Sometimes you sleep on things that are really excellent, and that's what I did with sharing Scott Shoyer of Anything Horror's debut novel Outbreak: The Hunger. Scott mailed me a copy of his book in 2015 and I've just gotten around to reviewing it in the spring of 2017. Life is weird, y'all.
I read Outbreak: The Hunger in the late summer of 2015 when I was in New Jersey filming Comic Book Men. (In fact, my United Airlines luggage tag is still in my copy as a bookmark.) Reading Outbreak was a fun way to keep me sane during a nervous four-day trip.
A post shared by Tiffany Villalpando (@tiffanyvillalpando) on Aug 16, 2015 at 5:00pm PDT
I grew up watching George Romero movies but as I've gotten older, (don't kill me guys,) I've tired of the zombie genre. I can still appreciate a classic zombie film and will catch the occasional modern genre flick, but Outbreak: The Hunger was my first zombie novel and I'm happy it was.
Outbreak: The Hunger gives a unique perspective to the zombie genre. From its synopsis:
What starts off as a fun day at the zoo for John and his young daughter Fi quickly turns into a waking nightmare. Now they and a small group of survivors are fighting for their lives against a pack of animals that seem somehow altered.
Was it nature or man who altered them?
In a top secret research facility in Texas lies the answer. But will the scientists and soldiers find the answer before it's too late and the infection spreads to Man?
No one is safe from the hunger that grows inside!
Outbreak only comes in at 199 pages and is an action-packed, fast-paced read. I couldn't put it down. It's exciting, fun and from my experience, a good introduction to the genre. Shoyer has taken his experience as a horror reviewer, interviewer, and blogger and skillfully translated it into a fiction piece. Outbreak: The Hunger is a well-written gem, especially for a first-time novelist.
Shoyer has a way of keeping the plot feeling realistic and not so fantastical that the story isn't believable, which I think is tough to do when writing a horror novel. Outbreak: The Hunger's zoo setting is so relatable to anyone that has spent time with children and will scare parents to death. Your zoo experience will never feel the same.
I liked that Outbreak: The Hunger's protagonist, John, is really normal and the rest of the characters we get to meet in more depth feel like real people. Though we follow along with separate groups of characters, everything ends up flowing together like a great anthology film. I felt genuinely invested in John and Fi's story and was rooting for them throughout.
Outbreak: The Hunger has so much to enjoy and is a treat that horror fans will enjoy from cover to cover. Don't sleep on it like I did.
Once a month I'm going to share things I've been really loving. Many of the things shared here will be horror related, but I'm also going to include some other favorites like podcasts, books, things I've purchased, and general lifestyle things. Girl Terror is a feminist horror blog at heart, but sometimes I want to share a little bit more about my life here. My blog, my rules. Here are the things I loved in March.
You Must Remember Thisis a series about old Hollywood stories and scandals. I just listened to their three-part series about Marilyn Monroe and was fascinated to learn about her early life and how the men around her influenced her to make career decisions she wouldn't have made alone. I'm currently listening to their nine-part series about Charles Manson's Hollywood. It explores Charlie's relationship with Dennis and Brian Wilson and how films like Bonnie and Clyde laid the groundwork for free love and anti-authority movements in the sixties and seventies.
Up and Vanished covers the strange 2005 disappearance of teacher and beauty queen, Tara Grinstead. I've recently become more interested in true crime and prefer a podcast dedicated to one story like Serial, to individual episode stories like Sword and Scale.
Music: I work from home and music with vocals tends to distract me while typing so I've been leaning towards darker electronic music lately. Carla dal Forno's record You Know What It's Like could be the score to a classic giallo film. Soundtrack buffs will love it.
Sampha was featured on a Solange song and her album A Seat At The Table was one of my favorites from last year. I've been listening to Sampha's debut album, Process, when I'm doing yoga or having a lazy day at home.
Italian Cinema - YouTube
Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano (Official Music Video) - YouTube
Beauty: Glossier's Priming Moisturizer Rich is my new go-to moisturizer for day and night. My skin is super sensitive and this is one of few things that have made my face feel happy during this dry winter to spring period in Chicago.
I just caught The Devils (1971) on Shudder. The film received an X-rating in the United States and United Kingdom and was banned in many countries. Subsequently, the director and studio cut a lot of footage and film historians thought that the footage had been destroyed until a film critic found it in 2004. The uncut version is available for the first time in the US exclusively on Shudder. You'll like it if you're into religious and extreme horror. Enlighten Us (2016) was a great documentary about motivational speaker James Arthur Ray, whose popularity fell when three of his clients died in a sweat lodge he hosted. I've recently become more interested in cults and though James Arthur Ray's practice wasn't a cult, the way he influenced a large group of people is in a way similar to cult leaders' practices. I watched it on Netflix but you can find it on Youtube below.
