Saturday, December 28, 2013


This year I tried something a little different and I reserved my "Top 13 Horror Movies of the 2013" list for Icons of Fright.  It's already up and ready for viewing so if you want to check out my "Best of the Year," you've gotta head on over to Icons of Fright and CHECK IT OUT
A still from THE BATTERY guaranteed to give you a case of the cinematic vapors.

A majority of the films I loved this year all had very small casts.  All throughout acting school it was rammed into our brains that "less is more."  Is it fun to watch an entire city run through the streets of New York City while aliens blast lasers through buildings topped with strippers holding "Welcome" signs? Hell to the yes! However, it's a lot easier to grab your attention when you have aliens, tall buildings, fire, cars flipping, and thousands of people running and screaming.  When you scale it back and have a film with less Michael Bay-esque action sequences and exchange stock characters for people with actual substance, you'll find yourself with an intimate cinematic experience far more impacting than a war of the worlds.  Two films that made my best-of list this year understood that movies don't need 'holyshitexplosions' to force a viewer to pay attention.
"This is the worst of it." from RESOLUTION
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's RESOLUTION tells the tale of a man named Michael desperate to save his meth addicted former friend, Chris.  When Chris refuses to go to rehab, Michael uses a taser to subdue him and chains him to a metal pipe in a home in the middle of the woods, forcing withdrawal.  There are secondary characters that make appearances throughout the film but it's when the lens is focused on the two men that the film contains its strength.  Justin Benson wrote the film as well as co-directed, but the dialogue given for these two men is absolutely dynamite.  The power plays between the two characters is fascinating to watch unfold and the strange situations that these two men are thrown into constantly keep audiences on their toes.  Without giving too much away about the actual film (It's on Netflix instant watch. Go watch it. No excuses.) had this film focused on society on a larger scale (ie: a city instead of two friends) the film would have been overwhelming and much to difficult to follow.  However, by showcasing a string of strange events and the way they affect two individuals, the overwhelming concepts are much easier to interpret.  This film could have quickly become a hot mess of ideas, but the performances from the two lead actors (Peter Cilella as Mike and Vinny Curran as Chris) are so compelling, they keep all of the insanity of the world around them in check.  These are characters the audience genuinely cares about and the second the audience allows themselves to become a spectator into the lives of these two friends, the film becomes all the more heartbreaking when RESOLUTION shows why it's a horror movie.  Ultimately, RESOLUTION utilized the power of two actors acting, and it was one of the most memorable films released this year.

Practical joking in a post-apocalyptic world in THE BATTERY
Part buddy-comedy, part zombie film, part character study, and all-around wonderful film, THE BATTERY is a film that completely revitalized what I love about cinema.  Shoe-string budget, minimal locations, two central characters with less than a handful of other people that show up for less than four minutes, and a some random zombies all combined to make one of the most interesting films I've ever seen, ever.  Every single aspect of THE BATTERY is enjoyable.  These characters feel so genuine that even the moments (brushing teeth, for example) that feel like they're going on for a little too long, are still enjoyable rather than frustrating.  The 'odd-couple' story has been done time and time again, but the dichotomy between these two characters isn't so much of "opposites attract" as they are "celebrating differences."  95% of this film is watching two characters try to survive the zombie apocalypse.  When I say "try to survive," I don't mean in in the sense of THE WALKING DEAD or even SHAUN OF THE DEAD, I mean surviving in the sense that these two people haven't seen a living being for months and encounter one or two zombies every once in a while.  Think about wandering the world with no sound, no phone, no internet, no television, no showers, no anything for MONTHS at a time and only having the companionship of someone you only kind-of, sort-of know.  This film could have been very, very boring (just two dudes walking around?) but the characters were crafted so well, every moment of the film was worth watching.  The two leads played by Adam Cronheim and Jeremy Gardner (who directed/wrote/produced the film) are wonderful to watch.  Gardner provides a majority of the comedic relief, but Cronheim's emotional rollercoaster is actually quite riveting. THE BATTERY took a massive risk and succeeded in every sense of the word.


THE BATTERY and RESOLUTION are two of the very best films of 2013, and two films that valued quality over quantity.  RESOLUTION is available on Netflix instant watch amongst other viewing platforms and THE BATTERY is available for purchase HERE for $5.00 and all of the proceeds directly assist the filmmakers.

Friday, December 27, 2013


If you thought the celebrating season was over, think again!  Today is the birthday of one of horror's greatest Scream Queens, Barbara Crampton.  While many of us celebrated the holiday season by watching movies with killer santas or films about Christmas gifts destroying the town, today is a day to celebrate one of the greatest women working in the horror genre by watching any of the films from her filmography.  Might I suggest RE-ANIMATOR, THE BEYOND, or CHOPPING MALL?  In even better news, her film YOU'RE NEXT is now available on most VOD services!

Happy Birthday, Barbara!

Friday, December 20, 2013


Every once in a while I'll watch a film that I genuinely have no idea where to begin as far as reviewing.  This year, that film was MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS.  Written and directed by Shane Ryan, MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS is a film loosely inspired by the true crime of 15 year old Alyssa Bustamante and her thrill kill of nine year old Elizabeth Olten.  The flick follows the events leading up to Olten's death while also exploring the lives of two other girls and the sorrow that surrounds their lives.  Part POV and very much observational, MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS bucks the rules of traditional filmmaking and presents an artistic and very raw experience.  Nothing about this film is conventional, but the storyline follows an extremely unconventional aspect of society - the world of teen angst in the late 2000s.  If I could compare this film to anything else that has come out recently, I'd like to think that if Harmony Korine made MEGAN IS MISSING, it would have resembled something like this film.  The film feels so real at times that it's hard to decipher how much of this was scripted and how much was improvised, but as far as capturing the day of angsty teens of the 00s, Ryan completely nailed it.  However, this film is a an enigma in the sense that I can't tell if I find this film brilliant, or complete bullshit.

