Monster Interviews: Stephanie Malone – Women In Horror Month

As we celebrate Women In Horror Month, I wanted to highlight those behind the scenes who don’t receive the credit they rightfully deserve. In the first interview I’m thrilled for you to meet a Woman who is deeply dedicated to the genre, and who is the owner of her very own horror based website, MorbidlyBeautiful.com. It’s a beautiful aesthetic website that’s quickly ascending through the ranks in popularity and is definitely one of the top sources for all things horror. As their tagline reads, “We Bleed Horror.”

I had the chance to ask the multi talented Editor In Chief of Morbidly Beautiful, Stephanie Malone, a few questions for Women In Horror Month. Her website is one that’s constantly on the rise and is a quality source for everything horror. It’s truly a website that has all its bases covered in terms of content.

Stephanie Malone is an experienced graphic and web designer, copywriter, Art and Creative Director, and Marketing professional. She studied Film, English, and Marketing at University of Texas at Austin. She’s also the founder and editor-in-chief for morbidlybeautiful.com. As an avid supporter of indie film, she’s been involved in numerous short and feature films in the roles of producer, art director, and publicist.

Stephanie founded morbidlybeautiful.com three years ago as a way to further her support for indie film and celebrate her lifelong love of all things horror. The site was founded with a mission to shine a spotlight on some of the lesser known talent in the genre, covering the people and projects that others aren’t covering, and to provide thoughtful and high quality content you can’t find anywhere else.

  • DS: Do you you recall when you first fell in love with horror? Can you remember how old you were and what it was that captured and sparked your imagination and interest in the genre?
  • SM: That’s such a hard question because I honestly can’t recall a time when I wasn’t a horror fan and when loving horror didn’t feel like such a core part of my identity. From as early as I can remember, I was watching horror films – shockingly adult ones at that thanks to my wonderfully liberal parents. As strange as it sounds, I can’t recall ever having a nightmare. Horror never scared me in that upsetting kind of way. It excited me, thrilled me, got my blood pumping. It gave me an adrenaline rush nothing else could ever quite top. I just felt such an instant connection with all things creepy and what most “normal” people would call disturbing.I think really creative people tend to be especially drawn to the genre because it offers such a fantastical escape filled with the most creative monsters, creatures, supernatural magic, incredible effects, and truly mind-blowing artistry. As a passionate creative from practically the moment I came into this world, I was always drawn to the magic and wonder of the genre — and I always thought it was more titillating than terrifying.
  • DS: As most fans of the genre might know already, you own and operate your own horror based website. What made you decide to create the website, and can you elaborate on how it all eventually came about? 
  • SM: It’s such a strange story, and a bit of a long one. But I’ll do my best to keep it brief. I have a diverse background, which includes writing, graphic design, web design/development, and film. Prior to starting the site, I was regularly working with indie filmmakers on micro budget horror films as Producer, Art Director, and sometimes Publicist. Strangely, as much as I love to write and do so professionally, I had never explored horror journalism. But an opportunity came about for me to potentially join a horror site a couple of my friends wrote for.As with most things in life, my timing ending up being terrible. The site folded right when I was working on my audition pieces — a couple of interviews with indie filmmakers that I was very excited about. For some reason that I can’t quite explain, I felt driven in a way I never had before to get more involved in the horror community and really make my voice be heard.
  • Fortunately, I had the right skill set for the job. In a matter of days, I had built my site from the ground up, created my brand, published my first couple of articles, and recruited my first few writers to help me out. It was an overwhelming but exhilarating process — and one I still can’t believe I actually went through with.
  • When I started the site, however, I had no intention of it becoming what it is today. I was fine with it being a tiny, obscure little site for me to express myself and help support the indie filmmakers and artists I loved. The fact that it’s grown to what it is now in a few short years and that so many amazing talented people have agreed to come on board and build this site with me means more than I can express. It honestly blows me away every single day. I feel so honored and so constantly rewarded in ways I could have never imagined.
  • DS: You’re website’s named MorbidlyBeautiful.com. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you specifically? Does it have any hidden meaning or connotations pertaining to you or the fans of your site? 
  • SM:It stems from a couple of places. First, as a graphic designer by trade, aesthetics are really important to me. I wanted to create a site that celebrated the dark, creepy, and horrific. But I really wanted it to look beautiful and be a place genre fans enjoyed visiting. I wanted to pay respect to the incredible artistry reflected in so many aspects of the genre by building a platform that truly honored those contributions in both style and substance.
  • Personally, I found the macabre very beautiful. I find so much true art and talent in the genre, and I hate when people try to disrespect or diminish horror, as if it’s somehow a lower art form. For example, it infuriates me (much as it does many horror fans) that the Academy consistently overlooks brilliant horror films and performances. I hate that we have to label films as something other than horror (ie, calling “Get Out” a social thriller rather than a horror film) so that they can be taken seriously. For me, the name Morbidly Beautiful honors the fact that something can be dark and disturbing and still be considered beautiful, artful, and worthy of praise and appreciation.

