down-on-her-luck high schooler whose dumpster-diving dad finds a strange music box covered in Chinese calligraphy and gifts it to her. A convenient Chinese language course and friend are able to declare it a wishing pot, which grants its keeper seven desires, but undoes them if it’s abandoned or destroyed.

Of course, Claire wishes her high school nemesis would rot and the girl develops a flesh eating disease, but Claire’s beloved dog dies. Then she wishes her boy-crush liked her back, an old man down the street falls in his tub and dies. Then popularity, wealth, mother not to have died = kindly neighbour’s ponytail gets caught in the garbage disposal, friend dying in elevator crash, girl skewered on statue etc, etc.

It’s tame, juvenile, and it takes Claire FOREVER to catch on, but the cast is likeable and it’s reasonably well made for a once-over so long as you’re not expecting the ‘accidents’ to have slow, it-could-happen builds like the FD films offer.

Death might sue: Ryan Phillippe supervising the chainsawing of his tree… from underneath said tree. Duh.


What does this teach us? Thailand represent! But also that it’s reasonably hard to copy the formula, which is why Final Destination dominated this sub-sub-sub-genre for so long. Will they ever make more? Who knows – lemme ask my Haitian nightmare doll…

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