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10 final girls we don’t love

While we all love a good final girl around here – as evidenced by not one, but two rounds of 10 final girls we love! – there are times when the heroine is written so badly you just wish she would fuck off and die with her doomed friends.

Before we begin, these objections are certainly NOT based on the actresses or their performances. The characters just suck.

Donna (Brittany Snow)
Prom Night
(2008)

The Prom Night remake is a smorgasbord of problems, not least of all a bland, boring final girl in Donna. The non-mystery killer, her old teacher, is obsessed with her and so kills her friends for no real reason. But why is he fixated on her? She’s so lacklustre and humdrum. Even Brittany Snow looks bored playing her.

fg-kate-clown2Kate (Sarah Lassez)
The Clown at Midnight
(1998)

Another one from Camp Boring, Kate’s mom was murderised years earlier at the very same theater where she and a gaggle of schoolmates are sent to fix up under the guidance of Margot Kidder. One of the first post-Scream video films, almost no imagination goes into distinguishing Kate from appearing as a Xerox of Neve Campbell. She finally wakes up at the very end when she dispatches the looney clown.

Molly Keller (A.J. Cook)
Ripper: Letter from Hell
(2001)

In some ways, you can respect that John Eyres was trying to subvert the usual goody-two-shoes persona of the virginal heroine with Molly, who, unlike most the other girls with a past trauma, rebels and becomes a goth-lite with a significant attitude problem. It may enable her to survive – though in this case the end of the film is so damn confusing… – but what good is a film where you don’t like the one character you’re supposed to identify with and root for? A.J. at least was able to rectify the situation in Final Destination 2.

Sarah (Lori Hallier)
My Bloody Valentine
(1981)

Now, Sarah is a functional, perfectly efficient heroine when you look at the big picture. But zoom in a bit and realise that the love triangle sub-plot all rests on her shoulders, she’s a bit ungrateful and whiny. “Oh no, two men love me!” etc. It’s as if her character is only defined by the men in her life and she is otherwise a blank, anodyne canvas.

Rennie Wickham (Jensen Daggett)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
(1989)

Fridays have usually been dependable when it comes to likeable, kick-ass final girls, from Alice and Ginny, right up to telekinetic Tina in The New Blood. But come ’89, the on screen bloodletting wasn’t the only thing being toned down in these movies. Rennie, again, is a pretty, by-the-numbers heroine with a past event that traumatises her – but her sappiness and goody-goody demeanor is grating. Bonus points for having a cute dog that she cares about, but both she and final boy Shaun are among Jason’s blandest rivals.

Jen (Anika McFall)
Camp Daze
(2005)

One to pair with Molly, Jen is a surprise final girl in that it seems likely all her quips about Jason and slasher movies will land her an ironic death after she and three friends are sucked back to a 1981 summer camp where a psycho is doing in all the campers. Her female companion Angela looks set to be the one to walk out in one piece but instead she is killed and Jen is the sole survivor. Kudos for finally casting a black heroine, but couldn’t they have made her nice?

Laurie Strode 2.0 (Scout Taylor-Compton)
Halloween
(2007)

It’s just so fucking obvious this one. Nobody was EVER going to out-pleasant Jamie Lee Curtis’ shy bookworm Laurie, but still, you’d think they would try to make Laurie 2.0 at least nice. Giving her glasses – big tick, not enough girls have them and they look hot. But I really didn’t care if she lived or died; she was ungrateful, seemingly indifferent to the fates of the children she babysat, and, in the sequel, turned into an uber-Emo cow who alienated everyone. Danielle Harris as Annie was far sweeter.

Peg (Stacy Grant)
The Fear: Resurrection
(1999)

In the years since I watched The Fear 2, I’ve repressed much of it, but notes of yore suggest I found Peg very annoying. Friday faces Gordon Currie and Betsy Palmer were in it too, along with Emmanuelle Vaugier who, ironically, would have been my final girl of preference in Ripper.

