Happy Women In Horror Month! To celebrate this joyous time of year we are taking a close look at the works of Jen and Sylvia Soska with reviews of Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary.
In this episode we talk forcible castration, voluntary female circumcision, body modification, goat love and magically healing arms—and generally geek out on the Twisted Twins filmography. Seriously, these two are the filmmakers to watch!
Plus, we discuss the totally under-appreciated and unbelievably awesome Dredd 3D, the visually stunning BBC thriller Utopia, why Explodey Jo dug The Divide (hint she’s a sicko) and Draculas—both upper and lower case “D.”
Stay tuned to the outtakes to hear what we sound like before the coffee kicks in, eight-legged horror stories from around the globe and how Rachel almost broke the internet.
Come get your ears exploited here with Zombie Grrlz Podcast 27!
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The shortlist of directors for Catching Fire has been leaked and its a dude-oploy.
By: Rachel Shatto
So it’s official, Gary Ross has dropped out of the Hunger Games sequel. So now harried Lionsgate studio execs have begun scouring the globe for the next director to pick up the dystopian mantle for Catching Fire. Well according to an anonymous insider who has leaked it to The LA Times the boys’ club brain trust has formulated their shortlist of directors to replace Ross. In the running is Canadian director David Cronenberg and Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu plus four or five unnamed directors—all dudes.
After my initial “oooh David Cronenberg” Pavlovian response (A History of Violence is among my all time favorite films) it struck me that there was nary a lady on this list. Which isn’t unexpected. That’s not to say its shouldn’t be directed by a man, but still awfully discouraging considering that for the films is based on a best-selling trilogy written by a woman, told through the perspective of a young women and marketed to women (although fellas are of course welcome to enjoy them, too), not one woman filmmaker is even being considered for the directors chair. Unless of course it’s actually the penis that does the literal directing. If that’s the case I humbly withdraw my complaint.
For the sake of this post lets assume the camera doesn’t actually have to be nestled upon a scrotum for it to start capturing moving pictures. Here is my Uteruses before Duderuses (thank you Leslie Knope) list of lensing ladies who could and should have made the short list.
Ok this one is pretty obvious choice, Kathryn Bigelow took home the Best Directing Oscar in 2009 for The Hurt Locker and has plenty of action films under her belt to boot (Blue Steel, Point Break, Strange Days). Plus the she helmed the cult favorite horror film Near Dark. Clearly, capturing action and pathos are not a problem for Bigelow. However, she won her token Academy Award so we can neatly tuck her away. Don’t you know that sexism in the film industry is solved people! Move along, nothing to see here (nothing with boobs behind the camera that is).
Perhaps my personal front runner for the job is Lexi Alexander, this lady director (and skilled martial artist, seriously look it up, she’s bad ass) blew me away with her football hooligans centered drama Green Street Hooligans. But it was her big action debut Punisher: War Zone that earned her a spot on this list. Say what you will about this gloriously gory comic book adaptation, in all its parkour and rocket-launching glory, it was a damn fine looking film and jam packed with action. Plus, Alexander isn’t afraid to throw around the red stuff and the Hunger Games could do with a bit more splatter the second time around, I say!
Twilight sucked, I think we can all agree to that, but stay with me for a moment. Its suckatude did not spring from any failing on director Catherine Hardwicke’s part; that’s all down to the source material which is and will forever be epically terrible. However, it’s also the best film in the franchise thanks to Hardwicke’s lemonade out of lemons approach. Of the films it’s the best looking, most atmospheric. And she even managed to eke out a inkling of emotion from her leads! Now imagine for a moment what someone capable of that Sisyphean feat could do with the likes of the magnificent Jennifer Lawrence. It would be breathtaking. Also, not for nothing that $191.4 million dollars box office return is nothing to sniff at.
