Post #373: Top 10 Tuesday, Top 10 Forgotten Final Girls

Aaannnd we’re back! I said I was gonna take a little time off, but it was surprisingly difficult to not jump right back into blogging every day. Still, I’ve been able to catch up on some other things in the meantime. Like dishes. And laundry (one can only maintain a floordrobe and keep buying new underwear but so long). And grounds maintenance in and around the Castle Blogferatu environs. One can even see the floor in a few spots!

Still, it’s good to get back into kind of the swing of things, and what better place to start then with Top 10 Tuesday? Oh, and if you’re wondering how I managed to jump from Horror 365: The Final Post to Post #373, it’s because I were already 8 posts in when I came up with my godforsaken supercreative Horror 365 project. So, yeah, math.

Anyway, today’s list. I gotta admit right up front, I kinda hate the term “final girl.” It’s so…binary, for one thing. And of course it became a cliché about as quickly as it became recognized as a thing in the first place. Still, there are a few who went largely unsung throughout The 80s Final Girl Golden Age, as well as few precursors and twists on the idea. Be warned, there will be major spoilers.

#10 Jess Bradford (Black Christmas, 1974)

Before he got busy making the single greatest christmas movie ever put on film, Bob Clark also from time to time turned his lens to horror. Jess is a sort of final girl prototype in that she survives the movie, but she does so more despite her actions than because of them. She is rescued more than she manages to rescue herself, and if you’ve seen the movie, you know that rescue doesn’t exactly turn out the way it’s supposed to.

#9 Jenny (Ghostkeeper, 1981)

Throughout this list I’m probably playing a little fast and loose with the final girl concept, but I stand by these picks. This movie is just a freakin’ weird one. There are events that make zero sense and/or never get adequately explained. But it’s spooky enough and has a predictable but nonetheless enjoyable twist.

#8 Jane (And Soon The Darkness, 1970)

Like Jess in Black Christmas, Jane is another prototype. She stumbles across rather than solves the mystery of her friend’s disappearance/murder, and in the end is rescued by Capable Male Protagonist rather than rescuing herself. But she does survive the ordeal, so there’s that, plus it has some serious giallo vibes for a Brit thriller.

#7 Julie Wells (One Dark Night, 1982)

First of all, 22-year-old Meg Tilly looking like she’s in high school which, fair play, makes sense since her character is a high school student. Second, fuckin’ Adam West is in this! So, Julie is poised to go through her initiation to some little clique called The Sisters. This involves staying overnight in a mausoleum. Well, complications arise. Mainly these involve some kinda psychic vampire dude and some zombies, all of which is fun and unexpectedly effective for a PG flick.

#6 Diane Adams (Silent Night, Bloody Night, 1972)

This is another trippy weird one with some more giallo vibes, and it’s got both Mary Woronov as Diane and John Carradine. The plot is so insanely convoluted before we even get to Diane in the first place, and once we do, hoo boy does the story start to go off the rails (in a good way). She also manages to save herself which is a plus, and again we get one of those ever-satisfying, ambiguous “what’s goin’ on in her head” endings. Oh, and Candy Darling makes an appearance. For more in-depth analysis and commentary, I urge you to check out Film Miasma’s take on this one.

#5 Debbie Yates (Frightmare, 1974)

Anytime you can work cannibalistic borderline folk horror onto a list makes for a good day, pen down, have a biscuit. Like I said, fast and loose on the final girl character. It’s a good piece of misdirection in that we’re expecting Jackie, who’s been the female lead all along, to be the one who prevails. Ultimately though, it’s her sister Debbie who’s secretly had a hand in the goings on all along.

#4 Cynthia (American Gothic, 1988)

Yeah, I’ll admit it. The only reason I ever watched this is because of Yvonne De Carlo and Rod Steiger. Again, our final girl survives but succumbs to the very things she’s been menaced by. This one, however, comes nicely full circle. Cynthia’s attempt to escape her initial guilt and trauma over her part in the accidental death of her baby connects directly to the movie’s ending (similar to but more satisfying than the end of Ghostkeeper).

#3 Scotty Parker (The Silent Scream, 1979)

As yet another example of convoluted, giallo-level plot twists, this movie just doesn’t get nearly enough love. And besides, how many other slasher movies are you gonna see Avery Schreiber in? It’s also another Yvonne De Carlo appearance along with horror queen Barbara Steele. Weird, quasi-Oedipal issues, long-kept family secrets, botched lobotomies, what’s not to love here?

#2 Katie McGovern (Dead Of Winter, 1987)

Mary Steenburgen takes on 3, count ’em, 3 different roles here! Okay one is largely a corpse, but still. If you haven’t seen this, I’ll go out of my way not to mess it up for you. It’s a taut little Hitchcockian thriller that’s well worth seeking out. Included at no extra charge is Roddy McDowall as the oh so polite, pleasant, and therefore super creepy Mr. Murray.

#1 Angela (Sleepaway Camp, 1983)

Right, so the movie is well known, but as final girls go, you can’t get twistier than this. Man oh man does this movie have problems though. It has not aged well, both demonizes and ridicules mental illness, and turns out to be pretty seriously transphobic. And yet, I can’t quit Sleepaway Camp completely. I never saw the end coming back in 1983, and that final shot to this day still remains deeply, deeply disturbing. Throughout the movie Angela is bullied, tormented, and nearly molested, so the obnoxious fuckers who end up dead by and large deserve it. The fact that Angela survives it all through vengeance by her own hand is just *mwah*. Say what you will, but she’s got some agency.

Okay, there’s the list. It’s good to be back. Not sure what kind of posting schedule I’ll be following, if any, but, as I’ve heard my idol Rachel Maddow say, watch this space.

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