10 (horror) movies to watch between your Final Girl Sessions
I’ve become obsessed with the Final Girl Board game, a horror themed solo game in which you play as the “Final Girl” fighting a killer. (my review here).
If you’ve tried, or at least have seen the game, you probably already know that it takes heavy inspiration from old school horror movies. After playing a few sessions of Final Girl, I started looking into the movies that inspired the game (or that fit its theme) to get even more immersed into Final Girl’s Fantastic Atmosphere.
Please note that not all movies in there have been confirmed by Final Girl designers, to be or not to be inspiration for the game, but most of these are very direct references so I’m pretty confident with the list. Also, note that not all of these movies are “good” from a critic perspective, but most of them are cult classics, and IMO watching them will definitely enhance your experience playing the game.
While we’re at it, if you’re looking for music to go with your Final Girl session, my personal go to is to look for “Darkwave horror” in Youtube 🙂
0. TL,DR: List of Final girl Inspirations
OK, I get it, you don’t want to read the long article, you just want all of Final Girls inspirations. Here’s the TL,DR:
- Happy Trails Horror
- Halloween (Laurie Carpenter/Laurie Strode + John Carpenter)
- Friday the 13th (Hans/Jason Voorhees, The summer camp location)
- Ring (Reiko Rivers Character, in relation to Ring character Reiko Asakawa. Kawa means River in Japanese)
- Frightmare on Maple Lane
- Nightmare on Elm Street (Maple Lane/Elm Street, Dr. Fright/Freddy Krueger, Nancy Lang/Nancy+Heather Langenkamp)
- Carnage at the Carnival
- Puppet Master (Geppetto and his minions)
- The Funhouse (The Carnival location)
- High Tension (Charlie Aja, looks like character + name of Director Alexandre Aja)
- Audition (Eihi Asami, in reference to character name Asahi Yamazaki + actress name Eihi Shiina)
- Slaughter in the Groves
- The designers have confirmed the villain/location does not reference a particular movie
- Night of the Living Dead (Barbara Romero, named after character + director John Romero)
- Us (Adelaide Jordan, named after character + director Jordan Peele)
- Haunting of Creech Manor
- Poltergeist (The Poltergeist – duh -, Carolyn/Carol Anne)
- Amityville Horror (family moves into a haunted house trope)
- Terror from Above
- Into the void
- Alien (Ellen/Ellen Ripley, Jenette/Jenette Vasquez, The Evolmorph/Xenomorph, etc….)
- Terror at station 2891
- The Thing (North pole location, “organism”/the thing)
- A Knock at the Door
- The Strangers (3 masked teenagers invade a house)
- Once Upon a Full Moon
- Little Red Riding Hood tale
- Madness in the Dark
- Silent Hill (although the games are probably a better inspiration than the movie…)
- Terror from the Grave
- Zombies for sure, not sure if a movie in particular 🙂
1. Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm street was undeniably the inspiration for Final Girl’s “Frightmare on Maple Lane”, down to the location name (Elm Street, Maple Lane, get it?), but in particular with Dr. Fright’s background story being similar to that of Freddy Krueger’s. Not to mention the fact that the only way to attack him is to fall asleep, and fight him in that horrible Boiler room…
Yeah, Frightmare on Maple Lane is heavily thematic, and by the way, it really helps to listen to some old school Wes Craven movie horror soundtrack while playing.
The Final girl in Frightmare is Nancy, a direct reference to Nancy Thompson, the Final girl played by Heather Langenkamp in the 1984 movie. It’s likely that Nancy’s family name in Final Girl, “Lang”, is a direct reference to Heather’s Family name, Langenkamp.
Nightmare on Elm Street has generated an almost endless franchise, but the general consensus is that the first, 3rd (Dream Warriors), and 7th (New Nightmare) movies are the “good” ones. Good news, they also happen to be the ones that feature Nancy, so it keeps in theme with the Final Girl game.
You can watch Nightmare on Elm Street on Amazon Video.
In The Happy Trails Horror, you play as Laurie Carpenter, fighting against the Evil butcher Hans. Laurie’s firstname is a reference to Final Girl Laurie Strode (played by young Jamie Lee Curtis) in Halloween direct by John…Carpenter! Wink, wink.