The biggest weakness in this film is the actual throughline of a story.  Quite honestly, there isn't one.  Of all the characters in the film, only two of them have names; Alyssa and Elizabeth.  The rest of the girls play pivotal roles in the film but are titled "The Sidekick," "The Performer," and "The Angst."  The little brother of Alyssa's character is named Joseph, but he's a tertiary character at best.  If the film had chosen to follow one of these three girls for the entire film, it would have been much easier to follow and would have easily become a better film for the majority of audiences.  Yet, I don't think Ryan wanted to make a movie that would be easily accessible. 

By following the three girls, we see three very different and somehow very alike situations that cause teenage girls to walk down a path of self-destruction.  Alyssa and her friend "The Sidekick" are often cutting, having bathroom photoshoots with Alice Cooper-esque makeup, mimicking guns to their head with their fingers, cutting their wrists, and cursing each other out.  At no time do these girls ever show the stereotypical signs of depression, it's almost like they're doing these things for fun.  Then we see the "performer" who is also a wrist cutter and may or may not have a very unhealthy relationship with what appears to be a foster father...a relationship that is not mutual or consensual.  Finally, we see "The Angst," a bulimic girl who often saves her vomit and cuts her wrists.  This one is shown to be sexually abused by her father and her story is without a doubt the most difficult to watch.  This actress looked to actually suffer from an eating disorder due to the emaciation of her body and her effortless portrayal of self-induced vomiting.  Watching her story was heartbreaking.  Although the lens was focused predominately on Alyssa, it was "The Angst" that just ripped my heart out.

These three girls are very complex creatures and by showcasing all of them, the real "message" of the film gets muddied.  I still battle with whether or not these were separate girls, or if the unnamed characters were just physical manifestations of the different aspects of Alyssa's personality that helped "explain" why she killed Elizabeth Olten.  Some moments of the film left me completely unsure of what I was looking at (for example, the Performer has a full length music video in a foreign language) but its strangeness is also what compelled me to keep watching.  None of the characters have any real relationships developed between one another which makes the film a lot less impacting than it could be, but the lack of relationship seems to make a lot of sense with these isolated characters.

It's definitely a weird one and not something I ever see myself watching again, but I'm not angry that I watched it.  I don't know if I would ever recommend it to anyone else, but at the same time I think it's sort of genius.  MY NAME IS A BY ANONYMOUS, you're a strange bird...but I think I like you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Day of the Woman has never been a feminist blog, but it is a blog written by a feminist.  It has always been the aim of this site to draw attention to the female interpretations and analyses of horror films and genre culture, as the female voice is one that is often silenced by the male majority.  However, the voice of the WoC is marginalized even more so in the horror genre, because there's this weird belief that horror movies are a "white genre."  Thanks to Hannah Neurotica, (the brainchild behind Women In Horror Recognition Month) she's shown me to the website of The Graveyard Shift Sisters.  The site's motto is "Purging the Black Female Horror Fan From The Margins" and I am SO happy that this site has been brought to my attention.  I do my best to remain as educated as possible, but as a white female, it is not my place to be discussing and dissecting the African American experience in horror films.  

The website aims to be "An open space for Black women and other women of color to share their personal experiences and love for horror. To create another challenge to popular perceptions of nerdom, fandom, and most importantly Black female identity in regards to horror. The journalists, novelists, filmmakers, cosplayers, convention goers, and movie fans can tell their stories and challenge horror fandom to be just as progressive and transformative as some of our favorite horror texts."  Hell. Fucking. Yes.  Fellow whitefolk, do yourself a favor and educate yourselves on something I guarantee you don't know shit about.  The articles on this site are written passionately, and intelligently.  

I cannot express how amazing it is that this website exists.  Pardon my ignorance, but this is definitely the first I've ever seen and I'm so thankful to have stumbled upon it.  These women are bringing something absolutely new to the table, and we need to listen

Check out their website at:

Monday, December 9, 2013


Ever since I was singing songs from Disney's HERCULES as a child, I've always thought that the concept of being a "muse" for another person was one of the highest compliments a person could receive.  Sure, I've had old boyfriends write songs about me (...about how I broke their heart) but to know that there are artists out there that find themselves the most inspired because of another individual's sheer existence, is magical.  Nowadays, it seems that we have a lot less muses and a lot more "creators falling in love with an actress and putting them in all of their movies."  Whether or not relationships were/are artist-muse or simply romantically linked, the horror genre has seen a fair share of creators continuing to spotlight the women with whom they seem to be fascinated.
(NOTE: Of course there are TONS to choose from, I chose my favorite five.)

Somewhere, some Goth kids in Tuscon are recreating this for an engagement photo shoot.

Quite possibly the most obvious pairing is between the king and queen of "People to inspire designs at Hot Topic." People often forget that before these two paired up and started working together, they had very impressive careers.  Bonham Carter is a two-time Academy Award nominated actress and Burton is a bonafide film auteur.  However, it can be argued that when the two join forces...the work isn't nearly as powerful as when they're apart.  Don't get me wrong, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET was surprisingly solid, but when it feels like Tim Burton is writing roles to play to the strengths of both his wife and his best friend (Johnny Depp) the characters fall into a category of predictability.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, we all know exactly what we're getting when we buy a ticked for a Tim Burton film.  However, I'll bet money that his next project BIG EYES with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz is going to be a beast of a different color. You know, with the exception of the paintings of kids with saucepan eyes.

The lady behind Rose McGowan is making a hilarious face in that picture. Moving on.
Once upon a time, Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi which blew the doors off of anything else anyone was making for only $7,000.  So much so, Columbia pictures bought the damn thing and put Rob Rod on the map.  A long time collaborator with Quentin Tarantino and the king of kid's Sci-Fi films, Robert Rodriguez brought the horror world THE FACULTY, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, PLANET TERROR, and a load of other genre films that many of us love genuinely or as a "guilty pleasure." (I'm looking at you MACHETE KILLS.)  Robert Rodriguez has made some pretty amazing stuff...and then he met Rose McGowan.  Whether or not Rodriguez was banging McGowan while he was still married is neither here nor there.  What DID happen, is that Rodriguez fell in love with this woman and then completely changed his filmmaking path.  SIN CITY 2 was put on hold because he wanted to remake BARBARELLA with McGowan in the titular role.  He had plans to remake RED SONJA also starring McGowan as well as a McGowan leading tv series about a women's prison called WOMEN IN CHAINS!  Where did all of these projects go?!  Why did we get SHORTS: THE ADVENTURES OF THE WISHING ROCK instead of these amazing ideas?  Well, because after leaving his wife for this woman, they did what all Hollywood couples did and broke up.  Rodriguez made serious, serious plans for his career all based around this woman and then it all turned to shit.  I'm hoping SIN CITY 2 doesn't suck, because I would hate to know Rob Rodriguez ruined his career all because of the chick from JAWBREAKER.

