The Final Girl is a coveted horror genre gig—using your smarts (and some good luck), you make it to the end of the movie, and sometimes you even kill the masked maniac who offed all your friends. (Or do you?) But girls don't get to have all the fun! Once in a while (a great while), a male member of the species lives to see the end credits. We have gathered some examples below.
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Nick Garrison in Creatures from the Pink Lagoon (2006)
Homosexual men turned to zombies by radiated mosquitoes from a wooded cruising area threaten a gaggle of gays having a birthday weekend in a beach house. Now that’s a mouthful! Nick Garrison’s “Phillip” manages to escape the clutches of the lavender lepers until the final reel, but then he’s in a pickle when his attacker refuses to be vanquished. Cue Judy Garland’s “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart,” and all the undead revert back to their pre-zombie selves. Phew!
Billy Warlock in Society (1989)
WARNING: THE ABOVE VIDEO IS NSFW AND COMPLETELY DISGUSTING!!!
Brian Yuzna’s creepfest is possibly one of the most popular bombs of the direct-to-video boom of the late 80s/early 90s. Little seen in its initial release, horror filmmakers and fans continually site Society as one of the best films from one of the most original genre filmmakers. Billy Warlock stars as a kid who has it all—looks, money, beautiful home, gorgeous girlfriend, and an adoptive family of murderous shapeshifters who throw sex and cannibalism orgies. The last fifteen minutes of the film are truly beautifully disgusting, and thankfully Billy’s teen dream face escapes unscathed.
Lee H. Montgomery in Burnt Offerings (1976)
The final boy in Burnt Offerings is actually a boy—Lee H. Montgomery (who also played the lead in Ben) was fifteen years old when he squared off against Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart and their unseen mother locked in the attic. Oliver Reed, Karen Black and Bette Davis are also on hand in this A+ cast of genre character actors, but the real star of the film is the haunted house, using the lifeforce of Montgomery and his family to rejuvenate itself. Montgomery a-l-l-l-lmost makes it. If it weren’t for that darned brick chimney…
Dylan Fergus in Hellbent (2004)
Paul Etheredge-Ouzts’s gay slasher takes place over one evening during the fabulously terrifying West Hollywood Halloween carnival. Dylan Fergus and Bryan Kirkwood play a couple of “Will the straight actors actually kiss?” gay guys who make the mistake of taunting a creepy mask-wearing and scythe-carrying hunk on the street. Have horror movies taught them nothing? It’s a race to the finish for our two final boys, but in the end Fergus offs the killer (spoiler: not really), so for our purposes he gets the prize.
Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead series (1983, 1987)
Bruce Campbell’s trajectory from “Hey, that guy looks like the Dr. Pepper guy” to cult icon began with a short film called Within the Woods. That low budget effort, written and directed by Sam Raimi, begat The Evil Dead, which begat the sequel/remake Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, which begat the guy everyone wanted in their horror movie. Campbell plays “Ash” in the latter two films, listed together because they have essentially the same plot; a group of friends and/or paranormal investigators enter a cabin in the woods, and Bruce Campbell survives.
Corey Feldman in Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
The character “Tommy Jarvis” made three appearances in Friday the 13th sequels, and actually survived after the third, which makes him the longest running character in the franchise after Jason. Feldman originated the role and got to (seemingly) kill Jason.
John Shepherd in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
By the time Friday the 13th Part V came around, Tommy was all grown up and played by John Shepherd. Shepherd’s Tommy appeared to be joining Jason in his favorite hobby—stabbing people. Okay, so technically this is the same character but it's different actors!
Thom Matthews in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Matthews' version of Tommy Jarvis in the sixth film was back to being sane (it was explained in a novelization that he went to a mental institution between parts V and VI) and had the distinct honor of surviving his final film in the franchise.
Mark Patton in a Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
There’s something queer going on in this rule-breaking sequel to Wes Craven’s perfect franchise-to-be original. Mark Patton stars as “Jesse,” the object of Freddy’s affections, with Meryl Streep look-alike Kim Myers as his love interest. While Patton’s performance is genuine, and the script well-intentioned, the film missed the mark by *this* much. We still hold out hope Platinum Dunes, the production company responsible for the so-so remake, will up their game with a return to Elm Street and a more above board Jesse/Freddy bromance.
Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannel in Saw (2004)
Warning: Film's ending spoiled in the clip above!
Taken as a stand alone film, we don’t really know which one of Jigsaw’s two prisoners is actually the final man. Of course we find out several sequels down the road, and that character falls in line with the franchise’s shaky conceit—surviving a death trap makes you grateful to the person who set you up to tear you down. As flimsy as that reasoning may be, it’s no flimsier than the premise of the series; somewhere there’s a Canadian city made to look like a U.S. city with enough dirty warehouses to house infinite, Rube Goldberg-esque human mousetraps all executed around the same time by a serial killer and his recruits. But oh, what fun it all is! Elwes and co-screenwriter Leigh Whannell play two men trapped in a room who must complete gruesome tasks in order to live.
Jay Hernandez in Hostel (2005)
WARNING: Above clip not for the faint hearted!
Eli Roth’s gruesome $5 million opera of violence changed the face of horror while giving critic David Edelstein the opportunity to create the lazy, dismissive “torture porn” label. Jay Hernandez plays an American tourist in Slovakia who finds himself trapped in the shadow industry of recreational murder. Despite all their best efforts, the millionaires paying to vivisection tourists allow our leading man to escape, who then exacts revenge without paying a dime. Unsettling and, yes, torturous to the extreme, Hostel is both a well-crafted series of unfortunate events, and a great justification for xenophobia.
A. Michael Baldwin in Phantasm (1979)
Although Reggie Bannister would become the breakout star in subsequent franchise installments, audiences first experienced the byzantine Phantasm universe through the bewildered eyes of Michael Baldwin (the A. was added later). Don Coscarelli’s fever dream plotting asks the viewers to just go with it, and you will absolutely not be rewarded with an explanation in the end. But as legions of Phantasm fans will tell you, that doesn’t matter; it’s the journey, not the destination.
C. Thomas Howell in The Hitcher (1986)
Bucking the trend of “girl in jeopardy” flicks, The Hitcher casts C. Thomas Howell as the helpless lass, er, lad, preyed upon by Rutger “Always the Bad Guy” Hauer. In fact, the girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is shoehorned into the plot merely to act as a prop in one of the top ten classic, gut-wrenching scenes of horror ever filmed. (And you don’t see a thing.) After being dared by his pursuer to kill him on multiple occasions, Howell finally obliges at the 90-minute mark, well after Leigh and a dozen or more cops have been slaughtered along the way. Triumphant, the final boy walks away into the sunset. Okay, he stands and smokes, but the sun is definitely setting…
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