Laurie Strode is one of the most iconic Final Girls in movies, so she had to have her reference in the board game!
Halloween pits Laurie against deranged killer Michael Myers, and set the standard for modern horror movies when it was released in 1979. This movie too has generated a long lasting franchise, although none of them ever matched the first one. (But you might want to give a try at 2018’s Halloween, the other good one).
You can watch Halloween on Amazon Video.
3. Friday the 13th
Speaking of the Happy Trails Horror scenario, although Laurie was a reference to the Halloween franchise, the killer, Hans, is pretty much Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, A masked madman who kills his victims one after the others in an abandoned summer camp.
If this reminds you of what happened in your last session of Final girl at the Happy Trails camp, yeah, that’s intentional. Hans does have a butcher vibe that Jason lacks, though.
Although the movie hasn’t aged as well as Halloween, it also generated a stream of sequels that are unfortunately not great. Watch the original, and maybe skip the other ones unless you really want to see more of Jason.
Creech Manor’s Alice Cranston could also be a reference to the Alice Hardy character of Friday the 13th, and Bryan Cranston being one of the actors in the 2018 remake.
You can watch Friday the 13th on Amazon Video.
4. The Birds
Probably the oldest entry in this list, Alfred Hitchcock’s the Birds inspired Final Girl’s “vignette” scenario Terror from Above.
In Terror From above, your final girl has to save up to 3 special victims from the attacks of a growing number of crows in the neighborhood. Their sheer number is more frightening than their attacks, just like in the movie! I found it worked really well, thematically, with the Maple Lane location.
One of the Final girls from this scenario is Melanie Brown, and will remind you of The Birds’ Melanie.
The Birds remains a masterpiece. Proving once again that build-up is the key to suspense, Alfred Hitchcock successfully turned birds into some of the most terrifying villains in horror history.
You can watch The Birds on Amazon.
Jordan Peele has been delighting audiences as part of his comedic duo Key and Peele, but achieved even broader recognition for his work on horror movies. Although I largely prefer “Get Out” personally, “Us”, as a slasher movie (with an original twist) is more in line with The Final Girl Tropes.
Adelaide Jordan is one of our Final Girls, in reference to Adelaide in the movie, and Jordan Peele’s first name.
you can watch ‘Us’ on Amazon Video.
6. Poltergeist and/or The Amityville Horror
The Haunting of Creech Manor features a poltergeist and child abduction. Which is what the movie Poltergeist is about, and why it’s the first movie that comes to mind when playing that specific villain in the Manor. The little girl you have to find in the game is named Carolyn, which is very close to the name of the girl in the movie, Carol Anne.
There are several differences between the theme of the game and the actual movie though, and fans have been debating whether the Haunting of Creech Manor isn’t rather a reference to the Amityville Horror, in which a family moves into an abandoned house with a ghost in it.
1982’s Poltergeist remains very scary to this date, and holds a 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The same can’t be said of Amityville horror, with a 30% rating and the following comment: “Dull and disappointing, the best that can be said for The Amityville Horror is that it set a low bar for its many sequels and remakes.”. Ouch.
If you can’t get enough of Creech Manor in your Final girl sessions, watch both, but know that Poltergeist is the better one.
You can watch Poltergeist on Amazon.
You can watch Amityville horror on Amazon
7. Puppet Master / Funhouse
Fans are still scratching their heads at what movie Carnage at the Carnival is directly referencing, but the Puppet Master Franchise seems to be the one.
Puppet Master is an ok, not great movie. But it’s a classic. Heather Wixson of Dread Central says: “While the movie has terrific atmosphere and set designs, it’s the iconic posse of killer puppets that have cemented Puppet Master in horror history as a campy cult classic.”
Truly a unique movie that will help getting in the mood to try and defeat that darn Geppetto and his minions.
But if it’s the carnival that scares you even more than the puppeteer, then the movie you’ll want to watch is The Funhouse, in which some teenagers have to escape a deformed, masked killer at a trashy carnival. That movie also still holds a “fresh” rating at rotten tomatoes, unlike the Puppet Master. (But hey, it’s not like all cult movies have to be certified fresh)
You can watch Puppet Master on Amazon.
