Interview w/ Stacie Ponder (A Tale of Blogs, Sharks and Filthy Nightsluts)

In most horror movies there exists the concept of a strong, brave heroine (usually a virgin, but not always) who is capable of surviving the seemingly inexhaustible forces of evil. Known as the "Final Girl" this individual possesses an intelligence and cunning that enables her to ultimately transform from victim to vindicator.

In many respects I've come to think of female horror bloggers as an extension of this cinematic device; unafraid of what goes bump in the night, these intrepid female bloggers choose instead to confront (and even explore deeper) the nature of fear. Perhaps one of the best known of these individuals is Stacie Ponder, who proudly bears the moniker of horror's strongest feminine heroine(s) at her blog, Final Girl. Stacie was kind enough to join us for a peek behind peek the scenes, giving us a glimpse of what it takes to be THE 'final girl.'
So Stacie, what inspired you to start Final Girl and how did you come up with the name?

I started Final Girl pretty much on a whim. A friend of mine was writing for the wonderful (and now defunct) horror blog Dark, But Shining, and through that site I discovered that there was a small circle of horror blogs. It suddenly hit me that hey, I could do one of these blog things- I wanted to do something with my love of horror movies, so I signed up and gave it a go. No one else was blogging about slasher movies and I'd seen enough of 'em, so I jumped and made that my concentration. It sounds kind of stupid, but I was really nervous when I launched- I'd never written anything for public consumption before; actually, the only writing I'd ever done was for school. I've never been the type to write creatively or keep an extensive journal or anything. The community was really supportive, though, so I kept at it. I still get nervous when I remember that people might be reading it all.

As far as the name goes... that took a while. I'm terrible at naming things! Really bad. I just can't do a clever title. I wanted it to be horror-related, obviously, and I knew I didn't want my name in there at all. I figured slasher-related was a good idea. I settled on "The Final Girl", as it's horror- (and vagina-) related but not blatantly so- you know, it's not "Gothy Nightslut's Bloody Crypt of Reviews" or something. The URL for "THE Final Girl" was taken, so I nabbed Final Girl. I'm glad it worked out that way- I mean, my blog name doesn't need some extraneous article.

Are there any other popular or niche blogs that you look to for inspiration?

I look to the people who I'd want to talk horror movies with over a beer or a fruit smoothie or something: the fellas at Kindertrauma, JA at My New Plaid Pants, Curt at Groovy Age of Horror, Amanda by Night at Made for TV Mayhem, and Kim Morgan of Sunset Gun (and a zillion other places). They all know their shit and even better, their passion for the topic at hand really comes through in their writing. They're not writing to be "cool", and they manage to make their blogs very personal without making the blogs about themselves- does that make sense? I guess I mean they've all got unique voices that are compelling, voices that keep me coming back.

You had a lengthy run on AMC's Horror Hacker blog and have most recently written for Rue Morgue magazine. How have these experiences differed from writing on your own blog?

The thing I love about Final Girl is that, basically, I can write pretty much whatever I want- and believe me, I realize this may not always be a good thing. If I want to post about moustaches, I post about moustaches. If my movie review has a lengthy introduction that really has nothing to do with the movie in question, so be it. When I write for other sites and publications, they have these things called "standards" and "rules". They have editors! And word count limits! I understand all that, but I do find it extremely difficult to rein myself in- which is ridiculous, I know, but true. Still, it's good for me to push myself and learn how to write like a grown-up.

You're a blogger, writer, comic book inker and film maker. How do you find time to do all that?

It's easy- I don't have a life! Well, maybe I have a small one. Most of the time, though, I'm working. When I'm not working, I'm THINKING about working. I feel guilty for the work I'm not doing. There are worse things, for sure- I mean, I'm making stuff and writing about horror movies- but it can be exhausting. Once in a while my brain gets overloaded and I just shut down for a few days; I don't post anything, I don't watch anything work-related, and I do something to maintain my modicum of a social life. Someday, perhaps, I'll relax a bit or maybe settle on doing just one thing for a period of time. Right now, though, I'm like a shark- if I don't keep moving forward, I'll die.

Mind you, I'm also like a shark in that I like to go to the beach and bite surfers. Eh, it's a hobby.

You also co-host a weekly podcast with fellow female horror blogger, Heidi Martinuzzi. How did that partnership develop and what kinds of stuff do you talk about?

I've known Heidi for years and years now. She found my blog... somehow... and contacted me. Before long, I began writing for Pretty-Scary and we developed a friendship. I'd long wanted to do some sort of podcast or something or other for Final Girl, but I never got around to it. I pitched the idea of co-hosting a show and Heidi jumped. I think we play off of each other pretty well- while our tastes in movies isn't always compatible, our senses of humor are.

The show varies week to week. Sometimes we have guests, but it's usually just the two of us spouting off on a list of random topics. It's serious one minute and facetious the next. We looooove it when listeners call in, or when people ask questions or propose topics online... if only because that saves us from having to come up with things to discuss!

You seem to be an avid gamer, even posting your Xbox Gamer Tag on your blog. What are some of your favorite games?

Oh man. I could be here all day talking about video games... but I will try to be succinct! I love survival horror- anything Resident Evil or Silent Hill-related is a first-day purchase for me. Same goes for anything put out by the developer Bioware; I could play Mass Effect or Dragon Age all the time and not get tired of 'em. Mmm, Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Fallout 3, Half-Life, Portal... okay, I'll stop.

I understand if people aren't really into playing video games, but to dismiss them all out of hand as having no merit whatsoever is foolhardy, I say! Games have come a long way since the Atari 2600. The storytelling, acting, and directing are frequently better than what's found in a good portion of horror movies, I can tell you that. It's not just button-mashing anymore, although that can be enjoyable as well. Games like BioShock force the player to grapple a bit with morality AND broach heady topics such as (Ayn) Randism. Are video games a waste of time? Some of them might be, but then others prove that gaming is as worthy a hobby or passion as film. Besides- they're... you know... FUN.

