Friday, January 31, 2014

Horror in the 90s: Wait! There's A Black Girl?!


Life for a time was my primarily white high school and my primarily white group of friends because of my "oreo" tendencies and my primarily white neighborhood because Philadelphia didn't get its act together with charter/specialty schools until long after I graduated. I'm not complaining (...that much), but I can't say my teenage years were much different from my theater experiences since I was seeing all the new "teen scream" films. I ate them up in a zealous manner and executives knew obviously my age group was the prime market for this kind of gluttony.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Horror in the 90s: The Southern Gothic


Those films from the 90s that had roots in the southern gothic thematic tradition were relatively compelling and a had lasting impact on their audiences. And in these films, abundant were more of a variety and holistic look at Black female representation.

In contrast with urban horror, Black women had more of a central presence in 90s southern gothic. Likely because women were writing the books, scripts, and behind the camera. Additionally, it is even interesting to note the spatial contrasts where the southern gothic commonly has both feet in the rural south, with a touch of softness (or supposed natural femininity) to it but the grit of any urban setting is all too frequently coded as masculine. These concepts are a primary critique of mine when it comes to Black 1990s horror. This sentiment is in no way fixed, but it isn't difficult to distinguish within these very marginal genres.

Regardless, I wanted to focus on two southern gothic films from the 90s that did the job of creating a space for Black women in horror unlike anything else during its time.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Horror in the 90s: What Is Urban Horror?

Urban Menace (1999)
Horror in the 1990s: Most concur that as a whole, it wasn't a golden age but the decade did have its charm in Scream bringing back the slasher and building a lucrative platform on teen stars. But probably the less noticed and certainly the least written about during this time was urban horror.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sci-Fi Sunday: Rue from The Hunger Games


Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Synopsis: A dystopian post-apocalyptic society called Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year, two young representatives, known as tributes, from each district are selected randomly from a lottery, which has all of their names, to participate in a televised fight-to-the-death competition known as the Hunger Games. In order to control future rebellions against the governing systems, the Capitol forces them to participate in the brutal games that only one, out of the pool of teens and pre-teens, selected will win. The games are broadcasted on television for all of Panem to watch. The book centers around Katniss, a 16-year-old girl from District 12, who volunteers for her 12-year-old sister, Prim after her name is chosen. Katniss is joined by fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Filmmakers You Should Know: Tricia Lee

Award winning filmmaker Tricia Lee just recently stepped onto my radar and I'm really happy she has. Canadian born, she studied film in England, worked in Los Angeles, and currently owns a production company, A Film Monkey Production, Inc. She's got a couple of short films and a handful of feature films completed and in-production. Her latest feature creating a buzz, Silent Retreat (2013) is looking like it's going to breathe some new breath into the 'terror in the woods' sub-genre:

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Virgin/White/Female = Survivor: A Lesson in White Privilege

Admittedly, this is a really difficult article to write. I’m a white girl in America.  As far as my life is concerned, I hit the genetic lottery. The only way my life could be any easier is if I was a guy, but that’s an entirely different argument.  I can see girls like me represented in all forms of horror media in complex and unique ways.  I’ve seen girls like me played as villains, as final girls, as the words of wisdom, as a sympathetic symbol, and as a sex symbol.  You name it; a white brunette girl has played it.  This is a privilege that does not carry over for women of color, namely, for black women.

Horror films usually get a bad rap from the more “prestigious” genres as being predictable, formulaic, and lowbrow.  To quote Sidney Prescott in Scream, “What's the point? They're all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It's insulting.”  Insulting, eh? Well, my fellow pale faced sister…I think you need to do a little thing called “checking your privilege.”

The Final Girl in Texas Chainsaw (2013)
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Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Questions With Sam Kessie


Emerging British-Ghanaian filmmaker P. Sam Kessie holds a BFA degree in Media Production from the American InterContinental University in Atlanta GA. A Magna Cum Laude graduate and awarded the media department’s Outstanding Student Award, her senior thesis thriller short, ‘Sales Day’, caused a stir on campus and won first place at the school's video festival. Kessie has since won awards and recognition for her narrative, documentary, and music video work. In 2012, Kessie participated in the 5th Talent Campus Durban (part of the Berlinale Talent Campus during the 33rd Durban International Film Festival) in South Africa and her debut feature script 'Unbalanced' - a psychological mystery, was one of five scripts selected for their 1st Produire Au Sud Script Studio workshop. She is currently in postproduction for a mystery suspense and an experimental horror piece, as well as collaborating with others artists on shorts and features projects.

Sam reached out to us via Facebook with an excitement we couldn't ignore. With her talent and enthusiasm, we had to learn more so others could get to know the woman and her work!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Interracial Love In Horror

*spoilers ahead*

The film Tales From The Darkside: The Movie is based on the television series of the same name.  This anthology narrative follows three stories told from a young boy who is held prisoner by a suburban housewife who has a cannibalistic appetite for small children.  The three stories are as follows: "Lot 249," "The Cat From Hell," and "Lover’s Vow".

Rather than focusing on the first two stories ("Cat From Hell" being my personal favorite), I want to focus on the last story in the film, aptly titled "Lover’s Vow".  "Lover’s Vow" is an interracial romance starring James Remar (Preston) and Rae Dawn Chong (Carola).  As a young black girl nerd growing up, seeing interracial romances on screen were rare and seeing a black female in an interracial romance was…well, let’s just say the likelihood of being struck by lightning was far greater.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Questions With Horror Fan Ternell Jade

Graveyard Shift Sisters supporter, avid horror fan, black girl nerd (!) all around wonderful and fine things make up our first fan participant in 5 Questions Ternell Jade. As an active social media consumer, we reached out to Ternell just to hear what she has to say about Black women and horror. 

What is your first memory of being enthralled with horror as a genre?

My first memory of being enthralled with horror as a genre, was when I was around 7 or 8 and I found the Crestwood House Movie Monsters Series of books.  The first horror movie I ever saw was either The Terror or Die Monster Die, I can’t remember which as I saw both at around the same age, 7 or 8. 

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Black Girl Nerd: A Nightmare On Elm Street 4's Sheila


Sheila Kopecky was a part of the ensemble group of eclectic teenagers in the most fashionable Freddy flick in the bunch, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master in 1988. Truly a fictional character in rare form (Black, female, nerd), Toy Newkirk's portrayal of the bookish, innovative, yet cool kid, go-to gal Sheila is a homage I'm paying that is long overdue. Described as my doppelganger by some, my kindred spirit by yours truly, Sheila was an important part of the Elm Street franchise.

How? Simply by being an 'alternative' representation of black female bodies on screen which in the 1980s was near non-existent. In the 2010 documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, Newkirk claims Elm Street 4 director Renny Harlin asked her to 'sound more black' in her scenes. Unfortunately, many of us know what what means (the satirical Hollywood Shuffle or even Spike Lee's Bamboozled are good examples). Harlin denies this discursive battle on set.

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