Women in Horror

Women in Horror – ‘Marla’ gets North American release this November

Women in Horror – ‘Marla’ gets North American release this November

Carrie meets It Follows in Marla, a spine-chilling new horror experience from writer-director and  actress Lisa van Dam-Bates.

Also starring Travis Johnny Ware, Jason Stange and Katie Hemming, Marla explores the terrifying account of a girl who goes to get an IUD implanted by a family friend turned doctor who then commits a deranged act.

The event has deadly implications for those close to her.

Marla premieres on digital and DVD November 5 from High Octane Pictures.

Posted by Philip Rogers in Categories, COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments

New Poster and Images for The Soska Sisters’ RABID which will Premiere at FrightFest

New Poster and Images for The Soska Sisters’ RABID which will Premiere at FrightFest

Acclaimed horror directors Jen and Sylvia Soska aka ‘The Twisted Twins’ (American Mary) are back with their next nightmare – the bloody, brutal and deranged Rabid!

After aspiring fashion designer Rose (Laura Vandervoort) suffers a disfiguring traffic accident she undergoes a radical and untested stem-cell treatment. The experimental transformation is a miraculous success, transforming her into a ravishing beauty. But she soon develops an uncontrollable sexual appetite, resulting in several torrid encounters, which sees her lovers become rabid carriers of death and disease. As the illness mutates and the contagion spreads out of control, all hell breaks loose as the infected rampage through the city on a violent and gruesome killing spree.
Based on the original horror from David Cronenberg, Rabid has already courted controversy getting the Soska Sisters banned from Twitter for sharing an image from the film. So buckle up and prepare for a blood-soaked ride at FrightFest 2019!
Starring Laura Vandervoort (JigsawBitten), Benjamin Hollingsworth (Cold Pursuit) and Phil ‘C.M. Punk’ Brooks (Girl on the Third Floor). Written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. 
The Soska Sisters will also introduce a screening of a new-to-the-UK 2K restoration of David Cronenberg’s original Rabid (1977) at FrightFest on Sunday 25 August.
FrightFest presents the World Premiere of Rabidon 26 August at 5.45pm in the Arrow Video Screen and 6.15pm in the Horror Channel Screen at the Cineworld Leicester Square

Posted by Philip Rogers in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, 0 comments
Adrienne Barbeau- Host New Podcast

Adrienne Barbeau- Host New Podcast

Adrienne Barbeau is back to the mic. The legendary veteran of John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape From New York will be hosting a new podcast series called She Kills on Shudder

The podcast series focuses on female representation in horror and pairs Barbeau with legendary actors, directors, writers ,and journalists. Such guests include Barbara Crampton, Jennifer Tilly, Dee Wallace, and Karyn Kusama just to make a few. 

Barbeau was quoted :

 “It’s about time we heard more from women in horror than just their blood-curdling screams. I am honored to be part of this fascinating new podcast featuring the kick-ass women of the genre. From playing victims to villains and vampires to Valkyries, oh, the stories we have to tell.”

All 10 episodes of She Kills we be available on Friday March 1st on  Shudder and Apple Podcasts.

I am so for this and cannot wait until March! It’s about time these women that we all know and love get the recognition that they deserve and is appropriate on the air date after Women In Horror Month. I think that this is positive effect in the genre for women specifically to be recognized in all that they do that many of us are not aware about. Shudder is on to something and does an amazing job showcasing everyone in horror. 

 

Posted by Sarah Gregory in Categories, COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, HOSTED HORROR, PODCAST, 0 comments
Jennifer Nangle: Women In Horror Interview

Jennifer Nangle: Women In Horror Interview

I had the pleasure to interview one of my favorites Jennifer Nangle also known as Malvolia:Queen Of Screams. She is a woman of many talents, acting, writing, producing— she does it all and is the real deal. She was kind enough to answer questions from what inspired her to get into the industry to upcoming projects that she is working on. 

SG-First, what inspired you to get into the industry, mainly within the horror genre?

JN : I’ve been acting in plays and musicals since I was 10 years old. So, naturally I went to college and majored in acting, the love of my life. After receiving my BFA in Theatre Studies, I became really enthralled with television. I thought, “I’ll just move to LA and be on T.V.!” Just like that! Well, it didn’t really work out that way and after auditions started to slow down, I was introduced to “self-producing.” I started out with a friend’s idea on a sci-fi comedy web series and then moved onto drama, but something was missing. I wasn’t “wowed.” I have always loved horror. I was raised on it. But I was intimidated to take on the genre because I didn’t think I would do it justice. However, I thought, now is the time! I wrote and put “Demonic Attachment “ into production. During post, I learned how to edit. Since then, I have been writing, filming, creating ever since! There is something about horror that has no limits. You can push boundaries and not have to be sorry for it

SGWhat and who are your inspirations for such projects, one in particular being Malvolia:Queen Of Screams?

JN : Most of the time, I’ll write a script around an idea that I thought was a little off or hit me the wrong way and I’ll twist it in weird directions until I feel it is right. “The Deal” happened because my co-star, Colton Wheeler, said he needed some footage with him holding a weapon for his reel. Originally I had it where I was tied up and my mouth was bound so I could direct it and not have to worry about acting. But then I thought, this could be a great role for me! I asked Hunter Johnson, who I’d been dying to work with, to direct and he said yes! So I elaborated the script more. Made it so Jade played the game with him knowing all along he was going to get screwed in the end. It was fun. Malvolia is a crazy story. A couple years ago I wrote a treatment for a film series I was dying to be a apart of. The creator hated it, but one of the producers thought I had something and encouraged me to move forward with it. Not being under the film’s restrictions, I knew I wanted to do something completely different and not something everyone was talking about. I went to Son of Monsterpalooza that year where they were honoring Elvira and I was in awe of how many people were in line for her. I immediately thought “YES! Horror Host!” So I started writing. I was really into The Blair Witch Project at the time and thought, “I should make her a real horror host! Generate a little buzz, build up a little fan base, shoot the feature, and then be done!” It didn’t work out that way… People liked her. Like, really liked her. I was not anticipating that at all! And,  in all honesty, I have a blast playing her. She is powerful, controlling, manipulative, has special powers, and is always covered in blood. I love it: so, here I am…thinking about Season 3!

SG-With you being a woman of many talents, superwoman if you will, with acting, writing, directing, producing.. which one do you prefer or did you feel you had to start branching off to do more?

JNActing. I love acting. I love creating a character from the ground up. Being in the moment- there is nothing like it. I do all the other stuff just to act. To tell the stories and play the characters I want to play. I feel like I had to really invest in more in script writing and coming up with creative stories to really do all this.

SG-What are some challenges that you would say women face in the horror genre?

JNI have said this for years and will always say it: A majority of male writers write for males. Even when they write women characters- they are still writing from a male perspective. That’s just how life is… So a lot of times I’ll read a script and think, “A majority of women wouldn’t say this or do that.” Also, most of the time the ratio in male characters versus female is insane. So, booking work and getting jobs is tough and competitive. Being a strong female in the genre can be challenging. I was told a couple months ago that I am”intimidating “ because I make my own movies and write my own scripts. That’s sad to me because, wouldn’t you want someone who is aware of how camera angles work, how lighting works, how dialogue is scripted to be apart of your team to help it be better? I do. I LOVE bringing on people who have ideas and who know more about things than I do. It makes me look better and it helps me grow.

SG: Any advice for someone, women in particular who are getting into acting, especially in the horror scene?

JNI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Just Do It! People get so caught up in everything being perfect that they forget to even make the film. Or they make themselves crazy and just scrap it all together. JUST DO IT! We all carry cameras around with us (i.e. smart phones) and we all have stories we want to tell. Think outside the box. I made a video for Northern Frights Scream Queen Contest in my living room with one light above me and a camera on a stool with wheels. You can DO ANYTHING! JUST DO IT! Link to video:

SG: With your latest project That Night, what was inspiration behind that? Was this the hardest role that you have acted in?

JNUp until ProCo Production Company hIt me the idea of collaborating, I had been rejected from many projects because I wasn’t a “name”, or I didn’t have a certain look, or I didn’t know the right people, I was too strong, I wasn’t strong enough, I mean, the list can go on and on. PLUS, JN the beginning of 2018, I was “me too’d“ by a couple of indie directors who would want to meet up for a “meeting” to talk about a role and when I would get there, the project wouldn’t even be close to preproduction, or even written, and all of a sudden I found myself on a “date.” I was angry. I had spent so many years training in the craft, creating, learning different positions to make films, and then I was being treated like a piece of meat or not good enough. When ProCo said that we could do whatever I wanted, I would just have to write the script. I didn’t have to direct, I didn’t have to edit- all I had to do was focus on producing and acting. To me, that was cake and REALLY exciting. So, I took a horrendous story (I’m huge into 48 Hours, Dateline, Murder Mystery- murder fascinates me) and wrote it around the restrictions that we had. I wanted everyone to see me differently. Up until that point, I had always been a strong female character that fought through this intense journey but then was left with no choice, just exhausted from it all, and couldn’t go further? I am a method actress. I like to make things really real for myself as best I can. I secluded myself from the rest of the cast. I cried for four days straight. I barely slept since we had long days on set and I lived about an hour away from the location, plus, I was producing. Dieting because I was supposed to leave to film “Inverted” in a couple of weeks. Even though I slept for 2 days straight afterwards, I feel like it all worked to my benefit. I feel I showed exactly everything I wanted to show everyone that said: “You can’t Jenn.”

SG-Do you have any other upcoming projects you are working on that you are allowed to discuss?

JNFor about a year now I have casually writing two features. I’d really love to finish one and put that into production by the summer. Malvolia has her hands full with 10/31 Part 2 coming back where I will be showcased through the film AND Indie Director Dustin Furgeson has me hosting 5 indie horror features that we’ll be packaging up as a whole and putting that out. I’m attached to a couple features that are in the very early stages, but one, that I have been cast for over a year now and cannot wait to sink my teeth into is “Inverted”. We’re shooting it this summer, dates are locked, and I feel you’ll be seeing me very differently in this as well. Other than that? The sky is the limit!

Check out Jenn’s work below and here’s the link for her imdb page:

Posted by Sarah Gregory in INTERVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Danielle Harris : Women in Horror Scream Queen

Danielle Harris : Women in Horror Scream Queen

Danielle Andrea Harris, possibly the littlest of the scream queens, but one to be reckoned with as her résumé speaks for itself.

There are so many overly talented women in the horror industry, that it seems nearly impossible to pick one for me to spotlight. I always try to focus on and bring light to those behind the scenes , the writers, director, make up artist’s, and i usually  also to pick a new up and comer  from the independent film circuit. I thought long and hard about it, and realized I wanted to give credit to where credit is due as well.