Heatherface (Alexandra Daddario)
Texas Chainsaw 3D
(2013)

Yet again – blame the script. Daddario, also the final girl in Bereavement, is a fine choice on many levels, but when the writers decide to flip her from hero to villain in about two pages of script, she supposedly just forgets all her friends have been to sawn to pieces before her eyes and joins forces with her cousin Leatherface (“Do your thing, cuz!”) Thus rendering her crap.

Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
(1988)

Before you go off on one, she sorted it out for Elm Street 5 and was good there. But in The Dream Master, crap she annoyed me. Gone was Nancy’s grit and aptitude for short-term¬† improvised anti-personnel device-making, gone was Kristen’s acrobatic refusal to play with Freddy. Alice was written as a sort of ‘Prudence Pureheart’ oppressed chick who gains the powers of her dead friends because, clearly, she has no personality of her own. I see what they tried to do, but the other girls were all far more interesting.

*

Honorable mentions go to Carol from Appointment with Fear who practically defeated the killer with her death-stare of evil; Katie Cassidy’s one-note heroine from the Black Christmas remake; and Jennifer from Twisted Nightmare, who only survives because she’s locked in a shed for most of the film and simply avoids the lunatic.

D3ath 8y Numb3rs

I recently marked my 600th slasher movie with the odd Irish quickie Stitches.

Thus, what better time to recap some of the other landmark films that only a geek with too much time on his hands would keep.

#555
The made-up area code in so many movies and, considering the film it corresponds to, kinda freaky…

fd5-poster2Final Destination 5 (2011)

So #555 was the fifth film in a franchise about freaky coincidences… Sing that Twilight Zone theme for this is just such a creepy occurrence. Creepier still, the film is odds on the best sequel out of the lot.

#500

sorority-row-fb-poster2

Sorority Row (2009)

A rare straight-up slasher film that got a theatrical release in the UK was a nice treat for my 500th flick, and Sorority Row was an absolute blast from start to finish!

#400

The Tooth Fairy (2005)

My backpacking trip to Asia in 2006-07 reaped dozens of DVDs that still haven’t received a UK release more than half a decade later. Fortuitously, The Tooth Fairy was one of the more entertaining ones.

#300

Club Dread (2004)

Yet another likeable landmark; Broken Lizard’s only really fun film takes a stab at slasher cliches and Club 18-30 culture. Bill Paxton is superfun as Coconut Pete.

#200

My Little Eye (2002)

Though I got to see this on the big screen, as with FD5 and Sorority Row, I didn’t think a whole lot of it. A slow, ill-thought out sort of slasher Big Brother, which is riddled with more holes than Bonnie & Clyde’s car.

#111

fatalgames2

Fatal Games (1983)

Why? 111 is a cool number. I *HEART* this unloved old school flick, which is like Graduation Day was shot with a glitter cannon: A javelin-toting killer, lesbianism, transsexuals, buck naked midnight chase around an empty school. It has everything.

#100

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)

The first big landmark was this oddball Valley-Girl-Comedy-Slasher-Flick with some fairly well known cast members. It’s cheap, but it’s entertaining.

#1

nightmare_on_elm_street_three2

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Recently crowned best threequel; I was petrified when I first saw this at a camp with several other (younger!) kids one rainy afternoon around 1990. But it’s unquestionably awesome.

#700 coming in about… 2-3 years.

Sequel Showdown: 4s, Fours, and IVs

In the last round, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was crowned best three-quel, and so now logically we move on to Part 4s…

Where are Wrong Turn 4 and Psycho IV you ask? They will be appearing the prequel edition in the future, so don’t be sad, they’ll get their moment. Or not, as neither is likely to win, are they!?

