Your Best Bets for Feminist Halloween Entertainment

Happy Halloween, everyone! All month long I’ve been talking about some of my favorite spooky entertainment and today I’m going to put together my ultimate entertainment recommendations for getting the feminist most out of your Halloween.

These are simply my opinions and based solely on things I’ve seen, so if something you love doesn’t make the list, let me know! Maybe I just haven’t seen it and can fall in love with something new.

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“Final Girl” vs. “Horror Heroine”

Laurie Strode Jamie Lee CurtisAs I’ve shown before, I take my horror movies pretty seriously, and I am especially concerned with the portrayal of the characters therein. One of the most important characters in a horror movie is the protagonist who will end up in the final confrontation with the killer. Because this character is almost always female, we call this character the Final Girl.

But what does the term “Final Girl” imply? She is the last one left alive. This doesn’t really imply any level of strength or skill on her part, merely that she has kept breathing longer than the rest of the victims. We also have our protagonist referred to as “girl”, despite the fact that she is most likely a legal adult, which puts her in a position of immaturity and weakness. The title doesn’t even really state that she will triumph over her adversary and still be alive at the end of the movie; it simply says that she is the last in a line of victims.

A less-used term, however, is that of the Horror Heroine. There’s not even a TVTropes page for such a character; she’s that rare. This term implies much more agency in the character. This is not someone who simply does not die; this is someone who is victorious over her adversaries. The reason this term is less common is probably because this character is less common. It’s very easy to make a Final Girl: she simply has to be female and survive between 85-100% of the movie. A Horror Heroine, however, has to be an actual character with strength and determination.

Below the cut I’ve compiled a list of some of the characteristics of each archetype and a few noteworthy examples of each.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Entity

Entity is a movie based on the creepypasta character the Slender Man, who has become very popular online. There are websites full of fanart, video games, movies, documentaries, photo manipulations, etc., so I suppose it’s not surprising that Hollywood has picked up on the idea. As I watched this preview, though, I thought it had the feeling of a fan film rather than a studio production. It wasn’t that I thought the movie looked bad, it just had that intangible quality to it that felt homegrown, so I looked a little further into it.

From what I learned, the movie was an independent film and utilized crowd-funding for at least post-production costs, if not necessarily the whole project. The movie has a pretty large online following and it seems it was supposed to have been released a while ago but was delayed indefinitely. It would appear that a new producer showed interest in the film and the release was pushed back in order to take advantage of the new opportunities. The team has been rather vague on what exactly these opportunities are, so I’m not sure what this means for the film. Perhaps a theatrical release is in the works or maybe widespread showings at film festivals.

It’s been a few months since the latest update, though, and many fans seem to be losing hope that the movie will ever see the light of day. Some have even claimed that it’s a hoax, since the website has gone offline. I don’t personally believe that’s the case, but I haven’t really been close enough to the project to speak with any authority on the matter. The trailer embedded above is the second trailer made for the movie and is listed as “Theatrical Trailer”. Add to that the presence of an eventful “Demand It!” app on the movie’s Facebook page and I start to think that the delay means there will be a theatrical release for this film and that is the cause for its postponement.

Whether you remain optimistic as I do, or believe that this film will never be seen/doesn’t actually exist, the trailer is well-done and looks like an interesting movie.

The Women of Elm Street: Nancy Thompson

A Nightmare on Elm Street- Nancy ThompsonIt’s time. It is finally time.

Months ago, I began a series of posts in which I endeavored to celebrate the female leads of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. It’s my favorite horror franchise and has many excellent qualities, not the least of which is its celebration of female heroines, so the choice seemed an obvious one. I got through most of these leading ladies in a timely manner, but when it came time to write about the original and greatest protagonist of this series, I found myself incapable of accomplishing the task.

How could I put into words all that is so incredible about Nancy Thompson? How could I do justice to the character who is most responsible for my love of this series and, on a larger scale, the whole horror genre? I was locked in indecision and simply avoided the topic, but now that it’s October and I’m fully immersed in horror and the supernatural, it is finally time to finish this series.

Here we go. Spoilers after the jump.

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Theatre Thursdays: Rebecca The Musical

Rebecca the Musical- Broadway LogoBased on the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, the German musical Rebecca tells the dark tale of an unnamed young woman (referred to simply as “Ich” meaning “I” or “Me”) who marries a man she meets while on holiday. Upon returning to his stately home, Manderley, she finds the oppressive memory of his recently deceased wife, Rebecca, everywhere. Though most of the staff treat her with respect and are pleased that she is less demanding than the former Mrs. de Winter, the imposing Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca’s former employee and confidant, is always reminding the main character that Rebecca’s drowning does not change the fact that the house belongs to her and always will.

Mrs. Danvers, as we quickly learn, is devoted to Rebecca even after death and has kept Manderley in the exact state it was in when Rebecca was still living. Mrs. Danvers doesn’t simply inform the new Mrs. de Winter that she cannot live up to her predecessor; she insists that Manderley itself still calls for Rebecca and that her return Rebecca- Tytti Vanska and Kati Solehmainenfrom the misty realm of the dead is a certainty. Despite our main character’s insistence that the dead have no way of affecting the living, she is clearly unnerved by Mrs. Danvers’s unshakable belief in Rebecca’s presence. Mrs. Danvers may not be wrong in this belief, as Mrs. de Winter notices that her new husband seems preoccupied with his late wife and that every room in the house holds more than an echo of its previous owner.