Synapse Films released a steel book for Popcorn (1991).Popcorn is one of my all time favorite slashers and I preordered this copy months ago. The steel book has both cover designs on either side and is really fucking cool. It contains the film on both DVD and Blu Ray and a ton of special features like the film's TV spots and interviews with the cast. It's limited to 3000 copies but as of now, they're still available to purchase. I'm looking out for other collector's merchandise for Popcorn now, so if you have any leads on cool VHS copies, alternate or international posters and one-sheets, or the 1991 promotional popcorn box pin (I've been trying to track one down for years), shoot me an email! I already have an original poster that I scored on eBay for $7 and it's one of my prized possessions.
I just had my hair cut and colored at Penny Lane Studios in Chicago. Chrissy has been cutting my very picky boyfriend's hair since we moved here and I just took the plunge into my blonde journey. If you're local, I definitely recommended seeing Chrissy.
Horror fans everywhere were delighted with the idea of Sadako Vs. Kayako, the Freddy Vs. Jason of J-horror. Director Koji Shiraishi (Carved, Grotesque) wrote and directed the 2016 film, which had its North American release today on Shudder.Sadako Vs. Kayako had a wild marketing campaign, first teased as an April Fools joke, followed by a Twitter poll, several viralvideos, a joke Instagram account, and several specialty items, including a series of my beloved Fuchikore figures.
Sadako was born through the 1998 film Ring (Ringu, directed by Hideo Nakata) and its franchise which first followed a reporter trying to explain the deaths of several teenagers who viewed a cursed videotape. The tape leads her to the murder of a young girl named Sadako, who drowned in a well after being pushed in by her father. Those who view the tape receive a phone call from Sadako and she kills them exactly a week later. Ring inspired many Japanese horror films in the supernatural genre, including Ju-On (Ju-On: The Grudge, directed by Takashi Shimizu). The Ju-On franchise revolves around a house cursed by the ghosts of Kayako and her son, Toshio who were brutally murdered by Kayako's husband, Takeo. Everyone who enters the house is killed by the curse. These now cult-classic films inspired a new wave of genre films in the US, with both of them being remade in the early 2000s.
Sadako Vs. Kayako follows two separate storylines. Natsumi and Yuri watch Sadako's cursed videotape and, with the help of an urban legend obsessed professor and a couple of mediums, try everything to escape her. Meanwhile, Suzuka moves into a house near the Ju-On home and after seeing strange things and investigating the disappearance of several children, falls under Kayako's curse. Their last chance for survival is to pit the two villains against each other in a final face off.
Ring and Ju-On were both excellently paced films and Sadako Vs. Kayako is no different. It's a slow burn with enough early action to keep modern horror viewers interested. Like many of its J-horror predecessors, much of the suspense is left to the viewers' imagination. The film is definitely written for fans, though, and couldn't exist as a standalone film if you haven't seen Ju-On. Lucky for you, it's on Shudder so you can check it out before viewing Sadako Vs. Kayako. Sadako Vs. Kayako explores Ring's theme of expanding technology, but like I hoped entering this film, uses technology in a new way to spread Sadako's curse. It sticks to the previous films' energy but revitalizes them with unexpected, likable characters. There are a few subtle changes to the franchises' mythology, but overall stays true to their original stories.
New and old fans will be pleased with Sadako Vs. Kayako. Although the film has a great sense of humor, Sadako Vs. Kayako is damn scary and keeps everything we love from its franchises. The finale is everything you'll want from a Sadako and Kayako face off, with Toshio in tow. Sadako Vs. Kayako is the supernatural treat the US needed from Japan this year and is absolutely worth viewing
Sadako vs. Kayako (Trailer) - A Shudder Exclusive - YouTube
Shudder is a premium streaming video service, serving both the casual and hardcore fans of horror and suspenseful entertainment. Offering new premieres and exclusives every month, and with a wide library ranging from hard-to-find international and independent films to thrilling TV series to cult grindhouse classics to Hollywood blockbusters, Shudder has something for everyone. Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder’s growing library of expertly curated Horror, Mystery, Suspense, Supernatural and Dark Thrillers is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Canada ad-free and for unlimited viewing on Shudder’s website, iOS and Android mobile apps, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku with a free one week trial or $4.99 monthly/$49.99 yearly membership. To sign up or learn more about Shudder, visit www.shudder.com.