Hey, just forget the part where I psychologically tortured my actresses.
While they may not have all been the same actress, Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with ice-blonde haired women has inspired the way horror films are cast today.  Alfred Hitchcock is considered by most to be the foremost master of suspense and thriller filmmaking, and his work has inspired just about every filmmaker working today.  Whether it's copying his film style or editing techniques, I can't tell you how many times I've heard people describe a film as "Hitchcockian."  So why the blondes?  Hitchcock himself has stated "Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints."  This belief is definitely still something we see today.  With a few exceptions, most of our "final girls" are brunette while their quick-to-die friends are blonde.  It's very strange, but Hitchcock's obsession with blonde women has rolled over into the way we as audiences view female characters in thriller/horror movies.

I can't believe those Duck Dynasty guys got such hot wives! Oh, that's Rob Zombie...
Talk about a man who loves his woman.  What started out as just a another glorified video vixen relationship became a staple of Zombie's filmography.  Personally, I really enjoy Sheri Moon Zombie.  I think she's extremely talented and has a really strong range of characterizations.  Unlike Tim Burton who I believe writes his characters for the actors he has, I genuinely believe Rob Zombie writes his characters first and then finds the people to fill the roles.  Sheri Moon Zombie was an amazing Baby Firefly in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, and I actually liked her as Mama Myers in his first HALLOWEEN movie.  But then...HALLOWEEN II happened.  If the blatant stray from the Michael Myers mythos wasn't enough, he transformed what was an amazing character in Deborah Myers and turned her into this weird ass...thing.  The characterization was so ridiculous, people were laughing at Sheri Moon Zombie and talking about how "awful" she was.  Here's the thing, she wasn't awful, that character was awful. She was actually doing her job very well and giving a performance that fit what Rob Zombie wanted...but what he wanted was just a little absurd.  Following that mess, THE LORDS OF SALEM happened.  I think Rob Zombie actually wrote a solid piece, but Sheri Moon Zombie was painfully miscast.  That doesn't mean she's a bad actress, it means she wasn't right for the role. I commend someone who looks this beautiful to often bare it all and be downright "ugly" which is a feat many actresses are afraid to tackle.  However, you can be the best actress in the world and be miscast.  THAT is what we can learn from these two.

Adrienne Barbeau made a name for herself when she originated the role of Rizzo in the first Broadway production of GREASE.  Following the Tony nominated performance, she played Bea Arthur's daughter in the hit-TV show MAUDE.  In an effort to destroy the notion that she could only play comedic roles or roles on television, she auditioned for the made-for-tv movie SOMEONE'S WATCHING ME! where she met and fell in love with John Carpenter.  Carpenter was absolutely smitten with Barbeau and the two soon married.  While Barbeau wasn't cast in his next film (a little movie called HALLOWEEN) he later cast her as the lead in THE FOG, and in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and she's the only female (excluding the alien) in THE THING as the voice of MacReady's computer chess game.  Adrienne Barbeau and John Carpenter's collaborations may have been only a few films but John Carpenter completely changed the course of Barbeau's career.  Adrienne Barbeau went from a musical theatre/tv darling and is now one of the biggest horror and genre film icons.  She was a bonafide sex symbol that wasn't afraid to play with ghosts in the fog or battle in a dystopian future known as 1997.  Without Carpenter, we would have never been lulled by the velvet voice of Antonio Bay.

HONORABLE MENTION: Roger Corman & Hazel Court. Obviously.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Starring, written by, and produced by Claire 'Fluff" Llewellyn, DIRECTOR'S CUT is a cleverly tongue-in-cheek short film looking at the process of making an indie horror film.  Directed by Christopher Kahler, DIRECTOR'S CUT is about a smarmy Indie movie director who inadvertently hires a seductive and evil girl named Jeannie to play the role of a demon in his no budget horror flick.  The director is played by Happy Dave Haskell and he is the epitome of the obnoxious indie horror director.  The delusional mindset that his film is going to "change the horror genre," his poor treatment of his actresses, and his bragging about shooting it on a RED cam was hilariously on par.  Llewellyn has clearly had to deal with her fair share of asshole directors, because she wrote a hell of a bad guy.  "I WILL HAVE NUDITY!" screams the inexperienced (and power hungry) director! The supporting cast of Yvonne Nieves, Janet Mayson, Dana Bernadine, Tina Boivin, Alexandra Roach, Thom Oswald, Mike McCune, Frank Kam, Christopher Kahler, were all fun to watch and gave some pretty solid performance.  Llewellyn's writing is definitely the strongest aspect of this no-budget piece, and at about a half hour, it's an enjoyable piece of independent cinema.  

Find out more about DIRECTOR'S CUT by clicking any of the links below!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Dustin Wayde Mills of Dustin Mills Productions is without a doubt one of the most adventurous indie/DIY filmmakers on the market.  The mastermind behind the horror meets Avenue Q flick THE PUPPET MONSTER MASSACRE, the Faustian HEART ATTACK! (aka NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES), the brilliantly blasphemous EASTER CASKET, and plenty more dynamite films, Dustin Mills films can usually be expected to contain snappy dialogue, gratuitous nudity, and over the top gore.  It's hard to go into a film titled EASTER CASKET and expect to take it seriously, and the fun aura surrounding his filmography is something I always look forward to.  When I was given the opportunity to watch THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE, I anticipated a hysterical film about a dude without skin.  Well, I got it half right.  THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE is unlike anything I've ever seen of Dustin Mills' work, and it was one of the most refreshing surprises I've ever endured.  If I may be so bold, I believe that THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE is the pinnacle thus far of Dustin Mills Productions.