Jennifer Lynch is a bit of a dark horse pick. Daughter of the famous director David Lynch and author of Laura Palmer’s Diary (which my mother banned me from reading and which I immediately purchased and kept secreted under my mattress for late night flashlight-facilitated reading) makes this list not for Boxing Helena (wow, just wow) or Hisss (which I haven’t seen) but for Surveillance. This gripping serial killer focused film is told out of sequence and features the best and most terrifying performance of French Stewart’s life. OK on second thought maybe Lynch isn’t the gal for Catching Fire. But Surveillance is seriously awesome and you should totally see it.
Have you seen Ravenous? You know, the man vs man vs nature, cannibalistic film set in a desolate snowy outpost? Nuff said, but I’ll continue anyway. Antonia Bird, the woman behind the camera of this film as well as the British crime drama Face in addition to Mad Love which features a mentally unstable Drew Barrymore and her romantic road trip with Chris O’Donnell. Take those three movies, shake ‘em up and what have you got, something looking a lot like Catching Fire. I’m just sayin’.
Jen and Sylvia Soska
Hell, if Peter Jackson can go from Bad Taste to Lord of the Rings or Cronenberg can go from Shivers to quite possibly Catching Fire why can’t the ladies behind the underground gory fave Dead Hooker in a Trunk have a crack at the Hunger Games sequel. I don’t know about you but I’d totally see that movie.
See Lionsgate execs, was it really that hard?… Hey I’m talking to you… Excuse me but I’m up here. Le sigh, yes they are natural.photo credits: Courtesy of Lionsgate (Hunger Games still), M. Dodge (Hardwicke), Courtesy of 20th Centry Fox (Bird)
While people have their gripes about the first season of The Walking Dead, some justified (the female characters get short shrift) and some not so fair (it’s boring and derivative) the overwhelming response from horror fans has been: BRING IT ON. Needless to say, you can count me amongst those who are chomping at the bit for second go ’round of gut chomping, head pick axing and post-apocalyptic action.
This summer’s box office line up looks promising for women in film of the ass-kicking variety. From Michelle Rodriguez in the Machete trailer (looking how she always has in my fantasies) decked out in heavy artillery, leather and an eye patch, to the next chapter in the Resident Evil series, which is right around the corner and looking to be packed with all manner of badass female action. To Salt, the Angelina Jolie helmed actioner cleaning up at the box office this week, it’s almost too much excitement for my lady brains to take.
So, I thought it was the perfect time to reflect on some of my favorite tough girl moments in horror and horror adjacent genres. Whether is getting justice, revenge, kicking ass or just some good old fashioned daring-do, these are 15 moments of sheer lady baddassery that make you sit up and say, “fuck yeah!” Check out 15 of my favorites after the break.
**Warning lots of major (kick ass) spoilers ahead**
Canadian native Neve Cambell rocketed to stardom by playing angsty teen Julia Salinger on Party of Five starting in 1994, but she first landed on horror fans radar two years later with her role in 1996’s The Craft—the so bad it’s good—film about a group of high school outcasts turned revenge-seeking witches.
This same year Campbell would cement her place in horror movie history playing Sidney Prescott in the now iconic satirical slasher film Scream, a role she would reprise twice more.
Although Campbell has only been in four horror movies to date, her contribution to the genre can’t be ignored. As Sidney Prescott, Campbell kicked the masked slayer’s ass in film after film proving that modern day Scream Queens fight back. While your first inclination is to run from a knife wielding maniac, women in horror are given more of a chance to defend themselves in movies today, no longer just the beautiful, screaming, helpless victims, who had to wait to be rescued by a man.
The Scream trilogy shows the evolution of the Sidney Prescott character from a virginal, innocent girl next door type, to a strong, independent woman. She goes from being the naive teen who can’t believe her boyfriend might be a killer to an independent minded college student and finally to an ass-kicking modern horror heroine who stops hiding and starts fighting back and it is Campbell’s acting that sells this growth to the audience.
While Fay Wray and Evelyn Ankers played mostly defenseless victims, dependent on their leading men to rescue them, modern female horror stars are saving the day. Yes, there are always other characters in the movie to help defeat the killer, but today’s heroines think on their feet and defend themselves—a much welcomed change.
