Archive for February, 2012

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #16–Blogger Tenebrous Kate, “Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire”

Posted in Miscellaneous, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Tenebrous Kate, blogger extraordinaire at Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, covers a wide variety of horror-related subjects. With an emphasis on Eurohorror, she brings a keen critical eye to her informative posts, accompanied by a plethora of fascinating photos. One of my favorite blogs.

Visit her here.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #15–Hungry Wives (aka Season of the Witch)

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , on February 15, 2012 by Scott Emerson

One-half of George Romero’s “lost” films made in the wake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (the other being the hippie drama THERE’S ALWAYS VANILLA), 1972’s HUNGRY WIVES doesn’t get a lot of attention–or affection, for that matter, in genre circles, even from hardcore Romero-philes, most likely because it lacks the visceral excess of the DEAD films. But I’ve always found the film an underrated gem, one that’s not without its flaws but still a rewarding viewing experience.

Closer to the dark character study of Romero’s MARTIN, HUNGRY WIVES (which also popped up under the titles JACK’S WIFE and SEASON OF THE WITCH) centers on suburban housewife Joan Mitchell, played by Jan White. Ignored by her businessman husband and losing touch with her rebellious daughter, Joan finds her life spiraling out of control when she’s introduced to a local witch–along with a young, hunky “intellectual” at a party. Spurred by nightmares and hallucinations Joan allows her newfound fascination with witchcraft to become her main focus, creating a self-imposed delusion with ultimately tragic results.

Yes, HUNGRY WIVES is a conventionally uneventful film–there’s little in the way of on-screen action and some of the conversations run uninterrupted for several minutes–and the film’s low budget gives it a crude, cut-rate look. But viewers with a little patience will find a grim domestic drama with Romero’s typical sardonic wit, some clever visual motifs, and a pointed look at sexism, feminism, and the counterculture movement. Jan White’s Joan is not as memorable a protagonist as Martin or NOTLD’s Ben, but her muted performance captures her character’s midlife crisis without resorting to the usual cliches; her stiff yet expressive facial expressions reveal as much about her as the dialogue.

HUNGRY WIVES may not be an undiscovered masterpiece, but it’s still a worthwhile film deserving of a look.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #14–Carrie

Posted in Books, Movies with tags , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Scott Emerson

How fitting is it that Stephen King’s wife rescued Carrie White from the trash?

We know the story: King, then a struggling author banging out stories to skin magazines while working as a teacher, wrote the opening to CARRIE and discarded it to the circular file, dissatisfied with the results. Wife Tabitha brushes the manuscipt off, sees potential in the material, and convinces her husband to change the literary landscape forever.

It’s an inspiring story, but the metaphorical trappings are almost too rich. Protagonist Carrie White is a teenager so awkward and dowdy that even her own creator had no initial faith in her. I’d be pissed off enough to go on a kill-crazy rampage, too. But the telekenetic girl with feminine hygiene problems transformed more than just King’s life, skyrocketing the careers of Brian De Palma and a cadre of acting superstars-to-be with her 1976 film adaptation.

The movie’s success can be largely attributed to De Palma’s often gimmicky but effective direction and the Oscar-nominated turns by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (as well as an audience primed by the supernatural shenanigans of THE EXORCIST), but there’s another aspect, one left unsaid by both book and film, that struck a chord with the public’s consciousness: we’ve all known a Carrie. Some of us have even been a Carrie.

High school can be truly hell, and not all of us survive.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #13–Author Sarah Langan

Posted in Books, Writing with tags , , , , on February 13, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Fans of literate, “highbrow” horror fiction will want to turn their attention to the work of Sarah Langan–though it’s a fairly safe bet they already have. Her second and third novels–THE MISSING and AUDREY’S DOOR, respectively–have earned her the Bram Stoker Award. (Her debut THE KEEPER scored a nomination as well.) Rich in atmosphere and detail, Langan immerses the reader in worlds that are both haunting and disconcertingly familiar.

Visit her website here.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #12–Slumber Party Massacre

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Perhaps the most frequent (and vocal) complaint levied against the early ’80s slasher boom was that the films were misogynistic–thinly-veiled phallic metaphors depicting the destruction and exploitation of women to titilate creeps. And while we can argue at length the merits of that claim, it pays to keep them in mind when watching 1982’s SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE.

Initially written by noted feminist author Rita Mae Brown as a parody of the then-prevalent slasher craze, it was put into production as a straight horror film by producer Roger Corman (who, you’ll recall was advancing gender studies around this time with the rape-happy monster fest HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP). And as he did with HUMANOIDS, Corman handed the reins to a female tyro–in this case, Amy Holden-Jones, about a decade before she wrote INDECENT PROPOSAL–presumably in a pre-emptive strike against anti-feminist charges. The result is one of the most subversive entries in the teen-stalk cycle.

As if its ad campaign wasn’t a tip-off, phallic stand-ins play a, um, a large role in SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (the penile subtext even extends to the killer’s moniker, Russ Thorn) as an escaped mental patient with an oversized drill makes holes in a series of nuble pubescent victims. The film has been described as a metaphor for a virgin’s fear of sex, writing large the underlying themes of penetration and blood, putting it more in the realm of Little Red Riding Hood than Jason and his machete-wielding brethren. Ironically, portraying the material straight-faced throws these metaphorical underpinnings in sharp relief.

Two sequels followed, in 1987 and 1990, with varying results. (Part II, while light years away from being a good film, has the advantage of being entertainingly brain-dead and boasting a pre-WINGS Crystal Bernard, while Part III is a generic bore.) To say neither made an attempt to explore gender politics is something of an understatement.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #11–Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Because sometimes no matter how strong you are, no matter how much you want to survive, you just have to lose your shit.

Women in Horror Recognition Spotlight #10–Exo-Chika of Aural Vampire

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by Scott Emerson

Debuting in 2004 with their album VAMPIRE ECSTASY, Japanese darkwave duo Aural Vampire delivers catchy, hook-oriented synthpop with a decidedly gothic edge. Backed by the techno-fueled music of the masked Raveman, lyricist/vocalist Exo-Chika strikes an Eastern Vampira pose performing on tracks such as “Darkwave Surfer,” “Death Folder,” and “Hot Blood Workout.” A favorite at anime cons, Aural Vampire should please fans with a horrific bent as well.