Saturday, December 19, 2009

piles > piles

Vermont is a demanding mistress.  Furthermore, so is college.  While a full-time job seemed demanding, I'm going to go ahead and say school's just a bit more whiny at the moment.  Thus, further progress on this book has been delayed and reduced to (late) nights, (only some) weekends, and currently, winter break.  While I was still caught in the thick of the research, my files and notes and books and scraps and post-it notes and deranged doodles made sense to me.  Now, I'm working at just picking them back up and translating them to college-kid, dumbed-down English.  My most current list-goal-list isn't comprised of books to read or movies watched... that's a little too scary right now.  Even the horror movies I have stacked up next to me are looking a little too scary right now... fancy that. 

On the top of my list of priorities: making sense of the insanity.  This will translate to browsing through my old files and notes, and compiling a more concrete outline.  Then maybe breaking these big, bad topics into smaller ones.  More piles are what I need now--obviously, this is the only remedy to my initial issue of too many piles.  

My sub-focus, I suppose, of the moment is "Hair Die," how hair color affects a woman's status or role in the horror film.  From there, maybe I can leak back into the bigger issue: women in the horror film.  I'm still a zinester at heart, so much of my time this break will probably be spent breaking down (mentally?) topics into digestible piles for future articles.  I'd like to see some articulated brainwaves solidify by the beginning of next year.  At the very least, I'd like to post some late-night/early-morning b.s. rants.

Oh!  A resolution already. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Update; or, She Speaks!

Let's skip all the "where have you been, young lady?" formalities for now.

Since the last time I stopped by, I've become something of an 'expert' in hair color.  Though blondes definitely dominate the bulk of hair color study, I did find one unusual book about redheads (a color close to my heart, and my scalp); and no offense brunettes, but it seems to be that most blonde-centric writers deal with you only to bring up that you are the OPPOSITE of what the point at hand.  Well, at least you get some space in the pages.  Which is more than I can say for natural redheads, and then all those brilliant, day-glo "outcast" colors.  Purple is very much so a color.  But you wouldn't know it, when the only aberration of natural hair coloration mentioned is in the form of peroxide.  Ick.

Aside from this, I've made a few trips to the Museum of Sex in New York (I know, all work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl), the NYPL, and the Rutgers' libraries.  I actually have another Rutgers trip this Friday; in case the books I picked up tonight don't last me past tonight, I suppose.  Foolishly, I ended up at the Alexander library when I meant to get my lost ass over to the Douglass location.  I didn't walk away empty-handed, though!

  • Stay Out of the Shower: 25 Years of Shocker Films Beginning with 'Psycho' written by William Schoell

  • Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Fear edited by Steffen Hantke

  • Dark Romance: Sexuality in the Horror Film written by David J. Hogan

I need to balance all these books out with a nice little queue I've accrued on Netflix for horror documentaries.  

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog, a Love Note.

I hate you, Blog.

No, wait, I don't mean that.

Well, actually, I really do.

I count on you to be my internet representation of my subconscious and inner dialogue, and here I go looking so spacey!  

And I blame you completely.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MisSinEma: Women in Film

So I recently finished reading From Reverence to Rape, written by Molly Haskell.  

Though I did pick up this compact little book pertaining to the history of movies--in general, to some extent, though focusing primarily on women in film--with the narrow-minded inclination of reading up on rape-revenge flicks of the 1970's... I was terribly mistaken: not to say I mind being wrong, on occasion.  I found that very little of 70's exploitation cinema was doted on (perhaps because the first edition of this book was put out in the twilight of the 70s) and in turn, I was directed towards a new concept for my ART v. CENSORSHIP section.  As though I need more distractions, right?

And this brings me to "MisSinEma: Women in Film."  This section is intended to remain a sidebar that only explores the area just behind the entrance of the cave, a sliver of the hidden surface of the iceberg, however you wish to picture this thing.  WIthout much explanation in the past, I've mentioned that I wish to research 
  1. Hair Die: How Color Affects Well-Being and Perceived Personality in Film (namely horror)
  2. Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, and most importantly, horror)
I don't expect "Hair Die" to become too complicated; from Haskell's text, I've picked a few interesting bits on hair color, including: 
  • the cliche of the "fair-haired and tiny" virgin and "dark and sultry" vamp
  • particulars of femme fetale hairstyling
  • readings into various "cartoon blonde" sex goddesses
  • the plainness/averageness of brunettes of sixties film
  • and perhaps most interesting of all, Hitchcockian punishment for ice-queen blondes

I would definitely like to ask the writer more about some of the above, dwelling perhaps on hair color perceptions in early, silent film (does variation in hair color, especially in films in which an actress would take on dual-personality roles, signify a change in "goodness" or "wealth", etc?).  With some serious scrounging, I may be able to turn up more on this.

