Category Archives: Stock Background Characters 101

Stock Background Characters 101: The Bitchy Girl

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Get your claws out, it’s THE BITCHY GIRL

bitchygirls2Overview: Every gaggle of teens on vacation has to suffer the endless put-downs and scheming of The Bitch. She’s varies from simply being the nasty – but usually hot – chick who attempts to destroy the Final Girl’s romantic chances with her desired beau, to being the self-centered leader of the pack who gets everyone in trouble in the first place and will do whatever it takes to cover her own ass!

Linguistic Snapshot: “Daddy will get me out of this – I don’t care what happens to the rest of you, you can go to hell for all I care!”

Styling: The Bitchy Girl dresses better than you. Her clothes and her hair cost more than yours. She’s pretty much immaculate in every way and you’re plain or ugly to her. If it’s a high school slasher film, she’ll be stylish where the rest of her class are in jeans n’ t-shirts. If it’s a collegiate slasher film, she’ll be the sorority president in pearls and pastels. She’s always skinny and oft can be found with complacent grin painted on her face.

“I look like Posh Spice and I’m just as evil.”

Hallmarks: Bitchy Girls are always white, almost exclusively from rich families; she’s the Daddy’s girl, the Princess and getting her own way has led her down the path of unrighteousness, though she’s often able to pull the wool over authoritarian eyes or by virtue of her family’s connections. Daddy can buy anyone.

However, behind the snarky comments, the pearls and the immovable hair, Bitchy Girls’ are sometimes products of bad home environments where Mommy is constantly tapping the bottle and Daddy works away so much, screwing his harem of nubile assistants and nobody gives Melissa/Vickie/Kimberly the attention she needs.

Downfall: Almost without exception, The Bitch will die a horrible, fitting death. In fact the only time I can recall a Bitch surviving is the Cheerleader who badmouths Sidney in Scream. Otherwise it’s decapitation for sneering superbitch Tasha in Tormented, sandblaster to the face for light-fingered Tammy in Venom, and it was powerdrill attrition for mean new girl-excluder Diane in The Slumber Party Massacre.

The Bitchy Girl sometimes belittles the situation as she does everything else; Melissa in Friday the 13th Part VII ignores the pleas of Tina and Nick and gets an axe in the head for her troubles; Elsa Shivers in I Know What You Did Last Summer practically laughs off her sisters near-death experience and winds up feeling the business end of the killer’s hook.

Whichever way you cut ‘em – arrow in the torso, cellphone rammed down the throat or a good old fashioned throat slashing – The Bitch outlives most of her doomed friends but only so we can ‘enjoy’ her getting her comeuppance.

Genesis: Without doubt the reigning queen bee of slasher movie bitchness is Wendy from Prom Night. Wendy tries to win her ex-boyfriend back from the arms and bad perm of Jamie Lee Curtis and attempts to rig the prom so that SHE will receive the crown – and this is after killing Jamie Lee’s little sister in the prologue! Thankfully, the ski-masked loon gets there first and axes Wendy out of the picture before she can go through with her plan.

Sneering side-ponytailed Judy from Sleepaway Camp tormented poor Angela with the help of equally unpleasant counsellor Meg – they threw her in the lake and Meg even backhanded her. As a result both suffered: Meg was knifed in the shower and Judy was curling-tonged to death.

“She’s a carpenter’s dream: Flat as a board and needs a good screw!”

Then there’s sorority power queen Vickie in The House on Sorority Row, whose revenge prank against stern housemother Mrs Slater goes so badly wrong that it costs quite the number of her college friends their lives as she ropes them into covering up her crime…

The Bitchy Girl is never the killer with possible exception of undead prom queen Mary Lou Maloney from Prom Night‘s II and III and possibly Kristen in Final Stab.

Legacy: Bizarrely, in the Friday the 13th-verse, there were no bitches introduced until the late 80s when Melissa turned up. In the next movie, Tamara – a virtual clone – snorted coke and pushed the non-swimmer final girl off a cruise ship.

