Friday, November 18, 2016

Finding Wonder & Creating Meaningful Scares: Interview With Genre Filmmaker Tricia Lee

Tricia Lee is a Canadian genre filmmaker that has made an impressive imprint on horror fans and industry insiders alike. Her award-winning resume that spans the globe has recently made waves with her latest, Blood Hunters, "about a single mother who wakes up in a medical facility to find that everyone is dead and she's nine months pregnant" with some pretty grisly creatures lurking about. During her busy Blood Hunters press push at FrightFest this past September, Tricia was gracious enough to chat with us about her deep appreciation for Neil Marshall, squishy effects, and creating compelling women characters.

Did you watch a lot of films growing up? If so, what were some of the ones you would credit as inspiration for what we see in the films you make?

I loved watching movies when I was a kid. I remember watching a lot of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola movies when I was in high school and I had a mild obsession with the mafia and mafia movies at the time. But the largest influence on the features I’ve made so far is Neil Marshall. I went to school for a year in New Castle Upon Tyne in England and I worked at the movie theatre where Dog Soldiers premiered. I didn’t know who he was at the time, or how much his work would inspire my own career, but I remember the director was at the big premiere at my theatre. I watched Dog Soldiers over 10 times because I had to monitor the theatres as part of my job. I studied that movie inside and out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

20 Years Of The Craft: Why We Needed More Of Rochelle

The Craft (1996) is a film that came out around the time I turned 13. A freshman in high school and firmly established as a minority within a minority in my predominantly white/European immigrant working-class suburb right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a painful observation. I was constantly confronting micro-aggressions about what kind of Black person I was supposed to be, and wasn't, from all of my peers. I was the weirdo. And I found myself socializing with other weirdo's who were the pop culture nerds, especially those who liked genre films and TV (The X-Files and Buffy The Vampire Slayer consumed my life for many years) as much as I did.

But my racial difference only highlighted the rise of a reaction that one particular friend, in retrospect I realize wasn't much of one, consistently searched for from me. As if my nerdiness, introvertedness and his incomprehension that I didn't fit his concept of a Black person was a code to crack. It was twenty years ago and I still remember this high school hallway conversation all too vividly. He just had to tell me about the Black girl in this new movie called The Craft. And how Rochelle (the Black girl, played by Rachel True) was told by Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor) after she bravely confronts her as the victim of Laura's harassment that she doesn't like "negroids." Instead of being observantly taken aback, he dished this unwanted spoiler with delight and amusement. As if blatant racism, fictional or not, was something to laugh about.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Black Horror Films: Slasher Flick, White Knuckle Tackles Gentrification

The slasher film, long formulaic, somewhat predictable, evergreen in its entertainment value with the subjectively right combination of compelling story and meaty characters will see its inspired evolution with Xavier Coleman's Brooklyn-based mystery, White Knuckle. This short details the story of three new and old Bedford-Stuyvesant residents who try to unveil the identity of a serial killer roaming the blocks in order to snuff out gentrifiers.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

#SciFiSunday: Interview With Fantasy Writer Abiola Bello

In September, I went to the Triskele Literary Festival in London, a writer’s collective of independently published writers who combine their wisdom to assist others. It was full of authors from all over the United Kingdom there to share work and ideas. There, I met Abiola Bello and was instantly drawn to her, partially because we were two of the few people of color there, and partially because she had a warmth and vibrancy that was infectious.

So I had to talk with her. Abiola's singsong British accent was animated as she chatted with me about her YA (Young Adult) fantasy series Emily Knight, I Am. She’s also one of the founders of The Author’s School, which was a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneurship Award this year. More on that in a bit.

First, let me introduce you to her work and her views on publishing.

I left her responses in British English, (uni = university) so please don’t think I’ve gone crazy and lost my ability to spell.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

5 Questions with SVLLY(wood) Magazine Publisher, Rooney Elmi

Rooney Elmi is an Ohio pavement pounder who created SVLLY(wood), a library of screen musings that is "carving a subversive current in the cinematic status quo." The publication by season has a punk twang; political, affirming, unapologetic, and poetic. Utterances of phrases that reasonably demand growth in the popular culture we love.Rooney's academic thirst and expressive muse blend seamlessly and creates engaging and informative work that aligns with a collective agenda of diverse perspectives in horror film criticism.