My personal pick for Women in Horror Month(WIHM) this year, Danielle Harris. Born in Long Island New York in 1977 the talented young lady is so much more than meets the eye. With over 90 acting titles , she has also directed two films, ( Among Friends (2012) / Prank (2008) and is associate producer to Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009). Harris has also made numerous appearances on many t.v. shows as well as doing voice overs The Rugrats cartoons.

Landing her first role, and a good-sized role it was as Jamie Loyd in  Halloween 4 : The Return of Micheal Myers (1988),and the very next year in Halloween 5: The Curse of Micheal Myers(1989)  Harris was only 11 years old and well on her way to make a name for herself. Funny, one of her smaller roles, Urban Legend, she played goth college room-mate Tosh Guaneri, is actually in fact one role that I always remember her for.

      

 

Harris has kept herself busy, but it was in 2007, when Rob Zombie’s Halloween was released and Harris was back home, this time as Annie Brackett. As fate would have it, two years later she follows up her role with Halloween II. Her performances in both were strong characters, and I think that’s why I liked them so much, and Harris nailed it.

While not playing the lead role, hers while even a short woman in height , made up for in it attitude and strength. Even while being thrown around the house like a small toy doll being butchered by the likes of Micheal Myers, she always had fight in her, and she portrayed it quite well!

From return roles in Hatchet 2 & 3 , to playing pregnant in StakelandSee No Evil 2, Havenhurst, Chrome-skull:laid to Rest 2 just to name a few the past few years have been very busy for Danielle Harris.

Having been fortunate enough to had met Danielle Harris about 12 years ago in Orlando at Spooky Empire Horror convention, I can first handedly  say that yes….she is all her 4’11, but is a giant at heart. Harris is a very down to earth woman who sincerely appreciates her fans.

And am I the only one that shows Harris love, no, most certainly not! Danielle Harris has not only been nominated for her work, her acting has also won her awards for Best Actress in 2012 at The Burbank International Film Festival for Shiver, as well as Best Actress at the Fear NYC 2017 for Inoperable. And my favorite, Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for the Fangoria Horror Hall of Fame ! All in my eye, well deserved.

So to you , Danielle Harris, congratulations as you have inspired me to nominate you, a true Horror Icon,  as a proud Women in Horror.

 

Keep it Evil

 

Posted by John Roisland in Categories, EDITORIALS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 1 comment
Tristan Takes Charge!

Tristan Takes Charge!

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Indie horror darling Tristan Risk is at it again, this time taking on the role of director for her very own short film entitled Parlour Tricks. Risky, as she is lovingly referred to, is a well-rounded artist, to say the least. She has starred in countless burlesques and sideshows, created insightful, personal pieces of writing on her website Little Miss Risk and portrayed some memorable characters on film both in and out of costumes and special makeup (American Mary, Harvest Lake, Frankenstein Created Bikers) I will go as far to say that Miss Risk is worthy of the title ‘Renaissance Woman’ as she continues to add to her list of accomplishments.
Parlour Tricks / Tristan RiskAs for her latest endeavor though, Parlour Tricks is delightful, fun, and quirky — much like Tristan is herself. It’s a tale of feuding relatives attempting to contact their departed Aunt in the afterlife, not for the need of closure or to relay how much she meant to each, but rather for selfish and greedy reasons. Sitting at seven and a half minutes, the short film is a quick and enjoyable watch that utilizes its black and white format beautifully. The cast and crew come together wonderfully in what is perhaps a passion project and quite possibly the first of many directorial efforts led by Tristan Risk out of her House Of Hiss, successfully throwing her hat in the ring for future features led by females.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

The High Priestess of Lowbrow took a few moments to answer some questions for us here at HoTS and we couldn’t be more pleased to share what she had to say!
House of Tortured Souls: What prompted you to dive into directing? Has it been something you always have thought of doing?
Tristan Risk: I had always had it at the back of my mind, but I think it mostly came from writing and wanting to see those stories come off of the page, and I had this idea to get someone else to direct. I am not technically trained, so I was worried I needed to know about lens and craft before diving in. Fortunately, I had really great support from my circle of Topher, Jordan, and Burns, who encouraged me to just do it, and so I went with majority rules.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: You are a ridiculously talented burlesque performer and can easily perfect some sideshow abilities such as fire eating and the ‘hair hang’. Do you happen to have a special place in your heart for the body horror sub-genre? Do you have any favorite horror films?
TR: Body horror is the most frightening of subgenres for me. Because I’ve always made my living off of my body, the ideas, and themes it. The idea that we don’t have autonomy over my body is frightening, and while as a woman we face this every day with not having access to health care that meets our needs with regards to our reproductive health. So rather than have an existential crisis over that, we watch Martyrs and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
HoTS: How long was filming and post-production for Parlour Tricks?
TR: We shot Parlour Tricks in one day on a Saturday in March. The post took a little bit longer as everyone was donating their time to polish it off, but Jordan had us a working edit right away so we got it done quickly, and were able to start sending it to festivals quickly. I’m not sure how long it generally takes, but I’m happy to let people take their time and do the job to their satisfaction.
HoTS: Parlour Tricks is a very fun and offbeat short, rather lighthearted. What made you want to go this route with your film?
TR: I don’t think it’s any shock for anyone who has read my writing to know I can go to very dark and graphic places. I love comedy, and while I enjoy all things horror, I wanted to try something different and showcase a side of myself that I don’t often get to display when I’m in front of the camera. I think I also did it as a mild admonishment to people who are thinking I’d go the safe, shocking route, and that one should always expect the unexpected.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

HoTS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
TR: I just wrapped with the Cronenberg remake of Rabid with the Soska sisters in Toronto, Canada. So when that comes to screens I’m very excited and proud to be part of that production. I’m planning on shooting three of my short films, and to work on some features in the future.
HoTS: How has your time on set of the Soska-led remake of Rabid been thus far? Anything you can share with us regarding your character?
TR: The production was full of challenges, but the amazing camera crew and delightful cast, it was an amazing display of tenacity and talent in equal measure. I was so impressed by the crew and in particular our director of photography, Kim Derko, and our camera operators Paula Tymchuk and Tamara Jones. They stood out for me and showed skill and grace, and everyone from all the departments put their blood and souls into this. I’m fiercely proud to be among all of these people’s number in helping contribute to the making of this film.
At this time I’m not sure I’m permitted to reveal the names of what I play at this time. However, I can share that I do play multiple roles in this film that showcases my skill set as well as a new batch of skills previously not used in any other film. I’m very excited to be able to pop up in a few unexpected places and in such a striking film.
 Tristan RiskHoTS: If YOU could remake any film, what would it be?
TR: Oddly enough, I’ve been tapped to contribute and collaborate on another remake, but I’m going to keep that in a quiet whisper for the time being. If I had my pick of films to recreate and reimagine, I’d be tempted to take on Splash. I’m dying to shoot underwater and feature mermaid myth and lore. I even swim in til myself and have worked as a professional mermaid. I’m wanting to feature all the deep diving babes I’ve met over the years who I think could sell the idea.
HoTS: You have toured in over a dozen different countries in various burlesque and sideshows, modeled, and of course acted. Now you can officially add writer and director to your resume. Out of all these creative hats you have worn, do you have a favorite at all? What drives your need to seek such artistic outlets?
TR: I think just a desire to create. So much of it is visual mediums, and I can translate the write to the visual so easily. I’ve always found release in using my ideas to shape my reality around me, and films give me access to a wider audience to do that. I love live shows and it’s frustrating to channel so much energy into a performance where only a handful of people can experience it. While the stage is my first love, I am always ready to have a long-time affair with the screen, and willing to switch between behind and in front of the camera.

Parlour Tricks / Tristan Risk

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

WiHM: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Cassandra Peterson as Elvira / Fair use doctrine.On September 17, 1951, the world was gifted with The Mistress of the Dark. Born in Manhattan Kansas, Cassandra Peterson a.k.a. Elvira started her life with a mishap that led to her success. As a toddler, she had accidentally pulled a pot of boiling water down onto her. This burnt about a third of her body and left permanent scarring. After moving to Colorado Springs, CO, at age 7, she endured the harassment of other school children and was extremely shy due to the scarring. She would later use this experience, a place she quoted as “all the freaks come from” to help inspire her Elvira persona.

Growing up, Cassandra’s mother ran a costume shop and she loved playing model for her. She told Biography.com:

I would pick out whatever was the hot costume that year — Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeanie, Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke — and my mom would make one in my size, so I would wear costumes to school all the time. Everyone thought I was a total freak. But I knew I would grow up and wear a costume one day, and that’s exactly what happened.

Cassandra Peterson as Elvira / Fair use doctrine.At 17, she became the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas in a show titled Vive Les Girls. After stints overseas as a singer and dancer, she came back to the United States as a star of her comedy show. This led to years of her being part of the best improv groups in LA, The Groundlings, working with famous comedians such as Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman. But, in 1981, the true star was born. She auditioned for a role as a horror movie hostess for a local LA TV station. The show was called Movie Macabre and her hostess name was Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark. She became a household name in no time.

Everyone loved the wickedly vampish hostess and her quirky commentary for the B movies she showed. She was never cruel or mean, just enough of a jab to make it hilarious. She also never took herself too seriously. She loved the persona of Elvira and helped it come to life not just on TV but with successful movies and home videos as well. 1985 brought us her home video series known as Thriller Video. The feature-length film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark was released in 1988. Cassandra co-wrote, produced and starred in it. Next came Elvira’s Haunted Hills in 2001, which she also co-wrote and produced. She is a lady of many talents and quickly became an icon in the horror/Halloween world.

Funko Pop Elvira / Fair use doctrine.Now, over three decades later, Elvira is still adored by millions. You can find Cassandra on the convention circuit where she loves meeting fans. Her licensed image can be found on shirts, purses, pinball machines, Pop dolls and more. A recent photobook Peterson released celebrates 35 years of beauty with over 350 images of the Queen of Halloween. And I suspect that she will hold that title forever.

Your adoring fan forever,
ZombieGurl
Cassandra Peterson as Elvira / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by ZombieGurl in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM Salute: Deborah Voorhees

WiHM Salute: Deborah Voorhees

Deborah VoorheesWhat’s in a name?  If you are the subject of this latest Women in Horror Month piece, the answer can be everything.  In 1985, Deborah Voorhees (then known as Debi Sue Voorhees) was an unknown actress and former Playboy Bunny, whose biggest acting gig was a 7 episode run on the TV series Dallas.  That changed when she went for an audition of the fifth installment of Friday The 13th.  She would beat out future Friday The 13th alum, Darcy DeMoss for the role of Tina in Friday The 13th: A New Beginning.

