Tag Archives: Final Girl Filmclub

AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION

amityville2
3 Stars  1982/18/100m

“If these walls could talk… they would SHRIEK!”

Director: Damiano Damiani / Writers: Tommy Lee Wallace, Hans Holzer, Dardano Sacchetti / Cast: James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Jack Magner, Andrew Prine, Diane Franklin, Moses Gunn, Erika Katz, Brent Katz.

Body Count: 5


‘Tis not a slasher film, you say. ‘Tis right, it ain’t. It’s for the Final Girl filmclub and, frankly, I could do with the traffic, so here it is. Suck it!

I think I’ve seen all but two of the Amityville films and, shockingly, this is the best one and the most slashy-like, so the wisest choice for a review here, methinks.

Most folks should know the story of Amityville, Long Island. A family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue after the previous occupants were shot dead by a family member and promptly bailed out less than a month later after a series of ghostly shenanigans, which have been attributed as hoaxes in the following decades, after several books, nine films (including the horrendous remake), and loads of morbid curiosities which ended with the house proper being renovated and changing it’s address detail.

But the film. It’s a schlocky exploitation affair, a prequel to the James Brolin/Margot Kidder original of ’79, loosely based on the DeFeo family who occupied the place until they were murdered by their eldest. Mom, Dad and four kids move into the waterfront property and straightaway become the targets of an invisible force of eeeeevil who lived there first and likes its own company. Breezes blow, nobody knocks on the door at midnight, brushes paint a giant pig on the wall and numerous rooms are trashed.

am1am2

Prize-prick Dad, Anthony Montelli, blames everything on Sonny, the oldest son and likes badmouthing everybody and generally being an arse. At one point, a mirror falls off the wall after Dad hung it up. Somehow, it’s Sonny’s fault despite the fact nobody was anywhere near it! Mom Dolores (the fab Alda), tries to keep it together, while daughter Tricia somehow enters into an incestual relationship with Sonny after he’s porked by the malevolent spirit one night.

"What's...happening to us?"

“What’s…happening to us?”

As time plods on, Father Adamsky drops by to bless the house and realises how eeeeevil it is and racks up a few boxes worth of guilt coupons when he ignores Tricia’s pleas for help and Sonny takes a shotgun to the whole clan. This occurs around about an hour into the film and thinking of the two or three times I’ve watched this film, I can never seem to remember what happens next. It gets boring, I’ll tell you that much. The haunted house stuff is all well and good, nicely dealt with and making great use of a floaty steadicam that locks many scenes into single shots. The major flaw is the first two thirds is that it all just looks…silly. Kinda like a parody with every cliche in the book tossed in to a spooky salad.

am4

am5

OK, so when it works it is somewhat creepy – Sonny’s alone time in the house, the basement scenes – but the family largely over act their parts to the point where I burst out laughing at some of the dire-logue: Adamsky attempts to seek help from his superior who gives him wonderful advice to this effect:

“I thought I saw a ghost once. It could have been a ghost. I don’t think it was a ghost though. I think it was something else… Not a ghost.”

F&%£$^!!!! Stop saying ghost!

Then there’s the spirit itself. Sonny slowly morphs into a freaky-ass looking thing with the demon in full residence, which talks to him through his retro foam-capped headphones, “why didn’t you pull the trigg-urrrrr?” it asks in a weird accent. We see it at the end where the film most likely earns its 18 certificate and it looks a bit dumb, but still gross.

am6am7

In the end, I was too bored to worry about the impact of the ending and what it all meant, wishing a director with a name was cool as Damiano Damiani had had the sense to edit it down to 70 minutes, finishing at the murders. It proves that the Amityville franchise is a bit rubbish, but at the very least the first two films and the one with that lamp are good for a laugh.

Blurbs-of-interest: Alda turned up in a few horror films around this time, she was Mrs Mendrakis in the original When A Stranger Calls, as well as appearing in Girls Nite Out and You Better Watch Out! Andrew Prine was in The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Hearts will bleed

mbvdvdart2MY BLOODY VALENTINE

4.5 Stars  1981/18/94m

“There’s more than one way to lose your heart.”

