Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Girls Will Be Ghouls Episode 7: Back To School With Venom (2005)


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Theme Discussion Back To School Horror Films

Movie Discussion Venom (2005)

Minority Report Rating

Zena - 3
Ashlee - 3

Recent Watch Recommendations

Ashlee: Final Girl (2015)

Zena: Black Sabbath (1963)

Send questions and comments to GirlsWillBGhouls@gmail.com!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Black Women in 21st Century Horror Films: The New Masters

Behind the scenes on Bree Newsome's (right) film, Wake
It is an extremely promising and empowering time for artistic innovation. The essential need to spread new ideas, track permanently relevant historical perspectives and build upon projects that ultimately create communities has been infectious. A space deeply dear to me, being black and female in the horror community is very slowly becoming a fact removed from an anomaly in the shadows. In film in particular, it feels only of late that Black women in horror have truly rippled the tides, igniting screens with their faces, but also their own visions.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sci-Fi Sunday: ASTRONOMMO | Speculative Fiction on Film + Black Women

*From the press release

Mini-festival to open sci-fi doors to under-represented Black women filmmakers

The International Black Women's Film Festival launches ASTRONOMMO, a 1-day, 3 hour event highlighting the outstanding work of speculative fiction films featuring women-of-color. 

ASTRONOMMO re-frames the speculative fiction discussion to show that communities-of-color are producing creative, imaginative, and outstanding work that is not being recognized. New audiences will be introduced to new sci-fi, horror, and supernatural films. 3 premieres will screen, including one by local filmmakers Kathleen Antonia and Nijla Mu'min.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dark Matters: Your One-Stop For Diversity in Genre Media

We've arrived at an intriguing crossroads in popular media. Audiences, consumers, fans and the like are getting a consistent headcount of people of color in film, television, novels, and games, but struggle with the reproduction of old tropes and tired practices that make these characters nothing but window dressing masked as progress, while adding more weight upon the promise of meaningful stories and multi-dimensional bodies (I'm looking at you, Sleepy Hollow).

There's so much to comb through and even more to preserve. The women behind Dark Matters are Cate and Erica; "genre-lovers exploring issues of race and 'other' in various arts, media, and academic disciplines, in the context of science fiction, horror, fantasy, the supernatural, and all things geek-friendly". This digital platform operates as a resource and tool to drive the need for cultural and racially multiplicitous voices in genre media.

After chatting with Erica face to face weeks back, I realized that Dark Matters has a much greater agenda that revolves around the importance of preserving information and the legacy of current and future communities with an interest in its content.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

"The Black Dude Dies First" Origins & More Musings

"African American characters outlive other characters way more often than you're lead to believe through genre jokes." -Blair Hoyle, cinemaslasher.com

"I seen this movie, the Black dude dies first." -Orlando Jones as Harry in Evolution (2001)

I'm a bit sour to the notion that Black characters (always) die first as the issue skitters the line of accuracy. I've always watched horror movies a bit removed from this concept, consistently watching films that more or less taint this formula. If Black people don't die first, they perish later. My biggest gripe is the fact that Black characters are more times than not woefully underdeveloped, simplified tropes that, if and when they do die, are plants often for the white, central character we are to invest our emotionally in. With the television series Fear The Walking Dead being the latest demonstration of Black and first fallen, I began thinking more about why this idea continues to prevail. Within film history in particular, does it have an origin?

Mantan Moreland as the unlucky messenger.

With much speculation, there is no firm time stamp on when or how this inescapable sentiment arose. But noted is 1968's Spider Baby, Or the Maddest Story Ever Told where Mantan Moreland died in the opening scene, marking "the literal death of the outdated black 'spook' stereotype in horror movies, and it christened a new, more modern stereotype: the black victim". The reverse in Night Of The Living Dead (1968) where the Black male lead dies last, "not only reflected a sense of hopelessness about the modern landscape of the late 1960's, but also launching a legacy of despair about the fate of black characters, even those in starring roles."