The inaugural issue released on October 27, 2016, The Feminine Mystique Redux features "how women navigate the genre of horror, specifically through the prism of neurosis." SVLLY(wood) welcomes the voices of the marginalized in film criticism and visual arts who run on an autonomous yet edible standard of prose. Forever elated to see the terrain of horror and academia collide with new work, I reached out to Rooney soon after this launch to learn more about the Black woman running this ship and why horror echoes in her consciousness.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Horror Writer Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reading copy of Moreno-Garcia’s latest release, Certain Dark Things. Yes, it’s about vampires, but not as Hollywood—or even other bloodsucker literature— has portrayed them: with Aztec heritage. Atl is a Tlāhuihpochtlin, the last of a clan of matriarchal vamps from the pre-Spanish colonization of Mexico able to take on an avian aspect. Her family slaughtered by a rival clan, Atl’s mission is to escape capture and finally make her way out of Mexico. Weak from a lack of food when the young, vampire-obsessed Domingo happens by, he’s a distraction she doesn’t need.

At first.

The first thing I noticed was the novel’s style. Vamp novels are notorious for trying too hard: creating monumental back story, elaborate and labyrinthine class systems, and flashbacks for your life—some that last up to a quarter of the book. Certain Dark Things is not that vampire novel.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

13 Cameras (2015): Movie Review

Synopsis: Claire and Ryan, a newlywed couple, move into a new house across the country, only to find out that their marital issues are the least of their problems.

This…ah…film popped up on my Netflix queue and I clicked on it just to see what was up. I like the, “I'm secretly watching you” horror flick. Whether it be through a window or hidden cameras.

The first thing I do when I turn on these movies is to turn off my over-40 brain and get into the shoes of the protagonist. Then, I turn off my writer brain and try to simply follow the narrative. If I watch a film with any of these personas turned on, I end up either being overly critical toward the characters
(“I would never do that.”) or overly critical toward the writing (“I would never write that.”) I make an effort to be scared by a movie.  And I can’t do that when I’m twisting my mouth up in disgust. I will say, however, it is the writer’s business to get the viewer to at least sympathize with the protagonist.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"I wanna do a horror movie!" & More With Midnight, Texas Star Parisa Fitz-Henley

Parisa Fitz-Henley, a screen talent on the horizon carries a grace, reverence for her work, and grounded attitude I know will only prosper her purposeful ambition. With our recent talk, she lands with an immediacy to pick my brain about Graveyard Shift Sisters. An inquiry I've been prompted to get into a dozen or so times in a dozen or so ways, but I was still shocked by the shift of my temporary position away from the inquirer. It is this kind of enthusiasm for the horror genre and genuine interest Parisa possesses that demonstrates her warm nature as a woman who talks about family and her roots in Kingston, Jamaica and Gulfport, Florida candidly.

Making her way through the terrain of television from The Unit to The Mysteries of Laura and of conspicuous note, her endearing portrayal of Reva Connors on both Netflix binges Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Parisa is a significant mainstay on the upcoming genre series, NBC's Midnight Texas. The mid-season series pickup for early 2017 is based on the novel trilogy written by Charlaine Harris whom many of us are familiar with The Sookie Stackhouse Novels converted for HBO's adaptation, True Blood.

Books Midnight Crossroad, Night Shift, and Day Shift converge into Texas, a story that "follows a wayfaring psychic (Francois Arnaud) who winds up in a sleepy Texas town that’s become a destination for supernatural outsiders, including a vampire, a witch, an angel, and a hitwoman. When one of their own is murdered, the town’s misfit residents must all band together to fight the future and confront their dangerous pasts." Parisa is Fiji Cavanaugh, "a powerful witch" who is plays an intricate role in unfolding the mystery established.

Learning about Parisa beyond her performances was endearing insight into a woman who is enjoying her journey and loves all things horror from "The Others to The Stuff." And we talk a lot about that!

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