Scares that Care Weekend

I attended my first horror con over the weekend! The sixth annual Scares that Care Charity Weekend was held in Williamsburg, VA. Simply put: I found my people. I make my living as a professional fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, so going to a horror convention that gives back to charity truly made my heart happy.

If they ever decide to hire people, I will be applying for the Director of Development position. But, they’re proud of the fact that Scares that Care is an all volunteer organization. And they should be proud. They’re doing amazing things for a lot of children and families. In the mean time, I can raise money for them on my own time. Which I plan to do next year!

We drove to Williamsburg on Friday night and after a fancy Taco Bell dinner we made our way to the Double Tree Hotel. After getting over my initial giddiness of seeing a horror themed silent auction, we trekked over to the first stop: the hotel bar. Obviously. They had spooky shooters and scary cocktails! I WAS IN HEAVEN. We ordered two zombies and a booberry shooter and took it to our next destination: HOW REDNECKS SAVED HOLLYWOOD HOSTED BY THE ONE AND ONLY MR. JOE BOB BRIGGS!


Listening to Joe Bob Briggs speak for two hours about the history of rednecks on film and their contributions to Hollywood was an absolute highlight of my year. He is so damn entertaining, knowledgeable and no-frills. I loved that he had no stage theatrics or set decorations. He is the show. All he needs is a podium and a projector screen. I learned so much, most importantly that I am a Sling Blade person and not a Forrest Gump person. My favorite clip was from the Lil Abner musical in 1958, where the town of Dogpatch pokes fun at the fictional confederate general, Jubilation T. Cornpone. A reminder that there was a time when confederate monuments were lampooned.

Joe Bob could talk about anything and we’d all sit there for hours without getting up to use the bathroom or glancing at our phones. He’s that magnetic. Thanks, Joe Bob, for coming to Virginia: where you don’t have to explain “Appalachia” to the audience because we live it. Congrats to Scares that Care for landing such an awesome event. It was fantastic. PS: Darcy was there too and I love her!

On Saturday, we headed back to the convention to check out the huge selection of vendors and the celebrity room. The vendors were so much fun. I picked up an Elivra tank, a Freddy glove necklace, some Predator themed period panties, and two crochet dolls from one of my favorite local horror creators, “Horror Knots”. Then we walked into the celebrity room and Sid Haig was just sitting there with no one in line to talk to him. I couldn’t believe it. I was star struck. Our buddy got an autograph and photo with Tom Noonan, which was awesome. And I got to experience the ins-and-outs of celebrity autograph culture.

I can’t wait to go back next year. I plan to stay at the host hotel and attend more of the conference events, including readings, film screenings, Q&A sessions, and more. For a charity horror convention just 45 min from where I live, it’s well worth an annual trip.

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I Love You, Driller Killer

Last night I watched Slumber Party Massacre I and II and I haven’t been the same since. Why did it take me 32 years to watch these brilliant diamonds of 80s horror?

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The outfits in part one are SENSATIONAL. The locker room scene makes me want to sprint to my local Forever 21 to buy suspenders and a “Space Baby” t-shirt, and I have no business being in a Forever 21. THERE’S A BASKETBALL SCENE WHERE SOMEHOW THE WOMEN DON’T WEAR BRAS. My boobs hurt just thinking about it.

Then we have the first sequel, which I greatly prefer over part one. For no explainable reason the driller killer is now a heavy metal cast member of West Side Story with a Prince-esque guitar that has a drill attached to it. To which I can only say:

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The fashion is just as good as part one, plus there’s now a girl gang band and that’s pretty rad if you ask me. Always support your local girl gang.

The undisputed highlight of part two is the sheer absurdity of the driller killer. He has an original song and dance number! HE HAS AN ORIGINAL SONG AND DANCE NUMBER. There’s really nothing else you need to know.

I think that Slumber Party Massacre II is going into my Top 5 list, but what will it replace? Stay tuned.

These Three Movies Got Me Hooked on Horror

“Oh, he was in The Waterboy!

My boyfriend’s 15 year-old daughter suddenly recognized Henry Winkler. Yes, it is true that he played Coach Klein in Adam Sandler’s third best movie. Her comment made my 31 years feel like 91. A few months ago, the kid in the McDonald’s drive-thru window had never heard of McGuyver. I’m getting older.

Does this make me feel scared or sad? No. Quite the opposite, actually. I like this pop culture wisdom I’ve absorbed over the last three decades. Especially in horror. Now I can spend the rest of my days teaching “youths” the fundamentals of the genre. Which got me thinking – what films from the last 20 years are hooking today’s teenagers into horror?

When I was a kid, there were three key horror films that solidified my passion for scary movies: Poltergeist, Carrie, and the Amityville Horror. That’s not to say that those titles truly scared me. The scariest movie I ever watched when I was younger was 1992’s Candyman. 