Nasty girls began to become more prevalent as the genre slowly evolved towards casting more unlikeable characters than pleasant ones. Macho Assholes and Bitches prevailed, providing adequate fodder for all manner of demises:

  • The sheriff’s slutty daughter, Kelly, in Halloween 4 was impaled with a rifle.
  • Ultra-mean camper Ally was drowned in the world’s grossest outhouse toilet in Sleepaway Camp II.
  • The quasi-remake Sorority Row made über-bitch self-serving Jessica quite humorous with a never-ending list of witty put-downs and carefree reactions to her friends’ deaths. Upon finding a dead guy stuffed upside down in a vent she identifies him by stating “I’d know those ugly ass shoes anywhere.”

Conclusions: And so on and so on… Mean people serve to highlight how nice the nice people are and, hopefully, tempt the killer’s blade away from those of us who try to do the right thing and put others first.

So what I’m saying is that we NEED to take The Bitchy Girl on holiday with us. Yeah, she might make a few people cry and split up some couples but when it comes to stompin’ time, you know she’s got zero chance of getting away. Thank you, Bitch, your acidic commentary and toxic personality makes the world that little bit safer for the rest of us.

Life’s a bitch – and if you are too, then you’ll certainly die a lot quicker. But you could still give those Mean Girls a good going over.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Prankster

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Let’s all laugh at… THE PRANKSTER

Overview: In every group of healthy teenage friends lurks the Prankster, derivative species include the Joker or the Common Fat Prankster. Almost always male, the Prankster’s role is to make Smart Alec comments, play practical jokes on people and be the last one laughing when it appears the threat of death is imminent. Wayward Pranking will invariably figure in his death.

Linguistic Snapshot: “Boo!” or “Ha ha ha, I got ya didn’t I?”

Styling: The Prankster can be identified in his group largely by the big grin he almost always wears. If not, he may well opt for bright, ‘unserious’ clothes with lots of lurid colours that may beg the question: Is this guy retarded? The answer is surprisingly not, but the Prankster is just not afraid to make a fool of himself. Anything for laughs, y’know? There is usually something that makes the Prankster stand out physically: big hair, bad hair, badly peroxided hair…

Hallmarks: Being the ever-cackling member of the group, the Prankster can usually be found trying to set up his next big joke. But he’s exclusively unlucky in love. Girls want a guy they can count on, Howard/Shelly/Ralph simply aren’t serious enough. And death is a serious business, you know, a joker has no hope of getting her out of this mess. Plus he’s capable of being, like, totally gross.

You gotta feel sorry for these dudes a bit though, they never get the girls and everyone chastises them for being immature or upsetting Susie ‘cos her mom died the same way they pretended to exactly ten years ago tonight and the killer was never caught blah blah blah…

Downfall: Almost without exception, the Prankster will die either because of or as a part of his latest gag, or he will pull of the trick and die and nobody will take it seriously. Examples include the guy in Welcome to Spring Break who finally gets the killer’s electro-shock treatment and even the cops think it’s just another joke and then there’s Friday the 13th Part III‘s Shelly’s attempt to raise help from one of his friends who squawks “Nice make-up job!” before walking away unimpressed while he slumps down the wall and bleeds to death in the corner.

Pranking-pair Anthony and Judd from Sleepaway Camp II get more than they bargained for when they dress up as Freddy and Jason to try to generate a heart attack for unliked counsellor Angela (who happens to be the killer); Ralph in The Initiation - who went to a party dressed as a giant penis – may have shown his sensitive side at the eleventh hour and also gotten laid, too bad it didn’t protect him from well-aimed arrows.

Then there’s poor fatty Sid in Italiano Camping Del Terrore whose quest for carnal satisfaction ends up with him stripped naked (full frontally for a change) and shoved into the kitchen of the ill-tempered camp owner and his family.