Onwards!

sequel4s1 copy2

1984-1991

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil

Teenage Death Camp Massacre Part IV: Revenge of the Overlong and Quite Unnecessary Suffix Title. OK, I’ve always felt Friday 4 was a tad overrated. Yes, it’s gory. Yes, there’s lots of sex and nudity. No, there’s not much character development or plot. The best thing in it is actually the little Jason Megamix that opens the film. Elm Street 4 - the “MTV Nightmare” – is one of my favourites from that series, but it pales in comparison to Halloween 4, which went all out to be suspenseful and just a little bit more thoughtful than its cohorts. Prom Night IV is in-name only, with tenuous links to its predecessors – but it’s alright.

sequels4s2a

1994-2003

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation; Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering; Bride of Chucky; Cheerleader Massacre

Despite being a fairly uninteresting horror-icon, Chucky wins this round against quite pitiful competition from the worst Texas Chainsaw instalment so far (yes, even the new one was better), a plain boring Children of the Corn insert, and the is-it-isn’t-it fourth Slumber Party Massacre flick.

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2003-2011

Saw IV; Return to Sleepaway Camp; The Final Destination; Scream 4

Why is Saw here, you squawk? Eleven is a prime number so I had to crowbar in another sequel to balance things up. Even so, I remember it being a bit of a dullard. Scream 4 runs off with the trophy with ease; though I’m quite fond of Return to Sleepaway Camp.¬†The Final Destination was bitterly disappointing.

The Finalists

sequelfinalists2

The longer they go on, the worse they seem to get, one could say. But let’s shut up and be thankful that THIRTEEN slasher franchises (I didn’t forget you, Psycho and Wrong Turn) made it to a fourth movie.

Now, let’s choose a winner…

  • Bride of Chucky‘s out first. It’s easily the most entertaining Child’s Play entry, but the whole series is just a bit annoying in it’s we-know-we’re-taking-the-piss demeanor. I like it, I don’t love it.
  • Scream 4, on the other hand, may have been hugely divisive when it came to audience reception, but the nostalgic value of going back to Woodsboro was a nice shot in the arm, as was the amusing opening scene extravaganza and the killer’s bitchy exposition.

So, the winner of this not-so-thrilling round of the contest is Mickey himself…

The slasher debut of now-genre-fixture Danielle Harris is a low-key event to say the least; it’s neither gory, booby, or high-octane. In many ways it’s a slasher film on a sedative; slow and occasionally plodding, but nevertheless faithful to the original outing and incredibly well made.

You may have noticed that the winners so far have come from the three big franchises… That’s a bit annoying really, but if these other schmucks can’t bring it, what are we to do?

Buckle up for those Part 5’s next month.

Sequel Showdown: 3s, Threes, and IIIs

So in the 2s, Twos, and IIs list last month, Friday the 13th Part 2 beat off (not like that – ew!) all the competition to be crowned best #2 slasher sequel.

Twos-ville is a crowded suburb, but numbers dwindle a little for the Threes…

sequels1a

1982-1988

Friday the 13th Part III; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Psycho III;
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
; Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

So, which is the best of the first crop? Elm Street 3 - the first slasher film I ever saw – gets my vote, followed by Psycho and Friday, with the dismal Halloween III coming in last.

sequels2a

1989-1991

Prom Night III: The Last Kiss; Silent Night Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!; Slumber Party Massacre III; Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III; Child’s Play 3

A difficult era for the genre, not a lot of high-profile original material was released after circa-1987; the three big franchises even wound down as box office numbers crumbled… I digress, Prom Night III is my favoured entry here; though Slumber and Child’s Play are decent, TCM - a franchise I’ve never been wild about – doesn’t live up to the “most controversial film ever made” blurb of its poster, and the less said about Silent Night III the better.

sequels3a

1992-2004

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence; Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest;
Scream 3; Urban Legends: Bloody Mary; Scarecrow Gone Wild

A far-reaching group here, showing how few franchises got to numero tres at this time… Scream 3 clearly kicks the asses of the rest, though I quite enjoyed UL3. The rest are kinda sucky.

sequels4a

2006-2009

Final Destination 3; The Graveyard; I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer; Boogeyman 3; Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead

Another easy one; FD3 cleans up against uber-feeble competition from what’s technically Bloody Murder 3, and truly horrid entries in the Last Summer and Wrong Turn canons.