I've been raving about Shudder since getting access to its beta last year. (You can read my initial review here.) They've added a ton of changes and it works smoother than ever and dare I say I spend more time on its iPad app than Netflix? It's the horror lover's streaming dream and if you haven't already subscribed, you're missing out. Shudder should seriously send me a referral link or something because I can't stop recommending it. (Uh, you're welcome, AMC.)
To continue passing on the Shudder love, I'll be compiling a monthly collection of my favorite flicks from classic horror to indie titles for you to stream. I'm here to make your movie night a little easier. No need to endlessly scroll with me around. Writing with purpose over here. Enjoy!
Phantasm: Remastered Official Trailer #1 (2016) Angus Scrimm Horror Movie HD - YouTube
The Tall Man is here in a Shudder exclusive, totally remastered format. Phatasm is a horror/sci-fi classic that's influenced many genre films and is a cult favorite. If you're going to watch anything this month, this is my top pick. The remastered cut is really beautiful and what better way to pay tribute to Angus Scrimm this year?
Innsmouth Teaser - Vimeo
I love that Shudder is starting to include short films in their lineup. Izzy Lee is one of my favorite feminist filmmakers. There isn't a single thing she's created that I haven't loved. I reviewed her film Postpartum last year. Innsmouth is an award winning short that takes on classic H. P. Lovecraft material and is perfect for suspense lovers. Take ten minutes to sneak this flick into your day.
The Perfect Host (2009)
The Perfect Host (2010) movie trailer - YouTube
The Perfect Host is part black comedy, part thriller, and a really fun watch that proves you don't need ghosts to make an entertaining horror film. (Looking at you, Blumhouse.) I overlooked this one for many years and after checking it out last month, realized it's a totally underrated title. I recommend grabbing some beers (and other recreational material, real subtle, right?) before hitting play. When you're finished, check out director Nick Tomnay's original short that inspired it.
Society (1989) - Trailer - YouTube
Brian Yuzma's Society is one of my favorite body horror movies of all time. Yuzma's cult horror films are some of the very best in the genre, which is kind of hysterical coming from the guy who directed the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids movies. Fans of Cronenberg will really dig this fucked up narrative about what it means to be the weirdo in an acceptance obsessed society.
Berberian Sound Studio (2013)
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO Trailer | Festival 2012 - YouTube
I can't believe I haven't heard more people talking about Berberian Sound Studio. Berberian Sound Studio explores its character's experiences working on a giallo film, which blur the lines between reality and a psychedelic dream, while keeping the film's content a mystery. Berberian Sound Studio is visually striking and pays tribute to its 1970s Italian predecessors. It's unexpectedly spooky and deserves more praise.
Best of luck narrowing down your Shudder watchlist this month and I'll catch you in December with more Shudder recommendations. Happy viewing! XO
This summer, I went to my first solo movie and it totally changed my outlook on all solo outings. Going to a movie by myself was so great because I didn’t have to share my popcorn, I got to sit where I wanted, and I didn’t have to fuss around someone else’s schedule. Best of all, I got to see a flick in theaters that I may have missed because my boyfriend wasn’t into seeing it. It’s unfortunate that the film I caught was underwhelming.
I was so excited about The Neon Demon when I saw the trailer. I love Elle Fanning. I love Jena Malone. It looked like Suspiria with glitter which is exactly what my dreams are made of. Writer and director Nicolas Winding Refn is best known for Drive, a highly rated and beautifully shot crime thriller starring our favorite punk rock eye candy, Ryan Gosling. Apparently Refn wasn’t sick of the pink and blue lights and decided to embark on another thriller journey.
The film opens with a beautiful still image of Jesse (Elle Fanning) soaked in blood and covered in cosmetic crystals, followed by bright flashes of light from the photographer on what we learn is a photography set. This is the first of many neon, picturesque shots. Visually, The Neon Demon looks like Sophia Coppolla and Dario Argento had a love child. The cinematography is probably the most consistent part of the entire film. When cleaning off her blood, Jesse meets Ruby (Jena Malone), a makeup artist who compliments her skin before taking her out to a party. Ruby’s friends join the ladies in the bathroom where they have a really gross conversation beginning with lipstick shades. “They say women are more likely to buy lipstick if it’s named after food or sex.” Ruby asks Jesse “are you food, or are you sex?” Then, the ladies drill Jesse about her body, her dead parents, and “who she’s fucking.” This conversation isn’t a parody of how vanity obsessed women speak to each other. It’s clear that Refn wrote the dialogue based on the age old misogynistic idea that women inherently hate other women and consider them competition. The party ends with a performance art piece with an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing light show reminiscent of a scene from a Gaspar Noe film.