Genesis: Pranksters have been part of the genre almost since the beginning. An ill-conceived prank can be the catalyst that leads to the killer’s murderous rampage (see Terror Train, Slaughter High, The Graveyard) and guys attempting to scare their girlfriends have existed in largely unchanging form since the 80s hey-day: Ned got on everyones tits faking his drowning in Friday the 13th; the frat boys tried to scare the beejezus out of the pledges in Hell Night; Damon Brooks was the short-lived master of deception in Urban Legend until he literally got strung up for it…

Legacy: In recent years, the cliché of the Prankster has worn thin a bit but there are still some survivors to be found in the deepest reaches of the genre (i.e. the films made by people with a camcorder and a bunch of am-dram dropouts). Wrong Turn 2 features Jonesy, who interpolated a band of pervertedness to his nothing-is-serious outlook on life but most of his jokes were verbal rather than practical.

This example aside, it seems that the Prankster is on the vulnerable to extinction list of characters we all grew up with dying all over the screen. There are still plenty of smart-mouth teens to tempt your everyday psycho’s blades but those who pretend to be dead only to leap up seconds later with a big grin and are then found later apparently repeating the joke only not are fewer and further between.

Shelly, Howard, Ned, Ralph, Damon, unnamed Welcome to Spring Break guy, we salute your bad-taste gags, dreadful fashion sense, crap hair and sunny outlook on existence. Too bad it couldn’t save ya.

“Come on… this shit is funny!”

Stock Background Characters 101: The Oracle

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Let us recall with love, THE ORACLE

"There is a force at work here. It is not human and it is unspeakably EVIL!"

Overview: If you are a teenager and you live in a town that has a creepy old house, summer camp, closed down asylum or cemetery with a blood-soaked past, chances are there’ll be some old drunk who remembers what went down X years earlier and never stops rabbiting on about it. Everyone ignores him or her, especially when they begin spouting warnings that history is about to repeat itself and you – as one of the teenagers – are fucked if you go meddling. This person is an Oracle.

Linguistic Snapshot: “You’re doomed if you go exploring the old MacKenzie abatoir… It’s cursed! It’s evil! Nobody who goes in ever comes back again… Mark my words or you’ll be sorry tooooo!”

Styling: Because the Oracle is normally old and generally looked upon with disdain by the rest of the townsfolk, he or she is normally adorned in smelly old-person clothes, maybe a kooky hat or a cloak, oversized glasses and a crooked smile with some missing teeth amidst a cloud of alcohol-scented air.

Hallmarks: Being the only person around who actually has a Scooby about what’s going to happen, the Oracle maintains a sort of creepy aura of foresight and will either rock back on their porch chair with a smug ‘I told y’all so!’ grin or make the error of following the sexy teens to either A). perv or B). be proven right and succeed only in C). getting killed early on.

Downfall: Every oar-sticker-inner gets their comeuppance at one point or another. Take Oracle extraordinaire Crazy Ralph for example; he told the counsellors of Camp Crystal Lake that they were doomed and was right. Five years later – and in exactly the same clothes – he tried to go for a twofer and ended up pissing off JV and getting garrotted to death.

When you think about it, the Oracle is actually trying to help rather than hinder: from Dr Loomis’ cryptic rants about Michael Myers being the devil incarnate to the local psychic Jazelle in Jeepers Creepers, these folk are putting their own lives on the line for the sake of half a dozen stupid-ass teenagers.

However, sometimes the Oracle isn’t so pleasant. Take Happy from My Bloody Valentine, for example, goes off on anyone who dares disrespect the legend of Harry Warden and decides to teach those no-good young folk a lesson with a scary prank, which backfires on his ass big time!

Others give in and try to get the hell outta Dodge, much to the amusement of those around them: the old lady who’s crushed by her own house in Children of the Corn II (though not before uttering the excellent line, “Have you ever seen…evil?”); Estes the handyman from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - they both at least had the sense to flee, albeit too late in both cases.

Genesis: Dr Loomis and Crazy Ralph are doubtlessly the earliest seers-of-doom in Halloween and Friday the 13th respectively: both went out of their way to warn folk of the impending danger, one out of known-authority and the other as the town crazy, but it’s worth noting they were both right and survived to tell everyone so. Presumably over and over and over as old folk do.