DS: A lot of times, horror fans tend to receive bad reputations. What are your thoughts on the horror fan base and how vital are they to the success or failure of our beloved genre?

 

  • SM: Honestly, that boggles my mind that horror fans would be held in anything other than the absolute highest regard. It’s been my experience that genre fans tend to be among the most passionate, genuine, loyal, accepting, and friendliest people around. Over and over when we interview horror actors, filmmakers, and artists, they talk about how amazing and supportive the horror community is. This is especially true for actors who work in other genres and see how different and special horror fans are.
  • For whatever problems social media brings, it has also given us an incredible opportunity to connect with others who think like we do and appreciate the same wonderfully weird things we appreciate. Before social media, I often felt like an outsider due to my passion for horror. I had no idea there were so many people who felt exactly how I felt — and that they were such insanely cool and interesting people. It has been so validating to really immerse myself in this community and feel, for the first time, like I am really a part of something and that my “weirdness” is perfectly acceptable and actually pretty awesome.
  • For those who are also able to get out to some of the cons and film fests, it’s the best way to further reinforce how wonderful this community is. There is absolutely nothing like being a room packed wall-to-wall with people who geek out over the same things you geek out over and who really love and accept you for who you are.

 

  • DS As a female working in the genre, what does Women In Horror Month mean to you and how important do you think it is to continue to acknowledge and support the amazing women representing the genre?

 

  • SM: I guess you could call me a proud feminist, in that I truly believe in equal opportunity and representation. More than a feminist, I’m a humanist and value equality for all. Honoring women in horror as been a key tenant of the site since it began, and we do it all year round. We may go big in February to take advantage of the increased momentum and awareness surrounding women in horror (thanks to tireless efforts and vision of Women in Horror Month Founder, Hannah Neurotica, an inspiration and idol of mine). But our commitment to bringing attention to the many incredibly talented and often unsung women working in the genre is something that never takes a break or a backseat.

    Hannah Neurotica

  • I’ve heard many people, men and women alike, say that we may not need Women in Horror Month anymore. But I vehemently disagree. As much progress as we’ve made and as far as we’ve come in many ways, we still have so far to go. We still have a problem of under representation and a unequal access to opportunity and exposure. When people think of Women in Horror, they so often think of actresses and “Scream Queens”, and that leads them to conclude that there’s plenty of representation.
  • But, as another one of my heroes, Jovanka Vuckovik, said, “When it comes to horror, women are more often seen than they are heard. In other words, people are more familiar with scream queens than they are the contributions of women behind the scenes.” True equality means equal opportunities for and recognition of screenwriters, directors, special effects artists, composers, authors, artists, and the many other talented creators responsible for making this genre as truly incredible as it is.

    Director Jovanka Vuckovic

 

  • DS: Going forward, what do you come to expect from Women In Horror Month, and is there anything in particular you’d like to see branch out of WIHM?

 

  • SM: Once thing I definitely want to say is that I’m so incredibly proud that this is a genre that does tend to give a damn. We most certainly need a Women in Film Month, as the problem of under representation is much broader than horror. I know some people find it strange that we have this month dedicated to such a niche portion of entertainment as a whole. But that’s because there are passionate activists like Hannah Neurotica and the Soska Sisters who are at the forefront of change and driving the conversation in a way no one else is. I am beyond honored to be a very small part of helping champion this cause. And it’s been so heartening to see the growing support and recognition for this important event throughout the community.