Deborah VoorheesIt was in the role of Tina that Deborah would have one of the most memorable deaths in the franchise.  Her eyes were sheared by a pair of hedge clippers.  Unfortunately, A New Beginning is often the most criticized film in the series.  Why?  Because Jason isn’t the killer and it is the disgruntled ambulance driver, Roy? (If that is a spoiler for anyone, the movie came out 33 years ago, so spoiler rules don’t apply.).   What is funny about Voorhees (who was going to be cast in the movie one way or another because of her last name) is when you talk to her about horror movies, she is an admitted scaredy cat.

Deborah VoorheesSo what has happened to Deborah Voorhees since Friday The 13th Part 5?  She has tried her hand in a couple different fields.  Voorhees was a teacher and also has worked for The Dallas Morning Times.  She has also began writing, producing and directing films for her own company, Voorhees Films.  Just recently, she ran a contest where fans could submit a “kill” for her upcoming Horror/Comedy, The List.  Deborah Voorhees also runs and moderates a Facebook Page called Deborah Voorhees Shear Horror Group.

As far as what is in store for Deborah Voorhees.  She has hinted at a new project.  Not much is known about this mystery project except that it incorporates some of her fellow Friday the 13th Alumni.  So we have something to look forward from Deborah.  Deborah also has attended some Conventions in the last year, including Texas Frightmare and Horror Hound last year.

So please join me in saluting the Deborah Voorhees (Tina in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning) and let’s wish this multi-talented woman a very Happy Women in Horror Month!

Deborah Voorhees

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Interview with Rakefet Abergel of Jax in Love (2017)

WiHM: Interview with Rakefet Abergel of Jax in Love (2017)

Hey horror fans, Horrormadam here with a Women in Horror interview with the amazing stand-up comedienne, actor (Superbad, Just Go With It, and My Best Friend’s Girl), director (Girls on Girls), and writer (Jax in Love, Live) Rakefet Abergel. We are here to discuss the wonderful short film Jax in Love.
First, let me give you the premise:
A mysterious and lonely young woman, Jax (Rakefet Abergel) is traveling through the expansive desert of the American West, in search of some tangible connection, a kindred spirit or like-minded soul with whom she can bond. When her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, her journey takes a dangerous turn, and we learn this seemingly sweet woman may not be who she seems at all. How far will she go for love? Will she make it out of the desert alive?
—Written by Nick Laskin
I really loved this film and apparently, I am not alone. The awards that are already pouring in are illuminating.
  • Best Actress in a Short — Nightmares Film Festival
  • Best Horror Short — Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival
  • Award of Merit — Best Shorts Competition (Leading Actress)
  • Award of Merit — Best Shorts Competition (Women Filmmakers)
  • Award of Commendation — Canada Shorts Film Festival
  • Best Thriller Short Nominee — Women in Horror Film Festival
  • Best of Fest Nominee — Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival
  • Best Actress Nominee — Independent Horror Movie Awards
JAX IN LOVE was directed by Academy Award Nominee (Best Short Film, Live Action, Seraglio (2000)) Colin Campbell and produced by Jory Weitz, the executive producer of Napoleon Dynamite. It also stars John Gammon (Corey and Lucas for the Win, The Middle), Ben Kacsandi (Rio, Please Tell Me I’m Adopted), Devi Veysey (Breaking Fat), and Laura Wiggins (Rings, Shameless).
I certainly do not want to give too much away but one of my favorite things about the film is the role reversal over what we normally see in these kinds of thrillers. So well acted and engaging, this horror short grabs you from the beginning and leaves you wanting more. It is all-inclusive as a short but the action made me hope that not only would it become a feature but hopefully a series. We need more of the main character out there. So let’s get to it.
House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Rakefet, what was your motivation while writing Jax in Love?
Rakefet Abergel: The whole idea stemmed from the desire to write something for myself that was dark and dramatic versus the comedy roles I was used to booking. I also wanted to cast myself in a part I would never get cast in just because of my type. I want to change the way we look at what a “leading lady” is.
HoTS: Are you a big fan of horror and what made you want to do a horror film?
RA: I actually grew up hating horror films. Lol. Not because they’re bad but because they are so good at scaring the crap out of me. And I don’t like to be scared! Of course, that begs the question as to why I made one, for which the only answer I can give is that it wasn’t intended to be a horror film. I didn’t even know it would become one. But based on test audience reactions I quickly realized that I had the genre wrong. I still don’t necessarily consider it a horror film, it has so different tones to it. But attending all these horror festivals has allowed me to watch more horror films then I’ve seen in my entire life combined and I realized that I have a place in my heart for horror now. I kinda get it now. The allure. Especially with the quality of the genre really changing now more than ever.
HoTS: Do you have any favorite horror films?
RA: I actually do love some horror films. Identity was one of my favorite. And The Sixth Sense. Split. Teeth was really good too. I liked the message. Get Out was incredible. I really like psychological horror. Not so much into all of the blood. But a good mind-sc4.
HoTS: It is Women in Horror Month, who are some of your female real life/ fiction influences in horror or other?
RA: All of the women filmmakers I’ve met over the last few months are so inspiring to me! As far as influences, I don’t know. I suppose I’m influenced by everything I’ve ever seen!
HoTS: You have played a lot of diverse roles. Do you have a favorite?
RA: Jax is probably one of my favorites. If not the favorite. As far as comedy, I really enjoyed playing Jodi Flooger on iCarly. That was a fun role. And getting to work with Adam Sandler in Just Go With It and wear a prosthetic nose was pretty cool too.
HoTS: Have you faced any difficulties being a woman in film?
RA: Sometimes as a woman in our society it’s hard to be taken seriously. That’s been something I’ve come up against. That our stories maybe aren’t as important as the ones men want to tell. That we are too emotional or sappy or feminist or whatever. But I don’t generally care that much about what other people think. Or I try not to. I experienced an inappropriate comment on my own set by a crew member. That was shocking. I was his boss. Paying him. And he decided to make a comment about my body and considered it to be a compliment. Unfortunately, since I didn’t want to jeopardize my film and we were on location and I couldn’t lose a crew member, I couldn’t do anything about it. And that was very frustrating. Even when a woman is in power, she can still be harassed and have no real recourse. It’s very unfortunate.
HoTS: In the movie, can you tell me about the tattoo?
RA: Yes! It’s a heart with a set of car keys inside it. It symbolizes Jax’s love for the road and her quest for love and how she goes about it. We give out replicas at the screenings and people really love the idea, so that’s fun. It was designed by my former editor and forever friend Lindsay McKenna!
HoTS: Is this going to be made into a feature?
RA: Possibly. Or a series. I haven’t decided yet. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jax.
HoTS: I love that a great stand up artist went so dark, any plans for more along the same lines?
RA: Thanks for the compliment! 🙂 Yes! I love dark. It’s why I wanted to act. I love the drama. Comedy is fun too, but this is a more satisfying genre for me. I’m writing two very, very dark screenplays at the moment that I hope to also star in, so I’m sure there will be more where Jax came from.
I really recommend that you check this film out. It was a lot of fun and I so enjoyed Rakefet’s performance in it. I want to thank her for taking the time to talk with me and to let her know the darker the better for us! And dear readers always keep this question in mind: How far would YOU go for love?

Rakefet Abergel's Jax in Love (2017)

Posted by Alan Smithee in IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Women in Horror Month: Women in Film

Women in Horror Month: Women in Film

I have always been a huge cinephile and in so being have always tried to champion not only my favorite genre-horror but also women in film and independent filmmaking. So for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to reach out to some different women in the industry to get their feelings on the subject du jour. I was lucky enough to have been on Twitter when I came across a hashtag labeled #femalefilmmakerfriday. I just put up a tweet asking if any women in film would like to answer some questions for me, and I was so grateful to get many wondrous women volunteer to answer my inquiries. I do want to stipulate that I am not disparaging men in the business but celebrating women’s contributions to film which can oftentimes go unheralded. It shouldn’t need to be said that any actor, director, writer, etc…should be judged on the work that they put out, not on their gender, race, or sexual preference. But that is usually not the case. I heard a great quote this week from Danai Gurira from Black Panther this week, she said that “if you create excellence it will be responded to.” And I truly believe that should be true. So I will let you know my questions, and introduce you to the extremely talented women who answered them for me.

My first question: Do you approach directing/acting differently as a woman?

Katherine Filaseta Director: Black Panties Web series about women’s intuition and black girl magic, and mini-documentary The Loud, Proud Voices of the Women’s March on Washington. www.kayfilums.com

The main thing that makes my directing unique is that I never thought of film as a career choice growing up – and this is, indirectly, the result of me being a woman. Coming from an academic math-centered family, the only inspiration I had was whatever books, film, & TV I consumed, and unfortunately when I thought of film directors (or even just actors or authors) it didn’t even feel like an option for me because I only ever saw names like Scorcese or Tarantino or other white men in those positions. I was always a storyteller and played with writing stories and books, but I never thought about doing that professionally, even up through and beyond college. So I have a really varied background – I studied a lot of biology, math, chemistry, anthropology, history, music… I pretty much touched everything else before realizing that film was a thing. And all of that comes into my directing style. Even though it took a long time for me to figure it out, I’m really glad I had those experiences because I think if I had been a white man, or just been born into a different family, I would be viewing film from this “film school perspective” instead of just as an audience member and consumer, and I, of course, prefer my own perspective that I’ve figured out through trial and error and consumption over trying to emulate anyone else.

Noomi Spook-Independent producer/director of film, documentaries, and music videos. Nominated for Best New Media Entertainment. LTNT-Boss Lady, The Glowing Divide, Vodum-Spirits Past. www.noomispook.com

My gender influences the creative decisions I make as a director in so much as, I care about how women are represented on screen. I find it repulsive that most women characters are often defined exclusively by their relationship to the male characters (most likely the protagonist)- the wife, the mother, the love interest. They have no agency, and most of the time they have no brains and no personality either – they are functional plot devices. Therefore I chose to work on projects that show women as fully rounded, flawed, human beings. I thoroughly enjoy any opportunity I have to show a woman being badass – and that doesn’t always mean beating the shit out of someone or behaving in a stereotypically “masculine” way, to me being a badass woman means to constructively wield one’s own power, and to not take any shit for doing that.

My next question was “what challenges have you faced as a female director or actor?”