Director: George Mihalka / Writer: John Beaird / Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Larry Reynolds, Terry Waterland, Jack van Evera, Helene Udy, Gina Dick, Patricia Hamilton, Tom Kovacs, Carl Morette, Jim Murchison, Rob Stein.

Body Count: 12

Dire-logue: “You gotta come just to see the dress I’m wearing! Cut down to there, slit up to here! I may not get out alive!”

First-rate Fatality: Oh so many in this version, but death-by-showerhead has it.


Part Deux for Final Girl’s Film Club. Cut or uncut, My Bloody Valentine rocks. However, it rocks more now that those infamous thought-they’d-never-see-the-light-of-day scissored gambits of gore can not only be seen but inserted back into the film!

mbv7a
Canada had already produced uber-slasher Black Christmas and also the disco-fabness of Prom Night, but with MBV came a slight variation on the form. This time there were no middle class teenagers biting the blade in the ‘burbs, at camp or school. Here, we have blue collar workers in their mine-dependent town (aptly named Valentine Bluffs) being stalked by a goggle-masked, heavy breathing killer whom everyone assumes to be Harry Warden, sole survivor of a Valentine’s Day mine cave-in two decades earlier. Warden went mad, killed the mine supervisors and disappeared, leaving a message to the locals that they should never host a Valentine’s Dance again at the risk of his pick-axe swinging return…

mbv8a
The local Sheriff and the Mayor cover up a couple of murders and cancel the “first dance in 20 years” after human hearts are sent their way in candy boxes. The younger folks – gruff miners and their girlfriends – opt to secretly party on down at the mine instead and celebrate love n’ stuff. Amidst the madness, there’s a love triangle developing between miners TJ, Axel and weepy blonde Sarah. For reasons unclear, TJ had left town suddenly, which put pay to his relationship with Sarah and allowed Axel to move in on her. Now he’s back (“and working in the mine”), things are a little tense between the trio.

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Patty and Sarah rethink their choice in boyfriends

Maniac-miner predictably crashes the Valentine’s party and begins offing anybody who senselessly wanders off on their tod; forcing their faces into boiling pots or skewering them head-first on to shower heads. Before these victims are discovered, three couples head off for a midnight tour of the mine, thus trapping themselves below the surface with the town psycho. More killings ensue until only those involved in the love triangle remain. Is one of them the killer? Or did Harry Warden return? Only a battle of the pick-axes will reveal the dreadful truth.

mbv2a

When I first saw this back in the mid-90s, I was genuinely surprised by the revelation that occurs at the end, meaning among other things that sometimes I can be a bit thick and also that the creators of My Bloody Valentine had realised a script that houses surprises that have been thought through more than, say, the other half of this daily-double, Friday the 13th.

mbv3aSpeaking of Friday, here’s a film which also contains quite a mean streak, emphasised by the presence of the cut footage. Many films were forced to pull their gory punches in the wake of the MPAA clampdown in 1980 and, subsequently, some suffered greatly for it, cut or not. Now, at last, thanks in large part to the 2009 3D remake, Lionsgate pressed the right buttons at Paramount to polish the excised footage and reinsert it. Visually it’s obvious the celluloid hasn’t maintained its original quality but who the hell cares!? Given the choice I’d accept a few smudges and grains anyday over risking never seeing some of this stuff. It’s frakkin’ gold! Elevates the film to the point I added an extra half-star to my rating.

Unquestionably better than its cynical and nonsensical remake, My Bloody Valentine is one of the top slasher films of its day (and, indeed, ever) and anybody intending to gather a decent cross-section of titles that illustrate how much fun the slasher flick is, should not discount it.

mbv4a
Blurbs-of-interest: Lori Hallier turned up many moons later in Heartstopper; Gina Dick has a small part in fellow-Canadian slasher from ’81, Happy Birthday to Me. Alf Humphreys and Jack Van Evera had already been in minimalist sorta-slasher Funeral Home.