Cut to Christina Hendricks playing a modeling agent, giving Jesse advice on the industry. “I think you’re perfect. I would never say you’re fat,” she tells her, “but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t.” The agent tells Jesse that she sent her polaroids to an influential photographer, Jack something, and that he invited her to do a test shoot. We learn Jesse is a minor when the agent instructs Jesse to tell people she's 19. Jesse returns to her motel room and fakes a signature on the agency’s parental consent form. Jesse’s motel room is a cheap, tacky, Palm Springs dream. Pink and green hues fill the room. I’m seriously saving that to my home decor Pinterest board. The photographer from the beginning of the film picks Jesse up for a drive around LA. Jesse’s dialogue in this scene is very thoughtful and sweet. She talks about not knowing who she would be as an adult and not thinking that she has real talent. “But I’m pretty,” she say, “and I can make money off of pretty.” This scene gives Jesse the only depth we see in her in the entire film. The photographer tells her that she’s probably good at a lot of things. Jesse is being set up as the broken, baby, damsel in distress, all alone in LA. Jesse tells the photographer that she is just barely sixteen, and we can see that he’s uncomfortable, but still tries to kiss Jesse as she leaves his car. This is the first time we really see the oncoming fetishization of a minor, a theme that continues for the remainder of the film.
Jesse returns to her motel room and sees something in the dark. She runs downstairs to tell the manager who assumes she’s high. When she threatens to call the police, an angry Keanu Reeves (what?) decides to investigate. Jesse’s room is a disaster and angry Keanu Reeves threatens her, telling her that kids are all the same and that he’ll find her. (I’m pretty sure he knows where she is, though, seeing that, you know, she’s staying in his motel and all.) They discover the intruder is a big cat. I don’t know if it was a cougar or a jaguar or whatever because a) I don’t know the difference between big cats and b) I don’t know what kinds of big cats are in California. Send help.
We find our lead entering a photo set and catching eyes with Ruby, the makeup artist from the beginning of the film. Ruby legitimately looks like a makeup artist. Her look is dark, but subtle and clean. She reminds me of some of the artists I worked with in my makeup artistry days. Ruby is kind to Jesse and we see that she has taken on somewhat of a mentorship role. After completing her makeup (a gold foil dream), Ruby leads Jesse to Jack, the important photographer, who thoroughly examines her before instructing all of the crew to leave the set. Ruby offers to stay, as if she’s concerned for Jesse, but Jack tells her to leave. Jack demands that Jesse remove her clothes. As a viewer, this made me extremely uncomfortable. I understand this was Refn’s point but it didn’t make it feel any less violating or disgusting. Jack then uses his hands to coat Jesse's entire body in gold paint as the score turns into a droning synth dream. Something that was supposed to incite discomfort then turned into a redeeming photo shoot. This didn’t sit well with me. Jesse leaves the set to find Ruby waiting for her. Jesse tells Ruby that the photo shoot went well, and Ruby tells her that “he makes a lot of promises to young girls,” and that she doesn’t think Jesse should be alone with him. She exchanges phone numbers with Jesse and says “it’s good to have good girls around.” I guess Ruby is supposed to be the “good girl” out of the group of models who previously surrounded her. Ruby is also the only girl who isn’t blonde. It’s like we’ve gone all the way back to slashers of the 1970s and 80s.
Ruby meets the models at a diner. A waitress asks if the ladies would like to hear the specials. One of them agrees, and the other mentions that she won’t eat them anyway. I don’t remember their names or if we even know them, so I’ll refer to them as the mean model and the meaner model. The mean model responds “but they’ve worked so hard to memorize them.” It’s no surprise that the models are portrayed as vacuous, although in 2016, we should be expecting more from our horror writers. The models ask Ruby about the shoot and she tells them Jesse was there - a recipe for disaster. The mean model replies that Jack shoots her all the time, and the meaner model tells her that it won’t last. “Who wants sour milk when you can get fresh meat?” Ruby says that Jesse is special, that she has something that other girls don’t have. We then see Jesse at an audition with the meaner model. The meaner model is wearing a bra that I am about 80% sure if from For Love and Lemons and I want it. Here is where I discovered that the model’s name is Sarah. (Great!) Sarah completes her runway walk and the attending designer pays no attention to her. An assistant calls Jesse’s name and the designer asks her about her experience. He is clearly smitten with her. Jesse completes her walk and gets a part in the show. Sarah walks to the bathroom and loses her shit. She throws a trash can at the mirror and Jesse walks in to see Sarah’s portfolio destroyed. Jesse tries to console Sarah and Sarah gives a long speech about Jesse’s beauty and its impact on people around her. Sarah asks her how it feels, and Jesse responds “it’s everything.” We’re seeing a change in Jesse. The sweet Georgia orphan is slowly adopting the characteristics of her model peers. Sarah lunges towards Jesse and Jesse cuts her hand on broken glass. Sarah asks to see the wound, and drinks up the blood from her palm. This left me guessing whether the models were vampires or interested in consuming blood for everlasting youth like my favorite lady serial killer, Elizabeth Bathory.