Legacy: The Oracle became a bit of a rely-on cliche in later years, cropping up with cryptic nonsense here and there, from the Ralph-lite Deckhand of Jason Takes Manhattan, to all the bartenders and shopkeepers who eyeball nubile newcomers on roadtrips to their deaths…

The most recent example was a toned-down example in the Friday remake – the old lady who appears to know about Jason Voorhees living out in them there woods. Her policy being that if they leave him alone, he’ll leave them alone. No questions asked. Stupid teens come along and try to steal his pot, he takes action.

And less stereotypically, there was the college kid who appears at the dorm room door of Sara’s in Halloween: Resurrection, who tries to scare the girls with the briefest of retellings before descending into some stoner-comic impression. What was that about?

Anyway, any good old fashioned slasher flick should have a crazy old biddy to warn people and stuff. Cliche or not, it’s always fun to watch the arrogant teenagers shrug off the advice and go to the haunted logging camp anyway. Long live you, Oracle! (unless you decide to follow the kids and end up with a hacksaw in the mouth).

Dog Days Are Over

A different take on Stock Background Characters 101 this month as VeVo appreciates the literal underdogs of slasher film – the faithful canine.

Dogs needn’t worry about going in or out of style, they retain their lovable auras regardless of big perms and mullets with nothing but a jangly collar and sometimes a neckerchief. Gotta love that.

There are many pets in slasher films, some fish, budgies, but mostly cats that leap out of wardrobes with perfect timing to scare the beejeezus out of the inquisitive final girl and dogs that sense trouble long before their masters. They try to warn them but, much like children, nobody really knows/cares what they’re on about. Regardé:

“Woof woof woof woof woof. Woof woof. Woof woof woof woof woof” Trans: “There’s someone outside. Look out. …I want some kibble.”

Let us celebrate the best dogs of the slasher realm…

LESTER from Halloween

Breed: German Shepherd

Owners: The family Wallace

Skillset: Senses danger early, loves Lindsay Wallace, hates Annie Brackett. Growls a lot.

Hug-a-bility: 42% – if you’re a Wallace.

Fate: Tragic early doggie victim of Michael Myers. Poor Lester. Sadface.

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MUFFIN from Friday the 13th Part 2

Breed: floppy, lapdog thing1?

Owner: Terry

Skillset: Wandering off to find backwoods-dwelling psychos, providing false sense of safety and does it all with a cute purple ribbon in her hair.

Hug-a-bility: 66%

Fate: Unknown, last seen alive (along with Paul), hope she canters off to safety.

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BEAST from The Hills Have Eyes Part II

Breed: German Shepherd

Owner: Ruby, I think

Skillset: Can save people from evil mutants not once, but twice! Capable of flashing back to experiences that occurred six years earlier. Has adorable Littlest Hobo-style neckerchief.

Hug-a-bility: 71% (if he likes you)

Fate: Saves the day again! Yay@Beast!

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JASON from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

Breed: uhh…Collie-cross?

Owner: Kincaid

Skillset: Jason crosses into the dreamscape with Kincaid and is able to piss a fire that resurrects Freddy Krueger. In a dream.

Hug-a-bility: 88% (as long as you’re awake)

Fate: Survives! Comes-a-waggin’ when Kincaid gets de-gangstered by FK.

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SUNDAE from Halloween 4

Breed: Golden Retriever

Owners: The Carruthers

Skillset: Can make little orphaned Jamie Lloyd feel better when she has nightmares or nasty kids pick on her.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Another of Myers’ poor innocent doggie victims. Sadface #2.

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TOBY from Friday the 13th Part VIII

Breed: Collie

Owner: Rennie

Skillset: This lucky puppy gets to cruise to New York City and demonstrates that dogs can climb up and down ladders to and from lifeboats. Barks at thugs and flees when told to do so.

Hug-a-bility: 97%

Fate: After scooting and thus missing having to trudge through sewers, alleys and diners, Toby pleases us all by appearing unscathed at the end, neckerchief n’ all!

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MAX from Halloween 5

Breed: Doberman

Owner: Rachel Carruthers

Skillset: Barky, scary doggie charged with protecting Rachel around October 31st. Fails to bite annoying friend Tina though.

