"Final Destination" fans are a bunch of sick, deranged people. They take pleasure in watching dumb teenagers die gruesome, over-the-top deaths. When sequels are announced, they gleefully fill message boards with speculative scenarios that involve asphyxiating, decapitating and/or liquefying another temporarily reprieved high school jock. Now, as the roller-coaster-themed "Final Destination 3" rolls into theaters, they're once again all too happy to buy a ticket and strap themselves in. They're a sick bunch, yes — but it's hard not to love 'em.
"We like to set these scenes in places that lots of people go to, like a tanning booth or a drive-thru," James Wong — who wrote and directed the original film and returned for the third installment — said of the series. "Hopefully when you do visit one of these places, you'll remember the movies and get a kick out of that and get just a little bit creeped out."
And if you do find pleasure in that distinct brand of sadism, there's good news: You have plenty of company.
"The bus hit from the first one, and the whole sequence on the highway [in the second film] was awesome," beamed Ryan Merriman, who joins the series as Kevin, the latest in a long line of aforementioned jocks. "They are such cool ways [to die], because it's not just some dead guy with an ax or some mad person with a gun."
Alexz Johnson, who plays goth-girl Erin in "FD3," also has fond memories of previous installments. "Ooh, in the first one, probably when that kid fell in the bathtub," she said, naming one of her favorite death scenes. "Remember when he slipped in the bathtub and the clothes hanger went around his neck? That was my favorite."
"I think the elevator when she gets squashed, that was crazy," franchise newcomer Gina Holden said of her fondest "FD" death. "We all think about elevators, if you're claustrophobic at all."
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"Driving in the car, it's like you have these near-misses every hour," chimed in Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose avoidance of the roller coaster in "FD3" sets off death's revenge this time around. The most hesitant of the bunch, Winstead reasons that the appeal of the films is the rare opportunity to laugh at the dangers that actually do threaten people regularly. "It's crazy how close on a daily basis you come to [dying] without even thinking about it. But when you watch a movie like this, it makes you realize how often you really do cheat death. It's pretty insane."
Merriman recalled his own personal brush with terror: "I was like 12 years old and I had a BB gun. For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to shoot it at a barrel right in front of me. I was aiming it down the side and I shot it and it ricocheted off and it came back. My eye was still on the sight; it came back and it hit the metal sight, which is an eighth of an eighth of an inch. I would've been blinded in one eye if that wouldn't have happened. It was freaky and it's always stuck with me my whole life."
Some would argue that an intelligent near-victim would avoid ever putting himself in that situation again. The "Final Destination" series has been known to create similar sensations for viewers, although it would be nearly impossible to avoid all the fire escapes, airbags, barbells, barbed-wire fences and dozens of other daily items employed as murder weapons in the movies. It's enough to make you want to lock yourself in an empty room and cower in the fetal position — then again, that's what Ali Larter did in the second film, and look what happened to her.
"Duct-tape your doors," Winstead laughed uneasily.
"My publicist actually said, 'I'm never going tanning again,' " Merriman said in reference to one of the more memorable deaths in the new movie. "I was watching her during the tanning scene; she was [screaming] ... that's the most disturbing death I think, to watch those girls burning alive."
Most of the time, potential actors receive horror scripts and skip to the end to see if they're important enough to make it out alive. With the "Final Destination" films, however, the opposite is true. "You call home and you go, 'Mom! Guess what? I booked a part, and I get to die in the coolest way!' " Holden giggled. "Only in [these movies] would we actually be excited to be killed."
"You go, 'OK, what page am I on at the end?' " Merriman said of his typical horror-script experience. "But if there's any way to die, they do it the best on 'Final Destination,' that's for sure."
"Death is all around us, and if it wants to get you it'll get you in a way that you least expect," Wong grinned. "When you change one thing in your life, that change can actually cause your demise."
From top to bottom, the cast of "FD3" says it's all too happy to indulge the series' unapologetically sick, deranged desires. The castmembers only hope that actual death will not visit them any time soon.
"I want it to be quick and painless, definitely," Winstead grimaced. "I'm hoping maybe in my sleep."
"But wouldn't you be pissed off if you went to bed and you're dead? I'd be pissed!" Merriman insisted. "Like, if I had stuff to do the next day and I was like, 'Oh, I'm dead.' "
"I'm just hoping that I'll be old," Winstead caved. "And that I'll be prepared for it."
"Maybe saving someone's life," Merriman amended, laughing. "But definitely not fire or water. Maybe like sky diving and the parachute doesn't open. That would be cool."
Suddenly realizing that one of those deranged "Final Destination" fans might be sitting next to her, Winstead recoiled at the thought: "Oh God."
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