Nihil Noctem: Izzy Lee Director/Author.  My Monster, Rights of Vengeance, Innsmouth (on Shudder), The Lake Children in “Hydrophobia: A Charity Anthology Benefitting Victims of Hurricane Harvey and a new PSA for the Soska’s Blood Drive www.nihilnoctem.com

Getting a producer to want to go on a cinematic journey with me. Getting funding. Guys thinking that my husband is the director, not me.

Noomi: I’ve been told to wait to be hired by an ad agency to direct commercials because they didn’t have any girly adds, nothing with perfume or flowers etc. Fuck that. I want to do something with tanks in it! Another problem is navigating the sexual minefield. I’ve been inappropriately touched, propositioned and humiliated in business meetings, by powerful men who offered to finance my projects if I performed sexual favors on them. And as a result, now, I always have my guard up whenever I am meeting a man who could potentially support my career.

Third Question: Do you ever have trouble with the men you direct or act with as a woman?

Emily Sheskin Director Damon at 86th Street, There She Is, and Girl Boxer: Jesszilla about Jesselyn Silva a 10-year-old boxer hoping to win gold at the 2024 Olympics. http://www.emilysheskin.com/jesszilla

Once I had an actor mansplain calling action. He was a bit of a dumdum though and I laughed it off and noted as an actor in such a competitive market, correcting a director is not the best way to keep getting jobs. I’ve also experienced older, male DoPs sometimes talk down to me but that’s been rare since I choose to work with DoPs and crew members who I know and have a good history with. In those situations, it’s hard to know if it’s me being a woman, or me being “young” that has them speaking to me the way they initially do.

Question number four: What women in film influenced you?

Ariel Hansen Bad Cookie Pictures, Actor and Director specializing in Sci-Fi, Horror, and Grindhouse Nepenthes, Ready To Burst, Paint the Town Red https://twitter.com/BadCookiePics https://www.facebook.com/BadCookiePictures/

Living in Vancouver I’m very lucky because I get to rub shoulders with some really awesome women in the horror side of the industry who constantly inspire me like Jen & Sylvia Soska, Tristan Risk and my friend Gigi Saul Guerrero who taught me the basics of directing before we started shooting my first film. I’m also inspired by Karyn Kusama’s horror films, especially The Invitation, and Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary really disturbed me as a kid

Katherine: I had the opportunity when I was first starting my career to attend the NYWIFT Muse awards where I got to hear Dawn Ostroff speak, so she has inspired me from the beginning of my career. What she did to grow CW into a network where young women could actually see stories that interested them on screen is basically what opened the doors to me being able to do what I do now. I also, through NYWIFT and very early on in my film career, heard Annetta Marion speak about her journey, and getting to know her – an incredibly kind, confident, beautiful woman who had a non-traditional path into the industry similar to mine and isn’t afraid to demand what she is worth – has been inspiring to me as well. Lastly, my favorite director of all time is Bollywood director Farah Khan, whose films all contain reverence for the Bollywood industry while also containing yet incredibly intelligent mockery of it. I also super respect how she always has her entire crew featured in a really fun credits sequence. I wish all directors had that much respect and admiration for every member of their crew, even the ones whose names would otherwise pass by in the credits totally unnoticed by the audience.

Nihil: Jennifer Lynch, Karyn Kusama, and my friend Jovanka Vuckovic. Other directors that made me think I could do this too: Maude Michaud and the Soskas. Another friend, Jill Gevargizian, is inspirational with the sheer amount of talent she has.

Noomi: My number one female filmmaking hero is Lynne Ramsay. I saw the Ratcatcher when I was in college and it broke my heart, I’ve never been more moved by a film, before or since. However, in terms of my personal style, I have always been more influenced by John Carpenter, David Lynch, and John Waters. They are all much bigger influences on my style and the kinds of films I aspire to make.

Emily: Amy HeckerlingClueless, words don’t express how much I love that film or how important it was to me growing up. Also, Penny Marshall who directed Big. Those two women managed to shelter me from the fact that not many women directed films. As a kid, I just knew that I loved these two movies and they both were by women…no big deal! It was only later that I realized how rare their existence was. Sailor Moon was also huge for me as a kid and it was created by Naoko Takeuchi (who I believe was a pharmacist before she found success with her manga). That show made me believe not only that women were great storytellers but that storytelling is universal. I figured if a show from Japan (an island I’d never been to or thought much about as an 11-year-old) could bring me such joy and impact my life in such a positive way, people are not so different and stories can bring us all together. That show made me want to do what she did for me for someone else.

Question number five was is there anything you have experienced as a female director/actor that is a great story?

Emma Dark, Award-winning filmmaker, actress, and model specializing in Horror and Sci-Fi Salient Minus Ten, Seize the Night, Island of the Blind Dead www.facebook.com/SalientMinusTen www.twitter.com/SalientMinusTen

As a female director, the fact that we have wonderful events and interviews for movements such as Women in Horror Month. We need more of this!

Nihil: I was onstage at a film festival where I was the only woman with about 8 or 9 guys. An actor who was repping the film he was in was the first to get the mic, and said, “I’m so happy to be up here with all these fine young men.” I mean, what?! When I got the mic as it was passed down, I wiggled my pinkie in front of crouch, and looked at my husband in the crowd and said, “Hey Steve, sorry, but I seem to have gotten a sex change while I’ve been up here.” You have to call people out when a situation is as egregious as that.

Question number six was “If you could direct a film about any famous woman, who would it be?”

Gemma Wilks, Actress, Alien Outbreak, Harvest of the Dead, Skullz  https://www.spotlight.com/2537-0194-7453

She’s not famous, but I am developing a story inspired by the life of my grandmother who has now passed away. My dream is to write and produce it as a feature film/tv series one day, perhaps Anne Mensah will come knocking! The themes are around my grandmother’s struggles growing up in the 20th Century when her youth was ripped away by the war. Being a WAF officer with a particular instance involving Churchill. Living through technology changes that were baffling. Watching people you cared about die as you age. There is more that I can’t go into but she was an inspiration and her tenacious spirit certainly contributed to make me the person I am.

Emma: Grace Jones was given a tough time in the 80s and treated with a degree of sexism, based on my understanding given the interviews with her that I’ve watched. Her avant-garde style and diverse creative skillset would have been something held in higher regard today. So maybe there’s a story to tell there!

Ariel: There are a few different women through history that I’d love to make films about, like the sniper Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko from WW2, Boudica, or since they’re finding evidence of women being a part of Viking raiding parties, it would be so cool to make a film about female Vikings.

Nihil: Not sure, but a biopic about Sigourney Weaver or Charlize Theron before either made it as an actor would be cool. The story of the “radium girls” is horrific but compelling.

Emily: There’s a documentary on Bret the Hitman Hart (Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows), and now that Ronda Rousey has signed a contract with the WWE I’d be very curious to document her transition out of MMA to WWE. I have been so curious how she feels about leaving a sport that she helped open up to other women in the way she left it, and how she feels about this next chapter.

Noomi: Rosa Luxemburg. That’s a no-brainer for me, her politics were so ahead of its time, she was a genius, a fighter, a real revolutionary. She was sexually free at a time when people didn’t do that, and she stood for something she believed in, even up the point when she was murdered for her beliefs. people were terrified of her. And she was only 4foot 10 with a limp. She was a total badass.

And my last question: What does a woman bring to the film industry that a man doesn’t?

Gemma: Men bring a huge amount to any industry, but I think from my experience women bring organizational skills which help things run smoothly. This then allows them to look beyond an issue and see a series of options available beyond the confusion of daily functioning. They have an empathy and understanding of individuals circumstances which they can take on board whilst making sure the job still gets done and standards aren’t compromised. Obviously, there are men that can do this too but this is in my experience. Oh, and women don’t generally take no for an answer, even if they pretend they have!

Emma: In terms of horror the audience is increasingly female. I believe having more of an equal balance of men and women in cast and crew will help bring more diverse themes, ideas, and creativity to the table.

Noomi: Anything they can do, we can do bleeding

Katherine: I recently got the opportunity to work with an all-female cast and crew through the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge, and it was such a wonderful experience. In general, I think women and other minorities have had to be exceptional at their jobs to be taken seriously at all, so everyone had an incredible work ethic and was amazing to work with. Also, I think a lot of the stories we see are repetitive and formulaic – which is not an issue, because formulas work and it’s so cool to see what different people do with those formulas. But most of the people we’ve seen play with those formulas are men, and it’s so cool to see what a female perspective brings to those formulas. Women have a ton of stories that simply haven’t been told without a male gaze on them, and it’s exciting that finally, we are getting the opportunity to tell those stories on our own. We’ve seen a million great coming of age stories, and yet Ladybird touched me in totally new ways and honestly told an entirely different story – just because I finally got to watch a coming of age story about myself, for literally the first time ever. Which is completely ridiculous given the number of coming of age novels that are required high school reading but ONLY ABOUT BOYS.

Ariel: Women bring our own diverse experiences and stories to the industry which has been very homogeneous in what you see on screen for far too long. Having those stories told on the big screen are crucial in creating an equal society and helping the next generation to know that women can be more than just “so and so’s love interest” not just in films, but in their own lives as well.

Nihil: I hate to generalize, but I would think that empathy and multitasking could be it.

Emily: I think being a woman just gives you a different experience. There are small things that we take for granted that men never think about. It’s the reality of living in this body and going through life socialized the way we are. I think women are trained to be more sensitive to the feelings of others and as a result, tend to make very thoughtful inclusive films. This is a sweeping generalization though and I have a hard time answering this when experience varies so greatly.

In preparing for this article and putting feelers out I got a response from the very talented actor Eddy Shore (Murrays Run, White) who had such an insightful comment on the subject that I wanted to include it here:

As we all know there shouldn’t be a differentiation between genders in job opportunities, pay, etc. But there is a huge difference in the emotional connections those two genders have. Women are much more in touch of certain (deep) emotions which men are often not (or often are not allowed to be in a stereotypical image) and this emotional connection brings a whole different point of few to stories. If we keep having dominantly white male directors, we will keep having white male points of few to the majority of stories. I’m to 100% certain that women will pay attention to different details, will focus on different statements they want to portray and this which will show in a film. In my opinion, there is a huge need for a fresh wind in the film industry.

So I want to thank everyone for their very valuable time and the thought that went into their answers. All of these amazing women answered all of the questions, but so this did not become a novella I have chosen to just feature a few from each. Hopefully, this has given you some insight and awareness into the world of women in film but always remember that they are, as far as the film industry should be concerned with, they are writers, directors, producers, actors, etc… first and foremost and their vast talents are paramount.