You can watch Funhouse on Amazon.
8. High Tension (Switchblade romance)
This one’s a thin reference, but Evan Derrick, one of the creators behind the Final Girl games, has confirmed there is a reference here, as Final Girl Charlie Aja looks a lot like Alex (Cécile de France) in the movie, and her Family name “Aja” is the name of the director, Alexandre Aja.
A beautiful young Frenchwoman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and brings along her friend Marie (Cécile de France). Soon after they get settled in the secluded home, Alex’s parents are brutally attacked by a psychotic truck driver (Philippe Nahon), who proceeds to stalk the two women as well. When the killer kidnaps Alex in his truck, Marie hides in the back to try and rescue her, but the bloodshed is far from over.
High Tension is an example of a film that critics didn’t like, but audiences seem to really appreciate.
You can watch High Tension on Amazon.
If you’re trying to get ready for Final girl Season 2, which is set to hit retail at the end of 2022, you’ll want to brush up on your Alien knowledge. Into the Void is clearly more than just a nod to one of the most popular monster franchises ever. With characters named Ellen (Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver) and Jenette (Vasquez, played by Jenette Goldstein), and the monster itself being an evolmorph (Aliens’ monsters are the Xenomorphs), you’d think the message was clear enough. But just in case, this scenario will put you inside the uscss patna spaceship, and the creature will track you from the ventilation shafts.
That’s Alien alright. The first movie is the one you want to watch, in witch space explorers end up bringing a parasite onboard their spaceship. Hilarity ensues (for the parasite).
But if you’re like me you probably won’t want to stop there. The second movie is awesome as well, although it has less of a “final girl” vibe and more of an action movie feeling. Alien3 was originally panned by critics, but it is also great if you can get your hands on the director’s cut, and is much more similar to the first one. I used to like the 4th one (alien resurrection) as kid, but it has more of an action comic book atmosphere, and goes into weird places. I feel it didn’t age as well as the 3 other ones.
you can watch Alien on Amazon.
10. The Thing
One more movie to get ready for Final girl Season 2, The Thing is a movie about a weird monster that attacks an isolated scientific base somewhere in the North Pole. The catch: the monster can take the appearance of the person they just killed. Who’s a good guy? Who’s the monster? Are there several infected? Nobody knows, and nobody trusts each other.
That’s pretty much the plot of Terror at Station 2891: “The only way out is the helicopter. But the problem is, you don’t know who you can trust. Who has been assimilated by the organism? Someone? Everyone?”.
The Thing has pretty disgusting practical effects when it comes to the monster, and that’s probably the main reason I’d watch it again today. Gruesome and cool! Also, Kurt Russel.
But if a more modern version is what you’re looking for, you can try the 2011 version. Which has a character named… Kate. Oh, wait a minute, that also happens to be the name of one of the final girls in that scenario, wow surprising! Be warned though, the reboot was panned by critics, and Carpenter’s version is the superior one.
You can watch The Thing on Amazon.
Or watch the 2011 Reboot.
11. More references
Final girl has taken its inspiration from many more cult movies, and, although we felt the connection between those and the game is too “thin” to make it to this list, it’s still interesting trivia:
- Although there is no zombie scenario in Final Girl (yet), one of the Final Girls in Slaughter in the Groves is Barbara Romero. Her name is a reference to Barbara, from George Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead.
- Happy Trails Horror’s Reiko Rivers is a reference to Ring‘s Reiko Asakawa. Kawa means River in Japanese.
- Carnage at the Carnival’s Eihi Asami is a reference to Audition (character Asahi Yamazaki played by actress name Eihi Shiina). Looks like they didn’t always pick a “good” girl for their final girl 🙂
- “Happy Trails, Hans” is a not-so-subtle reference to the death of the main villain (Hans Grueber) in Die Hard, and that’s one of Bruce Willis’ many punchlines in the movie. Clearly AJ Porfirio and Evan Derrick are 80’s movies fans 🙂
Games mentioned in this article
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