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Why I Don’t Love Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th- 1980 PosterI mentioned in my most recent post (and I think I’ve said it before) that I don’t have much respect for the Friday the 13th film series. Since this is such an extensive and iconic franchise in the horror genre, I thought I should explain myself a little further. It’s not as if I don’t enjoy the series; I watch the marathons every year around this time and I do find Jason the scariest of the main horror icons, but I just can’t manage to muster up much respect for the series as a whole. Why? Basically, it boils down to its overall lack of depth.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Blinky500

Ready for a spoooooky Web Crush?

zombie-anime-fangirlsBlinky500 is a YouTube user who makes short films with an emphasis on horror and thrillers. Many of his movies are fan films, like character studies of popular horror icons, but he creates original pieces as well. I first came across the channel one or two years ago when one of his fan films came up in my recommendations box. While I don’t remember which film I watched first, I remember thinking that they were all pretty excellent. For example, this Friday the 13th prequel is better than any of the actual studio films in the Friday the 13th series:

I don’t have much respect for the Friday the 13th series, to be honest, so I didn’t feel any level of protectiveness over the source material when watching this. Even so, I felt that the work honored the original very well. The focus on the original killer, Pamela Voorhees, is welcome since she actually had a purpose when she killed in the first film: she was avenging her son, Jason. When Jason took over in the sequels, however, he very quickly became a simple killing machine who was frightening but not the least bit interesting. It’s great to see a killer with some actual character because it makes the movie that much more engaging. Even if it’s just a short eight-minute movie, it makes a more compelling tale than most, if not all, of the official movies in the series.

Now, I don’t just like Blinky’s movies when they improve on a source I feel to be weak. As you may know, I am a huge fan of the Nightmare on Elm Street series and feel very protective of it. Therefore, when I found his film KRUEGER (A Tale from Elm Street), I was more than ready to criticize it, but it completely surpassed my high expectations. The script, characterization, pacing, and score were all excellent and made the short film as good as any canonical entry in the Elm Street series.

The original content is of equally high quality. His originals often deal with psychological issues and they are quite interesting. There are a couple of films which deal with suicide and have very difficult content to watch. I’m not sure I completely agree with the presentations, but they make me think and I feel that makes them worthwhile watches. On the one hand, they both encourage valuing life and resisting self-harm, which is a great message, but on the other hand, they have a sense of vilifying suicidal thoughts which doesn’t sit quite right with me. I won’t embed the videos here, as they may be triggering, but the one I thought was most interesting can be found here.

The movies on Blinky500’s page are varied to say the least. There is a lot of horror, some comedy, and a few psychological thrillers. Hard to digest at times, but overall very well-done, the movies are of a quality much higher than what one may expect from a small independent company whose films stream for free on YouTube. I highly recommend this channel.

Movie Recommendation: The Watcher in the Woods

The Watcher in the WoodsThe Watcher in the Woods is a 1980 Disney movie. A kid-friendly ghost story, Watcher tells the story of an American family of four who moves to a new house in England. Their move hinges on the approval of the owner of the house: the eccentric Mrs. Aylwood, played by the incomparable Bette Davis. Immediately, the oldest daughter of the family, Jan, begins picking up on a supernatural force which permeates the house. While the girl’s parents dismiss her fears, Mrs. Aylwood seems intrigued by Jan’s perceptiveness and allows the family to stay.

I had never heard of this movie in all my years of being a rather avid Disney fan and only came across it a few years ago by chance in a grocery store. Since it was near Halloween and going cheap, I put it in my basket and went home excited to watch it.

I was not disappointed.

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Fan Film: Scream Fan

Happy October everyone! Once again it’s that wonderful month when all of my posts focus on spooky topics in preparation for Halloween. Today, I’d like to share a short fan film I came across recently, Scream Fan, by YouTube user ryanhorror.

The short film is based on the Scream series by Wes Craven, but exists in the “real world” as opposed to the Scream universe, meaning that the Scream movies are just movies in this film, not actual events. If you’re not familiar with Scream, get your butt over to Netflix and find it it’s a 90’s horror movie in which the characters are Genre Savvy and the movie itself is very clever, funny, and scary. To many horror fans, it also signified the end of the “slasher” films by influencing following films to be similarly witty and satirical. The movie was followed by two sequels, the last of which was released in 2000, making it the trilogy which essentially began and ended the 90’s horror revival.

That is, until 2011, when a fourth installment was released. Many fans, myself included, didn’t greet the news of another film with thunderous applause. We were led to believe that the Scream story was complete and that it was that rare horror series which knew when to stop. The whole theme of the third movie (since, again, the characters know the tropes of their genre) was that it was the concluding chapter of a trilogy and everyone knew it. How could there possibly be another installment after such an excellent conclusion? I honestly don’t know, because I skipped seeing number four in theaters and still haven’t gotten around to renting or buying the DVD.

…and that’s exactly what this fan film is about.

In this quick movie, the killer is targeting Scream fans who “turned [their] back on Scream” and skipped seeing the fourth movie. The killer is a super fan who cannot and will not accept that the latest movie didn’t reach the success of its predecessors and is ready to punish everyone responsible for this fact.

I’m honestly amazed by how well this film is done. In such a short amount of time, true suspense was created and everyone involved should be very proud of their work. It stays very true to the spirit of the Scream films with a genre savvy lead and a killer who toys with the target over the phone long enough to build tension and develop a connection with the audience before finally getting to the action between the two. Both performers in the film do a great job with their roles and keep the viewer engaged throughout.

Give the film a watch, it only takes eleven minutes out of your day and it’s a great way to get yourself ready for the spookiest month of the year! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go rent Scream 4 before I get a phone call from you know who…

Scream Ghostface

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven’s 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street is my all-time favorite horror movie and honestly ranks as one of my favorite movies of any genre. There’s so much that’s great about this movie (and its sequels of varying quality) and so much to unpack (from the characters to the story telling to the strong women and of course the horror icon Freddy Krueger) that I’ll definitely be coming back to it to discuss more in the future, but I couldn’t let the month of Halloween slip by without talking about ANOES at least once.

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