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARIES, EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, OPINION, TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #21 – Just A Prick

WiHM9 Blood Drive, PSA #21 – Just A Prick

Early morning, Souls! It’s the twenty-second day of Women in Horror Month, and House of Tortured Souls is proud to present the twenty-first entry in this year’s Women in Horror Month Blood Drive.

I’d like apologize personally for the delay on this release to Tonjia Atomic & Mi Chelle Nessk. I am having technical difficulties as well as issues with one of my fangs…
–Woofer McWooferson Source: Internet / Fair use doctrine.

From the Official Press Release comes this introduction:

I’ve known Tonjia Atomic for many years and I am very happy to announce her and Mi Chelle Nessk’s next instalment for the Women in Horror Month Massive Blood Drive PSAs.
These two are incredibly talented directors, multi-talented artists, and astonishingly hard-working professionals. I don’t want to give away anything about their PSA, so just keep an eye out for cameos and lots of other fun (I guess grown up) stuff. Not 18A, but it gets pretty murdery.

Obligatory disclaimer (not that we need it, right Souls?):

DISCLAIMER: This IS Horror, boys and grrls, so SOME of these do have VERY naughty content. Blood. Gore. EXTREME gore. Disturbing situations. Nudity. Sexual situations. Violence. Language.
If you are SENSITIVE to this kind of content, be a mature human being and just don’t watch. No need to spoil the fun for us fellow weirdos. We’re not hurting anyone. It just REALLY looks like we are 😉

Without further ado, behold the powerful twenty-first Blood Drive PSA of Women in Horror Month:

Just A Prick

By Tonjia Atomic & Mi Chelle Nessk

Cast:

Westin Halvorson – Christopher James Phillips
Tristan Risk – Hailey Vesper
Michelle Nessk – Zee Monsta
Jackey Raye Neyman Jones – Pamela Knickknacks
James Grixoni – Johnathan the Lonely
Tonija Atomic – Cam Date Blair
Rachel Jackson – Audrey Swinging Electra
Hiromi Cota – Gurgling Man
Benjamin Barton – Bear Double
Ygal Kaufman – Zee Monsta’s Victim

Extras:

Christina Lynn Hendricks
Benjamin Barton
Ygal Kaufman
Heather Geer
Britt Byrtus
James Mahoney
Evan Christopher

Writers/Directors

Michelle Nessk
Tonjia Atomic

Producers

Gloomy Sunday Productions
Roux-ga-roux

Executive Producers

D Kirkness
James Mahoney
@ThuNiCo

Associate Producers

Vicki Woods
Angie Faro
Jimmy Weinholz
Charity Becker
Linda Kay
Gary Washington
Shannon Devine
Chrystal Doucette

Sound

Jeff Morales

DP

Conn Buckley

Editor, 2nd AD

James Mahoney

1st AD

Nadine L’Esperance

3rd AD

Angie Faro

1st AC

Britt Byrtus

Audio Editor

Ken Webster

Score

Bryce Kain & Michelle Nessk

Color Correction

Dave Patterson

MUA

Christina Pezzo

Grip

Ygal Kaufman

Key MUA, Wardrobe, Styling, SFX, Assistant Editor, Casting Producer, Art Director

Michelle Nessk

Wardrobe Assistant, Casting Producer, 2nd Art Director

Tonija Atomic

Lighting

Nick Shargas

Hair

Heather Geer

Art Poster Illustrators

Mark McKenna
Cesar Feliciano

Blood Logo Graphic Designer

Christal VanEtten

Production Assistants

Christopher Barnes
Rachel Jackson
Benjamin Barton
Heather Geer
Evan Christopher

SPECIAL THANKS

Kevin Van Walk
Chrystal Doucette
Joshua Phenicie
Joe Sherlock
Women in Horror
Twisted Twins Productions
Blue Mouse Theatre
Crypticon Seattle
PromoteHorror.com

Sponsors

Digital Soaps
Shannon Devine’s Illustrated Stories
Value Village
Sinful Audio

TONJIA ATIMIC’S BIO:

Tonjia Atomic is an award-winning filmmaker, actress, musician, and writer. Her films include Plain Devil and Walking to Linas. Her writing has been featured in several online and print magazines. She’s in the bands Duet To-It, Huh-Uh, and Filthy Issue. Her most recent film, Manos Returns, is the sequel to the 1965 cult film Manos: The Hands of Fate.

TONJIA ATOMIC’S STATEMENT:

It means a lot to me to be a part of the Women in Horror Month blood drive PSAs. As an anemic I am unable to give blood. Participating in the PSAs is a way for me to be able to contribute something by encouraging others to donate blood. I’m proud to be a part of this group of talented filmmakers. What better way than horror to remind us that we all bleed? After all, it’s in you to give.

MICHELLE NESSKS’ BIO:

Michelle Nessk is an award-winning indie horror filmmaker, dancer, musician, and artist out of the Pacific Northwest. Best known for their well-regarded & controversial first full feature film: O. Unilateralis, as well as the annual showcase series Horrors of the PNW. The showcase has premiered at Crypticon Seattle every year for the last five years, where Michelle plays horror host Zee Monsta. Much of Michelle’s work is laced with social commentary regarding rape culture and is often connected to charities and non-profits that focus on domestic abuse survivor advocacy. Their band ANU performs at various horror and sci-fi festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Michelle is the owner of production company Gloomy Sunday Productions and the horror publication The Blood Shed.

MICHELLE NESSKS’ STATEMENT:

I’m so grateful to have gotten to participate in the 2018 Women in Horror Massive Blood Drive PSA. I don’t give blood, I take it. Because I’m severely anemic, I depend upon the generosity of others to give in order to survive. This project has not only given me the opportunity to work with the incredible Tonjia Atomic (who also happens to be anemic), but to truly show my gratitude to all the heroes who open their veins to save lives. Thank you so much for letting us be part of this.

Remember, Souls, there’ll be a new PSA every day, and please check out the official WiHM website for more on Women in Horror Month.

Check out the other PSAs:

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Dana Scully

WiHM: Dana Scully

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this next woman’s contribution to the horror/sci-fi genre. Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Dana Scully simply has to be honored or else I have to turn in my license to practice horror.

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-Files

If you see Ripley as the mother of the strong female character in horror/sci-fi film (as I do) then it follows that Scully is the continuation and growth of that same standard. The X-Files was already groundbreaking television but Dana Scully kicked the shit out of the way we view women in the law enforcement field.

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-FilesThe pilot episode of The X-Files aired in September of 1993. I was 11 years old and still remember a young fresh-faced Dana Scully arriving at the FBI. An immediate difference that I noticed as a kid was the amount of respect she commanded from her peers and even superiors. She was a highly intelligent, well-educated doctor and undergraduate of physics – a no-nonsense scientist that wasn’t a second banana or a sidekick to a male lead. Scully always held her own and in many ways was made to look superior to Mulder (David Duchovny). She was sent to essentially babysit him and disprove his work. Although she was never fully convinced and was always the female Spock of logic, she handled the situation with grace. She respected Mulder and acknowledged his intelligence and ideas even though they were counter to her own beliefs. She didn’t scoff or belittle and even grew to have affection for him.

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-FilesI believe in some ways that Chris Carter the creator of the show went out of his way to make Scully’s importance stand out. At times I almost feel it was reverse sexism and Mulder was made to seem a bit of a mimbo (male bimbo). I’m not complaining because it was successful in shattering previous notions of “the boys club” and that women could only be secretaries and were too delicate to be out in the field. Scully excelled in the field and never shied away from getting her hands dirty – not to mention she was a great shot. Both roles did an excellent job of highlighting a healthy partnership. Mulder was always able to give Scully credit and admit when she was right, and Scully would do the same even if she couldn’t always get on board with his crazy. The other thing I felt was so important to the purity of the Scully character was the fact that she and Mulder refrained from “extracurricular activities” if you know what I’m saying. In case you don’t I mean, they kept it professional instead of getting to sexy time by the end of season one as a lot of other shows did. It created a new formula that is still popular on television today, the “will they won’t they” phenomenon. It makes every touch and every subtle glance all the more exciting for the viewer.

If you loved Scully and can’t get enough Gillian Anderson then I highly recommend checking out some of her other work. Some of my favorites were Bleak House, The Fall, and American Gods. Gillian Anderson is also an accomplished writer having written a trilogy: A Vision of Fire, A Dream of Ice, and The Sound of the Seas. Most recently she co-wrote We: A Manifesto for Modern Women and co-starred in Season 11 of The X-Files.

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-Files

Posted by Candace Stone in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Felissa Rose

WiHM: Felissa Rose

Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten in Sleepaway Camp (1983)Outside of the horror world, most people won’t know the name Felissa Rose, but in 1983, a 13-year-old girl playing the role of Angela introduced herself to the genre. What’s extremely impressive about Felissa’s role in the now cult classic Sleepaway Camp is that she was so memorable while hardly speaking. The character Angela rarely spoke throughout the film and sucked viewers into the story with her facial expressions. She makes you really feel for the character until you find out that young Angela is actually Peter, Angela’s brother, who was “killed” in a boating accident 8 years prior. 2018 celebrates the 35th anniversary of this iconic film and the launch of a brilliant career.

Christopher Collet and Felissa Rose in Sleepaway Camp (1983)Felissa has been a mainstay in the horror genre over the past three and a half decades. She has also been a frequent guest at various horror conventions around the US. Known for her bubbly personality, posing making the “Sleepaway Camp Face”, and her ability to remember names and past interactions with her fans, Felissa is very popular at these shows and leaves her fans old and new with memorable experiences.

Felissa Rose in Terror Tales (2016)

The last calendar year has been one of – if not the – best year yet for this iconic actress. Felissa has several new films that have been released in the last month or will be in the coming weeks to include No Solicitors (a film shot in 2015, but released last month on DVD, where she also served as Producer) where she plays ill-fated Pricilla. Victor Crowley (the surprise fourth installment of the Hatchet series), she plays the role of Kathleen. And in the upcoming film Death House (theatrical release of February 23rd), Felissa plays the role of Dr. Angela Freeman (and also filling the role of Associate Producer). Felissa has been certainly busy over the past several months as these are three of the nearly two dozen projects she has already or is in the process of completing.

Felissa Rose - Shears

Felissa’s next convention appearance will be next weekend in the Queen City of Charlotte, NC, for Mad Monster Party Carolina.  She is celebrating both the 35th Anniversary of Sleepaway Camp and the newly released Victor Crowley.  She is also promoting the upcoming release of Death House, which some of us lucky fans were privileged to see during convention viewings last year.  Thousands more are eagerly awaiting to see the film on February 23, 2018.