Ruby enters a morgue to apply makeup to a corpse. As a macabre loving makeup artist, this was always a dream of mine. Seriously jealous of Ruby’s entire life so far. Jesse returns to her motel room quickly to avoid angry Keanu Reeves. She cleans her injured hand in the sink and answers the door to the love interest photographer before collapsing with a bouquet of flowers. I cannot get enough of how beautiful this film is. It’s seriously the only thing it has going for it. Jesse is shown with the fallen bouquet in the center of the shot. Her pink skin is so bright against the burgundy carpet. It’s really stunning. This is also a good time to mention that 100% of the characters are white. For a portrayal of the fashion scene in LA, I guess it makes sense. The industry is predominately white and that’s no secret. Like I previously mentioned, though, it’s 2016 and having a cast that is completely white is really unacceptable. It’s nothing new for horror flicks, but it’s still disheartening and I have to call it out. After Jesse faints, the screen cuts to black and we see a series of geographic shapes in various neon colors, followed by her motel room wall with hands pushing out. A sight I can only imagine was stolen from Nightmare on Elm Street, and that we’ve seen used again and again in the genre. This is the only time this happens, though, and we have no insight into where this hallucination came from.
Jesse wakes up and hugs her photographer boyfriend. He walks down to angry Keanu Reeves’ office and this is where things get really gross. Photographer boyfriend tries to talk to angry Keanu Reeves about the money Jesse owes him for the big cat situation, and angry Keanu Reeves goes on a rant about Jesse. “Oh, the wildcat? That’s some real hard candy. You know what I mean?” Photographer boyfriend is offended, and eventually pays angry Keanu Reeves $140 for the damages. Photographer boyfriend asks if there is a pharmacy nearby and angry Keanu Reeves replies “why? She send you out for tampons, too?” Angry Keanu Reeves tells photographer boyfriend that he wants to make sure he’s getting something out of the deal. “‘Cause if you’re not, got plenty of other girls here. Take a peek in room 214 if you get a chance. Rented it this week to a girl from Sandusky, Ohio. Runaway. Thirteen years old. Real lolita shit.” If I hadn’t already been 6000% over this film, this is what pushed me over the edge. At this point, we already understood that the motel manager was a creep. That was clear from the moment we met him in act one. Here Refn gives us a some sort of self realized fetishization of a sixteen year old girl. This isn’t a smart reflection over what can happen to young girls in LA, it’s just fucked up. Angry Keanu Reeves isn’t done yet though, “Real lolita shit,” he continues, “Room 214. Gotta be seen.”
Jesse is preparing for a runway show when the model who is not Sarah catches her, shocked that she’s in the same show. “You move fast,” not Sarah tells Jesse, “you must be fucking him.” Refn really drives this idea into the ground. After insulting Jesse’s appearance, not Sarah goes into detail about her cosmetic surgery, further ensuring the audience understands her body obsession. It’s not the first time her cosmetic surgery is approached with the idea that it’s overdone. It’s an outdated idea that altering your appearance with cosmetic surgery is something to be ashamed of. Many women (and men) have cosmetic surgery for a number of reasons, all of which are totally okay. “Nobody likes the way they look,” not Sarah tells Jesse. “I do,” Jesse replies. This is a weird grey area for Jesse. We’ve seen her attitude changing to be more like Sarah and not Sarah’s, but this moment of self assured confidence could lie in either side of her personality. These small moments happen often and make her character inconsistent. The designer decides Jesse will close the runway show. I don’t know much about the modeling world outside of my Kendall Jenner obsession or the many cycles of America’s Next Top Model I’ve binge watched on Netflix, but I know that closing a runway show is a big deal. The designer dresses Jesse in a beautiful floor length black gown with long sleeves, a mock neck, and gold beaded detailing throughout. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful gowns I’ve ever seen. I would wear it to my wedding. At the end of the show, we see the same triangle motif from Jesse’s fainting hallucination before. It looks like an inverted, neon blue, Legend of Zelda triforce. Jesse sees herself in front of the symbol before cutting to her face enveloped in red lights and mirrors in center screen. Jesse looks edgier than ever and kisses her reflection on either side of her. The triangles turn red, as if to symbolize the complete shift in Jesse.