Hug-a-bility: 11%

Fate: Max becomes yet another dead dawg to add to the pile on Michael Myers’ karmic epitaph. Although it’s clear that the dog pictured is a cuddly toy with some ketchup on it.

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HOOTIE from Urban Legend

Breed: Westie

Owner: Parker

Skillset: Hootie the fraternity dog drinks beer, has a pierced nose and scampers around the place bringing joy to all.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Poor Hootie becomes the test subject in a recreation of the legend about the old lady who microwaves her wet dog. Ewwww.

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Unknown Dogs* from Flashback

*I couldn’t be bothered to decipher the abysmal dubbing to try and capture their names.

Breeds: I dunno, to be honest. There’s this dog on the left and another Westie-type pup later on.

Owners: Dog #1 – Janette’s family, Dog #2 – Ella

Skillsets: Dog #1 is nice to children and eats M&Ms; Dog #2 is a bit of a cute pest and interrupts sex.

Hug-a-bility: mean average of 76%

Fates: Pictured dog is sickled by the dress-wearing killer of the prologue and Westie-type dog is chopped in half by the dress-wearing killer of the rest of the film. A cat is shoved in a blender as well. This film was not a regular at PETA demos.

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CHEROKEE from Scream 3

Breed: Golden Retriever – but very red

Owner: Sidney Prescott

Skillset: He can make poor Sidney feel better about her frankly crap existence and all the people who keep trying to kill her for various contrived reasonage.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Cherokee lives to see more country walks – yay!

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MAC from Jeepers Creepers II

Breed: Retriever cross

Owner: The Taggart family

Skillset: Mac is a lazy farmdog who loves the Taggart family and barks and howls when he senses that all ain’t right in yonder cornfield. Alas, this all comes too late and little Billy has already been snatched by the evil Creeper when those around him start to believe the dog.

Hug-a-bility: 83%

Fate: Yay! Survival against the odds. Guess he doesn’t have anything the Creepers needs.

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Feral dog clan from See No Evil

Breeds: Mixed

Owners: Nothin’ but the wind, baby

Skillset: Eating teenage animal rights protesters who happen to be suspended upside down – and bleeding.

Hug-a-bility: 29% (high chance of fleas)

Fates: They live paw-to-mouth. Hopefully Cesar Milan will come to their aid.

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REGGIE B from Simon Says

Breed: Is that a Poodle?

Owner: Blonde camper woman

Skillset: Little Reggie B is adept to finding and picking up severed hands as gifts for his owner.

Hug-a-bility: after doing that, 36%

Fate: stamped into oblivion by nasty Crispin Glover. Relaaax, it was clearly a toy dog. Owners then annihilated so probably for the best.

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Quartet of Killer Dogs from Wilderness

Breed: German Shepherds / Alsatians (aren’t these the same thing?)

Master: Psycho Killer Soldier Man

Skillset: Super-highly trained military dogs-of-destruction, these handsome creatures’ bites are far worse than their barks. Can eat Sean Pertwee in seconds.

Hug-a-bility: 3% unless you’ve got the whistle

Fates: one of them takes a fall over a cliff edge while another is decapitated. The surviving pair presumably find love on the island and start a family of happy little puppies in preparation for Wilderness 2: Return to Killer Dog Island of DEATH!!!

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Conclusions drawn: Some dogs live, some dogs die, some dogs eat people on command. Beast is clearly the best dog to have around when psychopaths are after you. Listen to your dog when he begins growling and barking for no apparent/visible reason – something bad’s about to go down!

Other worthy mentions: Gordon, the dog who leapt out of a window to get the fuck outta there when Jason was on the prowl in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (did he jump or was he pushed? Well, the J-Man was in the basement 5 seconds later so I’m going for jump). Ebus, the dog from Poltergeist who pawed at thin air and ate unwanted waffles.

Stock Background Characters 101: The Loyal Best Friend

In this feature, we examine the lesser beings of the slasher movie realm, which, if you’re making your own slasher film, could provide a good cast roster for you.

No killer or final girl profiles here, this is a celebration of those underlings who made the most of their fleeting flirtation with stardom. And usually died.