So please join me in congratulating this amazing woman on her accomplishments both past and those yet to come.

You can check out what Felissa is working on next by visiting her on the Internet at:

Let’s wish Felissa Rose a very HAPPY Women in Horror Month!

Felissa Rose Official Site Welcome

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Ellen Ripley

WiHM: Ellen Ripley

Ripley Alien: Paradise Lost

What will we learn about Ripley in Alien: Paradise Lost?

When asked to do a piece for women in horror month there was no hesitation on who I would choose first. I chose Sigourney Weaver’s timeless character Ellen Ripley, a woman I’ve admired and tried to emulate my entire life.

The role of Ellen Ripley was perfectly cast using Sigourney Weaver, and I can’t imagine anyone else as Ripley. Sigourney has the perfect physical demeanor for the role, tall, lean, handsome, not traditionally beautiful but beautiful nonetheless. The reason I bring up her looks is not to objectify her but to point out the care taken so that her appearance wouldn’t be objectified. Her actions, intelligence, and leadership make her attractive.

Sigourney Weaver of Alien 5

Will Sigourney Weaver return for Alien 5?

Sigourney Weaver was highly praised for her role and even nominated for an Academy Award, which is no small feat because the academy doesn’t give much recognition to horror and sci-fi films, and it continues to be that way even today.

Let’s focus a bit on who the character of Ellen Ripley is and why she’s an important female character in horror (possibly the most important) and an important role model to women in general.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen RipleyEllen Ripley encompasses a lot of roles, many of them not traditional roles for females especially considering the time these movies were made. She’s an important crew member (warrant officer) aboard a spaceship – The Nostromo and later works her way up to Lieutenant (first class). She’s viewed as an equal and integral member of the ship’s team. Even when she argues and is rude she is never shut down for being a woman she’s shut down for being an ass. We see her in the role of mother when she meets and cares for Newt and when we learn of the loss of her own daughter Amanda. We see her as a caring animal lover to her cat Jonsey. We see her in the role of lover but not as arm candy as an equal half of a partnership. We see her as a leader, both as physically and intellectually competent as her male counterparts. Ripley makes the tough calls but is willing to take risks and sacrifice her own personal safety when protecting those she cares about, while still managing to look badass doing it.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen RipleyRipley will always be my favorite woman in horror and my personal hero. It is my hope that one day when women are viewed equally in the horror community, she will be recognized as the mold that all other strong female characters were cast from.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley

Posted by Candace Stone in SCI-FI HORROR, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Heather Langenkamp

WiHM: Heather Langenkamp

Heather Elizabeth Langenkamp is someone every horror fanatic should know, or at least recognize. Heather is known for many things, but she is most well known for her character Nancy Thompson, which she portrayed in the 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street where she struggles with dreams and reality, fighting demons, and forcing herself to stay awake to stay alive.

Heather’s film career began when she was cast as an extra in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders. During the same year, Francis gave her a speaking role in the film Rumble Fish, where she earned her SAG card. Both films ended up cutting her scenes out.

Wes Craven (R.I.P.) would cast her in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Heather fit the part because she was very non-Hollywood and it would make the film more believable. She auditioned for the role and got the part, beating out 200 others who also auditioned for the role of Nancy Thompson. New Line Cinema would release the film on November 9, 1984, and it earned more than 25 million at the box office. Heather won best actress at the Avoriaz Film Festival for her role as Nancy Thompson.

In 1987, Heather Langenkamp would reprise her role as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors where she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital to help the last children of Elm Street battle the child murderer known as Freddy Krueger.

In 1989 Heather would be cast as the first victim in Shocker and then in 1994, she would return once again as herself in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

Heather Langenkamp has been in a number of films, T.V shows like Just The Ten of Us, and even ZZ Top music videos. She also returned to the Elm Street Legacy by narrating Never Sleep Again which was a documentary which covered everything that dealt with A Nightmare on Elm Street, including Freddy’s Nightmares. The producers of Never Sleep Again would go on and also produce a documentary based on Nancy Thompson’s character, which also featured Robert Englund and Wes Craven.

Heather Langenkamp has a role in the upcoming Hellraiser: Judgment film due out right before Valentine’s Day.

Heather, as a fan of your work and as a fan of the character, Nancy, I salute you during Women in Horror Month.

Terrible news shocked us all this week, when we were told about Heather’s devastating loss of her son, Atticus, from brain cancer.

Heather, everyone here at House of Tortured Souls are all saddened and wishing you a speedy recovery. We are so sorry for your loss.

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
Welcoming the Women in Horror with Alice Lowe

Welcoming the Women in Horror with Alice Lowe

Celebrating Women in Horror means so much more than just recognizing women who have been prevalent in the horror scene, it also means recognizing those who have stood out from the pack.

This month I would like to shine the light on some remarkable women and their contribution to the world of horror films. Some seem more prevalent with fans than others, so I am starting with British Comedienne, filmmaker and the all-around inspirational woman Alice Lowe.

Alice Lowe

In 2016, when Lowe was seven months pregnant, she decided to embark on a project which would not just allow her to star in a feature film that she wrote but direct it too. Within eleven days the film was wrapped and ready to be edited before it ventured into the horror community.

Prevenge is the story of a widow named Ruth, played by Lowe, who is seven months pregnant and learning to cope with the loss of her partner. All seems well until Ruth begins to believe that her unborn child is guiding her to commit murders. From that moment on she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.

Lowe amazingly leads the way as Ruth, supported by an inspiring supporting female cast. We watch the story unfold of Ruth’s circumstances and immediately are empathetic. She has lost what we assume is the love of her life right when she discovered she was pregnant. She is coping, but life is naturally filled with reminders of what has happened and her growing baby is a constant source of anxiety to Ruth.

We know Lowe from her role in the genre film The Sightseers and her roles on television, but with Prevenge she truly emerges as a star.
Alice Lowe
The story comes together so well it is hard to fault, as it flows fantastically through each moment of calm and chaos so seamlessly. We see the peculiar and dramatic, as her bizarre cravings to feed the bloodlust of her baby unfold through some amazing moments. I admit this film will interest certain fans and be unappealing to others, but Lowes blending of the horrific and the humor with heart is endearing despite the insanity it leaves imprinted in your mind.

I didn’t find the deaths too hardcore or gory as such and they served well in developing the narrative pacing of Prevenge.

Alice LoweThe supporting female cast includes Gemma Whelan (from Game of Thrones and The Wolfman), Kate Dickie (from The Witch and Prometheus) and Jo Hartley (from This Is England 90 and Eddie the Eagle). Each of these strong female performers, provide a believable and well rounded natural portrayal of their characters, alongside Lowe and the male comedic talents throughout the film.

Alice LoweHis ability to move on causes her aggressive beginnings and her declining mental stability, causing her to feel as though the baby is ‘saying’ to enact her revenge.Ruth’s coping with her partner’s death in the film sees her hunting for the person she blames. His role as an instructor of the climbing accident in her partner’s death and the seemingly failed inquest sees Ruth triggered into taking matters into her own hands.

It was a joy watching the usually quiet and solitary Ruth become a homicidal maniac and oddly one of the most heartfelt conclusions possible.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Peifer in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Pam Grier

WiHM: Pam Grier

Pam Grier, Women in Horror Month
When you first think of Women in Horror, you might not think of Pam Grier. Pam is more famous for her early career in exploitation cinema than in horror. However, she has had roles in several horror movies and is well known to most horror fans. February is not only Women in Horror Month, it is also Black History Month, so it seemed the perfect time shine a spotlight on Pam.
Pam's career started in the early 70s when she was cast by Jack Hill in two “women in prison” films. The 70s were the time of exploitation films, and the women in prison film was a sleazy and popular subgenre. These films lead to a long association with director Jack Hill and exploitation films, including two of her more famous early films, Coffy and Foxy Brown. It also lead to sharing the screen on multiple occasions with horror icon and all around great guy Sid Haig.
Pam Grier in Jackie Brown
Exploitation films of the era were controversial in about every way possible. The women in prison films were criticized for their portrayal of women and the violence against women. It's hard to argue that the films generally presented women characters in a good light. However with Pam Grier, the genre found a strong woman, cable of going toe to toe with men and even headline her own films. With Coffy in 1973 Pan became the first African American, female lead in an action film.
More films in the blackspolitation genre followed, they were all controversial at the time for perpetuating black stereotypes. While a lot, if not all of that is true, it also gave rise, and jobs to many black actors and directors who otherwise might not have found jobs. Still the criticism almost certainly hurt and limited Pam's career at the time. However today many look back more favorably on Pam's early career. They see her as a strong female, willing to do what it takes, and fully able of kicking ass on her own.
It was also in 1973 that Pam made her horror debut in Scream Blacula Scream. This was a sequel to the popular film Blacula, and part of the genre that has been dubbed Blackspolitaion horror. While still displaying some unfortunate black and gay stereotypes, Blacula was listed by it's lead William Marshall, and is considered one of the better films of the genre. In Scream Blacula Scream, the titular bloodsucker is revived and quickly falls in love with voodoo queen Pam Grier. I can't say I blame him.. Blacula and it's sequel have attained cult status, and Scream Blacula Scream put Pam squarely into the hearts of true horror fans.
Ms. Grier spends most of the rest of the 70s making exploitation films such as Foxy Brownand Friday Foster. In the 80s she delves again into the horror genre, with films like The Vindicator, (very) loosely based on the Frankenstein story, and an adaptation of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Exploitation cinema is rapidly winding down and Pam finds work in more mainstream film and television, including a recurring role on Miami Vice. Her roles, even though more mainstream, aren't as high profile.
The 90s saw a major revival for Pam, with roles in genre favorites Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Mars Attacks, and John Carpenter's Escape from LA. While none of them are strictly horror films, they put her back in front of horror fans. In 2001, she teamed with Carpenter again for Ghosts of Mars, a sci fi/horror re-imagining of his classic Assault on Precinct 13. That same year she also appeared in the urban horror film Bonesalongside rapper Snoop Dogg and a young Katharine Isabelle.
Pam Grier is still active today although she hasn't appeared in a horror film since the early 2000s. She now holds two honorary PhDs and is still the strong beautiful woman her fans remember from the 70s. Those films – and Pam's characters – may be controversial, but she was a role model for all women and for black women especially. Horror and exploitation films have a history of treating women with little or no respect. More often than not they are consigned as the victim, or just to provide sex appeal by appearing nude on film. While Pam did do her share of nude scenes, she was never the helpless victim. She fought back, against men and women, many times along. Foxy Brown, Coffy, and Friday Fosterwere strong women who did what they had to do to survive and to protect their loved ones. But Pam was more than just someone who played a strong character on screen. In real life she was just as strong.
In 1988 Pam was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer. She was reportedly given only 18 months to live, but like Coffy and Foxy, she didn't give up. She fought and survived and is now cancer free. She credits eastern medicines, but how much had to simply be her will to fight on?
In 2011 she released a memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. In it Pam reveals that she was raped as a child of six years old and again at age 18. She was assaulted a third time but managed to fight off her attacker. From being victimized as a child, she rose to become the epitome of a strong woman on screen because Pam Grier was a strong woman in real life. She survived rape, she survived cancer, and her career survived the downfall of the blacksploitation film craze. I am proud to call myself a Pam Grier fan and honored to do this humble spotlight on her for Women in Horror Month.
Posted by Allen Alberson in TRIBUTE, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: The Ladies of American Horror Story

