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Scream (#110 of 7)

The 10 Best Final Girls in Horror Cinema

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The 10 Best Final Girls in Horror Cinema

Columbia Pictures

The 10 Best Final Girls in Horror Cinema

Happy Halloween, folks. Hope you’re enjoying our epic horror list, which is counting down the best of the best in a genre that’s near and dear to our hearts. As an added bonus, I thought I’d pay tribute to one of my favorite horror tropes—the Final Girl, a very specific type of heroine who’s usually left to deal with the cops when they come to clean up the bodies. There are newbies, legends, and even a comedienne on this roster, but all of them have earned their right to be here, either by standing on the shoulders of giants or wildly impaling creatures of the night. Sadly, I Know What You Did Last Summer’s Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) didn’t make the cut, but as she would say, “What are you waiting for?!?!” Read on.

Sinful Cinema Halloween: H20

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Sinful Cinema: Halloween: H20
Sinful Cinema: Halloween: H20

Sadly, Halloween: H20 has nothing to do with water. It isn’t the Michael Myers brand’s equivalent of Jason X, sending its masked killer into the deep sea instead of deep space. No, the title of this 1998 slasher, the seventh in the Halloween series, merely exploits the fact that “Halloween” starts with an “H,” and that this installment takes place 20 years after the original. That “h2o” is also a universally known yet wholly unrelated combination of characters is simply, ya know, earworm-y title gravy. I actually can’t recall water, in any capacity, appearing in a single frame of this film. The liquid most often featured is alcohol, like chardonnay and vodka, which Keri Tate, better known as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), slugs back to quell fears of the brother who offed her promiscuous friends in the ’70s. Having faked her death, changed her name, and given birth to a son, John, Laurie (as we’ll call her herein) is now the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy, a tony private high school in a remote part of California, and the perfect secluded, hallway-rich setting for a killer to stalk and stab. At this school, LL Cool J, one year away from the equally sinful delight Deep Blue Sea, plays token-black security guard Ronnie; Adam Arkin plays Laurie’s colleague and love interest, Will; and Josh Hartnett, in his feature debut, plays grown-up John, who, at the edge of seventeen, serves to prove that Myers may just have a long-standing Stevie Nicks obsession.

15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

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15 Famous Movie Phone Calls
15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

Budding blonde Ari Graynor continues the R-rated femme comedy trend this weekend in For a Good Time, Call…, a naughty film that pairs the funny gal with brunette Lauren Miller (otherwise known as Mrs. Seth Rogen). Inspired by Miller’s college exploits with roommate and co-writer Katie Ann Naylon, the movie casts the leading pair as sparring roomies turned phone sex operators, a scenario that soon proves especially lucrative. Phones may have undergone a lot of makeovers in recent years, but their effectiveness on screen has been solid since the days of the candlestick model. In honor of the new fantasy-fulfilling comedy’s basis in ring-a-ding-ding, we’ve gathered up 15 films with highly memorable phone calls, which run the gamut from disarming to terrifying.

Poster Lab: The Cabin in the Woods

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Poster Lab: The Cabin in the Woods
Poster Lab: The Cabin in the Woods

There wasn’t much to say about the initial poster for The Cabin in the Woods that wasn’t as plain as day in the image itself: “Oh, look at that. The house is twisted like a Rubik’s Cube. There must be puzzles afoot.” Nevertheless, the design proved to be one not easily forgotten, and highly amenable to, say, 3-D cardboard stand-ups for cineplex lobbies. Now, Lionsgate has wisely taken ownership of the image, as evidenced by the new one-sheet, recently revealed. Thanks to passerby double-takes and a swelling sea of buzz, that house is an emblem that can even work as a hollow shape, and while it may not be as iconic as The Blair Witch Project’s stickman, the powers that be are seeing to it that it’s on its way.

A heavy hitter on the festival circuit and overseas, The Cabin in the Woods has been met with a mess of early critical praise, which, given the cryptic plot details and banal TV spots, is thus far the most intriguing thing about it. The fire is then stoked with the new poster’s central detail—a jam-packed collection of more than 20 quoted raves. History has certainly shown that madness lies the way of trusting pithy blurbs stamped on film paraphernalia, but it’s exciting to see such enthusiasm emerge about a scary movie. Though largely drawn from London outlets, the quotes aren’t simply those of horror and genre gurus, who often give passes to titles that fail to grab a broader audience. The response suggests a widespread appeal, and it underscores an apparent mix of fright and comedy reminiscent of, as noted, The Evil Dead and Scream.