The topic that has sparked a thousand library rentals, however, certainly must be Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power.  And just last month, this would've been left completely out!  Having read From Reverence to Rape in its completion, I found there was so much to be said about the history of film... and this isn't limited to the horror genre.  Scholars dedicated to the subject have written several volumes and countless re-editions on the History of Film, and that would make for one massive, ramble-y sidebar.  Instead (and best of all: maintaining a thread of connection to the original topic!), I'll focus my attention to, quite self-explanatory, I know: Feminine agency, villainy, and power in film.  Again, I will be taking cues from Haskell's book, where she:  
  • Takes the side of the Difficult Woman who, in her "'unnatural' climb to success... did have to step on toes, jangle nerves, antagonize men, and run the risk of being loved." (p 5)
  • Explores Early Hollywood actresses never turning 'off,' and remaining, all the while, elusive and contradictory (a 'dumb blonde' could laugh her way to the bank on the more 'intelligent' audience members' dollars)
  • Prompts us, as the audience, not to take any actress's role too literally--not only are some of the most apparently transparent actresses true enigmas, but they held a power, up until the forties, at least, over viewers, no matter the character they happened to be playing.
  • Outlines the roadmap of film and characteristics accorded to each era: 20s film was 'progressive,' 30s sexually confident and equal, 40s suspicious of predatory (and oftentimes difficult to like) women, 50s sexually repressed (lack of power counts as power), and 60s and 70s as so-called 'liberated.' 
  • Sheds light on the battle of the liberations from 20s film, between social-minded flappers and mind-minded suffragettes: "... The 'emancipated woman' of the twenties was either a suffragette or a flapper, depending on what she wanted and how she chose to get it." (p 44)
  • Questions how we may identify "strength" in a female character: "The mistake is, first, to assume that only in 'male' roles can women fulfill themselves, and, second, to take labels and conventions at face value." (p 57)
  • Brings up the female force making up screen writers in the teens and twenties, as well as a handful of women directors.
  • Theorizes on the strength of voice and thus, the lack of strength granted to characters in silent film, and how the use of particular material objects attempted to speak louder than words
  • Blames the Production Code and in ways, censorship in general, on setting women's rights [to a good character or role] five steps back.
  • Tries out arguments on all sides to the Sexuality/Sensuality as Strength debate.
  • Chides some directors for enforcing and tainting characters (with seriously detrimental results for women) with their own biases and fears.
  • Pits "superwoman" and "superfemale" character philosophies against one another.
  • Points out how unappealing rebellion came to look on 60's and 70's female characters
  • Even has the energy to get into the concept of actresses as people, and how the D.I.Y. ethic of fame with no Big Studio Contracts shackled to their feet, translated into female power in Hollywood, and how it didn't.
Even with all this said, questions remain for Ms. Haskell.  Given the opportunity, I think I'd like to ask about censorship (comparing the Production Code to modern-day MPAA, whether the presence of censors serves as a catalyst for social change in the form of certain film endeavors, etc), reporting on film trends and history in general, the horror genre, rape revenge cinema, women behind the camera and writing the scenes, the viewing experience, and more I'm far too lazy to write out.

All in all, Molly Haskell's book has proved to be an invaluable find, despite my initial misreading of the title and Haskell's intentions.  At the heart of the matter, I'd have to say a good deal of Haskell's genius comes from her unwillingness to simply accept a classic's untarnished status as such; her analysis differs from the mainstream, where most critics seem to have an understanding that these movies, while sometimes wretched and wrought with flaws, may not be taken down from the mantle for anything more than the occasional tribute or undeserved accolade--much less fresh criticism!  Here, the movie must prove itself worthy of its garnered fame (or more accurately, at that point, dust)--she uses her inner critic for good, not evil.  She breaks down the "classics," and deconstructs the comfortably acknowledged movies so that no director can hide behind an elaborate reputation.  This is fair.  This is refreshing.  This is amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"slasHERS" reading list

I would like to take this opportunity to assure all of you that I know what I'm doing, no matter how erratic it may currently seem.  That said, I'd like to briefly map out my latest train of thought.

It's no secret that everything will be filed away under the umbrella thesis of addressing ART v. PORN v. CENSORSHIP in a feminist critique of mainstream culture.  The "easiest" way to go about the subject matter(s) at hand was to begin by breaking everything down into three main categories: ART v. PORN; ART v. CENSORSHIP; and PORN v. CENSORSHIP.  Granted, it's become increasingly clear that several topics breach my self-designated pigeon-holes, I'd still like to pretend this is an efficient way of filing everything.