Jesse walks into a club with photographer boyfriend. Jesse has teased hair and a very low kit gold top on. Imagine Beyonce’s “Six Inch Heels” playing as she walks in. Inside the club, not Sarah, and some of the other models are eating and drinking champaign, while the designer recites lines from something I feel like we’re supposed to know, but I didn’t. Here I can see where Refn is making fun of this bougie designer. The designer is talking about how creating many different things are all the same when you’re an artist. Maybe Refn isn’t mocking him at all, though. Maybe this asshole is supposed to be Refn. At this point in the film, who fucking knows? After, there’s another dig at not Sarah’s plastic surgery. The designer says that “you can always tell when beauty is manufactured, and if you aren’t born beautiful, you never will be.” Apparently not Sarah’s name is Gigi. The designer is comparing Gigi to Jesse, because we maybe missed that all women are competing with each other? “True beauty is the highest currency we have, without it, she would be nothing.” Photographer boyfriend, whose name I just realized is Dean (are names even important in this film?), defends Jesse and leaves. Dean is waiting for Jesse at the motel when she returns. He asks “what are you?” Jesse tells him “I don’t want to be them. They want to be me.” Pretty hurts.
Angry Keanu Reeves breaks into Jesse’s motel room while she’s sleeping. He slips a knife inside her mouth and down her throat, and instructs her to open her mouth wider as she metaphorically deep throats him. Jesse wakes up on the floor, as if from a dream. Her doorknob shakes erratically and she frantically races to lock the door. Next door, room 214 (remember what angry Keanu said?), the girl screams and struggles as Jesse listens through the wall. Jesse calls Ruby who invites her to come stay at her house. While Jesse showers, Ruby reapplies her makeup and pretends to kiss the mirror. She enters Jesse’s room with a toothbrush and a pretty nightgown. Jesse tells Ruby that her house is amazing, and Ruby tells Jesse that she doesn’t live there. “You said this was your house,” Jesse says, and after a long pause Ruby replies, “no, I said I was housesitting.” Jesse sits on the bed and Ruby brushes her hair. Jesse thanks Ruby for being kind to her and Ruby comes on to Jesse, complimenting her beautiful skin again. Jesse tells Ruby that she’s a virgin and Ruby climbs on top of her, telling her that she doesn’t care. Jesse tells Ruby to stop, “I don’t want to,” she says, slipping her hands inside Jesse’s nightgown, ” I want to be your first.” Jesse pushes Ruby off the bed and Ruby leaves. It was an interesting choice to show a girl on girl sexual assault, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing. Ruby stares at herself in the mirror and draws Xs over her eyes with lipstick. In the sitting room of the house, a taxidermy big cat lingers in the background. I think this is supposed to circle back to the big cat in Jesse’s motel room, but it’s not the same type of big cat (I’ve gathered that much in my big cat knowledge) and there is no explanation for the symbolism, if you can even call it that.
Ruby leaves a robe for Jesse, and when Jesse rises, no one is home. At the morgue, Ruby drops her lipstick and brush (which normally would be so unsanitary but I guess if you’re dead, it probably doesn’t matter if you’re spreading diseases) and locks the door. Ruby removes her gloves and caresses the young, female corpse. She imagines the stitched up body is Jesse, as the scene cuts back and forth between Ruby and the corpse, and Jesse touching herself. Just as a reminder, this is supposed to be a sixteen year old girl who is squeezing her breasts and licking her fingers seductively. Ruby passionately kisses the corpse while rubbing her body, before climbing on top of her and masturbating. Back at the house, Jesse applies pink pigment on her eyelids and cheeks, and covers one side with gold glitter. The girl has obviously never touched cosmetic glitter before because using a blush brush for that would have seriously left glitter everywhere. Jesse sees a pale blue halter gown waiting for her and puts it on before walking out to the empty pool.
Ruby returns home to find Jesse standing alone on the diving board. Jesse asks Ruby, “do you know what my mother used to call me? Dangerous. ‘You’re a dangerous girl.’ She was right. I am dangerous. I know what I look like. What’s wrong with that anyway? Women would kill to look like this. They carve and stuff and inject themselves. They starve to death, hoping, and praying that one say they’ll look like a second-rate version of me.” Jesse has fully shifted now, into the vain model that mirrors the ones we’ve previously met. Jesse walks back into the house and is attacked by Sarah and Gigi. Jesse and Gigi face off with knives in the kitchen where Sarah catches up with her. Like any survivor girl, Jesse stumbles and injures herself before facing off with her attackers, now including Ruby. Ruby pushes Jesse into the empty pool. Jesse is paralyzed and bleeding as Ruby, Gigi, and Sarah approach her. Blue lights highlight the glitter on Jesse’s cheek. Gigi and Sarah shower off Jesse’s blood in what I can only describe as a male gaze influenced lesbian porn scene. Ruby bathes in a claw foot tub full of blood. I was right about the Elizabeth Bathory approach, but there was no demon, after all.