FRIDAY THE 13TH – UNCUT

friday_the_thirteenthFRIDAY THE 13TH

5 Stars  1980/18/92m

“They were warned… They are doomed… And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.”

Director: Sean S. Cunningham / Writer: Victor Miller / Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Robbi Morgan, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “You’re doomed if you stay here! Go… Go!


Marvel at the unrivalled fab-ness of this film, in both pictorial (an adequate 13 screenshots) and rant form for the Final Girl film club!

Many have laughed heartily at my declaration that Friday the 13th is my Citizen Kane. Har-de-har-har they go, you’re kidding, you’re stupid, don’t you know anything about film etc… As it happens, I have a degree in film. We watched all sorts of arty French stuff. And still after three years of credibility, mise-en-scene, cinema verite, depth, focus, the disolve, Tarkovsky, Bergman and a whole host of -isms, a half million dollar slasher flick from New Jersey, 1980, still means more to me than nearly all that other stuff combined.

f13-1a

Everyone should know the story of Friday the 13th: Camp Crystal Lake, shut since a double murder back in ’58, finally re-opens with a gaggle of teen counsellors and, on June 13th, a Friday, they find themselves picked off one by one by a mysterious killer, who uses a variety of cutting implements to slash, slit and skewer said counsellors until only one nice girl remains to face off with the shady maniac.

f13-2a

f13-3a

So there it is, simple and straightforward. A direct cash-in on Halloween, gored-up and downgraded into an organic product of on-location filmmaking and yet it was immeasurably successful at the box office, enough to generate ten fuckin’ sequels, a TV series and enough hype to spark its 2009 remake, the quality of which remains to be seen this February 13th.

"You're two steps from Pacific Avenue and Skin City!"

“You’re two steps from Pacific Avenue and Skin City!”

Here in the UK, we’ve been lucky to have the unedited version on DVD for a while now as well as all manner of bootleg VHS copies floating around since the 80s. I first saw the original cut at a late night showing circa 1997. That seldom seen X-rated certificate appeared on screen and then 92 minutes of textbook teen terror. What was cut out is comparatively minimal, four scenes to be exact: the first present-day kill – a drippy throat slashing – is shown for longer, as is a pre-fame Kevin Bacon’s infamous spike-through-the-neck, the axe-to-the-face and the decapitation finale.

f13-5a

f13-7a

Hoards of horror aficionados have overlooked Friday the 13th. The accusations of its innate cheapness cannot be denied, but compared to any made-for-video or DVD film of the post-Scream era, it’s a production masterpiece, with competent photography that nicely telegraphs foreclosing doom, a cabin-thrashing rainstorm and characters just a little too simple-minded to figure out that they perhaps shouldn’t go and find out what that weird noise is…

f13-6

f13-8a

Of course, in this day and age, everything  going on at Camp Crystal Lake looks dated and riddled with cliches – but Friday the 13th fuckin’ wrote those cliches! So Halloween came first, but you’ll find more of the subsequent slasher films copied Fridays homework and changed it to suit their own story.

f13-9a

f13-11a

Everything about this film is perfect to me, trumped only by the increased professionalism of Part 2 (which also benefitted from a kick-ass final girl in Amy Steel), from the minute unease of seeing the creaky door to the bathrooms open and a booted foot stepping in, to the creeping shot of Marcie at the row of sinks, and Alice’s neverending attempts to escape from the clutches of one of cinema’s most surprising villains.

f13-101a

f13-12a

Thank you, Friday the 13th, you truly have been life altering. I’d marry you if I could and father lots of baby 13ths!

f13-13a

Blurbs-of-interest: Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer returned for brief cameos in the sequel and Palmer also appeared in The Fear: Resurrection; Kevin Bacon turned from victim to killer in sci-fi slasher Hollow Man twenty years later; producer Steve Miner directed Parts 2 & 3 and Halloween H20.

1 2