The story follows the genius Dr. Peter Peele and his partner (and the receiving end of his unrequited love) Dr. Alice Cross.  The two doctors have figured out a way to cure skin cancer and hope that their findings can lead to curing all forms of cancer.  When they are informed that their funding is hanging on the results of unethical testing on stray animals, it appears that the future of their project is coming close to an end.  However, as Dr. Peele himself is secretly suffering a form of skin cancer, he takes matters into his own hands and decides to test on himself.  It quickly becomes apparent that this cure is imperfect, and Dr. Peele's skin begins to deteriorate before his eyes.

Brandon Salkil as Dr. Peter Peele
THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE is not a humorous tale like Mills' earlier creations.  With the disgusting skin deterioration of THANATOMORPHOSE, the struggle of the self testing scientist of Dr. Brundle in THE FLY and the obsessive need to keep hold of the one he loves like MISERY, the story of Dr. Peele is a lovingly sewn together piece of familiar concepts intertwined in unexpected ways.  You genuinely feel for these characters and despite the shoestring budget, the film is a little hard to watch at some moments.

Erin R. Ryan as Dr. Alice Cross

Acting is easily the strongest aspect of the film.  Brandon Salkil plays a very convincing villain, but his lines are often muffled by the flesh mask worn to cover his "skinless" face.  However, considering he was unable to act with his facial expressions, he successfully portrayed all of his emotions and desires through body motions and character ticks.  Think BRUISER with a couple more loose marbles.  However, it's Erin R. Ryan that completely steals the show.  Ryan is no stranger to the independent/low-budget horror world with a rather extensive resume, but she absolutely blew this one out of the water. Her performance is fearless and she goes to lengths many actresses would never dare to explore.  She was convincing, committed, and proved that she's so much more than just "that girl in all of Ohio's horror films."  I always enjoyed her work, but this was the first time where I ever sat back and thought to myself, "Damn, this girl can really act."

Reminds me of "The Tale of the Dead Man's Float" episode of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?

As with all of his other films, Dustin Mills also showcases an impressive talent with special fx.  There are minimal CGI effects throughout the film, and his practical effects are just out of this world.  There's plenty of gore to satisfy even the hungriest of gorehounds, and in traditional Dustin Mills fashion, there's plenty of nudity.  Full frontal women, and an appreciated instance of the typically taboo male nudity.  It sounds stupid, but the fact Dustin Mills is a filmmaker that treats his genders equally in terms of nudity is incredibly refreshing.

Dustin Mills went on a totally different track with this film, and it was a well ventured path.  Mills has proven that he can make a wide variety of horror flicks.  Do yourself a favor, check out THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE and support a worthy piece of diy/low-budget/indie horror.

You can buy or rent a digital copy of the flick for as low as a dollar, or you can snag a DVD or Blu-ray you right here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


The slut, the virgin, the bitch, the girl next door, the mother, the creepy old lady, the evil little girl, and the final/survivor girl.  Female archetypes and stock characters within the horror genre are rampant and well known.  From a movie poster alone, we can often times figure out exactly what a woman's place and purpose is in a horror film.  However, there's another "type" of woman that we frequently see in horror films that no one seems to want to talk about.  
"God closed my eyes so I could see only the real Gwynplaine"

Physically, sensory, or mentally disabled women have been popping up in horror films from the very beginning.  THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is often regarded as the first horror film, and the female lead was a beautiful, blind woman.  From the very beginning of the horror genre, the damsel in distress character was the quickest way to write a story.  "Girl needs saving from someone or something, man saves girl from someone or something, girl is indebted to man and thanks him by kisses or marriage, the end."  Whether it was because male writers needed to make their female characters SUPER vulnerable or whether they needed an excuse to make a woman "weaker," adding a physical/mental/sensory disability to a woman became a quick way to differentiate female characters from the usual damsel in distress.  The beginnings showcased disabilities as a major reason for the demise of female characters.  1959's THE TINGLER had a creature that could only be killed by screaming.  The death in the film that acts as the catalyst for the entire movie was centered around a woman who was a deaf/mute, and therefore, could not "scream for her life."  We can't have a woman be brave enough not to scream when frightened, so we must make her mute.

Fiona Dourif as "Nica" in CURSE OF CHUCKY

Physical disabilities appear in many films as a way to hinder otherwise "strong" female leads.  The 1979 midnight movie THE VISITOR showcases a woman forced into a wheelchair by her evil daughter in order to prevent her ability to escape her child, and to make her a weaker target for her boyfriend to impregnate her.  More recently, we've been exposed to a wheelchair bound protagonist in CURSE OF CHUCKY whom also plays the only character with any sort of intellect and moral compass.  Putting a character in a wheelchair completely raises the stakes.  Stairs are out of the question, speed is a major concern, the ability to hide is greatly reduced, and the fact someone could easily come behind and control the movement and direction of a character is horrifying.  However, throwing a wheelchair on a character immediately develops a sympathetic relationship between the character and the audience.  We immediately understand the difficulties that can be present for being in a wheelchair, and before anything happens, we immediately feel for her.  This concept presents itself regardless of the age of the woman in the wheelchair.  WOULD YOU RATHER? contains an elderly woman in a wheelchair and from the very beginning of the film, she is immediately the character the victims of the game of "Would You Rather?" want to protect.

Jennifer Lynch's BOXING HELENA
This then brings us to the characterizations of amputees.  In horror films, amputated women seem to fall into two categories.  We have women who have been amputated as some sort of a punishment, and women who have turned their amputations into something of empowerment.  In Jennifer Lynch's controversial directoral debut, BOXING HELENA, we see a woman who is amputated solely so she cannot run away.  In SAW VI, Tanedra Howard's character must amputate her own arm to survive one of Jigsaw's traps, and is later shown in SAW 3D as a painfully angry victim who although survived death, has been forever punished as a one armed woman only gaining a positivity in the form of better parking at the mall.  To counteract these women punished with amputation, we have characters like Cherry Darling in PLANET TERROR who have taken a very Ash J. Williams approach to amputation by replacing the missing limb with a weapon.  Her machine gun leg has made her character an iconic figure and one of the most recognizable women with a disability in horror.