The following morning, Ruby waters the plants topless and washes away the blood from the pool. She then lays in a hole she’s dug for Jesse’s body in what looks like a fairy tale pixie land. I don’t even know where that set came from. The scene closes with her in a dark room, legs spread, and blood rushing out of her vagina. I'm not clear on the symbolism of the birth/menstruation/whatever happened here. Gigi and Sarah drive off to a shoot. Gigi’s hair has been braided into these very long corn rows. Very Kylie Jenner. Very inappropriate for a white model. The other model on set asks Sarah if a girl had ever screwed her out of a job. Sarah replies, “I ate her.” Jack, the creepy photographer from earlier, sees Sarah waiting for Gigi and tells her he wants to use her for the shoot. Gigi gets violently ill on set and vomits up Jesse’s eyeball. Cute. Gigi tells Sarah “I need to get her out of me,” and stabs herself in the stomach with fabric shears. Sarah..
In case you're new here, I have a serious horror soundtrack addiction. John Carpenter's Lost Themes is my most played "soundtrack" (with the Maniac remake score by Rob being a close second.) John Carpenter directed and scored some of the genre's best and his new record has been on the top of my 2016 wish list. Lost Themes II's "Distant Dream" is a brand new take on Carpenter theme. While the recognizable synth is ever present, a full band carves out the track. If this is any indicator of what we can expect from Lost Themes II, this record (to be released on April 15, 2016) is going to be a "dream."
John Carpenter "Distant Dream" (Official Live In Studio Video) - YouTube
Check out John Carpenter tour dates and tickets here. Preorder Lost Themes II on Sacred Bones and listen to "Vortex" from Lost Themes below.
Hey horror pals! It's... been awhile but Girl Terror is back in action! Keep your eyes peeled for regular scheduled posts, reviews, and interviews in the coming weeks. We're all really excited to get back to the horror fun in 2016.
What better way to come back than with a giveaway? You all know how obsessed I am with Creepy Company. They are leading the horror pin and patch game with beautiful illustrations and top quality products. I was lucky enough to collaborate with them on this bad ass Final Girl pin! I know, we just missed Women in Horror Month, but around here, it's always WiHM! The Final Girl pin is 1.5" of soft enamel with two clutch backs, glitter fill, and a gunmetal finish. You can purchase one here, but two lucky Girl Terror readers will win one of each color variant!
As always, you can use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. There are opportunities for multiple entries but the winners will be selected at random at 11:59pm CST on Sunday, March 27th, 2016. So, you have an entire week to enter! The color variant will be randomly selected. US residents only.
Update: The giveaway has been extended until 11:59 CST on Thursday, March 31st! Good luck!
Thanks for all of your continued support and for reading Girl Terror. We can't wait to bring you new content. Happy entering! XO
I put off reading Anna Dressed in Blood for at least a year simply because it kept getting advertised as a paranormal romance. Which, it is, but barely. It was constantly popping up on my recommendations (Twilight was a drunken one night stand years ago, Amazon.com, let it go.) and finally I decided to look over the reviews. I’m glad I made that choice because Anna Dressed in Blood is now one of my favorite finds of 2015.
Author Kendare Blake is a female horror writer who was adopted from South Korea by U.S. parents. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York and received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. This woman deserves a fist bump.
“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.” Cas is a ghost hunter and he is the ghost hunter we all want to be, badass. He hunts down ghosts and uses a magic dagger to send them to wherever ghosts go when they die. This is how Cas Lowood’s life works. He listens out for ghost stories or receives tips from others in the occult world. Cas then moves with his mother and they create a new life for however long it takes to take down the ghost and then they repeat the process. Only this time the ghost he is set to kill, Anna Korlov, is a bit different because she isn’t trapped in a normal ghost mode. She knows she is dead and she isn’t trapped in a repeated sequence. Anna is aware of her surrounds and can speak with Cas. He must learn as much about her as possible and the events surrounding her death in order to figure out what it will take to kill her. This is where the romance starts to fall in.
What I like about Cas Lowood is that though he is a teenager, he is written as a realistic teenager. He is more mature than the average teen, but I would say losing your father to an unknown evil and the constant moving that comes with killing ghosts earns you a few pearls of wisdom. I can also say this about the rest of the characters, especially his Mom who is a witch. She isn’t overdone or out there dancing with green hair, she is as close to a real world Wiccan as you can find in a fictional novel.
Anna Dressed in Blood is geared towards teens, but there are a few graphic descriptions of gory deaths and as with many horror themed stories involving women: a sexual assault story line. It’s minor and isn’t graphic by any means, but it is there.