Let’s give it up for THE LOYAL BEST FRIEND

Overview: Every girl needs a best friend – or BFF as “today’s youth” may call it. Every Final Girl really needs a best friend, someone who can make her feel better about that guy she thinks is stalking her. Unfortunately, a true friend’s work is never done and she (or even he) will usually end up making the ultimate sacrifice and dying for friendship.

Linguistic Snapshot: “I know you’re having trouble with Bobby and, even though I don’t like him much and wanted to stay home tonight, I’ll come with you to the party at the old mill to support you. After all, we’re friends aren’t we?”

Styling: The Loyal Best Friend is often a diluted version of the Final Girl, only not was watchful and paranoid and is usually up for a good time, more so than her slightly introverted, awkward best pal. In the 90s, LBF was frequently the outgoing, outspoken, slightly less sensible one of the pair – look at Sidney’s gal pal Tatum in Scream as well as Helen in I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Hallmarks: Being the best friend to the Final Girl means that LBF is a lively, oft-carefree spirit who has a boyfriend that she has next to no troubles with compared to the Final Girl, who is either too shy for boys or is constantly being messed around by her man or pressured to put out.

LBF does not judge, she supports. And sometimes she is more than a single entity, as the little gaggles of friends in Prom Night and He Knows You’re Alone illustrate, although there will always be the one girl who is closer and more understanding of the heroine than the others. Not that it’ll help her much, although she’ll doubtlessly outlive the less important friend.

Downfall: Going where your friend goes when there’s a killer after her is a dangerous manoeuvre as those around her have a habit of dropping dead. Most people would be like, “fuck this shit, I’m off to Hawaii!” but not the Loyal Best Friend – she comes along, plays her part, and is thanked with a knife in the head.

Alternatively, it is her carefree nature that gets her into trouble. As the killer is clearly after the Final Girl, why should she be in any danger, right? Look again as Tatum or Heather’s faithful babysitter Julie in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – both are there for their friend despite perhaps not quite believing in the threat of the killer and then…THWACK! Dead.

Genesis: Slasher films have almost always revolved around groups of happy young women, from the sorority house in Black Christmas to the trio of Annie, Lynda and Laurie in Halloween. There’s almost always been a dependable female character whom the Final Girl can share a heart to heart with when boyfriends, parents and all manner of other people let her down (or die), only to have this friend snatched away so cruelly, giving Laurie, or Jess, or Amy, or Sarah the final push towards violently striking back at the killer when said friend’s body falls out of the wardrobe.

The first all-boxes-ticked Loyal Best Friend was probably Patty from My Bloody Valentine. While best mate Sarah was torn between two suitors and didn’t want to involve herself in festivities, it was Patty who kept things upbeat, sticking by her side through the night and, heartbreakingly, becoming the last victim – getting a pick-axe in her belly right in front of Sarah.

There’s also Mitchy in Terror Train, best friend and roommate of heroine Alana, who protects her friend’s emotions at all costs but is let down by her own drunken antics and hedonistic ways!

Legacy: Unlike some other fad-characters of the genre, the doomed best friend has, ahem, ‘survived’ to continue into the millennium, albeit with a few tweaks along the way. In Bride of Chucky, she became a he, a gay he, no less, who helped out Final Girl Jade and was at least spared being murdered by a thirty-six inch plastic doll, instead getting run over by a truck!

Elsewhere, the best friend has turned out to be not so pally after all and reveals herself to be the master of deception – she’s the killer!!! All the back-patting, kind words and hugging that Natalie received from Brenda in Urban Legend was faked! She hates her and wants her dead in the ultimate betrayal. Hell, if you’re boyfriend turns out to be the psycho that’s bad enough, but you’re confidante?? Harsh, man, harsh.

So the scape for the supporting role as the ‘nearly-heroine’ or the girl-who-would-be-the-final-girl-if-the-final-girl-was-away-for-the-weekend is a vast playing field made up of the ghosts of hundreds of do-gooders who just wanted to be a good friend and make sure everyone had fun.

We salute your memory, Loyal Best Friend, for you were taken from us too soon!

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