Ladies of Horror May-hem: Amanda Young

amandayoung

Time to get back to putting the mayhem in this month’s theme.

[Loba Tangent: Oh, yes, there will be spoilers, denizens.]

I’m willing to bet some of you are a little gobsmacked by today’s Lady. While I admittedly was surprised that the original Saw was nothing like I expected it to be (read: pointlessly violent and disgusting), I only made it through two of the sequels before throwing in the towel on the rest of the (pointlessly violent and disgusting) franchise.

All that being said, I was able to make it through the portion of Amanda Young’s living presence in the franchise (see? SPOILERZ), and, I have to admit, even though I didn’t really like her character, I was intrigued by her. More precisely, I was intrigued by the fact that, even though the antagonist of the original movie was male, writers Leigh Whannell and Darren Lynn Bousman opted to have him choose a female as his successor (or one of his successors, as I believe another was hinted at in the third film), thus making Amanda Young one of the first recurring lady slasher villains I can recall ever seeing. Even more interesting is the fact that she comes from one of the most successful horror franchises to hit the genre in a long time.

Now, I know that there are horror movies out there with female villains helming them (Voorhees, party of EEK!), but Amanda Young was more than just a one-time thing. She was chosen. She was groomed. She was tested. She could have been a contender. If only those screws hadn’t come quite so loose. I’m even willing to admit that, had she not gone so off-the-rails mentally and not died as a result, I might have been tempted to watch the fourth movie, just to see which psychotic killer off-ramp she’d fly down next.

And just as Kevin Williamson gave glorious feminist twists to his final girl dynamic duo, Whannell and Bousman give an equally intriguing feminist twist by changing the typical horror dynamic, especially for these types of movies. After all, why do you think there are so many final girls? It’s because horror has for too long embraced the violence against women trope. Again, I love the genre, but I acknowledge that it’s got a long history of awful when it comes to things like this. The final girl exists in some ways almost as a placation. “Yeah, we killed a bunch of girls in horrible, exploitative ways…but some of their boyfriends died, too (usually in really fast, less-than-graphic ways)! AND LOOK! We let a girl defeat the bad guy and survive! That makes it all better!”

Does it? I’m not so sure. Does a movie like Saw make it any better than the final girl alternative? Now, it’s not the male antagonist against the young female protagonist. It’s the young female antagonist against…everyone.

EOV. Equal-Opportunity Villainess.

Still, however I might feel about the character or the franchise from which she sprung, I give credit where it is earned. By becoming one of the slasher elite (and doing it with insane style), Amanda Young has earned her place as a Lady of Horror May-hem.

Oh and by the way, no you aren’t seeing double, denizens. Amanda Young does look remarkably similar to Meg Penny.

Ladies of Horror May-hem: Meg Penny

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Aw, this was the perfect draw for a Friday. I have had The Blob in mind as a potential Flashback Friday entry for a while. This remake was one of my favorite horror movies when I was a teen, for many reasons (which I might detail if I ever do add this movie to my Flashback Friday entries).

It’s also, IMHO, a perfect example of how to do a remake well. True, it has cheese galore when viewed through the prism of modern CGI capabilities (although I swear that practical effects still trump CGI any damn day). However, here are the four reasons that I think this was a successful remake: They waited a significant amount of time between the original and the remake (30 years is way more substantial than, say, the 10 years certain people waited to reboot the Spider-man franchise); during the time that passed in between the original and the remake, significant advances occurred in special effect capabilities (again, as opposed to the relative lack of advances made between 2002 and 2012); they freshened up the script so that it was the same idea but with different reasons and motivations that still worked within the parameters of the idea; and they twisted things up a bit by giving us a new hero…now a heroine in the form of Meg Penny.

This is primarily why I have chosen Meg Penny as a Lady of Horror May-hem: She was an early example to me of how remakes can switch things up and turn earlier accepted norms upside down in the best possible ways. Rather than sticking with the original plot’s male hero, played by a “teenaged” Steve McQueen (who was nearly 30 when he made this movie and looked nearly 40), this time they chose an actual teenager! And a girl! Shawnee Smith was 17-18 years old at the time she played Meg. In a review of this movie I posted elsewhere, I wrote of Meg:

She was cute, she was sporty, she could rock pearls and a machine gun. Plus, she had this hair that was like the most awesome non-mullet mullet in the history of mulletdom. I have no idea what this hairstyle was supposed to be…but she somehow made it work.

Additionally, one of the things that has always cracked me up about Meg is that, while she has an uncanny ability to adapt to a series of increasingly bizarre and terrifying events transpiring in rapid fire, she never ever gets the chance to pull off the perfect “So, there!” exit from a situation. You know what I mean…that great exit that everyone always wants to get the chance to do at least once in their life, usually right after delivering the perfect verbal burn or rigging a charge to explode canisters of liquid nitrogen. You all know what I mean, right?

Seriously, poor Meg simply can’t catch a break when it comes to making a solid exit, and that gave her a relatable quality that I always enjoyed. She’s a horror movie heroine, but she bumbles along sometimes just like the rest of us. We won’t ever make a mullet look quite so fabulous, though. Natch.