While at times she has made bad choices in movies (Three to Tango with Mathew Perry—need I say more?) Campbell is always worth the watch, whether she’s playing a sex kitten, a ballet dancer or an ass kicking Scream Queen. And we can’t wait to see what she does with the Sidney Prescott character in the upcoming Scream 4.
Genre Cred: The Craft (1996), Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000).
At a time when Bella Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff were taking over the silver screen for Universal Studios, Evelyn Ankers was staring opposite them. But while the men playing the monsters are still household names, few remember those of the leading ladies who screamed their hearts out for audiences across the country.
What Fay Wray was to audiences in the 1930s, Ankers was in the 1940s. Between 1936 and 1950 she made over 50 films, including over a dozen horror flicks. She earned the title “The Queen of the Screamers” because of the sheer number of horror films she starred in and because of her ability to let out blood curtailing screams on cue—a talent I wouldn’t mind having.
In the early days of horror the genre power house Universal Studios produced some of the most iconic monster movies ever created, including films featuring Frankenstein’s monster, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Dracula and the Wolf Man. Ankers played the leading lady in many of these, and while the screaming characters she played wouldn’t be considered feminist icons, she made a living in a male dominated industry (especially at that time) for over a decade—which is pretty cool.
Ankers acted with all the greats of the genre and although she was competing for screen time against frightening monsters covered in awesome early special effects makeup, she held her own. When Ankers is on screen you can’t help but watch her. After getting her start as a horror heroine in the Abbott and Costello horror comedy Hold that Ghost, Ankers went on to star in The Wolf Man, The Ghost of Frankenstein, Son of Dracula, The Invisible Man’s Revenge and a slew of other memorable titles.
My father grew up watching the Universal monster movies and he passed his love of them on to me, helping to shape my childhood and my obsession with horror and because of this Ankers and her costars hold a special place in my heart.
While she may be a bit of a mystery to most, Ankers screamed her way to top billing along side horror royalty, playing a huge role in many genre films and for that she has earned a place among the rest of our Diabolical Dames.
Genre Cred: Hold that Ghost (1941), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Captive Wild Woman (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), The Mad Ghoul (1943), Jungle Woman (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), Weird Woman (1944), The Frozen Ghost (1945), Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) and The Pearl of Death (1942)
Most of horror fans are familiar with actor/director Angela Bettis for her turn as the titular, tragic homicidal wierdo in May, Lucky Mckee’s 2002 gem.
The role won her a cult following and her ability to imbue even the most painfully awkward characters with an undeniable likability that makes it impossible not to root for her even when she is getting stabby with the scissors makes Bettis a unique and welcome addition to the genre. She’s and oddbodkin and we love her!
Bettis has starred in a number of genre titles including the the 2002 TV remake of the Stephen King’s Carrie, playing the title role of Carrie White. She appeared in one of the best of the Masters of Horror episodes, Sick Girl, in which Bettis plays an unlucky in love entomologist who stumbles upon and equally awkward girl and the two fall in love despite the interference a big, hostile, nasty lookin’ bug. And headlined Tobe Hooper’s Tool box Murders (2004), among others.
But Bettis’ skills are not limited to being in front of the camera, she is a film producer and director, as well. In 2006 she reunited with McKee for the film Roman, however in this case the two swapped places with McKee acting and Bettis behind the lens. The result was a moody, disturbing tale about tragedy driven by loneliness. It’s a great companion piece to May.
Yesterday it was announced that Bettis and McKee would be teaming up again, this time adding notorious horror writer Jack Ketchum to the mix with the Ketchum penned, Offspring: The Woman. The film is sequel to 2009′s film Offspring, which is based on a novel by Ketchum. According Fangoria, “The story centers on the title character, the last member left alive of the savage cannibal clan that terrorized a Maine town (to be played by returning actress Pollyanna McIntosh). As she roams the woods, she is stalked by a local hunter and family man named Christopher Cleek, who believes he can capture and “civilize” her. Bettis will play Christopher’s wife Belle.”
