Her Piece of the Pie

By T.J. Tranchell

Warning

The following contains spoilers.

By the end, Laurie Strode will have been in seven Halloween films. Nancy Thompson got three shots at Freddy as long as you count New Nightmare. The team of Sidney Prescott and Gail Weathers are up to five fights with the variety of Ghostfaces. I can’t think of another “final girl” that had more than two appearances by the same actress. So, few ever make it to the end of their franchises.

And then there’s Honey Pie, the anti-final girl from the Feast trilogy.

Feast, the 2005 John Gulager film that came to fruition from the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck-Wes Craven season of Project Greenlight, began subverting expectations about five minutes into its run time. We quickly learned that just because a character is named Hero or Heroine doesn’t mean they are going to survive, let alone save anyone. The Marcus Dunstan-Patrick Melton script doesn’t give us a virginal “final girl” to root for, either. We get complicated and mostly unlikable people who almost all end up fodder for some of the coolest-looking creatures on film.

Honey Pie, played by Jenny Wade, is one of two waitresses at a middle-of-nowhere-dive-bar frequented by a bunch of losers that serves as the film’s central location. Everything gross happens to her. Monster barfing, splatter from exploding heads, and the rudeness of the bar patrons don’t stop Honey Pie from taking care of herself. When just about everyone else is beast chow, she somehow survives.

That survival instinct is just about the only thing Honey Pie has in common with a more traditional final girl. She fits in better with the bar misfits. She’s not likable or redeemable in the way Krista Allen’s Tuffy is. Tuffy has it rough; Tuffy is a fighter and a survivor. Tuffy, still not innocent or virginal, is our more traditional final girl. Honey Pie, for all her survival instincts, lacks a characteristic Tuffy and other final girls have — she doesn’t care about saving anyone else. It’s all about covering her own ass.

Tuffy doesn’t make it to the sequel.

In Feast II: Sloppy Seconds, we are blessed with the return of Bartender (Clu Gulager, and yeah, the director’s dad), and Diana Ayala Goldner, who met a gruesome end in the first installment as Harley Mom, come back as Biker Queen (more people survive from part two into part three, again subverting the expectations of the audience). Honey Pie sometimes interacts with the new bunch of losers but remains more concerned about herself. That’s what keeps her alive. For longer than we think she will.

Remember that the filmmakers at this point have nothing to lose. Feast experienced a number of delays before getting a brief theatrical release. Yours truly was lucky enough to catch it at a now-defunct four-screen theater in Moscow, Idaho, shortly after moving there for college. There were two other people in the theater, and the next day it was gone. Part two and Feast III: The Happy Finish went straight to home video after being filmed back-to-back in less than two months. They had their Miramax/Dimension budget (the straight-to-video output of the mid-2000s is a whole other topic) and basically said, “Screw it, we’re doing whatever we want.”

At the end of Sloppy Seconds, poor Honey Pie took a piece of flying metal debris to the head and that was the end of her. Or rather, it should have been the end. Our anti-final girl couldn’t go out in an accident, even as beat up and traumatized as she was at this point. Sloppy Seconds did redeem Honey Pie in many ways. It was fun to see her survive, get out of trouble that destroyed other characters, and keep on walking through a mini-apocalypse. Getting whacked in the head by a piece of metal was as unexpected as things could get from two films built on the idea that anyone could die at any moment. In its way, Honey Pie’s death was perfectly anticlimactic. It worked because nothing worked. Sloppy Seconds, as the name implies, is a mess. So why not knock off the franchise’s most interesting character in a way that proved the formula to be true? But like so much of that Dimension output, this group of foolhardy raconteurs decided to — literally — shit on that near-perfect end to Honey Pie.

Like a classic slasher, Honey Pie wasn’t dead at the end of Sloppy Seconds. It might have been better if she had died. But no, she survives. She’s covered in blood and dirt from her time running from the creatures, through every nasty moment one could imagine. She stands, it’s now The Happy Finish, and we are set for another 76 minutes of unexpected grotesquery. Lo and behold, one of our massive-toothed beasts pops out, mauls Honey Pie, swallows her, and moves on to wreak more havoc.

Not quite. Before continuing its trek of destruction, this particular monster shits Honey Pie’s undigested head onto the road. It is a crappy denouement for a character that should be regarded as a classic original from an era of steadily worsening direct-to-video horror movies. Some argue that Honey Pie should have just died from the blow to the head that struck her unexpectedly at the end of Sloppy Seconds. Even then, we knew she wasn’t quite dead. She’s our survivor, after all. A primal scream from Honey Pie closes Sloppy Seconds. We are ready for her rage — the rage that allowed her to use one monster’s own claws to kill it — to turn her into the Heroine we’ve hoped for the entire franchise. Instead, she doesn’t get a happy finish at all. Like so many before her — like Alice from the original Friday the 13th — her early death in the next installment is more about the power of the killing machines than the strength of champions. I would argue that Honey Pie might have had a better chance to make it all the way to the real end than Alice did, but we didn’t get to see it.

What we got was shit.

Honey Pie’s claim to final girl status is tenuous, I realize this. The final girl pie, however, should be big enough to let her have at least a little piece. 🩸

About

T.J. Tranchell was born on Halloween and grew up in Utah. He has published the novella Cry Down Dark and the collections Asleep in the Nightmare Room and The Private Lives of Nightmares with Blysster Press and Tell No Man, a novella with Last Days Books. In October 2020, The New York Times called Cry Down Dark the scariest book set in Utah. He holds a Master’s degree in Literature from Central Washington University and attended the Borderlands Press Writers Boot Camp in 2017. He currently lives in Washington State with his wife and son. Follow him at www.tjtranchell.net or on Twitter @TJ_Tranchell.

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