Monday, February 18, 2013

Last Woman Standing

This list and the list last week got out to you late as it has been a rather interesting two weeks in my life. Next week's list is the last and yes it will really be on Monday. There will also be a TD review coming up sometime next week, as I'm not sure on the date yet. I haven't done one of those in a while but again my personal/work life take heavy tolls on my day and I'm only spared so much time for my writing. I'm also just exceedingly lazy at times, so I'm not entirely a victim here.

Final girls are not the same as Scream Queens. Of course only horror fans get this intricate into differentiating but it's true. Scream Queens are women of the genre that are prominent and often in films. Final Girls are the characters that make it to the end of the slasher films, or films of a similar finale. They are very different, so I'm not repeating the list I did for October 2011, mind you. Of course a person could be both a Scream Queen and a Final Girl, but the main factor in differentiating them is Scream Queens are the real woman who hold the role and the Final Girls are the characters. As for my third list of the month I'll be taking too the bad-ass female characters that have survived awful horror scenarios, but survived them not by dumb luck but by being smart and killing the monster. And as I didn't last week I'll remind everyone this week this list is a matter of my opinion and is subject to change over time. These are my Top Five Final Girls:

#5 Sarah from The Descent (2005)

Taking from Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, all survivor girls go through a transformation. A point in the film where they surpass being a victim and become a fighter. As with Sarah I feel she makes the most vital and apparent transformation, in which is one of the most memorable images of the film. After losing her husband and daughter in a car accident and then getting trapped in cave while spelunking, with not only ravenous cannibal creatures but with the woman who was having an affair with her husband it's fair to say Sarah is callously beaten down. She becomes submerged in a pool of blood after having to kill her friend and two of the creatures. When she reemerges she display a eminent shift in attitude, aptly shot with actress Shauna MacDonald screaming drenched in red, that changes Sarah from her earlier damaged nature to a brutal survivor. 

#4 Laurie Strode from Halloween (1978)

Jamie Lee Curtis is the example of both a Final Girl and a Scream Queen as Curtis is renowned in the genre for her appearance in the late 70's and 80's, notably in Carpenter films. But her most famous character, Laurie Strode, is not only in the quintessential slasher film but is still regarded as one of the best Final Girls. The original monster, disregarding the sequels, had her against what was called The Shape. A seemingly faceless killer that resembled something of the boogeyman, as Tommy so calls him, with a physical superiority and the damaged mind of a six year old. Whether it really was the virtue or her luck Laurie was the only one to stand against him and live, all while doing her babysitting duties of keeping the children safe. The closet scene stands as shes cornered by a butcher knife with her only defensive tool being a hanger. She may not have killed Michael Myers but she definitely fought for her life.

#3 Samantha from The House of the Devil (2009)

Sam is the baby of the group, her film only being four years old but part of the reason I enjoyed The House of the Devil so much was I liked her as a final girl. This is besides the regular critiques that come with the film as an hour of it, or rather most of it, is spent watching Sam amble around the house, bored. In that hour drag of the film we get to see Sam be a normal 80's college student, which in my opinion gave her a more likable personality and evoked more empathy towards her. Often even the final girls get a rush of character development and are scooted through the film until the end when they really matter. Her final act is an awful but intelligent choice in that she realized her situation, even in all the horror encasing around her, and was able to make it despite the urge not too. WARNING I will spoil this for you if you don't stop reading, she shoots herself in the head to prevent Mother Ullman to take over her living body. Again not everyone's favorite choice but I felt that in likes to her situation it was the smartest.

#2 Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This might be off-putting to most, as a lot of people don't hold Nancy as high as I do on the list. Of course she's a recognized and regarded Final Girl but she usually holds a lower position. However, this is my list and I like her at number two for a lot of reasons. Nancy is of the few who takes her dream stalker head on. Of course so do the other women on this list, that's why they're final girls, but most are forced by circumstance in a life or death moment. Inevitably Nancy would have faced this as well but instead of waiting till that final moment she went looking for the monster in her dreams. Nancy has an uncommon strength and a fiery fight her in, whether that streaming from her dysfunctional family or her hurt from seeing her friends die in their sleep. It's an arch to her character that makes part of the reason A Nightmare on Elm Street is as good as it is. The fight, of them all, is that of a fair match as I argue that Nancy and Freddy are parallel in smarts, it was just a matter of limiting him to her human capabilities. If this isn't enough to convince you there's a great documentary out there called I Am Nancy with Heather Langenkemp that talks about why our Final Girl is just as remembered as one of our favorite slashers.

#1 Ginny Field from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Friday the 13th Final Girls are almost another category of their own, the film having birthed nine sequels, a remake, and a spin off. Of course in all of them though Amy Steele as Ginny from Part Two is my absolute favorite. There's quite a bit of reasons I like Ginny, the original reason being that my first viewing of the film when I was younger I was actually surprised to see a character like her. Having been used to the run of the mill slashers I didn't know capably smart victims existed, and especially not for the last woman left. Even to this day though when I re-watch the film I'm almost in awe how they could produce a character like Ginny in Part Two but then give us Chris in Part Three. An aspiring child psychologist Ginny is of the few who doesn't underestimate Jason or the legend, which is displayed so in the bar scene where she evaluates what the trauma of Jason seeing his mother killed would do to him. But her real Final Girl moment is when she finds the decrepit shack that Jason's been living and dresses in Mrs. Voorhees infamous blue sweater, pretending to be her to distract him. As Ginny doesn't kill Jason its hard to say what occurs between the two in the cabin in the following scene, but she is alive, albeit a bit emotionally unstable. But then again naturally anyone would be.

Honorable Mention: Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from Scream (1996), Alice (Adrienne King) from Friday the 13th (1980), Sally (Marilyn Burns) from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

If your reading post your own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great list! Agree with most of these, glad that House of the Devil gets some love as apart from the very short finale I thought it did an incredible job building suspense and horror.