Genre Cred: Bless the Child (2000), May (2002), Carrie (TV remake, 2002), Toolbox Murders (2003), The Circle (2005), Masters of Horror: Sick Girl (2006), The Woods (2006), Roman (Director, 2006), Scar (2007), Wicked Lake (2008), Tamora Gamble (In Production, 2010), Offspring: The Woman (In Development)
I first got my hands on an Anne Rice novel when I was 13, I had just blazed through the Vampire Diaries series (yes, the ones the CW series is based on… shh I was 13) and I was ready for some more blood-sucker goodness which is how I stumbled upon the Vampire Chronicles.
Despite having been originally published in 1976, Interview With a Vampire had made a comeback—most likely because the film had begun production—so it was displayed prominently at our local bookstore. I happily scooped up a copy.
I was expecting something along the lines of another age-appropriate risque romp à la Vampire Diaries, instead what I got was a supernatural gothic, full of historical fiction and sexual overtones—that I was just old enough to know I really didn’t understand. And of course, plenty of vampire on tasty human action. That’s the thing about Rice’s novel, even when she isn’t writing erotica a repressed deviant sexuality is almost palpable in the prose—and not in the dry humping abstinence porn Twilight kind of way (pick up a copy of her Sleeping Beauty series if you don’t know what I mean, yikes!).
I devoured the series (see what I did there?), swept away in the story, intrigued by the characters and mythology. And most of all I was enraptured by the settings from, a New Orleans shrouded in mystery and voodoo magic, to its depiction of 18th century France, with its Grand Guignol inspired, Théâtre des Vampires.
Rice didn’t limit her horror lit contributions to the undead, she also wrote the equally engrossing Mayfair Witches series, which chronicled several generations of the New Orleanian Mayfair family and thier connection to the demon Lasher. The series co-existed in the Vampire Chronicles universe and many characters made appearances in both.
Since becoming the premier modern gothic maven, her work has spanned the entertaiment mediums. Her work has been adapted in to movies, (Interview, Queen of the Damned), TV (Feast of All Saints), theater (Lestat) and music (Korn, Cradle of Filth, Atreyu and even Sting) and even comics.
Her name instantly conjures up visions of sprawling gloomy mansions, witches, demons and lusty vampires. A high-profile female horror fan is a rare thing, and Rice successfully pushes the likes of King, Koontz and McCammon to the side and has left an indelible mark on the horror genre. She expanded the mythos of the vampire genre and created a character in Lestat that is every bit as iconic as The Count, himself. Also, she validated my budding goth tendencies and taught me the word “preternatural” which is pretty much the most pretentious word, ever.
You couldn’t exist in the ’80s without knowing her name–Jamie Lee Curtis. She took over movie theaters in 1978 with John Carpenter’s classic boogeyman tale Halloween and spent the next few years staring in a slew of memorable slasher flicks. The last girl in nearly every movie she stared in, Curtis embodies the ’80s Scream Queen and made a distinct contribution to the genre.
Born a horror movie legacy, Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh (Day 6) who was made famous by her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Though Curtis is obviously not the first Scream Queen, she resurrected the title and gave it a tougher edge. No longer the helpless, screaming beauty who has to be rescued by a man (think Fay Wray in King Kong), Curtis played strong female protagonists who kicked ass and survived to tell the tale.
In her break out role as Laurie Strode in Halloween, Curtis used her intellect and strength to survive Michael Meyer’s reign of terror. Yes, she ran and hid every chance she got, but when she had to she fought back using anything she could get her hands on – knives, knitting needles, even a wire hanger (ouch). Curtis’ tough, girl next door portrayal of Strobe marked a refreshing change from the very un-feminist depiction of women in older genre films.
Curtis continued to wipe the floor with Michael in three subsequent Halloween installments and in Halloween H2O Laurie Strode finally listened to my plea to cut off Michael’s head (yes, I take full credit because I had been shouting “just chop off his head already!” at the TV during each of the previous films). Too bad we discover in the next movie [Spoiler Alert] that it was actually an innocent paramedic she killed not the un-killable maniac.