    Soska Sisters

  • At Morbidly Beautiful, we try every year to do a little more, push out as much great content as we can, and find new ways to engage the community during Women in Horror Month. I’ve also seen so many other sites and journalists taken up the mantle and becoming champions for change. Honestly, I think we just need to keep having these conversations and all working together as a community to create a future (hopefully a not so distant one) where we no longer need a Women in Horror Month. The best thing that could happen to Women in Horror Month is for it to go away because it’s no longer relevant.

 

  • DS: What can we expect to see from Morbidly Beautiful this year and do you have any exciting announcements or new additions to the website that you’d like to mention or promote?

 

  • SM: The site is growing at such a rapid pace, and honestly I’m just trying to keep up with that growth and not sacrifice quality. Each year, I’ve slowly been growing our writing family to bring on more great talent and unique points of view. This year, we’ve had more interested applicants than ever before, and I’m beyond thrilled about the level of talent and passion we’re adding to the site. I’m also so excited by our efforts to expand our focus on diversity, bringing on writers with specific expertise and background in this area.
  • We’re also partnering with some of our favorite platforms and distributors to bring even more unique content, highlighting some of the best horror releases from Shudder, Vinegar Syndrome, Scream Factory, and Unearthed Films to name a few.
  • We’ve been given tremendous access to expand our coverage of some of the world’s best film festivals and horror conventions. This will enable us to bring our readers exclusive and early access to some of the most anticipated new horror films and the best up-and-coming filmmakers everyone should know about.
  • We post new content daily, usually multiple new articles a day. And we’ve been adding a ton of new features we think and hope our readers will love. Be sure to follow us on social media and turn on post notifications to stay updated on everything new and exciting happening at Morbidly Beautiful.

 

  • DS Is there anything you’re really fond of when it comes to your website? Are there any particular segments or special content that you really enjoy and look forward to publishing?

 

  • SM: The thing I’m most proud of when it comes to the site is our extremely diverse writing staff and the incredibly high quality of content they produce. As much as I’m a huge fan of so many other horror sites, I do believe we produce truly original and thought provoking content not available anywhere else. I especially love our commitment to celebrating underrepresented voices in indie film making and in all aspects of the genre — including focusing on diversity, LGBTQ, minorities, and women in horror.
  • My favorite articles are the in-depth opinion and analysis pieces — the ones that take a really thoughtful look at the genre and treat it with the respect and reverence I believe it deserves. I’m a true horror nerd, and I absolutely love articles that take a scholarly approach to the great work being produced in the genre.
  • I also love articles that bring together several writers to share distinct points of views on a subject. I’d love to see us do more of these, including group reviews, best of lists, holiday horror guides, and more. I love anything that highlights the incredible range of talent we have working on the site.

 

  • DS As a writer, graphic designer and producer, do you have any upcoming projects you’re anticipating that you’d like to let your fans know about?

 

  • Besides my day job as a professional Creative Director/Designer/Copywriter, almost all of my time is devoted to Morbidly Beautiful. Thankfully, it’s an incredible outlet that combines all my passions — allowing me to write, edit, design, market, and aggressively support indie film. Any outside creative projects I take on are purely passion projects where I want to help support a project, company, or cause I really believe in. I have a couple of things I’m working on, but nothing I can really talk about just yet.
  • However, I am one of the producers on the new indie horror film Crepitus, starring Bill Moseley as a killer clown, and I’m super excited to have everyone see that hopefully later this year.

 

  • DS. Aside from Morbidly Beautiful.com where can people follow you and stay up to date with your work? Are there any social media platforms you’re currently active on?

 

  • SM: I’m very active on Morbidly Beautiful’s social channels: Facebook and Instagram at  @morbidlybeautifulhorror and Twitter at @xmorbidbeautyx. Personally, I’m most active on Instagram at @srgreenhaw. And I’ve made a vow to get back into Twitter. You can find me there at @smalondesign.

 

  • DS: To wrap up, we like to ask one final question. If you could pick one, and only one, what would you say is your all time favorite horror film?

 

  • SM: This is the one question that isn’t difficult for me to answer because I always go with the film that first made me fall head over heels in love with the genre, the film that helped launch my favorite subgenre of slasher films, and the one that produced my all-time favorite killer: John Carpenter’s Halloween. I know it’s basic and not reflective of my diverse love of cult, indie, foreign, underground, arthouse and extreme horror. But, to me, it’s a damn near perfect film whose unquestionable impact and influence on the genre cannot be denied.




Posted by Donovan Smith

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