Thursday, February 6, 2014

HELP CHRIS SEAVER MAKE "THE WEIRDSIES!"

I love me some Chris Seaver films.  The king of Low Budget Pictures and Warlock Home Video, Chris Seaver has been making independent comedy/horror films longer than I've been alive on this planet.  With 50 films under his belt and 28 of those films in national distribution, Seaver isn't just some schmuck with a camera.  Chris Seaver is the real deal.  Seaver's style is very over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, and wicked fun.  His films aren't for everyone, but if you like one of his films, there's a good chance you'll love all of his films.  Some of his recent titles include SEXSQUATCH, PHANTOM OF THE GRINDHOUSE, MOIST FURY, GEEK WAR, I SPIT CHEW ON YOUR GRAVE, and DEATHBONE, just to name a few.  Now, Seaver is at it again with his newest flick, THE WEIRDSIES.  He aims to create his version of STAND BY ME but telling the story from the perspective of four 20-something females discovering who they really are over the course of a summer.  Now, I wholeheartedly believe in everything Chris Seaver puts out, and this film is no different.

Help Chris Seaver make this film a reality by supporting his Indiegogo campaign!

Monday, February 3, 2014

TRANS* WOMEN AND THE HORROR OF MISREPRESENTATION

HAPPY WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH, EVERYONE!  The major focus for Women In Horror Recognition Month is to shed a light on hard working women in the horror industry, and to start discussions on the representation of women in horror movies.  While women (especially women of color) are constantly misrepresented, the trans* woman is without a doubt the most misrepresented minority group in existence.  The horror genre frequently comes under fire for its formulaic uses of tropes and characters, and the "mentally ill trans* woman/psycho killer" is one we should really stop using. (NOTE: The asterisk at the end of "trans" is an umbrella term to encompass all non-cisgender gender identities including: transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.)

Felissa Rose as Angela Baker in SLEEPAWAY CAMP
 The first thing that needs to be addressed is the depressing use of trans*women or cross dressers in horror and the fact filmmakers are treating the two like they're interchangeable.  For example: Norman Bates in PSYCHO may lose his cool and dress like his mother when he kills someone, but that doesn't make him a trans*woman.  However, Angela Baker in SLEEPAWAY CAMP is revealed as having male anatomy but then returns years later in the sequels happily living and identifying as a woman.  I'd make the argument that Angela Baker is a trans*woman.  Buffalo Bill in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS wanted to be a woman, I'd consider him a trans*woman, while The Bride in Black from INSIDIOUS & INSIDIOUS 2 may have been struggling from an identity crisis caused by the years of abuse inflicted on him by his mother.  It's difficult to tell whether The Bride in Black wanted to castrate himself because he truly wanted to be a woman, or if it meant his mother would finally love him.  That's a complex issue and one that could easily constitute its own article.

Origin of The Black Bride in INSIDIOUS 2 (see: boy in a dress)

Mey Valdivia Rude is a trans woman and contributing editor/author to Autostraddle who recently covered this very topic with an incredible article titled Who's Afraid Of The Big, Bad Trans*Woman? On Horror and Transfemininity.  Her article is highly informative, but it is her experiences as a trans* person and a horror fan that are truly telling of the impact film has on its audiences.  In describing her theatrical experience watching INSIDIOUS 2 she states,
As the movie was ending, I sank down into my seat, hoping that no one would notice that I was trans*. I was afraid that if someone realized I was trans*, they might make the connection between me and the serial-killer-turned-ghost in the movie. After all, if you don’t know me, you might see me and (incorrectly) think that I’m just some man who is dressed up like a woman. According to the filmmakers behind Insidious Chapter 2, that makes me creepy, insane and dangerous.
When I think of women in horror films that I can identify with, I can respond with characters like the bodacious and brash Elvira, Mary from HOCUS POCUS, and a handful of other sassy, independent women.  For trans*women, they have motel owning serial killers, kidnapping lepidopterists, malicious ghosts, and slashers.  Considering horror films are predominately made by men and the fact Western society heavily values men over women, it's somewhat predictable that we'd have all of these "mentally ill" male characters dressing like women.  Why would a man want to live as a woman? That's just insane! Henry Lee Lucas was forced to dress like a girl when he was a kid, and look how he turned out!  Mey Rude goes on in her article to say, "The same insanity that causes them to be transgender is the thing that causes them to become serial killers, and causes them to be seen as frightening." It's very difficult for the average cis-gendered male to understand what it feels like to misidentify with the gender their anatomy and society tells them they're "supposed" to be.  Film representation is very, very important.  Think of it this way-- if JAWS made people scared of the ocean and IT made people afraid of clowns, what sort of idea are we perpetuating about trans*women if they're frequently shown as psychotic, violent, or perverted?