It’s obvious that I related to Poltergeist so much because I was a suburbs kid. I loved pretending that my backyard was sacred ground and that we built our house over a cemetery. And yes, the clown and the tree did scare the crap out of me. I threw blankets over the dolls in my bedroom because of that movie.

The Amityville Horror was my first classic sleepover scary movie. I was spending the night at my friend’s house sometime in 1997 and her mom told us that this movie was the scariest film she’d ever seen. Out of sheer curiosity I begged to watch it, so we did. My friend and I stayed up until 3:15 am to see if anything would happen. Then I was told about the DeFeo murders and it totally blew my mind that those crimes actually happened. I was obsessed.

The iconic image of Sissy Spacek covered in blood and giving everyone the death stare in Carrie totally enraptured me. It was a performance I’ll never forget. What really creeped me out, though, was Mrs. White’s prayer room. That statue of Jesus and his freaky white eyes still haunts my nightmares. It was the first time I learned about telekinesis which also blew my adolescent mind.

I wonder what films are getting kids into horror today? Is it Scream? The Saw franchise? Or something unexpected? Pure geekery has led me to become a member of several Facebook horror groups, and I’ve noticed that a lot of younger folks talk about As Above, So Below – which truthfully I’ve never even watched because I thought it didn’t look that great. Maybe I should check it out.

Whatever today’s classic horror movies are, I hope that there’s a whole new generation of horror fans emerging and finding their way through them.

Now get off my lawn!

Let’s Talk About That “IT” Trailer…

…because it literally gave me chills. The day is finally here! Director Andy Muschietti tortured us via Instagram with images of numbered red balloons for the last several days. It didn’t take long for fans to decipher that it was a countdown to the release of the first teaser trailer for Muschietti’s upcoming adaptation of “IT”. We now finally have our first official look at Muschietti’s vision of Derry, ME and the Losers Club.

Watch it HERE:

As a faithful fan of Stephen King’s novel, I am eager to see how the full movie ends up. It will be an epic disappointment if the film panders to the high-school “jump scare horror” crowd. This fantastic first trailer gives me hope, but as we all know, too much “hype” can be a killer of movie dreams. Let’s take a deep breath and say a prayer to horror jesus that Muschietti respects the King. Nothing will top the book, but we don’t have to be complete assholes about our expectations. Let’s give “IT” a chance. Trailer looks phenomenal!

What did you think? Comment below!

I am Woman, Hear Me Horror

This February marks the 8th annual Women in Horror Month. I figured I should remind all one or two of my readers that I myself am a lady horror fan. I recently watched the fun documentary Why Horror? which follows super fan and horror journalist Tal Zimerman as he explores the many reasons why people love the genre. “Horror journalist” sounds like a dream job. In the documentary, Tal gets to talk to a LOT of very cool people like George Romero and John Carpenter which fills me with both infinite delight and stark raving jealousy.

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John Carpenter. *Swoon* Just LOOK at this sexy feathery hair/sweater combo!

An early part of the documentary investigates the reasons why watching a horror movie is a great first date, presumably because it stimulates us and gives straight dudes an excuse to put their arms around a chick. A particularly obnoxious experiment during this segment entails a woman who goes on dates with several different guys and is instructed to have different reactions to a horror movie. The experiment found that (hetero) dudes perceive women who are afraid of the movie to be much more attractive than ladies who really dig the scares. Then they did the experiment in reverse and (hetero) women reported that they found it more attractive when a man didn’t seem fazed by the film. To which I kindly say, “FUCK. THAT”.

Women who love horror are the BEST dates, girlfriends, and wives. We are cool as shit. We can have thoughtful discussions about werewolves, disembowelment and cannibalism! C’MON. On the flip side, men who have authentic reactions and genuine feelings are sexy as hell. I would rather laugh along at a ridiculous blood bath scene or share a jump scare together than be with someone who can’t show any emotion. Thankfully, my wonderful boyfriend supports my horror fandom and encourages the hell out of it – even though he doesn’t love them as much as me.

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Bela Lugosi knows what’s up.

Luckily the documentary goes on to support girls who love gore and features a bevy of kick-ass women in horror, like the Soska Sisters, Barbara Crampton, and Karen Lam. These women, along with hundreds of others, are my soul sisters. Literally. I want to steal their souls like Shang Tsung.

Women who make horror movies have made tremendous strides in the 2000s. Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, and Jennifer Kent are only a few examples of ladies making quality horror. I hope this trend continues but starts featuring one of many amazing black women who are creating horror.

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Director Karen Lam pictured here for a feature story by Brandon University in Canada.

There are countless reasons why women enjoy horror movies, but I guarantee that they’re pretty much the same reasons that men like them. Like my fellow fans of fear, I love horror for many different reasons. I love the thrill of feeling scared. I love the creativity of the genre. I love gore and special makeup effects. I find it entertaining when people jump and gasp and clap and laugh at the theater. Plus, watching horror movies reminds me of growing up. Women can and do enjoy a good scary movie (or an awesomely bad Z movie like “Honky Holocaust“) just as much as men. I would put my passion for horror up against the mightiest meat(cleaver)head. Why does this constantly surprise people?