It was Halloween that catapulted her to horror movie stardom, but Curtis went on to star in Prom Night, Terror Train and John Carpenter’s The Fog all in 1980, cementing her Scream Queen status. Neither Prom Night nor Terror Train was critically acclaimed, but they have become cult classics and are well worth the watch both for Curtis’ performances and the bad ‘80s hair. Aquanet, polyester prom dresses and a killer on a train–what’s not to like?
Although today’s youth may remember her more for her stint as spokeswoman for Activia yogurt and costar in the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Freaky Friday than as Laurie Strode, she will always be an ass kicking addition to the genre in my mind.
Halloween (1978), John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later (1998), Virus (1999) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
[Jennifer Carpenter is one bad-ass diabolical dame. In fact we love her so much that Summer and I had to write this piece together. Plus, she is one of Summer’s favorite women we are profiling this month!]
When we started researching Carpenter for this post, we were surprised to find there was very little about the actor online, just your basics: a resume, who she’s married to, what she wore to which award ceremony and a few misinformed entries about her being the daughter of iconic master of horror John Carpenter (for the record, she’s not). So, as you can imagine that made our job more challenging and at first we found it frustrating. But then we realized just how refreshing this lack of readily available personal information really is.
In an age of frenzied paparazzi, nipple slip-dedicated websites and blind items-aggedon, for nearly everything online about an attractive a high-profile actor to be based on their body of work is a testament to Carpenter and her incredible talent and that’s pretty exciting.
Carpenter begun studying acting during high school, at the Walden Theater and then went on to go to college at Julliard School in New York City. She made her Broadway debut in The Crucible alongside Laura Linney and Liam Neeson. She followed this up with a series of small parts in films like D.E.B.S., White Chicks and Lethal Eviction.
In 2005 Carpenter had a breakthrough performance in The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
A film loosely based on the real life story and subsequent court case of Anneliese Michel a German woman who when medical and psychiatric care for her diagnosed schizophrenia and epilepsy failed appealed to the Catholic church for an exorcism and ultimately died of malnutrition and dehydration while under their care.
This is when we first saw Carpenter and we were instant fans. She rocks in this movie she did such a good job appearing possessed particularly with her grotesque body contortions—which she did almost completely without CGI. There are plenty of possession movies and usually the actors are cheesy and the movie is painful (Linda Blair is an obvious exception). But, we were so terrified throughout the whole film, and after it was over Summer was scared for months—no joke—months!
And she wasn’t alone, while the movie itself only garnered mixed reviews, Carpenter for her role as Emily Rose won a MTV Movie Award for Best Frightened Performance, a Hollywood Life Breakthrough Award and at the 2006 Scream Awards was named “Breakout Performer.”
But she didn’t stop there. Next Carpenter moved to the small screen in 2006 in Showtime’s original series Dexter. She plays the role Detective Debra Morgan, sister of the series’ title character serial killer and blood analyst Dexter Morgan (played by her real-life husband Michael C. Hall).
If you haven’t seen Dexter you should be ashamed of yourself, it’s a must see, put it on your Netflix queue now… go ahead… we’ll wait.
In her role as Debra, Carpenter has created one of the most captivating complex and likable characters on TV and earned her a SAG nod and Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her mixture of bravado and vulnerability make her fascinating and watching her come into her own and grow into a seriously skilled detective has been thrilling to watch, both as a fan of the series and as female consumer of pop-culture.
In 2008 she returned to the big screen in the [REC] remake, Quarantine. Although we weren’t a huge fans of the movie (Terrorists? Rabies? Seriously?) we are a huge fans of Carpenter’s work in the film. Let’s face it, she made that movie! Her acting of course was awesome and her ability to combine girl next door approachability and a gift for pulling off melodrama in a way that it’s both honest and aching makes it impossible for you not to go the ride with her whenever she is on screen.
Carpenter is a scream queen, yes, but one in keeping with founder of Women in Horror Month Hannah Neurotica’s new definition of the word, “‘Scream Queens” who scream out with our artistic and creative abilities; qualities other then how we look.” That’s not to say that Carpenter isn’t stunning, because she is. It’s just that her appearance comes second to her skill as an artist, and that’s pretty freakin’ cool.