Summer of ‘86: “Some Folks Sure Got a Strange Idea of Entertainment”: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, Take One

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Summer of ‘86: “Some Folks Sure Got a Strange Idea of Entertainment”: <em>Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI</em>, Take One
Summer of ‘86: “Some Folks Sure Got a Strange Idea of Entertainment”: <em>Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI</em>, Take One

Some folks regard Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI as a precursor to the self-aware Scream films. It’s a tired entry in a tired series…and I love it. The characters in Scream know from horror conventions, and if knowledge doesn’t necessarily prevent their inevitable ends, it at least forces the victims, the killers, and the filmmakers to get creative. Jason Lives, on the other hand, gets boring. Dutifully, hilariously, self-sabotagingly boring. It’s a film that pays tribute to its own pointlessness by refusing to excite. Beyond knowing that they are in a horror film, its characters know that they are in a bad horror film, and they act accordingly. The film simultaneously comments on how silly this all is, while never bothering to actually turn itself into something good. Self-aware humor doesn’t save Jason Lives, but I don’t really think it’s supposed to, and as such, it goes down the meta rabbit hole in a unique way.

Of course, the plot barely exists. Tommy Jarvis, who killed Jason as a child in The Final Chapter, digs up and accidentally revives Jason’s corpse. Jason then kills people. By reading two books about the occult, Tommy figures out that he needs to kill Jason again in the place where he originally died. He kills him. The sheriff’s daughter helps.

Old Ghosts & New Blood: A Scream Generation Gap

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Old Ghosts & New Blood: A Scream Generation Gap
Old Ghosts & New Blood: A Scream Generation Gap

Even with the monopolizing traditions of CG family fare, it was truly jarring to look at the box office numbers for the April 15th weekend and find that Rio, a kaleidoscopic spectacle complete with jive-talking birds resurrected from Dumbo, had snatched the top spot from Scream 4, a far more noteworthy resurrection of one of the most popular franchises of our time. Or, perhaps I should speak for myself. For someone so anxious to keep in step with the new, now and worthwhile, I feel grossly out of the loop in the wake of Scream 4’s release. It’s hardly just the film’s poor numbers that have me thrown, as following such things is folly that undermines a movie’s value anyway. It’s that Scream 4 seems to have come and gone in a flash even more fleeting than most of what’s churned out in our on-to-the-next society. Not only did people fail to peel themselves away from Shark Tank to catch the return of Sidney Prescott, most people, it seems, didn’t even really care to talk about it. EW ran a cover story, Neve Campbell got a five-question interview in Health, the reviews were middling, the end. Before it opened, I asked my partner’s 16-year-old brother what he thought about the movie, and he said, “It kinda looks okay, but I’d rather see Sucker Punch.” His best friend said, “They’re all the same anyway.”

Players to Be Named Later

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Players to Be Named Later
Players to Be Named Later

One of my favorite one-line kiss-offs came from Andrew Sarris, of all people. During the industry’s late-’90s push to make Skeet Ulrich a big movie star, Sarris wrote that he just didn’t see what the big deal was—that Ulrich was a capable actor but didn’t offer any distinctive qualities that weren’t already provided by other young stars, and on top of that, Sarris wrote, “He reminds me of half the waiters on Melrose Avenue.”

Yee-ouch.

Not to kick Ulrich for no reason—I’m not sure what he’s up to these days, and I never thought he was a bad actor, just that he never showed me anything that Johnny Depp didn’t show me with more flair—but I’ve got the former Scream costar on the brain because MSNBC movie columnist Dave White name-checked him in a very funny column about the sudden ubiquity of certain hunky young leading men who land a succession of high-profile roles for reasons nobody can quite pinpoint. Even the ones with a bit of spiky charisma ultimately seem forgettable, safe, factory sealed. If they possess that All About Eve quality, fire and music, they rarely if every show it. They seem like understudies who weren’t ready for their big breaks; players to be named later.