Currently, I'm working on ART v. CENSORSHIP: more specifically, a portion titled "SlasHERS," which remains dedicated to addressing Sexuality and Censorship in Horror films.  For months, I've been slowly softening my brain and traumatizing myself with Sunday morning rape scene montages and daily intakes of wretched remakes.  I'm still enjoying myself far too much, given the circumstances.  I also continue to accept interviewees for my "SlasHERS" questionnaire, and I advocate for the promotion of this particular project above all others (for now).  

Before delving too deeply into the history of women in film, or any of my more particular, newfound interests, I thought it proper to read up on the social context of the horror film.  Nothing is ever this simply, however.  My horror-centric research has remained true to its purpose, in examining:

_A Brief history on horror films, leading into why the genre is simultaneously so popular and so taboo (how films have mirrored cultural shifts, what the genre says about us as viewers/does it say anything?, what the current and future state of horrors look like...)
_Girls & Boys v. Death: *Gender in Horror *The History/context of a Final Girl *how boys v. girls are preyed upon as victims *how boys v. girls kill
_Technicalities (camerawork, conventions, "the norms of the abnormal"...)
_The Inescapable Sensuality of Death in Horror
_Exploring Artistic License: *namely, in rape revenge cinema (how much "should" be shown) *censorship in horror *overview of censorship in film
_How Controversial Ads Effect the Horror Experience
_Comedy in Horror


I have also begun developing a side-story on quirkier particulars through: 

(MisSinEma- a brief on the history of women in Hollywood)

_Hair Die: How Color Effects Well-being and Perceived Personality in Film
_Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, and most importantly, horror)

More on this to come.

My summer reading list is about five miles long at this point, but my top priorities are:
  • Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood written by Mick LaSalle

  • Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema written by Thomas Doherty

  • The Book of Film Noir edited by Ian Cameron

  • Dark Romance: Sexuality in the Horror Film written by David J. Hogan

  • Horror Film: Creating and Marketing Terror written by Steffen Hantke

  • The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror written by David J. Skal

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2 Weeks Notice isn't Sappy, it's Empowering!

I am totally aware I'm a wretched blogger.  As far as news flashes go: I just put in my two weeks notice last night, effective May 25.  My boyfriend's 22nd birthday, oddly enough.  

So I've been a little stressed over whether or not to take up another job to fill the "void" until college in August.  To be honest, however, I hated what that particular job was doing to me... and a bit of free time, so be spent fully on research may be quite nice.

Well, we'll see.

Currently, I'm reading From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies, and outlining a few key points:
*the general history of 'the treatment of women in the movies'
*Hair Dye: how hair color affects perceived personality in film
*and Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness (film noir, over-exposed Hollywood, etc)

I've just concluded the 20s (who knew so much could be said about silence...) and with the advent of the 30s, so also arrives the Production Code-- a predecessor to the MPAA, as far as I can tell.  Hopefully, I can draw some comparisons to the various levels of censorship in the 30's and current day film.

On the topic of censorship and early cinema, I'm also working my way through Complicate Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, and Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934.  Once I get to the 40s and film noir, I'll skip on over to the aptly titled The Book of Film Noir.  Though the densely-packed text intimidates me, I'd like to read through Valerie Steele's Fashion and Eroticism: the Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age... before the 20s completely escape my memory.

From all these, I would like to add to my newer topics of interest, that is to say "Hair Dye" and "Feminine Agency, Villainy, and Power: through shades of darkness...".  When I'm able to focus more completely on the topic of horror, I'll get my notes together, hopefully devise a system for sorting through various collected brainwaves (from "SlasHERS" interviews, all of which have been going terrific, so far!), and get my grimy, little hands on Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film.  

I wish I could invent a few extra hours in the day, because I'm also gearing up for the documentary series "Indie Sex," which will discuss sex in cinema.  

My next paycheck should be quite hefty (my video store, including myself, has only three registered employees at this point... oh God, don't get me started), but all of it will go to dorm crap or tuition or medical expenses or car expenses or, or, or...  So the fact that my library doesn't carry this final book bothers me immensely.  Maybe I'll start taking donations...

Regardless, though this post reads more as a therapeutic monologue than informative blurb, it did feel absolutely great to get all this out.

I may now exhale! 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

UK Takes United Front Against Free Speech?

So this is interesting: the United Kingdom has drafted a black list of sorts, and will deny access to the country for those who have allegedly fostered "extremism or hatred."  Granted, I personally second the notion of giving certain members of this list a social slap on the hand (because a physical manifestation of my sentiments may, in their own right, foster "extremism or hatred").  But any action that denies free speech is scary, too.

I would love to hear more from you kiddies, though.

For a complete article, click it, baby! 

Home Office name hate promoters excluded from the UK

5 May 2009

Individuals banned from the UK for stirring-up hatred have been named and shamed for the first time, the Home Secretary announced today.

The list covers people excluded from the United Kingdom for fostering extremism or hatred between October 2008 and March 2009.