WiHM: The Ladies of American Horror Story

Since it is Women in Horror Month, I saw it only fitting to do a piece on the women of American Horror Story. 🙂 There are several noteworthy, kickass women in the show that make it incredibly popular. I will not get to every single woman that has had a part in the show because that would be nearly impossible, but I will touch base on many of them.
Jessica Lange: http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/11/american-horror-story-season-6-jessica-langeThe Queen of AHS. OOOH how I miss her! Jessica played a key role in the first four seasons, but now she says she's done. She played Constance Langdon in the first season (Tate's mother), The wicked Nun of the West - lol - Sister Jude Martin in the second season, The Head Witch Fiona Goode in the third, and Elsa Mars in the fourth. Her classy/sassy demeanor was highly entertaining, and her “better than you” attitude made it so satisfying when she was overthrown.
Lady Gaga: I'm not even a fan of Lady Gaga, but the commercials featuring her for season 5 “Hotel” had my eyes bulging, she looked sooooo right for the part! For that matter, I hadn't even watched AHS until Gaga. I went back and binged 🙂 Back to “Hotel”, Gaga really was perfect for that role. She is comfortable covered in blood, as well as comfortable in the role of 'Queen B'. “Hotel” caused me to start up a Facebook group for fans of AHS, and like in my TWD group, we have live chat while the show is on. (Click here to join) Lady Gaga returned for season 6, for a role you would not imagine a fan of fashion to be seen in. Yet again, she played it so well!
Emma Roberts: Well this girl certainly has 'bitch' down to a T. Emma played in two seasons back to back. She played in "Coven" as Madison Montgomery and in “Freak Show” as Maggie Esmerelda.
Kathy Bates: http://www.goldderby.com/article/2016/american-horror-story-6-roanoke-kathy-bates-emmy-awards/ I was SHOCKED when just a few months ago she received her star (and I will do an article on her next)!!! I mean, SHIT, have those fruit loops not seen Misery, Dolores Claiborne, Fried Green Tomatoes???? Those in Horror have a tough time getting the recognition they deserve. Kathy first came in the AHS world in "Coven" as Madame (yes indeed!) Delphine LaLaurie (she makes great leggings!!). Then she was the Bearded Lady in “Freak Show” (Ethel Darling), Iris in “Hotel”, and Agnes Mary Winstead in “Roanoke”. And I loved her in every single evil role. 🙂
Angela Basset: http://www.tvguide.com/news/american-horror-story-roanoke-chapter-2-recap/ Welp, Stella got her groove back.....again. Talk about spite-fire! Her picture is right next to the term 'Aw, hell naw!' I'm sure. She, too, did not join AHS until "Coven", and every since has been going back and forth with Kathy's character 😉 Next she played Desiree Depree in “Freak Show”, Romana Royale in “Hotel”, and Monet Tumusiime in “Roanoke”.
Taissa Farmiga: http://www.polyvore.com/taissa_farmiga/collection?id=3740022 She is so believable as the damsel in distress. It's those big puppy dog eyes. Taissa came in one the first season and stole all of our hearts. She did not play in “Asylum”, “Freak Show”, or “Hotel” but returned for a small part in “Roanoke” as Sophie Green.
Connie Britton: http://screencrush.com/american-crime-story-oj-simpson-connie-britton-fay-resnick/ Connie is a MUST mention. She played the wife in “Murder House”. She was a recognizable face also that helped with getting people to tune in for the first time. She did not disappoint!
Sarah Paulson: http://blogqpot.com/images/ahs%20season%206%20theories%20tumblrSarah is one of the cast that has been on every season. She also is an awesome performer, and I love Syringe Sally. 🙂 In “Murder House” she was Billy Dean Howard, in “Asylum” she was Lana Winters, in “Coven” she was Cordelia Foxx, in “Freak Show” she was Bette and Dot Tattler, in “Hotel” she was Syringe Sally McKenna and Billie Dean Howard, and in “Roanoke” she was Audrey Tindell and Lana Winters.
Lily Rabe: http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/10/30/lily-rabe-reprising-her-asylum-role-in-american-horror-story-freak-showAnother one that has been here through it all. In “Murder House” she was Nora Montgomery, in “Asylum” she was Sister Mary Eunice McKee, in "Coven" she was Misty Day, in “Freak Show” she was again Sister Mary Eunice, in “Hotel” she was Aileen Woumos, and in “Roanoke” she played Shelby Miller.
Frances Conroy: http://www.comingsoon.net/horror/news/732056-frances-conroy-on-american-horror-story-season-3-shell-have-a-larger-part-this-timeShe was born for Horror! She has the perfect look for it! Frances played in all but “Hotel” And boy did she nail it every time! She is such a convincing actress!
Jamie Brewer: http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/global-to-honor-actress-and-model-jamie-brewer/Jamie is such a Super Woman!!! She has Downs Syndrome, and here she is playing in a horror show. Jamie is fantastic motivator, just paying attention to her movements! Remember to let nothing be in the way of your dream!!! She played in “Murder House” as Adelaide Langdon, in “Coven” as Nan, and in “Freak Show” as Marjorie.
Gabourey Sidibe: Gabby editYes the one and only Precious. 🙂 She played the witch Queenie in “Coven” and in “Hotel”, and in between she was Regina Ross in “Freak Show”.
Mare Winningham: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/AmericanHorrorStoryHotel Mare joined us in “Coven” as Alicia Spencer (with some Bates Motel shit), in “Freak Show” as Rita Gayheart, and in “Hotel” as Hazel Evers. I soooo loved her in that part! talk to her if you need to get some blood out of the upholstery. No questions asked. 🙂
Naomi Campbell: http://www.etonline.com/news/173991_exclusive_naomi_campbell_dishes_on_her_american_horror_story_hotel_debut_i_m_quite_opinionated/Girl, WHAT!! How isn't she in this show at some point? But boy what a role!! She played Claudia Bankson in “Hotel”. Do check it out. 🙂
Naomi Grossman: https://stylenoir.com/pepper-american-horror-story-interview/Yep another Naomi. This one could not be farther from the spectrum as the latter one! She played Pepper on “Asylum” and on “Freak Show”. I salute her for performance!!
Grace Gummer: https://biffbampop.com/2014/12/04/american-horror-story-freak-show-s04-e08-bloodbath/avance-american-horror-story_-freak-show-4x08-blood-bath-grace-gummer-penny-the-candy-striper/Well, when you are Meryl Streep's daughter, you have one hell of set of shoes to fill!! And she is doing a mighty fine job at that. 🙂 She played Millie in “Coven” and Pennie in “Freak Show”.
These gals truly are Scream Queens!!
Posted by Alan Smithee in REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Women in Horror Film Festival (WIHFF)

WiHM: Women in Horror Film Festival (WIHFF)

Happy Women in Horror Month! We continue our tribute to amazing women in horror with a look at the Women in Horror Film Festival (WIHFF).

Overview of Women in Horror

Women have played critical roles in horror films since horror films began. They began as objects of desire before evolving into damsels in distress. With Psycho, female nudity became part of the standard, eventually leading to the trend of "bad" girls having sex and being killed. With this came the final girl trope, wherein a female survives to the end, often killing the monster or slasher who had been the film's antagonist. The final girl was almost always the one who didn't do any drugs, drank little if at all, and did not engage in sex. Despite the evolution of the female to a strong survivor, there was quite a bit of underlying misogyny that really only began to be weeded out of horror in the 2000s with the current crop of strong women filmmakers. Indeed, the changing roles of women were defined by the changes in the genre itself, and, as any horror fan knows, there is no shortage of great women in horror. Moreover, not only have women moved beyond the stereotypes, they've also moved beyond simply acting in the films to becoming more active behind the camera in virtually every aspect of filmmaking. And that’s what the Women in Horror Film Festival (WIHFF) is all about.

The Women in Horror Film Festival

The WIHFF is a new horror film festival whose time has definitely come. According to the website, the festival showcases and celebrates not only female writers, directors, producers, and actors, but also cinematographers, make-up artists, and composers who have dedicated their craft to the horror genre. In order to be considered, submissions must be in no later than 15 July 2017, the extended deadline. A complete list of deadlines is available on the WIHFF official website.
The first rule for the WIHFF is that entries have women in key creative positions from the following roles: (Producer(s), Director(s), Writer(s), Cinematographer(s), Composer, SFX Artist, and lead talent). This is especially exciting for women behind the camera since those roles are often overlooked – particularly when staffed by women. Feature films (80-120 minutes) and short films (45 minutes) both are welcome as are feature screenplays (80 – 100 pages), short films (30 pages maximum), and TV pilots (45 pages maximum). Have a screenplay or TV pilot that hasn’t been produced? No worries there. As long as the script was written or co-written by a woman, it’s still eligible for submission. All items to be considered must be submitted no later than 15 July 2017 to allow sufficient time for the judges to evaluate all entries. To ensure impartial consideration, people who have worked on a festival submission are exempt from judging.
There are a total of 19 categories eligible for prizes that include, but aren’t limited to, custom WIHFF trophies, distribution consideration by Terror Films (feature only), and a 1-hour mentoring session with industry pro Mark Simon, who has over decades of experience in the camera department for major films (One Missed Call, Risky Business, Weird Science, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Predator 2, and Primal Fear). The 19 categories are:
  • Best Traditional Horror Film (short or feature)
    These films can encompass but are not limited to Slasher/Stalker/Supernatural
    /Creature Feature/Zombie/Folklore/Urban Legend
  • Best Non-Traditional Horror Film (short or feature)
    These films can encompass but are not limited to Animated/Comedy/Experimental,
    etc.
  • Best International Horror Film (short or feature)
  • Best Documentary Horror Film (short or feature)
  • Best Grindhouse Film (short or feature)
  • Best Sci-Fi Film (short or feature)
  • Best Local Horror (GA filmmakers) Film (short or feature)
  • Best Student Horror Film (short)
  • Best LGBTQ Horror Film (short or feature)
    These films must be made by persons who identify as LGBTQ or center around LGBTQ characters/stories/subject matter)
  • Best Overall Feature Audience Award
  • Best Overall Short Audience Award
  • Best Unproduced Feature Screenplay
  • Best Unproduced Short Screenplay
  • Best Unproduced TV Pilot
  • Best Director (short or feature)
  • Best Actress (short or feature)
  • Best Cinematography (short or feature)
  • Best Musical Score (short or feature)
  • Best Make up/Practical FX (short or feature)


Clearly there’s a lot to look forward to in this festival.