Thanks to films such as Sleepaway Camp, May and Haute Tension, the stigma of sadistic male-only slashers has given way to a new generation of genderless horror. What's your take on the concept of the "male gaze" in horror films and do you still believe it to be relevant in today's culture?

Oh boy, that's a big can of worms to open! There's no way I'll be able to give a decent answer without writing a thesis! I think we're definitely seeing more and more female protagonists, even in the mainstream. Of course, a film may be "women-centric" and still cater to the male gaze, or still largely objectify women. If that term is used in terms of a power balance, I think things are definitely getting better, if only because things are becoming more and more "genderless", as you said. There's nothing much about The Descent that speaks to a specifically female point of view, except by default of the all-woman cast. It doesn't present the actresses solely as eye candy, either... it falls into a grey area that's more about characters than sexual politics. I don't mind that a bit.

Am I making any sense here? I don't know. Like I said, big topic that deserves more than a mere few sentences... but it's good to get a dialogue going, for sure.

Total sense, I feel like we're on the same page. So who are some of the women in the horror industry past or present that you really look up to or admire?

These women are/have been involved with the horror industry in varying amounts/capacities throughout time and I admire them all: Kathryn Bigelow, Elvira, Ida Lupino, Jovanka Vuckovic, Debra Hill, my mom, Shirley Jackson... ugh, there are so many more.

Okay... it's the ultimate slasher showdown with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) stuck in middle. Which girl is THE final girl?

As much as I loves me some Laurie Strode, there's no denying the crown would go to Nancy. Laurie stayed alive through Halloween & the sequel due to luck and the intervention of Dr. Loomis. Later, her demons got the best of her and she became a pill-popping boozehound who ended up in a psych ward. On the other hand, Nancy was totally proactive about battling the maniac chasing her. She made some booby traps and took the fight to Freddy, proving she wasn't afraid of him. After her ordeal was over, she became a... what, a counselor or something? I know the job required a blazer, which denotes mental health. Sorry, Laurie!

Do you have any special plans for Final Girl or other projects in 2010?

Man, I've got so much going on I can see through time! That doesn't make any sense, I know. Final Girl will remain Final Girl, and I will keep on keepin' on with the reviews and the Film Club and the Awesome Movie Poster Fridays and the everything as usual. Otherwise, I'm making movies & webshows and inking comics and drawing cartoons and... and... phew. I post links to most things on Final Girl, but my personal site or my Facebook account are probably the best ways to keep up with everything I'm doing, if anyone is interested.

What are 3 things that your readers don't you?

But...if I tell them, then they'll know! Does not compute! You can't fool me with this one. Sigh, okay fine.
  • I never graduated from high school
  • My first name is really spelled "Stacy" and I'm actually a dude
  • I love lying

Okay, this is my favorite part... what's the strangest thing you remember doing as a kid?

As I am a strange adult, it's probably not too surprising that I was a strange kid. When I was 3 or 4- before kindergarten age- I used to visit a crossing guard who worked at the top of my street. Because it was about a block away from my house, I was only allowed to go visit him if my mom or dad accompanied me. I broke the rule, however, the day my parents bought me a sweet suction cup bow & arrow toy- I had to go show my crossing guard friend. I walked to his corner all by myself and I was proudly showing off when he told me to take a look down the street; my parents we standing in the middle of the sidewalk, watching. The crossing guard told me to go home, because obviously I was in trouble...and man, I knew he was right. To save my parents some time and effort, I spanked myself down the sidewalk, all the way home. Mind you, my parents never hit me, but I guess I thought it was an appropriate punishment. Crying and smacking myself on the ass for the length of a block. Strange, and also square- story of my life!


  1. Anonymous said...:

    Great interview with a great blogger (and person). Stacie was a huge inspiration for us (and continues to be) when we first started blogging.

  1. kindertrauma said...:

    Nancy more "final" than Laurie, I think "That's crazy!" and then I read the Ponder's reasoning and it makes perfect sense. That's Stacy for you.

    I remember the days before the gold rush. The horror blogosphere twas nuthin' but tumbleweeds. Ponder dug the well so many drink from now and we all owe her a tip of the hat. Great interview SP and thanks.-Unk

  1. Andre Dumas said...:

    Hooray! Stacie is just the bees knees/ she's awesome. LOVE that crossing guard story haha

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to check it out and share your praise for Stacie, she's definitely earned it. With so many hands in the fire, I can only imagine what she'll do or where she'll go next.

    And thanks to you, Stacie, for allowing me to peel back your cranial cavity long enough to allow a few shining, sinister thoughts leak out.

  1. Stacie Ponder said...:

    Hey, you guys are all wicked nice. I feel like a Grande Dame! A very YOUNG Grande Dame, of course, but one all the same.

    And thanks for giving me the opportunity to flap my cyber-gums! 'Tis an honor indeed.

  1. ArtAlmquist01 said...:

    I just discovered Stacie and her work a month ago, and she's truly a genius. This was a great interview and it brought me to your site for the first time - so thanks on both counts!

  1. Strange Kid said...:

    It's always nice to see a new face, Art, I appreciate you stopping by and offering your thoughts. Hopefully, Stacie and I both can count on seeing much more of you around our collective parts of the internets.

  1. Bryce Wilson said...:

    Great piece Strange Kid and Stacie(y) both!

    You continue to raise the bar. You both are Nancy Karrigans to our embittered Tonya Hardings.

  1. Pax Romano said...:

    The first horror blog I ever read was Final Girl - and while there are a lot of decent ones out there today - FG is probably still the best.

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