It follows the Home Secretary’s introduction of new measures against such individuals last year, including creating a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in spreading hate. 
The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith also announced today that the government is now able to ban European nationals and their family members if they constitute a threat to public policy or public security.
In the period from 28 October 2008 to 31 March 2009 the Home Secretary excluded a total of 22 individuals from coming to the United Kingdom. It is not considered to be in the public interest to disclose the names of six of these individuals. The remaining 16 individuals are: 

Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal

Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.

Yunis Al Astal

Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Stephen Donald Black

Set up Stormfront, a racist website.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by promoting serious criminal activity and fostering hatred, which might lead to inter-community violence in the United Kingdom.

Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim

A prolific speaker and writer.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.

Eric Gliebe

Has made web-radio broadcasts in which he vilifies certain ethnic groups and encourages the download and distribution of provocative racist leaflets and posters. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by justifying terrorist violence, provoking others to commit serious crime and fostering racial hatred.

Mike Guzovsky

Leader of a violent group and actively involved with military training camps.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Safwat Hijazi

Television preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by glorifying terrorist violence.

Nasr Javed

Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

Abdul Ali Musa

Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting and glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of his particular beliefs and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Fred Waldron Phelps Snr and Shirley Phelps-Roper

Pastor and leading spokesperson of Westboro Baptist Church.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the United Kingdom.

Samir Al Quntar

Spent three decades in prison for killing four soldiers and a four-year-old girl. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.

Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky

Leaders of a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting serious criminal activity and seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts.

Amir Siddique

Preacher.  Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.

Michael Alan Weiner (also known as Michael Savage)

Controversial daily radio host. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.
The tougher exclusions policy follows the Prime Minister’s commitment in the National Security Strategy to take 'stronger action against those we suspect of stirring up tensions' and the Home Secretary’s decision to introduce a presumption in favour of exclusion for extremists promoting hatred or violence.
Under the new policy we are preventing more promoters of hate from coming to the UK than ever before, with more than five being excluded a month as opposed to two a month under the previous policy.

Statement from the Home Secretary

Jacqui Smith said, 'Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life. Therefore, I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as I want them to know that they are not welcome here.
'The government opposes extremism in all its forms and I am determined to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. This is the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour.'

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Quick Update: Thanks Brian

Thanks to a lovely Sir Brian, I was referred to this bloody brilliant documentary.  The guy's name is Edward Bernays and he possesses a frightening level of control over us, more than a decade after his freaking death.

So again, go Brian!  I'm currently watching this clip; anyone else interested?  The answer, by the way, is "yes"...


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shock Full o' Fear

On my way to and from my car, I had a lovely, dreadful idea.  Maybe it was walking through one too many spiderwebs, the light rain, or the red hair dye stains I still sport under my clothes, or the uncharacteristically pitch black street, or the fact I did this all barefoot and very much so uncomfortable, but I'd like to try something here.

What is it that scares you?  You don't even need to like horror movies to get in on this one: you're already overly qualified to respond, unless you don't feel fear.  But don't be a jerk, this isn't an online display of masculinity, okay?  In particular, I suppose I'd just like to get a collection going, of various fears that would truly make you uncomfortable on-screen. 

So to start, I'm scared (or my nerves get tangled)... 

  • ... of people, more-so than any of that supernatural crap.  
  • ... when the director deploys that shot that allows the audience to see that the pale face, or mask, or silhouette, of that monster/killer you've been avoiding all along has actually been watching and waiting patiently from the corner of the screen, shrouded in the darkness of your doorway all along--oh my God! how long have they been there?  That gets me every time.
  • ... for our Survivor, only when they aren't some lame stereotype and you start to feel for them; Paris Hilton, no matter how many horror movies she experiments with, will never garner my helpless voyeur-protection from over here in the audience.
  • ... when the Prey-character has to endure physical traumas, but not necessarily in a Knife-to-the-Face sense; when she's running around barefoot and accidently stomps on glass, or in Planet Terror, when Dr. Dakota Block, partially paralyzed, breaks her wrist trying to open the car door... those bone-crunching/blood-inducing gross-outs that are rooted from everyday nuisances make me feel terrible for our Underdog Hero, as their struggle becomes increasingly apparent. 
  • ... when, in zombie flicks, you realize: Oh my God, look at all those zombies!  And our heroes are certainly screwed.

Rebirth of the Birthday Girl

The only way I could possibly attain a higher level of euphoria is if someone spectacular gave me Banksy's phone number.  Or if, on a similar note, the police department gave back my $1600.  Yeah, I'm that happy.

I recently (successfully) survived the first hour of my twentieth year.  I'm 20.  Twenty.  Weird, it doesn't end in a "teen"... I need to absorb this.  I thought that estrogen-miscellaneous-cocktail mix of hormones would never end.