The Festival Directors

The WIHFF is being organized by festival directors Vanessa Ionta Wright and Samantha Kolesnik. When I learned of the WIHFF, I knew that I had to honor it during Women in Horror Month. I reached out to Vanessa and Samantha who were kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Without further ado, here's your chance to learn something about the strong women filmmakers who have organized this much-needed festival.


WIHFF - Vanessa Ionta WrightVanessa Ionta Wright is an award winning screenwriter. Her work has garnered recognition at film festivals & competitions around the globe. She graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Video Production & Film. She recently launched the Women in Horror Film Festival with fellow screenwriter, Samantha Kolesnik. She enjoys punctuality, scary movies, a quick wit, sandwiches, the music of Michael Jackson, Halloween & Bacon Jam. She does not enjoy bugs, clowns, perpetual lateness, mean people, oppression, laziness, running more than 3 miles or curved walls.

WIHFF - Samantha SkolesnikSamantha Kolesnik is a writer and independent film producer living in Pennsylvania. She co-directs the Women in Horror Film Festival with Vanessa Ionta Wright. Her screenplays have been recognized at various festivals nationwide, and her fiction has recently appeared in The Bitter Oleander and The William and Mary Review. Her short horror film, I Baked Him a Cake, is currently in post production, and stars actresses Fleece and Lillian Gray.


HoTS: Who are some of your inspirations?

Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling are two biggies. I love Hitchcock's approach to suspense and building fear around what cannot be seen. I think Serling was an absolute visionary and I can definitely see his influence in a lot of my more science fiction/thriller writing. I am also very inspired by anyone brave enough to take a risk and put their work out there for everyone to see. As an independent filmmaker, I understand the challenges and the risks involved and I am absolutely inspired by those who don't take no for an answer and power through.

Some of my recent inspirations include Jennifer Kent, Vladimir Nabokov, Shirley Jackson, The Great Medieval Heretics: Five Centuries of Religious Dissent by Michael Frassetto, the huge database of the Righteous Among Nations, the performances of Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson in the film, Schindler's List, and so much more. I was a tremendous introvert as a child, and relentlessly bullied, so 'horror' for me, both in film and literature, has a deeper meaning than a temporary adrenaline rush. I enjoy psychological horror, tales steeped in folklore, and statements (intelligent, subtle statements...) on culture, myth, and human nature. Horror is when the darkness threatens to overtake the light at any moment in time, but I am a huge believer in the power of light. You can always make a light brighter, but darkness only gets so dark. I guess, what I'm saying, is there's more to horror than blood and guts - it just depends on your lens.


HoTS: How did you get into horror?

I wrote my first horror novel at the age of 7. It was called The Witch's Castle and it was a best seller in my second grade class. 😉
I watched my first horror film at the age of 8, Poltergeist. It firmly sealed my fear of stuffed toys, especially stuffed clowns. It also got me completely hooked on horror and I started chasing that fear 'high'. While my parents thought I was asleep, I would sneak downstairs and sit quietly on the steps and spy while they watched movies like Cujo and The Amityville Horror. When I was a teen, you would find me and my friends huddled around the TV on a Friday night, binge watching everything horror that the local video store had to offer. I like to think horror is in my blood.

I was always "into horror". There's a great streak of hope and triumph that runs through classic horror, and I was always on the side of our horror heroines. I think I also always sensed, even as a young child, that humans don't always make the best decisions, that humans are fallible. Horror, in a way, takes that to the extreme and shows us the most monstrous manifestations of our darker natures, and then it allows us to prevail against it (or at least to try to). Early horror favorites for me were the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, The Craft, the original Halloween Parts I and II, and the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I was also exposed to other kinds of 'horror' in film, though, that ended up impacting how I create within the genre... films like Sleepers, American History X, Citizen X... evil isn't confined to special effects and masks.


HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster?

My favorite monsters to create and write are the ones within us. Imagining the depths of evil that people are capable of. As far as iconic monsters, I've always really loved vampires. I know that's so clichè. What can I say, vampires are sexy.

Humans. The human is the most dangerous monster, and doesn't need any alterations or special powers to be utterly terrifying. Leatherface looks like a dandelion when you study human history.


HoTS: What's up next for you?

I always have a few irons in the fire. Up next will be taking the two short films I directed, I Baked Him a Cake and Rainy Season, to festivals. Both films allowed me to collaborate with Samantha Kolesnik who is always a pleasure to work with. She wrote and produced I Baked Him a Cake and came on board as the Executive Producer for Rainy Season. We also teamed up to launch the Women in Horror Film Fest. I also continuing to write, working on a few shorts, a feature and TV pilot. I sneak in a nap or two when I can. 😉

I'm working on finishing a collection of short stories, all which would probably fit into the category of either hyper-realism or 'dark fiction' (depends on how you see life), zealously working on making the Women in Horror Film Festival the best celebration of women filmmakers and writers that it can be, and I'm also wrapping up post on I Baked Him a Cake.


HoTS: What prompted you to start this much needed festival?

Sam and I are both very aware of the unbalanced representation of female filmmakers in the industry, especially within the horror genre. We really wanted to create a platform to showcase the amazing films and screenplays created by women. We are very grateful for the outpouring of support we have received for this festival. We are extremely proud to be doing something we love, supporting our sisters in the industry and scaring the hell of viewers.

Look at the last year's release of horror films. Look at the teams behind them. Very, very few have women directors, women composers, women writers, or women cinematographers. And trust me, that's not because they don't exist or aren't talented. Diversity works hand in hand with creativity. I could say 'I hope we see more recognition for women horror filmmakers in the future' but hope isn't a strategy, right? So, tons of women, like Hannah Neurotica, founder of Women in Horror Film Festival, and my colleague, Vanessa, are doing something about it.


HoTS: That’s fantastic. It really is long overdue, and I have great respect for you two organizing this.
I know it's early, but do you foresee this becoming an annual festival?

100% yes.

I know it will be.


HoTS: If money was no issue, what would your dream horror film be?

A $250,000,000 feature that starts with Jason Voorhees showing up in Haddonfield on Halloween night to battle Michael Myers. They end up in a chase that brings them to Texas where they pick up Leatherface. They start to realize they have a pretty cool little club here so they hop in a van headed to Springwood where they pick up Freddy Krueger. Horror ensues and they stumble upon the infamous puzzle box. Looks like someone forgot to invite the cenobites.  This upsets Pinhead so he drags them all to hell,after all he needed 4 more for poker night.

My dream horror film, should money be no issue, would be one that digs into the violence on women that is perpetrated by other women. It's something rarely explored or discussed, and I think it's a very important and relevant issue. That's vague, but that would be the concept at the heart of the film.


So there you have it - a look inside the minds of two women filmmakers whose impact on the genre has just begun!

Where and When

The WIHFF, which takes place September 22 – 24, 2017, is being held at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta in SW Peachtree City, Georgia. If you’re interested in submitting your work or just finding out more about the event, you can find the complete information at the Women in Horror Film Festival official website. You can also contact the directors at WIHFF@gmail.com.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EVENTS, HORROR NEWS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
WiHM: Lizzie Borden

WiHM: Lizzie Borden


Such a cute song to sing while jump-roping right? Truth be told, Abby Borden took about 19 chops and Andrew took about 15. Still that was one hell of a mess, huh?! I wonder if they called Ms. Evers to come back and clean up. 😉

As you may be able to tell in Andrew’s photo, his head was split right down the middle. Abby's head was chopped with such force that chunks of her skull were driven into the hardwood floor. Lizzie did SEEM to be the guilty party. lizziebordenFor one thing, she was on the property. She claimed to be in the barn. Then, when she went back into the house, she found her parents hacked up. So tell me how Lizzie did not hear any screams while she was in the barn? For another, she kept changing her story, and she burnt the dress she was wearing that day. On the other hand, none of the hatchets found on the property had a single drop of human blood on them. lizzieborden-prettyeyesOne did have blood and hair, but police found it was from a cow. One was rusty and two were covered in dust. There's also the fact that Lizzie was a quite, demure, spinster Sunday School teacher, so this was mysterious indeed!

lizzieborden-longsleeveAndrew was a stick in the mud. He was a popular man but notoriously dour. He was on the board of several banks, was well off YET lived in a rinky-dink, two-story (with maid's room in the attic) frame house that didn't even have up-to-date commodities. The house was on land that had been in the family for generations (we will get to that in a moment) and wasn't far from the district he worked in. However, it was still in a poor neighborhood, and his two grown daughters who lived there with him argued over this continuously. You put me in one of those long-sleeved frocks in August with no 'ice chest', no fan... I'll leave it at that.

Now here's a 'Wait, WHAT???' tidbit for ya. Remember I said I would get back to the family's land? Well Lizzie's uncle and step-aunts (they kept dying on him *eyebrow raised*) lived in the house right next door to the famous Borden House (on the same land). After Lizzie's uncle had three children with his second wife Eliza, she threw her children down the cellar cistern (one managed to survive) and then slit her own throat with a razor!

The Borden Murders and the house are extremely popular among us ghost hunters and horror fans. Several ghost tracking shows have gone there to film including:

Ghost Hunters

Ghost Adventures

The Dead Files

Two amazing women have played Lizzie for TV. In 1975, Elizabeth Montgomery gave a powerhouse performance in the TV movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Christina Ricci (you know one of our all time favorite Horror Queens) did an exceptional job playing Lizzie in Lifetime's 2015 miniseries The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden

Nowadays the house is a Bed and Breakfast (B&B). It has been completely renovated to resemble the Victorian House as much as possible, including several saved pieces of furniture and photographs of the family. And every year, on the anniversary of the murders, there is a reenactment and tour.

So make sure to add this quaint little B&B to your Bucket List!

Posted by Alan Smithee in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, BRUTAL REALITY, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments