-Ariel Smith, filmmaker/artist/author of "This Essay Was Not Built On an Ancient Indian Burial Ground"
Next to nerding out on Tales From The Crypt and waxing refreshingly about the irony of Hollywood's invasion narrative, Dani and Talon are the duo behind Never Dead Native, "an inclusive space for Native and Indigenous people to celebrate their passion of horror." Never Dead Native covers film, television, video games, anime, music, and literature in a "fun and introspective" way that spotlights Indigenous themes, representation, and perspectives from those who are Native peoples. Their emphasis on discourse and the need for more native genre stories is eye opening because the realization springs that under-representation is a serious issue.
Talon: My main desire and aspiration for NDN is to be able to really connect with people and celebrate. I love horror, and I definitely love sharing things that I’m passionate about with other people who think on a similar level (much like how I met #NeverDeadDani in the first place). Ultimately, I would love to see submissions grow, and I would love to see written/image/story contributions be submitted more frequently to the platform. I’ve been so anxious to hear scary stories from both my home and others, whether they be old or new. No matter what the outcome, however, I really cherish my friendship with #NeverDeadDani and the outcome of the passion in horror that we each shared. Though, whether the platform gets 1,000 hits or zero, it’s out there genuinely, and I’m content with that.
|Donnie Darko (2001)|
Also in both fantasy and psychological thrillers, you can pick out the cinematic elements that contribute to manipulation of what we deem to be reality. Whether the music and sound effects that build up the sense of dread in the viewer, or the supernatural beings that confront the characters in the film, they’re all artistic expressions of things we might relate to our own experiences. Artistic expression from the standpoint of a creator and a viewer can be a great break from everyday reality.
|Green Inferno (2013)|
What are some of the stories unique to certain Indigenous cultures that you think would make interesting genre narratives?
Talon: Thinking back to the HBO-version of the “Tales from the Crypt” series, one finds episodes of “horrific” justice (much like in the originating comics), where the perpetrator finds their punishment in the fantastical-terrorizing elements of the show. I think that growing up, much of the stories I heard from my Dakota/Lakota families had a different kind of version to this idea too, it’s just that they didn’t need such gore and visual aversion to scare you. Often, there would be small, vague anecdotes of the supernatural that left you guessing and filling in some parts of the stories yourself.
Dani: To be honest it’s really hard to say! I haven’t seen enough films in their entirety to really pick favorites. I think I will wait until I have reached the saturation point to begin to draw conclusions. But if you want to follow along you can always check back in with Never Dead where we will discuss Indigenous film.
"This Essay Was Not Built On an Ancient Indian Burial Ground: Horror Aesthetics within Indigenous cinema as pushback against colonial violence" by Ariel Smith
"Twisting Conventions: A Feminist Indigenous Perspective on the Horror Genre" by Vanessa Dion Fletcher