So today I went out for lunch at Chili's--a dreadfully fine establishment, I might add (now where's my endorsement cash at?)--, had an epiphany, splurged on fabric/literature/TRÉS awesome dorm junk/summer clothes, donated to a charity (because if it isn't pornography, my Tom would rather give me a present that involves giving something to someone else, bonded with all sorts of folks, rediscovered the summer-time bliss that is Weezer and Amanda Palmer, and all my holds at the library came through.  I'm in no position to complain.  

From Reverence To Rape is at the top of my pile of books to work through; typically, with any book on a relevant subject, there will still remain several chapters I can bypass--and thus, my waning youth is left in tact.  Unfortunately, such is not the case for this particular piece.  Ms. Molly Haskell, you are terribly cool, but I must protest against how perfectly suited your book is for my research.  For a link/etc on this one, check out the entry right before this one.  

Similarly, in the case of Something in the Way She Moves, I hadn't actually figured on the book having more than one or two chapters strike a nerve... but again, what the hell was I thinking?  I hadn't counted on the author, Ms. Wendy Buonaventura, striking up a socially conscious, feminist tone in her analyzation of dance as an art form.  It would be small-minded to dismiss her work as an attempt to coerce the reader into appreciating long-winded ballet more thoroughly with a touch of The Seven Veils dance, which one could say inspired burlesque, stripping, so on (which I, unfortunately, had initially done); in fact, she addresses sexuality in dance--which she says is inescapably linked to dance.  She goes on to theorize that men have been, as critics and helpless viewers, intimidated by these fearless displays and have thus turned forms of this erotic awakening into something shameful.  Later, however, she confronts the "Buysexuality" and limited marketing (only to those skinny and young, please!) of mainstream stripping--which seems to lower the quality of the dance form in her eyes... or at least this is what I'm getting from a glimpse.  This is a history of the sexuality of dance, and explores "a kaleidoscope of cultures, form the delicious tango of Buenos Aires... to Paris and the bawdy, leggy cancan dancers of the Moulin Rouge... to Chicago and New York, where African Americans cakewalked, Charlestoned, and shimmied into the public eye, creating 'jazz' dance."  We also get to learn about transvestitism, anorexia, and cosmetic surgery.  I can't wait.

Then in a more materialistic tone, let me switch gears and brag.  Lolita, eat your heart out--I stumbled across a cheap, cheap pair of heart-shaped glasses.  I need to go over the dark rims with some red nail polish, and we'll be all set!

I promise I did read the book, and oddly enough, a copy of the movie (unwatched) is waiting for me under my desk.  That cover is just too damn sexy, I must've slipped it down there in my usual, sleepy stupor.  

Ah yes, the epiphany!  Judging many of my books simply by their cover (primarily The Way She Moves), I had a flighty moment of nervousness over the relevance of some of these books.  But after a wave of confidence drowned me after flipping through that particular book, I realized that quite honestly, so what if this book didn't mirror my own intentions?  The truth is, any book, any conversation, any anything I can stumble into that discusses sexuality is just what I need.  This book won't be the end-all be-all of all my topics' discussions in one dense, dull text.  God, what a thought!  I'm combining informative articles, interviews, blurbs, timelines, and more mixed medias with concise summaries and preludes that call about a plan of action, as well as interjections of opinion.  What I want more than anything right now--aside, like I said, Banksy's contact info!--is a collective of words.  Not mine, not yet.  But yours.  All of yours!  Gimmie!

Oh yes, speaking of Gimmie! and Getting once more, I'll let you loves in on my solution for my lack-of-purse at the moment:


me, but with a new purse, and very, very happy.

'50s Americana.  It's ironic.

Now I'm off to eat some Kraft mac n' cheese, watch two back-to-back takes on the "When a Stranger Calls" concept, and cash all my product placement checks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Tis the Season for Receiving

What a week.

Let's have a moment of silence to commemorate exactly how cool it is that I can sit on my ass long enough to say that!

Alright, loves.  I drove up to Vermont last week to visit (I cannot believe I'm saying this!) my campus.  And I am so unbelievably excited about this place.  Honestly, you will be too.  What blows my mind in particular is: 1. I will be cold... all the time... which is ideal for my polar-bear self; and 2. Similar to Hampshire College and Bennington, etc, seniors are expected to complete, essentially, a dissertation, alongside a two hour oral presentation of their final project.  Any ideas what my project will be?

Hard to believe it, but I think I can work college in a way to prevent school from conflicting with the book.  Score.

So I visited the school, I got to walk around and eat crappy food like a real college kid.  And it was divine.  It also gave me a bit of a break from this little whirlwind.  My birthday is coming up in less than a week--it still blows my mind that I only have 5 days remaining to be an awful teenager--and so I may spend the next few days teetering on the edge of staying on the grid and falling back out of sight again.  Rest assured, dears, I'll be back...

I've gotten some amazing interviews back from various people, and I'm currently working on one for Ms. Sarah of Fatally Yours which is, by the way, a wicked cool site.  And if she's reading this, rest assured, I haven't forgotten about getting it out... you just do too much!  That's something I've come to realize about all these wicked awesome ladies in horror.  So many of them have a million projects, a million deadlines, a million everythings to balance... and they never fail to deliver.  A special challenge has come in the form of interviewing women in interview for a living.  I, personally, love flipping the tables on them and putting them on the spot.  Journalists--surprise, surprise--are clearly thought-driven creatures; so it's always a delight to get their responses in.  I digress in my accidental flattery.

I'm waiting on a few books to come in, all of which I'm terribly excited over.  'Tis the season for receiving--it's my birthday, I'll be spoiled if I wannaaa--and these are some books I'm excited to receive:
  •  From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies written by Molly Haskell
This particular book comes closest in nature to remaining on (current)
topic with my subject matter: women in (horror) film.  I've already gone
through Recreational Terror and Men, Women, and Chainsaws --both of
which were essential reads--but this book takes an interesting turn,
in that it doesn't deal exclusively with horror, and that rape may be discussed
in greater depth.  How morbid am I for loving that?
  • Ad Women: How They Impact What We Need, Want, and Buy written by Juliann Sivulka

I know, I know: we don't have to say it out loud, but I went right
ahead and went off topic.  Forgive me.  For those who don't know,
this entire book will not focus solely on horror movies: as of now,
my research topics have been divided, quite simply, into 
later on in my research frenzy, I plan on addressing sexuality
and gender as addressed by marketing teams.  More pictures will
come in time--I'm ranting as it is--but my main focus originated with
Dov Charney (American Apparel) and Terry Richardson (freelance
fashion-sleaze photographer).  With this book, as with the next few to be
listed, my focus is slipping over to how women impact the scene.
Because we'd all be lying to ourselves if we didn't give due
credit to the ladies.  Remember the ladies, okay?
  • Something in the Way She Moves: Dancing Women from Salome to Madonna written by Wendy Buonaventura 

I am... not entirely sure what it is this book will be in response to,
as far as my project goes.  Let's see how I can link this into my research...
How about this:
I will discuss porn culture, along with sex work in general, so 
stripping (and how, of all the sex professions, this one in particular has become
so DIY, so integrated into both bedroom and social cultures alike) will surely
come up, and from there, I wanted to look into Burlesque.  What is the difference
between Burlesque and Simply-Stripping?  If it's a matter of art,
of humor, or self-awareness on behalf of Burlesque, then I'd like to look
further into dance as a sexual--and not necessarily literal SEX-centric--
art form.  The art of tease, as it were.  Since dance is really so focused
on the body as it is, so certainly it could be liked to gender and self-
expression of sexuality.
There.  Told ya I could do it!

This, now, leads me to me latest revelation: Valerie Steele is kinda amazing.  Whether or not shoes or pretty clothes hold you mesmerized as they do she, you'd be out of your mind to deny her contribution to the fashion world, and the analytical, feminist one, at that.  She seems downright brilliant, and when fashion isn't off topic, I can't wait to read up on her work more.  In the meantime, here are some of her selected books, that I will shamelessly sneak peaks into, in between scenes of slaughter and Michael Bay remakes.
  • The Corset: A Cultural History written by Valerie Steele
The punk in me is showing.  And what about that cover isn't 
The book opens with: 
"The corset is probably the most controversial garment in the entire
history of fashion,"
and that, right there, sold me.  If I'm looking to address the sexual
provocation in fashion advertising, wouldn't it narrow-
minded to avoid the complete opposite: the uber-restrictiveness
of that garment we love to hate/hate to love--the Corset?
  • The Red Dress written by Valerie Steele

This particular book discusses the topic of Red in actual fashion pieces
as well as what the color, as a color, means.  Even if I can't fit this book into
my research, I'm curious to read this one.
  • The History of Underclothes written by C. Willet Cunnington

Again, I don't necessarily hold out any serious hopes that this book will
severely change the course of my own book, but the synopsis
did make mention of some little-known (to me, at least) fashion curiosities,
like an early prototype for a men's corset.  Hopefully I can find
some little snippets of info like that to plug in to the fashion section.
Who knows!
  • Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis/Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing
These I group together, not because I'm lazy or they're really
a dime-a-dozen quality, but because they run alongside
the same theme.  How that theme comes into play here...
fuck it, I'm too lazy to get into it.

This is everything, for now.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Delay and the Aging Process

A few simple notes:

To any lovelies who are waiting on an interview from me this week, I do apologize, but my schedule has been through a bit off kilter; tomorrow afternoon, my decade-old Honda-baby and I are making a run for it. We're crossing the Jersey border and heading up to Vermont (college visit). I am more terrified for my car than I am for my emotional well-being every time I put on an independent French horror movie. It's scary as hell.

Also, these are my last few days as a teenager, and I am somewhat bummed out. April 28 is my 20th... and what a pointless year this one promises to be. I treated myself to some zombie literature tonight, and for those who know me well enough, I know what I really truly want for my birthday. Aside from a secretary, a personal assistant, and a makeover for my car, get me this.

There, now. I'll be back soon, and please don't hesitate to wish me luck!

Monday, April 13, 2009

mini movie marathon with my lovely...

It all started with Children of the Corn at work last night.

With my weekend off from Work, I will spend every waking moment, when not prepping or waiting for an interview, frying my brain with a marathon of horrors.  Like the good old days when I was a carefree, disturbed middle schooler.  Why write these reviews?  I like to procrastinate, maybe I'm avoiding inevitable work (like dyeing my hair again, God, I hate doing that).  I think, more likely, with my brain always going in a million different directions, none of which bypassing this blog, I'd like to leave some traces of these thoughts on here.  Most likely of all, I suppose, is to let you know a little more about me as an interviewer/writer.  

In my "SlasHERS" interviews, I'd like to remain unbiased.  But with all of my interviewees having been so obliging in sharing their own likes, dislikes, opinions and fears, I recognize that they're entrusting me with a lot.  Without knowing much about me and my own leanings, in return.  Granted, part of why I'm conducting all these interviews is because of my indecision; hell, at this point, I can hardly make up my mind on all the particulars that I'm researching.  Hopefully over time, with snippets of film reviews and self-imposed questionnaires, more incoming interviews, and research, the answers will start to present themselves.  


Midnight Movie was... a delightful surprise.  I laughed.  I cried.  I... didn't cry, but I certainly laughed.  And jumped.  And verbed all over the place!  It was just as a horror movie experience should be.  A bit on the light side, but still plenty scary.  Easing off my giddy high, Midnight followed your typical cast of the maternal, level-headed (if not a little damaged) lead girl, her devoted-down-to-a-T boyfriend, her slutty friend, said friend's asshole boyfriend, and in the tradition of Scream, that guy who no one quite likes, but still knows and loves more about horror than you, the viewer.  Mix in equal parts biker boy and babe, lead girl's expendable coworkers at a failing movie theater, her little brother, and a killer who doesn't know to just stay in the movie.  Watching Midnight, I got the sense that when news came out a few years back that a film would incorporate slasher icons Freddy and Jason, Midnight writers Mark Garbett and Jack Messitt misinterpreted the plot; then when Freddy vs. Jason failed to please, they said in unison, "Well fuck that," and wrote about a killer with the rubber reality advantage of Freddy (skipping between our Reality and, in this case, the movie screen in front of us) with the unstoppable killer complex of Jason.  Though please don't mistaken my comparison as a literal read of this killer: he was his own man.  Though I can't recall any particular scenes that traumatized me with fear, that wasn't the point of Midnight Movie.  If anything, it was a reminder that slashers can be fun.  And with the majority of generic, slick productions we're force-fed nowadays, isn't that a pleasant and surprising reminder?


Now, this was not my first time seeing Deathproof, though it was my apprehensive boyfriend's--and golly, was it pleasant seeing his crush on Zoe Bell festering before my eyes, just as mine had.  To the Grindhouse Double-Feature's credit, I did see both movies.  I'll also admit that the premise of Planet Terror was a little more my speed; I can count on just one hand how many zombie movies I didn't dig, and those were extreme cases.  Zombies, for the most part, are a-ok in my book.  This said, I had a much easier time enjoying Deathproof than Planet Terror.  In Grindhouse tradition, any lady with the guts to star in the camp-fest is essentially signing her body up for display; in Planet, Rose McGowan's entire body was at the director's disposal, with an endless strip-tease lasting the length of the credits, and so on.  And if anyone in that movie was going to dance, I'd rather see McGowan on stage than Bruce Willis.  Or worse yet, Quentin.  From this point forth, we follow our characters as they battle through a zombified apocalypse; hell, this movie even made Fergie shine.  But it was Deathproof, with Quentin's signature love of feet and ramble-y speeches from our dozens of protagonists, that seemed much more comfortable with happy, strong female leads.  Replacing a stripper's amputated leg with a machine gun: that's pretty nifty.  But Zoe Bell, on the hood of her dream car, kicking Stuntman Mike's machine of death, cursing in that adorable accent of hers, and then all three final girls having their way with the psychopathic stuntman... that's downright epic.  And where McGowan always seemed a little too cynical and one-dimensional to have the time of her life (with a fucking GUN as her LEG!), I think what I saw was true bliss, when Bell popped out of the grass after being tossed from the hood of a speeding car and chirping, "I'm okay!"  Because casting Bell was perhaps the most genius aspect of the movie.  Beating beautiful women to a pulp is exactly what Grindhouse movies do.  In that aspect, both movies passed with flying colors.  But what makes a good Grindhouse movie tolerable is when the girls are victorious, and through all the grit, we can still see them grinning.  Because being a badass is fun.