Blake’s telling of different ghosts and their stories and why they are trapped is beautifully told. Cas mentions several times he hasn’t wondered where ghosts go once he kills them, but I am hoping this is foreshadowing future novels. Anna Dressed in Blood is now a book series with a sequel titled Girl of Nightmares. I will eventually read Girl of Nightmares, but I am enjoying the surprise excitement I found in Anna Dressed in Blood.
The vision of two German women filmmakers, Carolin Von Petzholdt and Ursel Walldorf, The Boom Boom Girls of Wrestling is a low budget independent film that is listed on IMDB as drama, horror, mystery, and thriller. The film focuses on a small group of women actresses trying to make it to the big time by auditioning to be female ‘superhero’ themed wrestlers. On the way to their first show in Las Vegas, the girls find themselves stranded in a ghost town with a chicken masked killer on the loose.
Carolin Von Petzholdt wrote, directed, and produced the movie, starred in it, and based this movie off of her real life experiences in the female wrestling industry, and it shows. I was so excited to watch this film! A mostly female cast portraying female wrestlers and somehow horror is incorporated into it?! Count me in because there is not enough ‘sports-horror’ in the genre, especially focused around female athletes, written and made by female filmmakers. In fact, this is the only movie that I know of that encompasses all of those elements, and I can see it becoming a cult classic because of its original plotline and uniqueness within the genre. All of that in and of itself is what makes this movie already a gem, but let me continue adding on to the reasons why I think this movie rocks.
The budget for this movie was five thousand dollars, and that becomes especially mind-blowing when you watch the film. The camera work, costumes, and set does not let on to this being a low budget film. The only telltale sign of the low budget, in my opinion, is some of the acting. The standout performances, by far, are that of Melissa Stubs and Crystal Santos, both of whom are badass stuntwomen and both of whom play the trainers for the Boom Boom Girls. Andrew Hamrick also does a great job as Richard Black, the sleazy, misogynistic assclown who is running the show.
The main reason I am impressed with this film is the absolute girl power and feminist undertones represented in all aspects of the film. There is dialogue around being a woman who enjoys sex and female sexuality, there are scenes that capture the unfairness and shallowness of the primarily male-led Hollywood industry, and there are representations of the passive and active female voices around changing the dynamics of patriarchy and oppression that often runs so rampant in society. The first hour of this movie captivates your attention in building the story and developing the characters.
However, it is the last half an hour of this movie that leaves me a little confused, and unfortunately the last half hour of the movie is when almost all of the horror bits happen. This movie either needed to omit the horror altogether or it needed to go way, way harder on the horror. The way it is now is almost like two different movies are playing and when the switch occurs from sports-drama to horror-thriller, it’s a little jolting and not entirely a smooth transition. However, I still really enjoyed this film and I really think it will be received well upon its release, although maybe not necessarily entirely as a horror movie. Look for its debut on October 30th, 2015!
Another Sunday, another Corey Norman film review. This week, however, we have the Stephen King novella adaptation of Suffer The Little Children. I am just going to make a bold statement here, Corey (director) and Haley Norman (writer) are going to do really, really big things. Suffer The Little Children just won Best Actress and Best Short Film at HorrorHound, a big win for Bonfire Films. It's no surprise, because Suffer The Little Children is an excellent short film.
Ms. Sidley, an aging grade school teacher, suspects something terrifying about her students. Nonetheless, she pushes through her days in class, even though her peers question her ability to work. After her student Robert accurately predicts "tomorrow, something bad will happen," Ms. Sidley decides to take matters into her own hands as the viewer is forced to decide if what we're seeing is reality, or Ms. Sidley's descent into madness.
There is a lot to be said about the acting in this film. Anne Bobby's (Nightbreed) performance as Ms. Sidley is absolutely killer (pun intended,) and is the best acting I have seen in a short film this year. I can tell we're going to be seeing more of Andrew Lyndaker (Robert) who previously starred in Norman's Tickle. I really enjoyed seeing Lyndaker in a more malicious role and it really proves that even for such a young actor, he is truly multi-dimensional.
Suffer The Little Children used its screen time appropriately, at 22 minutes outside of credits. For a longer short film, it didn't drag on, and I felt that the entire story was told within its short run time. The two Bonfire Films shorts I've seen so far boast a high production value and visually, are absolutely stunning. This film, like Tickle, seems to have an eighties vibe with its subtle, eerie cinematography. Overall, Suffer The Little Children just might beat Tickle for the best short film I've been lucky enough to see this year.
See our review for Bonfire Films' Tickle, and visit Bonfire Films on their website and Facebook for more information.