The 70s and 80s demonstrate a difficulty in pinpointing any sort of trend except for the fact that the presence and significance of Black characters in horror were minimal at best, regardless of their mortality. Overall, many Black characters die and die first, some do not. Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) is the first casualty in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) and Childs (Keith David) is breathing alongside Kurt Russell in the infamously ambiguous end of The Thing (1982). It's a hodge podge of examples from both ends of the spectrum. Black death in horror films is and has been much more complex than what's been reduced to a punchline. There's a firm case for multiple perspectives on the topic.

More often than not, Black characters in horror films who are at least alive for the wealth of the movie become a number in the body count much later. From Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) where Marsha Hunt's Gaynor is there to strengthen Dracula (Christopher Lee) to Annabelle's (2014) Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) convinced she only exists to sacrifice herself for Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and her family, the insult to injury is in the context of Black death.

Lost is a sense that these characters have a story worth telling. Rarely are characters of color given central roles. Lost is the opportunity to integrate these Black characters as rich and autonomous, not dependent upon the arc of the main white players. Unfortunately, the historic trajectory of Black death in horror/sci-fi (more than any other genres) can and does lead to conclusions that contest, "horror is no genre for black people". That's a statement I refuse to accept.

Selena is a survivor.
Countering that are two dynamic female heroes in mainstream fare that survive with Jada Pinkett's Jeryline in Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (1995) and Naomie Harris' Selena in 28 Days Later (2002). Jeryline was my coming-of-age Black female horror superhero and a symbol of strength. Additionally unique is Brandon Adams' Pindexter (a.k.a. Fool) as the penultimate Black hero in The People Under The Stairs (1991). Black characters do survive in masterful ways here and there and make quite an impact on audiences. I just wish these examples weren't the exception.

Is there a trend of Black characters being dispensable? Absolutely. I believe we can look to present and future Black survivors and heroes with a hope to see them flourish and multiply within the genre landscape without forgetting our current addresses of Black death used in a relentless fashion to shine a mirror on the irrational fear and anxiety over the Black boogeyman/Other. Our heroes are few and victims many. It's important we keep demanding why while creating our very real and complex survivors.

*Additional information provided by Matt Barone's Complex magazine's feature on the subject. Also:

"The Black Death" from Blackhorrormovies.com
"The Black Guy Always Dies First (except when he doesn't)" from Blair Hoyle at cinemaslasher.com


Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Black History & Women in Horror Month Giveaway!

We love merging Black History and Women in Horror Month here at Graveyard Shift Sisters. For the past two February's, we have had a tremendous time demonstrating how these two recognition vehicles are a perfect marriage for scholarship and community. In 2016, we want to highlight your voice!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sci-Fi Sunday: Meagan Good Is Sci Fi TV's Latest Leading Lady

The world has reached 2064 and ten years after an experimental Precrime program has ended, a cop and a "precog" (one who foresees the future in flashes) in Washington D.C. connect to prevent crimes from happening. This is the base for Steven Spielberg's film-to-TV action/sci-fi thriller Minority Report that's causing a calm ripple in the genre television market. Most notably for one of its leads, a Black actress in the form of the lovely Meagan Good.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Black Women To Look For This 2015-2016 Horror TV Season

This past summer made sure genre fans would be panting by Fall's rise due to massive marketing and numerous trailers for the season's most anticipated shows. My interest doubled when my scrutiny paid off, as multiple networks reveal significant roles for Black women and women of color in genre television. I am thankful to witness what I can only hope will be a growing awareness in casting as sisters battle evil in many forms, or maybe in some cases, personify it.

The next step is to watch how their characters fit into the larger universe and the layers that are revealed, giving us thoughtful personalities with enough depth to keep us engaged. This is such a critical step here and unfortunately, it can at times get overlooked. Many were in a rightful tailspin of disappointment when season two of Sleepy Hollow lost much of its charm and screen time for the most beloved, main and ancillary characters. But it's back for redemption with a lot of company.

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