What you may not realize is that we are everywhere. Women who love horror are not always the goth girl next door – although those gorgeous ladies are my heroes. Lady horror fans and creators are every type of woman. For example, I enjoy monogrammed sweatshirts and know way too much about most of the Real Housewives. Can’t believe it? Care to test my horror credibility? Bring it on and I’ll go toe-to-toe with any naysayer while simultaneously dismembering said toes one by one.

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When passions collide.

So this February, I first command you to learn and celebrate all you can about black history. If you’re white like me, I particularly challenge you to examine your privilege and to demand more diversity in horror. Support horror movies and books made by women, directors of color, and foreign artists. Fear is subjective and including diverse perspectives will only promote creativity within the genre, which is something that horror fans obviously crave.

Ernest Dickerson shouldn’t be the only black horror director in the game.

After you feel sufficiently ‘woke’ (ha), remember all of the bad ass ladies of horror this month. Love and thank your fiancee or sister or neighbor who lives for splatter and the macabre. We’ll probably be pretty handy to have around when the zombie apocalypse actually happens.

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In Defense of Blair Witch (2016)

Horror fans, I have a request for you. I know it will be difficult, but all I’m asking is that you try. It’s time that we chill the hell out – well, just slightly.

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Horror fans are indisputably the most dedicated fans of any film genre. Just check out the message boards for the “Genre Zone” on IMDB.com. At the time of this posting, comedy has 769 posts dedicated to discussing that genre. Drama has 325 posts. People really seem to enjoy film noir, which has over 1,500 posts.

Horror? Horror has 34,697 posts. We are nerds, but dammit we are committed nerds.  There’s no denying this. But we need to relax just a little bit. Our expectations as horror fans are through the skyscraper roof. It’s unlikely that any movie will ever scare you as much as that one legendary film from your childhood. We’re constantly looking for that high. That thrill. That same spine-tingling sensation. It’s just not going to happen because we’re too desensitized and we’re really good at predicting the killer’s next move or the victims’ next dumb choice. We’ve watched a ton of movies, okay?

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I am not saying that we need to give a participation trophy to every fuckwit that wants to make a horror movie. We need to demand quality and innovation because otherwise this genre will not survive. We need to stay hungry for fresh talent and interesting points of view (or is it point of views?) We need to celebrate good storytelling and gnarly make-up effects.

But please – just give some of the stuff you considered “complete trash” a second look and give credit where credit’s due. My main gripe right now is with the fan response to the new Blair Witch. Yes, there are a lot of flaws. They should’ve used the drone more effectively, or at all. Why the fuck did that chick climb a tree? And what was that shit that got into her leg and what did it have to do with the story? And seriously, time warps?!

That being said, there’s some interesting film work happening here. Adam Wingard, our valiant mumblegore prince, manages to include some pretty intense and frightening stuff. There’s some great body horror visuals when Talia dies and when we finally get a glimpse of The Witch. If you’re the least bit claustrophobic, the tunnel scene works quite effectively. There’s also a lot of atmosphere going on here, folks. Lots of rain. Lots of darkness. Lots of screaming. When you take a deep breath and consider these efforts objectively, they are pretty good. Certainly not “Awful, abhorrent and wholly embarrassing for everyone involved” as one IMDB user stated.

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This is a stretch, but it’s not a dumpster fire.

As this post in the A.V. Club explains, Wingard wanted this to be a straightforward, jump-scare type horror movie. “It’s a movie that’s meant to be watched with a crowd,” he says. And I agree. In fact – and I know I may be in the minority here – watching horror films in a packed theater is one of my favorite things. This movie is exactly for that scenario.

There’s a lot to refute here, I know, because my writing style is lazy at best. But please, maybe ease up on the mainstream horror movies and try to focus on what’s working and where we can improve, not just complaining about what you think is utter crap.

Or maybe I should shut up and just let horror fans be horror fans. We are the dedicated-yet-salty curmudgeons of movie fans, after all. And proudly so.

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Your Average Horror Fan

The Green Inferno’s Delayed, Y’all.

So THIS is what Lana Del Rey meant by “Summertime Sadness.”  I’m looking forward to The Green Inferno whenever it’s finally released. Hemlock Grove is just not enough Eli Roth for me.

http://www.deadline.com/2014/08/worldview-woes-take-eli-roth-amazon-cannibal-tale-green-inferno-off-menu/

Guess I need to update my Outlook calendar with a big TBD.

 

What’s the Worst Horror Movie Ever?

For me it’s Dark Water from 2005 but I think it’s because that movie punished me. I made my family come with me to see this and was relieved of my movie decision making duties for a good five years.

What do y’all think is the worst horror film of all time? Awesomely bad movies like Troll 2, etc don’t count!