The mute protagonist of MS. 45

Sensory disabilities (blindness, deafness, muteness) are often used as a catalyst to further along story lines.  MS. 45, THE EYE, THE BEYOND, JULIA'S EYES, and even ORPHAN  included either sensory disabled protagonists or supporting characters. The loss of sight, sound, or speech is something that many people fear to begin with, so much like having a character with a physical disability, presenting a major character unable to see, hear, or speak immediately raises their stakes.  Female characters are often blind or deaf, giving the freedom for story tellers to write circumstances they would normally be unable to construct.  Why can't Ms. 45 call the cops and find justice for her attack?  She cannot speak.  Why can't little Max tell when her adopted sister Esther is plotting her demise?  She cannot hear.  Characters in horror films vitally depend on their senses for survival.  Taking one of their senses away change the way the protagonist must play the game to be alive at the end of the film.

Fairuza Balk after going "crazy" in THE CRAFT

However, the most problematic portrayal of women in horror lies in the representation of mental illness and mental disabilities.  Unfortunately, society already has a stigma in place for mental illnesses, and artforms reflect this poor mentality.  In 2012, Bitch Flicks wrote an AMAZING piece titled "That 'Crazy Bitch': Women and Mental Illness Tropes in Horror" that encompasses everything that I could possibly write about this topic.  My favorite quote from the piece states:
And the Crazy Bitch trope helps perpetuate mental illness stereotypes. It has many sister tropes infesting horror too. Like the Hysterical Woman, where female characters are depicted as overly emotional and irrational, The Madwoman in the Attic, a trope where a character with mental illness is locked away, isolated from society, and the Nervous Housewife, where men doubt women’s paranormal experiences and patronize them. Jen Doll at The Atlantic Wire gives us “10 tropes about women that women should stop laughing about,” including “the crazy.” As Doll astutely observes, calling someone “crazy” is a way to put people (often women) down and for the accuser to feel better about themselves, all while being insulting to those who who struggle with mental illness. -Megan Kearns
Ultimately, it appears that the growing awareness of ableist behavior is changing the way we treat people with disabilities in cinema, especially with female characters in horror films.  Female tropes and archetypes will always exist, but gaining a stronger educational grasp on why characters are written the way they are is the most sure-fire way to learn how to provide better portrayals and influence less offensive media.  I must thank comic artist and Day of the Woman reader, Shannon LeClerc for suggesting that I tackle this topic.  Of course I in no way scratched the surface of disabled women in horror films (is there a book on this subject?) but the best way to make a change and gain a better understanding, is to open a dialogue and actually discuss the situation.  Women with disabilities are a prominent character type, and we will only gain a solid understanding if we talk about it.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Watching independently released films is probably my favorite part about running Day of the Woman.  Much like finding that super underground band none of your friends have heard of, finding gems in the fields of low-budget/limited release films is one of the best feelings imaginable.  Inception Media Group, LLC is (from their website) "based in Los Angeles, California and is a diversified media company specializing in the production, acquisition and distribution of motion pictures and other filmed entertainment across all media platforms and channels of distribution."  I've reviewed three movies from Inception Media Group, LLC previously, and will admit the films can be a mixed bag.  Some films are much stronger than others, but there is usually a great deal of potential residing in these filmmakers.  Last night, I kicked back and had a double feature of two of their newest horror releases, COMPLICITY and SILENT BUT DEADLY.

The evening started out with a familiar feeling film, COMPLICITY.  The story follows the traditional format of popular 90s horror films.  Following the story of a high school party at Shannon's place while her parents are gone for the weekend, the night takes a turn for the worse when Shannon's friend Kim accuses a boy of rape.  Without knowing the full details, some of the partygoers take matters into their own hands and kill the alleged rapist in a fit of fury.  The kids are now stuck with a dead body on their hands and must figure out where to go from here.  If it sounds like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER without the slasher, it's because it is.  Written and Directed by C.B. Harding, the film feels like a collage of cherry picked horror staples haphazardly thrown together.  The characters are all interchangeable and with the exception of T.J. Wilkins' portrayal of "Dwayne the Football Star," all of the characters are painfully unlikable.  These teenagers aren't unlikable because they make poor decisions, they just feel like stereotypical high school students written by someone who hasn't been to high school since Oregon Trail was a classroom activity and is basing characters off of CW television show commercials.  It was frustrating, because the film isn't poorly made.  The lighting is fantastic, the cinematography is beautiful, and the actors are actually really solid.  It was just the painfully unoriginal premise and stereotypical dialogue that just ruined the entire movie.  I think C.B. Harding did a great job at directing, but I don't think he's meant to be a writer.  I'd love to see what he does with another story, because he clearly understands how to make a beautiful film...just not necessarily how to write one.  Keep on the look for the cameo performance by Sean Young, that was a lovely surprise.

Wrapping up the double feature was the horror-comedy flick starring Jason Mewes SILENT BUT DEADLY.  I had been looking forward to seeing this film since it showed up in my mailbox, and I'm still unsure if I loved or hated this film.  Jason Mewes plays a relatively mute goat lover who goes on a wave of murder to anyone that poorly treats goats.  It's never fully explored if he loves goats as animals the way the internet loves cats, or if he's dabbling in inter-species erotica.  Regardless, it's a horror comedy where Jason Mewes has less lines than Johnny Depp in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.  Mewes really does try to showcase his emotions with body language and facial expressions, but denying someone with such perfect comedic timing any dialogue was a missed opportunity.  Fortunately, the supporting cast delivers some incredible zingers.  My personal favorites came from Mewes' father character, a backwoods redneck who married two Russian mail order brides that would rather fondle each other than their husband.  Some of his lines included calling them "Soviet Sluts" or "Carpet Munching Commies."  Cherry on top of that sundae?  The father is played by William Sadler.  Without a doubt, the strongest performance was given by Jordan Prentice as the local racist/sexist/homophobic Sheriff in town.  Prentice commands every scene he's in and having the ability to say "cock barf" without laughing was well worth a few rewinds.  The comedy is definitely there, the horror, not so much.  The practical FX were fabulously executed but the CGI effects were painfully bad.  The more I watched it, the more it felt like they were actually going for the bad FX.  If that's the case, they more than achieved their goal.  Ultimately, the film is fun to watch and paired quite nicely with my pizza and pop night with my man.  Of the two films, SILENT BUT DEADLY was definitely worth the watch. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013


This is a trick list, because right now, there is only ONE Kickstarter you should be throwing money to.