To balance out the grrrl fuckin power that happy little flick emanated, next stop was the French "torture porn" response to Hostel and Saw: Frontier(s).  If someone had asked if I wanted to subject myself to a non-stop gross-out ride where the French vernacular consisted of little more than "twat," "whore," "slut," or "bitch"... I may have rethought this decision.  To the movie's credit, it made me so uncomfortable I thought I would die.  From the moment the credits roll to the time they role once more, I was nauseous.  The social climate was taut with violence and misery no matter where pregnant Yasmine ended up.  Once the movie came to a close, it was only then that I could breathe--and only then that I actually began to enjoy myself.  Whilst watching our, by no other name, Final Girl duke it out with various members to the cultish family she was being brutalized by, I couldn't help wondering whether or not she WANTED to die.  I know I did.  I do understand the concept of these movies: they want you to feel uncomfortable, even dirty while watching them.  Now if you're wondering whether this is my idea of fun... no, not quite.  I can watch them sure, and part of me feels this impulse to do so.  The train-wreck that is Saw will never cease to attract my morbid curiosity; I may not shell out the $12 to see it the moment it hits theaters, but with my job at a video store, I don't mind picking up a copy... for free.  Hostel, as well, intrigued me.  A copy of the movie sat on my desk for days before I could muster the nerve to watch.  To avoid a showdown of that sort, I enlisted the aid of my boyfriend to help view Frontier(s).  He fell asleep part way through, so he may not have been the best choice; the point is, however, I did get through it, and having someone in the room with me made the viewing experience wholly different.  I could complain to relieve the building anxiety in my chest and throat without feeling crazy!  The special effects were perfect.  The camera work could have been improved on in scenes of tension; because honestly, there was enough sick stuff in the film to counteract any moments of "slowness."  In an early scene, my boyfriend remarked that the cameraman must've been instructed to follow every bullet in the shoot-out.  And the dizzying effect this produced was not a favorable one; at times, with detailed, drawn out sequences where Achilles tendons were being snipped out, or Yasmine was being bludgeoned in the head (even though she DID have a weapon with her!) in the midst of 1,000-shot-per-second chase sequences, the movie seemed a little confused with where it wanted us to be.  The movie never, believe it or not, seemed far-fetched.  There were true psychotics in the film, but the crazies didn't just live out in hostels/compounds in the middle of nowhere--they were in the rioting cities as well.  In hospitals.  In the streets.  Wherever our lead characters turned, there was insanity.  Even they, themselves, were no innocents.  And by the end of the film, any trace of innocence I had was conveniently stripped away.


Malevolence, Malevolence, Malevolence.  Oh, how I underestimated thee.  There really was so much going on in the story, and in retrospect, I'm seeing even more!  Little plot twists pop up all over the place in this modern throwback to classic slashers (my boyfriend got a little high from the soundtrack alone).  And really, this is one smart movie.  As one character gets what was coming to him/her (I shall not give anything away!) the camerawork gives homage to the shower scene in Psycho, while giving a nod to similar all-stab, no-skin cutaway shots from early slashers.  While a video box with no synopsis may deter many viewers, many a horror fan will get a kick out of this fun little film.  My boyfriend holds tight to his theory that this was a realistic flick.  Me, I just loved seeing a little girl kick ass with a softball bat.  Really, how often do we get to see that?


For such a dark film, Inside was really all about light.  The Christmas lights, the red and blue police lights, the strobe-like camera flash, or the lack of light altogether--the silhouette of that creepy lady.  If Hostel, Saw, or Frontier(s) had any willpower, they might be able to be Inside.  The gore is comparable to those better known horrors, but Inside definitely holds out more with tension.  And you've gotta love that.  (Well, my boyfriend doesn't, but I certainly do.)  I'm losing the ability to wax poetic on horrors at this point.  It's been hours, and my brain sorta aches.  I know I'm not supposed to have any nerve endings up there, but fuck that.  My brain hurts!


Looking back over my adventures from the past day, I've come to the conclusion: do NOT fuck with women: whether they are pregnant, they were once pregnant, they'd rather show off their scars than their newest shade of lipstick, or they suck at softball.  In the end it's all the same: they're gonna kick your ass, and look good doing it!