Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Black Romance in Horror: Ganja & Hess (1973)

When Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is attacked and stabbed with an ancient African dagger by his unstable assistant, he discovers he's developed an unflinching addiction to imbibing blood. But his assistant's wife, Ganja Meda (Marlene Clark) arrives in town in search of her missing husband, and the two begin an affair that makes for a complicated journey involving lust, companionship, and dependency.

Ganja & Hess (1973) is such a feast for the senses that it almost cannot be reflected upon linearly. It relies on visuals, sound, and mood. It is a coherent sequence of moments. We are intimate with the characters and space that surround them. Ganja & Hess, for this very reason, doesn't come with a set of instructions. It is up to the viewer to map a path that suits their understanding. What writer/director Bill Gunn (who plays Dr. Hess' assistant) wanted was a disruption of mainstream fare. Gunn didn't seem too interested in what Hollywood desired, and like many writers, wrote a screenplay that felt personal and needed to be written. It tackles so many themes, it's almost difficult to begin. While most rely on it being vampiric and about addiction, it's important to note the journey that Hess and Ganja embark on together. Their romantic entanglement may by one of the most fascinating aspects of the film that is commonly overlooked because it is challenging to simplify.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Horror Film Paralysis Sets Talented Cast Into Place

*From the press release

The psychological horror short film Paralysis recently announced its cast, which features an exciting mix of rising stars and familiar faces from TV, stage and film eager to bring this unique story to the screen.

“We are so pleased to have found the perfect people to embody the roles in Paralysis,” writer/director R. Shanea Williams said. “This group of actors, led by the amazing Nia Fairweather, will help bring our diverse and scary story to vivid life.”


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Demons (1985) Movie Review

Geretta Geretta as Rosemary (left), Tony (right), Fabiola Toledo as Carmen (right)
With a dynamic eighties soundtrack, 1985's Italian cult classic Demons hit me over the head with accompanying cartoon bird aftershocks of delight. Demons makes for the perfect Friday night movie! Until last year, I had never seen the film before and I had been wanting to for a really long time. Learning so much about writer/actress Geretta Geretta, who has a role in the film, steered me in the direction of a presence she's so well known for amongst genre film fans. Exactly as I've heard it described before, Demons is visually stimulating but far from perfect. With the right amount of relatively clear direction, the film takes a nuanced approach to wider themes with a story that lets questions linger, surrounded by a creative setting and supernatural elements.

In a super chic theatre, a group of strangers gather to catch an off-beat horror film. Not soon after the film rolls, reality seems to match accurately what's on the screen, crescendo-ing into a cluster of demon possessed patrons and the survivors who try to find a way out and avoid a grisly transformation.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sci-Fi Sunday: The Sisters Of Star Trek

I come from a Star Trek family. It's the only show my uncle and mother could watch together without scrapping. After I was born, my earliest sci-fi memories stem from mom's obsession with The Next Generation. I would merely pass through the room while she was in her viewing trance or, keep track of who's who while doing homework at the dining room table. I would even spend allowance money during Christmas time on Next Generation action figures that she would proudly display on her desk at work.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Horrorcore: Hip Hop Artists Who Are Probably Horror Fans

Hip hop group, Flatbush Zombies
One of the things I love about hip hop are clever, pop culture references many rappers place in their rhymes. Much of it reads like an inside joke or nod to those who enjoy these particular films, television series' and such. Looking at the horror genre, rappers for decades have used horror references and themes across the spectrum from brief name drop's (Q-Tip in A Tribe Called Quest's "Lyrics To Go") to sampling famous horror film scores (Busta Rhymes' "Gimme Some More").
Holding down the musical force is the sub-genre horrorcore. Horrorcore is rooted in hardcore, gangsta rap music that uses "horror-themed lyrical content" that pushes the limits of violent bars with a healthy infusion of supernatural elements to paint a song's narrative. Topics surrounding many of these songs are "satanism, self-harm, cannibalism, suicide, murder, torture" and even rape. But it is that these rappers pay homage to horror films and recognize them as their inspiration is solely where my interest lies.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hip Hop Horror Films

Snoop Dogg in Urban Menace
Horror has always had a heavy constituency made up of youth. In the 21st century as a generation matures into adulthood and has essentially lived in a world where there always has been access to hip hop culture, the horror market developed ways in which to capitalize on this. Many of us have seen rappers in genre films. It has even been said that one of Halloween producers, Moustapha Akkad's sons enthusiastically encouraged him to cast Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Moustapha then used Google to find out who Busta Rhymes was.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kickstart Savage Sistas!

After much patience, building, thorough research and a little bit of faith, filmmaker Dan Smith has finally put the power in our hands to prove all those who said his project, Savage Sistas wouldn't work.


Black Women Horror Writers: Interview With Crystal Connor

In January of this year, I read The Guardians of Man by Connor Titus, a sweeping “The end of the world is here. Are you ready?” story. There are two books by Connor Titus featuring the Mt. Empyreal clan and their fight for survival. These are standalone novels, not a sequel or prequel.

Connor Titus is, in fact. a collaboration between two authors: Crystal Connor and Lori Titus. I featured Lori, the lead author of The Guardians of Man on the blog earlier this year. Now it’s Crystal’s turn to lead the charge for the book, In The Foothills Of Mt. Empyreal: The End Is Now.

Angels and Demons are at war. Humanity struggles in the middle of these two warring powerhouses. Can humanity be saved? I don’t want to spoil too much of Connor’s epic tale of Armageddon, but I can see where the two authors’ visions diverged. And the ending will stun you. I mean, wow…


Monday, July 6, 2015

Horror Is Independence: Ms. Dreadful's Nightmare Gallery

I was really happy to be a part of something productive (and structured) over the brief American holiday break. Its marriage of lots of horror and creativity was enough to get me on board, doubled with the fact that its sort of a sacred duty of mine to support my friend JD when at all possible. Her venture, Ms. Dreadful's Nightmare Gallery was a mobilizing effort for using this time away from the necessity of leaving the home for a "movie marathon creative challenge" where you could draw inspiration from a film after watching and create something. Anything. Which is pretty neat considering the common modus operandi after a film watch is to review/critique it. Why not see where it takes you artistically?

This is a personal challenge for myself as my natural instinct is to sit with a film long after watching and meditate on it. I blame much of my over analyses on my college training. But here, I attempt to blend overly nerdy, academicky prose with reactionary, informal wit to create my own cohesive statement on five "classic American horror films ranging from the 60s to the 80s" because these films are "a monumentally important touchstone in horror history". Here goes something.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ganja & Hess DVD Giveaway

Graveyard Shift Sisters is happy to announce our second DVD giveaway for one lucky person, the 1973 art-house/not-blaxploitation classic Ganja & Hess!

This piece of cinema is true treat for cinephiles and Black genre film completists and everyone in between as this quiet work has made some serious inroads in recognition within the past few years, most notably with Spike Lee's very-much-a-remake, Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus (2014).

But trust me, you'll appreciate the original more.

Wanna know what this giveaway requires?

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