Master Horror director Stuart Gordon, brilliant actor Jeffrey Combs and inspired screenwriter Dennis Paoli - the team that brought you From Beyond and Re-Animator - team up again to bring you a brand new feature film - NEVERMORE 
The incredible Jeffrey Combs stars as Edgar Allan Poe, haunted by spirits of the dead and the imp of the perverse as he attempts one last  recitation of The Raven to save himself from a life of crushing poverty and soul destroying alcoholism. The screenplay is adapted from the script for the stage play Nevermore - which ran in Los Angeles and toured the country to sold out houses and great acclaim.
NEVERMORE is set in 1848, a year after the death of Poe's beloved wife Virginia (and a year before his own.) He had become internationally famous as the author of 'The Raven' and his 'Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.' But his fame did not provide fortune and so he was constantly seeking financial security and respect from the literary establishment. 

 This is Poe in his own words. Our text is taken from his letters and essays and we have based our evening on reviews and reports of his actual appearances. Our goal is to present a sense of the fascinating man behind the poetry and brilliant tales, a man who could be his own worst enemy, and whose life was even more bizarre and tragic than his strangest story.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Have you missed me?  I've missed a handful of days here due to real life getting in the way of my e-life, so expect days to have double entries coming up. Horror films are often very, very dark, and we must rely on our sense of hearing to figure out just what is going on.  We've been very lucky to have actors dabble in the horror genre with very distinct and iconic voices.  As always, this is an opinion piece, but here are what I determine to be the 20 most iconic and recognizable voices in horror history.  (NOTE: I'm focusing on people who have voices that were used in many horror films and not necessarily just one iconic film. Yes, we all hear "HEEEERE'S JOHNNY!" and know it's Jack Nicholson, but he's more noted for other work as well.)  Same goes for Bette Davis.

20) Angus Scrimm
Raspy, old man voices are the stuff of nightmares.  Angus Scrimm may have one of the most metal sounding names in existence, but he's got a distinctly creepy voice that sounds like the voices you are told to look out for in dark alleys.  The Tall Man is creepy enough on his own, but adding Scrimm's voice to the character gives a haunting impression that resonates in all of our minds.

19) Ken Foree 
Smooth, suave, sexy, and scary all at the same time, Ken Foree's voice is one we cannot forget.  Delivering the most famous line in the entire canon of zombie films, Foree's voice is completely unique to himself.  There are moments when he sounds as smooth as warm butter and yet sounds completely strained when he's in panic mode like the infamous "Chicken Fucker" scene from THE DEVIL'S REJECTS.

18) Jamie Lee Curtis
The ultimate final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis is also blessed with a very distinct voice.  Capable of a wide range and with the ability to scream without sounding like a pre-teen at a One Direction concert, Jamie Lee Curtis has an extremely recognizable timbre to her voice. 

 17) Heather O'Rourke
Gone from this earth far too soon, Heather O'Rourke is the only child featured on this list.  Perfectly cast as Carol Anne Freeling in the POLTERGEIST franchise, her voice is forever immortalized as the ideal "little girl" voice.  Small and high pitched enough to be adorable but with enough strength to take command of a room, O'Rourke's voice will never be forgotten.

16) Michael Berryman
One of the nicest guys on the planet, Michael Berryman has made a career playing monsters and villains.  While he may tower above his fellow co-stars, giving off an incredibly intimidating demeanor, his voice somehow doesn't "match" his appearance.  Berryman looks like the type of guy who could knock you out with one punch, but he has such a warm and friendly sounding voice.  It is this combination that makes him such an interesting actor to watch.  We want to be scared of him but at the same time, we want to just talk to him and understand why his character is doing such terrible things.  At the same time, when he's "angry" this rough and bellowing sound comes out and he becomes absolutely horrifying. 

15) William H. Marshall
With a voice so deep you can feel it vibrate in your bones, William H. Marshall's voice as BLACULA cannot be replicated.  "Dracula's Soul Brotha" proved that he had soul oozing out of his vocal chords, with a smooth and guttural sound to his voice. 

14) Piper Laurie
Although Piper Laurie has been acting for a majority of her 81 years of life, it was after she made the transition from starlet to adult genre actress that made her an iconic figure.  An intimidating yet maternal sounding voice, Piper Laurie's speech in CARRIE paved the way for an extensive career in horror cinema and television.  Her voice is very distinct and the most comforting sound that makes us run for the covers at night.

13) Bill Moseley
It's difficult to describe ol' Chop Top's voice without simply describing it as, " sounds like Bill Moseley.  He sounds somewhat like everyone's Mom's cool brother, but at the same time sounds a bit like the guy who stands a little too close to you at the grocery store check out line.  All-American vocal chords with a handful of unsettling sarcasm, and you've got yourself Bill Moseley.

12) Tobin Bell
The voice of Tobin Bell jump-started its way into horror infamy with his portrayal of John Kramer, aka The Jigsaw Killer from the highly successful SAW franchise.  Even without using a voice modifier, Bell has a deep and brooding voice that sounds as if it's always about to deliver a message of impending doom.  
 11) Stephen Geoffreys
You can hear the laugh just looking at this picture, can't you?  Stephen Geoffreys' voice makes you simultaneously want to be his best friend and punch him in the face.  It doesn't matter if he's in a horror film or a gay porno, this voice cannot be escaped.  I personally LOVE Geoffreys' voice, but I can understand the annoyance factor many people attribute to his voice.  Whether you find it annoying or not, the second you hear it, you can immediately match the voice to the face.