Buffalo Bill putting on lip makeup in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

A recent study showcased that trans* people across the U.S. experience three times as much police violence as non-transgender individuals.  Even more terrifying, when trans*gender people were the victims of hate crimes, 48% reported receiving mistreatment from the police when they went for help.  These statistics are the true horrors.  Mey Rude sums it up perfectly:
When people look to pop culture and see trans* women portrayed as dangerous impostors that they should be afraid of, they cease to see trans* women as people and start seeing them as monsters. In the fictional world of movies it may be the trans* women who are frightening and menacing killers, but in real life, those trans* women are far, far more likely to be the victims of horrific and violent murders.
To my knowledge, there is really only one horror movie that showcases trans*women in a positive light, and even then the film showcases drag queens...not trans*women.  (Pro-tip, not all drag queens are trans*women and not all trans*women are drag queens.) TICKED OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES is a tongue-in-cheek rape revenge film meant to be an entertaining film of empowerment a la I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)protested the film at it's original Tribeca screening, but opinions on the film are extremely polarized.  Considering the somewhat cartoonish film is the only real positive representation trans*women have in horror, I can sympathize with the anger from the trans* community.  At the end of the day, I can't hate the player but I will hate the game.  Hollywood (horror in particular) needs a makeover on its portrayal of trans*women, and fast.
Just picture Jamie Clayton as a Final Girl real quick. THAT is a film I want to see.


If horror were to take a page from the books of dramatic films like DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, or even the smash hit TV series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, we can start showcasing trans*women as actual people with feelings and complex thoughts and not just an easy way to tell an audience "this guy is supposed to be a weirdo, so we put him in a dress."  There are amazing trans*women actresses, and they would be amazing additions to the female horror cannon as much more than a punch line or a quick villain.  Laverne Cox, Harmony Santana, Jamie Clayton, and Candis Cayne are just a few working actresses that would completely dominate in the horror world.  Trans*women deserve proper representation in horror, and it's about time someone does something about it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

13-YEAR-OLD EMILY DI PRIMIO IS MAKING A SLASHER FILM

Emily DiPrimo: 13-year-old horror director
A thirteen year old girl named Emily is making a feature length horror movie.  After watching her father Ron Di Primio make films and from her own experiences working on horror films since she was 4 years old, Emily Di Primiohas decided to take a seat in the director's chair.  Di Primio will co-write and co-direct (along with her father) the upcoming flick CARVER; a throwback to the heyday of 80s slasher films.  The story follows a group of teenagers who have all kept secret the fact they caused the deaths of several people on Halloween when they were younger.  Years later on the anniversary of those deaths, the teenagers begin receiving terrifying threats in the form of pumpkins.  The film was fully financed through Kickstarter, raising $31,900 of its original $25,000 goal.  Di Primio has promised no CGI gore and her kickstarter video more than proves that this youngster has been raised on a healthy diet of horror.  Di Primio is currently casting CARVER and the film is hopefully projected to begin filming May of 2014.

Sound familiar?

Emily Hagins of PATHOGEN, MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE, and GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS
When Emily Hagins was only 12 years old, she directed a feature length zombie film called PATHOGEN and was the subject of the documentary ZOMBIE GIRL.  While many dismissed Hagins' young age (and gender) as nothing more than a gimmick for an independent film, the final product of PATHOGEN proved that Hagins was a filmmaker far beyond her years.  While many could have accepted if Hagins' filmmaking career was going to solely consist of PATHOGEN, Hagins has since directed  three other projects including MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE and the SXSW selection GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS.  There's nothing gimmick about Emily Hagins, she genuinely makes fun and clever movies.

So what does this say about Emily Di Primio?

Emily Di Primio in her kickstarter promotional video

Women and girls are not these fragile little creatures afraid of blood (you all do know what happens to us every month, right?) and there are plenty of young girls with an appetite for gore and horror.  Emily Di Primio proves that Emily Hagins wasn't a fluke, and she's not not some special exception to the rule of "sugar, spice, and everything nice."  Girls love horror. Plain and simple.  Hagins paved the way for girls like Di Primio, and it's incredibly inspiring to see young girls taken seriously with their desire to make a scary movie.  I'm excited to see that Di Primio is putting CARVER in motion and I look forward to seeing the final product.

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