The Finalists

sequelfinalists2

This could be a bit too easy…

Prom Night III is funny, but derivative of it’s neighbour here, Elm Street. Being a finalist at all should be gratifying enough for it and everybody involved. Congrats to you all, but you’re not winning.

I used to love Scream 3 more when I first saw it, but repeated viewings have scrutinised some of its evident problems. It’s still fun, but there’s a boredom emanating from the returning players, all of whom look like they’d rather be doing something else, as did Kevin Williamson, it seemed, who barely contributed a damn thing. And then they aaaall came crawling back a decade later…

Final Destination 3 largely re-booted to the original template, but did so with far more venom and disregard for its characters, who are done away with far more viciously than in any of the other entries in the series.

Thus, the winner is…

nightmare_on_elm_street_three2

*

Clearly the best threequel in the slasher realm; they got everything right in this one (though it drags a little towards the end): The vein puppet, Jennifer’s “big break in TV”, and an overall great concept make Freddy the deserved winner.

Title Recall: Budgetary Constraints

The old adage goes, “Never just a book by its cover”. We already know that any cheap-ass slasher movie can be glossed over with some expensive looking artwork for the DVD. Or someone who is better with Photoshop than most.

However, most of these good-box-shame-about-the-movie ploys can be quickly spotted when the title card zaps on to screen. Or can they…?

dooma1a

A good example of this film’s “quirky” cheapness. Did anybody get this far and seriously think: “Wow, this is going to be some high-quality, tension-fueled horror film!”? [Review]

Elsewhere:

dharv2

I couldn’t consciously tell these two apart when I added the screencaps here. Titular similarities aside, both were evidently disappointing to the point where their combined memory has blurred into one repressed blob of also-ran slasher shite. [Dark Fields review]

bloodsis2

All are equally naff looking, suiting the ensuing ocular-molesting 90 or so minutes down to the ground. These films may have minimal camp appeal here and there but none of them are ever going to be hailed as unsung classics. The Blood Sisters one even ‘quivers’ as the camera pans over the leaves. Scary.

However, proving that we should never groan too early in a film…

bm2a

The UK DVD release of Bloody Murder 2 was retitled for unknown reasons (considering it bears no obvious connection to the first one, which, itself was renamed Scream Bloody Murder). While everything about this film is cheap and unoriginal, BM2 is surprisingly pretty decent: It’s bloody and nostalgic for us fans of the summer camp slasher sub-sub-sub-genre.

bgoi2

Another vile font adorns the cheery no-budget throwback, Bikini Girls on Ice, which may perhaps over-promise to audiences who think they’re going to be served topless chicks getting cut to pieces for 90 minutes, but is still a lot of fun for the less discriminating body count fan. Like the above example, it packs a Friday the 13th-tinted stroll down memory lane.

sc3a

Blood-spatter elevates this crud-looking title card a little from dull old white-on-black. While not as good as its predecessor, Sleepaway 3 should not be written off before it gets going just because of this minor faux pas.

hhn2

And neither should Happy Hell Night, the title card of which seems to support my unproven theory that the film was simply titled Hell Night until somebody realised there was already a collegiate prank-based slasher film of that title. In the UK, the rental VHS was issued as just Hell Night, confusing me way back in the 90s when I picked it up and wondered when Linda Blair was going to show up…

thosr2

A bona fide minor classic with a crappy title card making it look cheap and nasty. Again, it’s possible multiple re-titlings foiled a perfectly presentable opening. While the font is nice and straightforward enough, the placement and scene make it look dull. [Review]

sleepover2

Now, this looks ultra-crap. And the film probably is crap to every other set of eyes, but I kinda dug what was going on in it.

Same here: Boring. Boring. Boring. Film – starring Leah Pipes from Sorority Row – is pretty decent fare.

The UL fontage is nice and ‘serious’, then cartoon lettering for the suffix. One might think Bloody Mary is going to be some backgrounder from Count Duckula.

And finally, proving the big franchises sometime screw up too:

Christ on a bike. This and Busta Rhymes. [Review]

What does all of this teach us? Nothing. Sorry.

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