Let me introduce you to the 'Final Guy'.
So we all pretty much know the basic slasher film tropes that earn a horror character the 'final girl' title, right? For those of you at the back who fell asleep during your last film theory lesson; it's pretty much as it sounds – the last character left after the dust, blood and all kinds of unspeakable carnage has finally settled. She's the one that demonstrates exceptional perseverance in the face of abject terror and most importantly, the one who subdues the maniac once and for all -or until the next sequel at least. This character just so happens to be a girl because that was the gender of choice for those wonderful folk who decided their main hero (or victim) when writing for this ostensibly male dominated genre.
How about we focus on someone a little more under-appreciated by the horror audiences and theorists – the 'final' guy. There are so few fine examples of us guys kicking psycho-killer ass in modern horror history, we thought it high time for a tip of the hat to these unsung heroes of the genre. Hey, we can save the day too, alright?
Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2 – 1985
“Something is trying to get inside my body.”
Jesse takes over from one of the undisputed horror scream queens in the unintentionally homoerotic sequel to Wes Craven's original nightmare. Where Nancy Thompson battled the infamous son of a hundred maniacs in the dream world, Jesse Walsh arguably has something a lot more horrifying to endure. Freddy wants to get inside him – literally. One of the more memorable kills in the series sees Freddy tear through Jesse's body leaving his skin on the floor like a used rubber and giving his bud Ron the five razor finger treatment. Survives the entire film and is not brought back to die in a later sequel, much like the majority of the Elm Street kids.
Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell ) The Hitcher – 1986
“Do I look like a killer to you?”
“Because I cut off his legs. And his arms. And his head...and I'm gonna do the same to you”.. So begins Jim Halsey's lonely descent into hell as he becomes the sole fixation of cryptic roadside madman John Ryder, brilliantly realised by the awesome Rutger Hauer. If a final guy is to suffer greatly before the end then Halsey accomplishes does in spades – he spends pretty much the entire opening running time of the film pinned against the driver's window of his car as Ryder ominously asks him to repeat the words “I wanna die..” One of the few horror heroes with the good sense to go back and double check that the villain is dead at the story climax - hitting him with his car then promptly dispatching Ryder with some much deserved shotgun justice.
Ashley C Williams (Bruce Campbell) Evil Dead Trilogy – 1981 to 1992
“You bastards, why are you torturing me like this? Why?”
I think that Ashley C Williams' inclusion on any list like this pretty much be mandatory and more than likely be of no surprise to any of you who like to call themselves genre fans. Ash pretty is pretty much the final girl of the first Evil Dead film – seemingly meek and virginal at first, his fellow cabin mates are reduced to screeching deadites foaming at the mouth for human souls forcing Ash to don his best accidental hero outfit and save the day. Groovy.
Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) Fright Night – 1985
Pop quiz, hot shot – your next door neighbour turns out to be a real blood sucking vampire and your friends and family wouldn’t believe you if you told them. What do you do? What do you do?! Enlist the help of an old Hammer horror TV host, it would seem. Slightly loses some standing on the list for having so much help. You didn't see Jamie Lee Curtis getting this kind of help, did you Charlie?
Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) Child's Play Trilogy – 1988 to 1991
“This IS the end, friend.”
Poor little Andy Barclay – not only is he the recipient of cinema's most homicidal doll, but he ends up on the run from his homicidal Good Guy doll Chucky right up until the age of sweet sixteen. Still, he emerges from the climax of Child's Play 3 in one piece, not a feat to take lightly when you're just a wee lad. Bags youngest final guy honours.
Ben (Duane Jones) Night Of The Living Dead – 1968
“This is no Sunday School picnic!”
One of the earliest examples of a final guy in George Romero's 1968 seminal film. Social and class boundaries are smashed amidst the zombie siege that started them all. Sure, he dosent survive the film, but that’s down to the gun toting red-neck vigilantes performing mop-up duties on and not the undead menace that he manages to outlast.
Major Alan 'Dutch' Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) Predator – 1987
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
A squad of muscle bound, tobacco chewing mercenaries could would hardly ever be considered monster fodder but that's exactly what happens in John McTiernan's now legendary action horror. Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer may be built like a brick shit house and armed with an assault rifle bigger than your entire body but that still dosent stop him qualifying from the final guy survivor status, especially when we cut to the perspective of the killer so much – a classic slasher movie trope. Another final guy to emerge victorious over the killer and not brought back to be slain for the sequel.
R.J. Macready (Kurt Russell) The Thing – 1982
Another sure thing for our final guy countdown. Did you ever doubt R.J. Macready's appearance in this run-down? A murderous alien parasite finds its way on to a remote Arctic research station and systematically slaughters the occupants one by one. Inspiring an escalating sense of sheer panic and paranoia, John Carpenter's 1982 body horror classic proved that the monster movie idea still had teeth. Macready not only manages to outfox the alien beastie for the majority of the film's running time but manages to escape death at the hands of his increasingly hostile co workers – even if it does mean tying them all up and forcing them to undergo an impromptu blood test. His final guy status could be disputed because he is not the sole survivor ... but then again, are they both human?
Roger Cobb (William Kat) House – 1986
“I beat you!And this goddamn house!”
Roger Cobb is pretty much screwed from the opening crawl of this Sean S. Cunnigham produced haunted house caper. Recently divorced and having lost his son, he moves into the lonely old house alone to write a painful memoir of his experiences touring Vietnam. It dosent seem to faze him that his old aunt was found hanging by the neck from the rafters, prior to his moving in. Cue a barrage of horrifying ghouls emanating from his closet that are determined to drive him over the edge. Supernatural menace or post-war syndrome?
Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) Final Destination – 2000
“We're all on the same list.”
Perhaps one of the more peculiar entries on our list simply because there is no killer or villain to confront and overcome in Alex Browning's story. He may be a little more adept at figuring out that death – or fate, whatever you want to call it – has a plan, but ultimately the only thing that sets him apart from his friends is his apparent pre cognitive abilities. Having foreseen his fiery death on board a passenger airliner along with his best friends, Alex panics, forcing the cabin crew to eject them all. Subsequently saving their lives. Sure enough, just as in his premonition, the plane explodes. His friends are now picked off one by one by an unseen force that Alex deduces is death itself. Not strictly a 'final' guy as he dosent make it through alone but without doubt one of the stronger male characters in modern American horror. Unfortunately loses standing on our list due to being quitely killed as a side-note in Final Destination 2.