10) Mercedes McCambridge
I know I said that I wouldn't focus on people who have only had one iconic role that made their voice famous, but considering there are too many people in this world who do not know who this woman is, she deserves the placement on this list.  Mercedes McCambridge was a movie star in the 40s, and an Academy award winning actress. Orson Welles even once called her "the world's greatest living radio actress."  She's also the voice of Pazuzu in THE EXORCIST.  Yep.

09) Sid Haig
If a mall Santa was smooth enough to pick up your mom but joyous enough to ensure that you were getting that Red Ryder BB gun, he'd probably sound (and look) a lot like Sid Haig.  Haig has this bellowing voice that can be heard for miles that always sounds like he's in a good mood, but the second his joyful glee turns into anger, the happiness sounds to be sucked out of the air and his voice sounds much more sinister.  Like Michael Berryman, Sid Haig is the nicest guy in the world, which makes the transition to "scary voice" all the more horrifying.

08) Bela Lugosi
Less noted for the sound of his voice, Bela Lugosi's speaking voice only became iconic for how often and successfully it was used.  Now, there may not be anything particularly special or unique about his voice, as Lugosi had a very similar 'acting voice' to the other popular men of his age, but Lugosi's speaking style included a thick accent which established the timbre of a villain for the rest of his career.  His foreign sounding accent combined with the familiar "acting style" made him accessible enough for audiences at the time, but foreign enough to feel terrifying.

07) Brad Dourif
One of the greatest character actors that has ever walked this earth, Brad Dourif will hopefully be remembered for more than just his voice.  Don't get me wrong, it's impressive that the voice of Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky has grown to be such a huge success, but Brad Dourif is a genuinely amazing actor and deserves accolade for far more than a possessed doll.  However, his ability to speak comfortably in strange pitches leads him to have one of the most memorable voices.

06) Tony Todd
There's William H. Marshall, and then there's Tony Todd.  A voice that both seduces and horrifies you, Tony Todd's deep voice is almost hypnotic in its delivery.  A sound so low it's impossible to imitate, but so smooth you wish that you could.

05) Christopher Lee
Actor, singer, veteran, and all around incredible man, Christopher Lee is one of the most prolific performers the world will ever know.  The golden-actor of Hammer Horror films, Christopher Lee has a strong and commanding voice with just a hint of high-class.  Even when he was hosting Saturday Night Live,  Christopher Lee was able to use the beautiful sound of his voice to play both fear as well as comedy.  If you had to image what a king would sound like, it would be Christopher Lee.

04) Jennifer Tilly
An actress and poker dynamo, Jennifer Tilly has a voice that can horrify, arouse, annoy, and trigger giggles.  Her famous voice has lent itself to a wide career of roles both horror and non, but her 1-900 operator voice sounds something like a porn-star child with a crash of gravel.  The Bride of Chucky herself, Jennifer Tilly's voice is unique to her and only her.

03) John Kassir
Another individual known for a character voice, John Kassir's voice is one of the creepiest characters in horror history.  When he speaks in his normal voice, the sound of The Crypt Keeper is very faint, but his Crypt Keeper voice and laugh are so notorious, it's impossible not to recognize. He's since done other voice work (my favorite being Deadpool) but none will ever be as noticeable or as prominent as The Crypt Keeper. 

02) Zelda Rubenstein
A voice so little you'd swear it was faked, Zelda Rubenstein is undoubtedly the most recognizable voice of any female actress.  Sweet like an old lady but shrill like a banshee, Zelda Rubenstein's voice can only be described as "eerily cute."  Well into her old age, Rubenstein's voice remained as tiny and endearing as possible, but her ability to make her cute voice sound intimidating gave her a wide range of characters to play throughout her career.

01) Vincent Price
Truly, the voice of horror is Vincent Price.  His distinct voice is next to impossible to faithfully impersonate but remains memorable for generations.  Regardless if someone grew up on his film career, his voice was forever immortalized in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" which was named the most influential music video of all time.  Price's career is dedicated in large part to his unique voice, which has become a staple in horror history.  It's polished, unsettling, unique, intriguing, beautiful, and haunting all at the same time. Vincent Price's voice IS horror.
Honorable Mentions: Bruce Campbell and Robert Englund.  These two men have voices that we all know and love, but they are far more noted for their delivery of one-liners and quick puns rather than the actual sound of their voice.  I will also give a shout out to John Larroquette who was the narrator for the original THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and was specifically asked to come back and narrate for the reboot of the film.  If it ain't broke...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


This next list was suggested to me by an independent filmmaker.  I've only recently begun to dabble in filmmaking from behind the camera, but over the last five years of blogging, I've encountered a lot of independent filmmakers that seem to be carbon copies of one another.  Of course no two filmmakers are the same, but many seem to fall into little "groups."  By request, I present to you the "10 Types of Indie Genre Filmmakers."
Here, let me just delete Suzette's dance recital footage and we're ready to take down Hollywood!
The Delusional Handycam Director
Found footage respawned in 2007 with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.  Sweeping the nation into a fearful frenzy, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY was an independent film made on a very, very low budget of only about $15,000 but made about $200 MILLION.  Seeing such a huge success come out of such a simple concept sparked a flame under the ass of independent filmmakers everywhere.  You mean I can make a movie with the same camera I use to make home-made sex tapes and become a millionaire?!  Everyone is trying to milk the found footage cash cow, and indie directors are under the impression that just because they have a camera, they can make a movie...and expect the same results as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.  I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten a press release from an indie director with the opening description of "If you liked PARANORMAL ACTIVITY you're going to love ____."  My suggestion?  Stop trying to make lightning strike twice, create your own storm.

Look at my movie of this kid. I'm the greatest thing you've ever seen. I'm a genius.
The Self-Proclaimed Visionary
There is a reason we consider people like Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and Quentin Tarantino "visionaries."  It's because they earned that title with an extensive resume of films that go above and beyond expectations.  Emphasis on "extensive resume."  If you are making your debut film, do NOT call yourself a visionary.  If you are making your debut film, do NOT call yourself "groundbreaking."  I don't care how awesome your mom thinks your movie is, do not dilute the honorary title of "visionary" by slapping it on yourself without having anything to back it up.  The real visionaries don't even call themselves visionaries, they let the critics and fans say it for them.  If you have to keep telling yourself you're a visionary, chances're not.

Why direct professional actors when I can just direct ME?

People-Hating Egomaniac
Everyone that isn't me sucks! I could hire an actual editor, or a sound designer, or a professional actor, an experienced key grip, and use a script that I didn't write in fifth grade, BUT WHY WOULD I WHEN I CAN DO EVERYTHING!?  It's one thing to see a film written/directed/edited/starring/scored/whatevered by someone because they legitimately didn't have the budget and just needed to create.  It's another thing when a filmmaker HAS the opportunity to allow people far more skilled in other aspects of production to work on their film, but chooses to wear all the hats because they're a people-hating egomaniac.  I get it, you think everyone is stupid.  I share this sentiment 90% of the time, but I'll be the first to admit I don't know dick about sound design or lighting and would much rather have someone proficient in these areas do it for me. A film is like your baby, and like most parents, you think you're the only one who can raise it properly.  I get that, but if your baby turns blue in the middle of the night, you take it to a doctor because they know better.  It's the same concept, people.  I know you're scared to let your film be handled by anyone other than you, but if you allow yourself to find a team that you trust with your vision, you'll have a much better product than if you force yourself to do everything alone.

If they didn't make such good sandwiches, maybe we'd give them a camera. AM I RIGHT, GUYS?!

The Woman-Hating Egomaniac
The Woman-Hating Egomaniac is much like the director mentioned previously, except they really, really hate women.  These people hate women to the point where they objectify them for no other reason than objectification.  To them, women are incapable of being behind a camera, and are only worth being in front of the camera if they're willing to do ridiculous things.  How am I going to get these women in less clothing? OOH! INSTEAD OF A BOOK CLUB, THEY'RE ALL STRIPPERS!  Uh, what? I mean if it makes sense for the story, by all means go for it.  However, it appears that a lot of filmmakers and writers are pulling these insta-slutty situations out of thin air just so they can objectify women.  I once saw an independent film where the lead character was wearing very revealing clothing throughout the entire film (that took place in the dead of winter.)  When I asked him why this costume was selected (he was also credited as the costume designer) he said "because why should I care about a woman in this movie if she's not giving me something to look at?"  *face palm*  This type of director may seem like a minority, but there are plenty of them that exist and continue to make movies.
The Director Whose Self-Esteem Depends on 
"Likes" and Followers
I'm a proud internet junkie, and I admit my ego gets quite the stroking with all of your likes on Instagram, but there are some directors that take this a little bit too far.  I know filmmakers that spend hours of their day on some sort of high because their favorite filmmaker responded to them on twitter.  I know filmmakers who sink into a depressive state if their film's facebook page doesn't break 1,000 likes in the first 24 hours.  I know filmmakers who will sit obsessively on YouTube to watch the "hits" refresh when they release their movies.  It's ridiculous.  The internet is a very, very powerful tool, but it's not the only thing filmmakers have to their access to get the word out.  Enter in festivals, for crying out loud.  Your worth or talent is not determined by your viral status.
Seriously. Look at me.
The Master of Promotion
Much like the director previously mentioned, this person figured out how to ensure they received those likes and followers by the buttload.  These directors figured out how to work the viral system and used it to their advantage.  Without a doubt, the best example of this type of director is Jen and Sylvia Soska.  Those girls are promotion geniuses.  Your opinion of their films doesn't matter, because these girls found a way to market themselves and ensure that they were a household name in independent horror, whether you like their movies or not.  Everyone knows them, everyone knows what movies they've made, and everyone knows their face.  In terms of promotion, they're geniuses.  They could make the world's worst movie and it wouldn't matter, because they'll always find a way to make sure everyone and their brother has seen it (or at least heard of it.)

Thanks for the 10,000 likes. Here's my fifth teaser trailer!

The Empty Master of Promotion
You know those people you keep hearing about but still haven't seen a final product?  Those filmmakers who keep posting statuses online with vague descriptions like "big things coming ahead for NURSE SLAYERS 2: A SCALPEL A DAY KEEPS THE UNDEAD AWAY!" but you haven't seen anything outside of a half assed teaser trailer that's 80% black with some voice over?  This, my friend is the "Empty Master of Promotion."  This type of director is exactly like the director above, but without the final product.  They're the person we all end up following on twitter because we have 85 mutual followers and we assume whatever they're cookin' up must be impressive...but we never see it.

Let's sew some people together ass to mouth, BECAUSE I CAN.
The Shock for Shock's Sake
"Tom Six? Pfft. He's a wimp compared to what I've got coming.  Let's throw in a rape, some disembodiment, a guy getting his dick cut off and it shoved up his ass, and some DEAD ALIVE style blood coming out of this girl's nipples in the opening sequence. Yeah. That'll grab some attention."  I love gore, I really do, but can you give me some substance or reason for the excessive amount of gore?  There are so many directors hell-bent on making their film the grossest or nastiest horror film out there, and they completely forget to, I don't know, write a story that goes along with it?  The weird thing is that these people tend to be the most sensitive about their film as well.  The directors who attack bloggers and scream at them for bad reviews, I've found have been the directors who made a film for shock's sake.  I don't know. Weird pattern.

We're so marginalized, we're in our own category
The Female Director
I only included this as a category because female directors are never lumped into any categories previously mentioned, they're always lumped into the same category of "THEY HAVE VAGINAS."  Female horror directors are so hard to find that they're always promoted as "FEMALE DIRECTORS."  Don't get me wrong, gender inequality in the film industry is a deeply rooted problem, but female directors are far more than just female directors.  I'm so sick of people either giving us a break because "it's good for a female director," or giving undeserved slack because "it's from a female director."  No. It's a movie from a director.

The Actual Filmmakers Who Are Too Busy Getting Shit Done To Act Like The Other Piss-Poor Types
Luckily we have another group of individuals who direct and make films because it's what they need to do with every fiber of their being.  These are the people who only feel complete when they're making a movie.  These are the people who couldn't be bothered by the actions of the other "types."  These are the filmmakers who make the independent films that we actually get to see and love.  If you're making a horror film, strive to be YOU and not one of these categories.
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