Archive for Women in Horror Recognition Month

Horror Blog Update

Posted in Horror Blog, Horror Festivals, Love Horror, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2018 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Hey Horror Hounds, it’s been a long time since I have posted on my main reviewing blog; so just to update you, I’m going to post the relevant links to all my latest pieces of work.

cropped-hayleys-banner_preview.jpeg

Image Credit: Fan Octo

On Love Horror; my current mainstay for reviews, I have covered giallo mania and more with the Abertoir Horror Festival 2017, explored female status in the genre for Women in Horror Month 2018, interviewed Dave Jackson (Dir. Cat Sick Blues) of Phantasmes Video on his latest project, Gacha, Gacha and most recently reviewed the gore-drenched, killer clown slasher, Terrifier. All my recent written work is available via this link: http://lovehorror.co.uk/author/welsh-demoness/

Art

I’m also building a small Youtube Channel featuring all kinds of #horror content from festival/convention vlogs to reviews of cult genre movies. You can see all of that through this link,  https://www.youtube.com/user/mshayleyr1989Be sure to subscribe.

Youtube Screenshot

 

Back in November 2017, I made my acting debut in a spooky short film, directed by Independent Welsh filmmaker, Tom Hughes, entitled, Widower, the movie can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIPi-dWTNgE

Widower-Poster

Image Credit: Tom Hughes

You can also find regular updates on:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/HayleysHorrorReviews/

https://www.instagram.com/welshdemoness/

As always, thank you for all your support.

Stay Scary.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews. 

Advertisements

Honeymoon (2014) Review

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon is the ideal film to review this February. Not only does it have a female director at the helm, slotting into the Women in Horror Month celebrations, it has a deeply intriguing romance at its core that unexpectedly transitions into one of the darkest forms of horror of recent cinema just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Honeymoon_film_poster

Honeymoon is essentially a two hander between newly-weds Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadway). The loved-up couple embark on the next exciting stages of their lives beginning with a break away in the serine setting of the Bea’s childhood vacation home located near a woodland. You won’t find a film couple as sickly in love as these two, there’s intensity and passion conveyed throughout which becomes more and more essential to where the film eventually heads. Its a story of exploration; exploration of discovering each other, the environment and internal wants. Anxiety is a prominent theme at play and the result is deeply saddening and highly disturbing. Honeymoon is a film that should be entered completely blindly in order to feel its full effects.

honeymoon-rose leslie-harry treadaway

The film was recommended to me by fellow Ghostface Girl Caitlyn Downs (of Scared Sheepless). Initially it took a while to fully appreciate the film’s intentions however after being advised to stay with it, it proved to be shocking and thought-provoking and on some level pretty upsetting. Viewing Honeymoon was a strange experience from at first not fully connecting with it and its characters to being deeply affected by the direction the film takes.

honeymoon-harry treadaway-rose leslie

Its certainly a slow-burner which works in its favour. Admittedly its nauseating to sit through at first, observing this seemingly well-suited couple that have it all, strongly expressing their love for each other but ultimately the pay off is worth it. Leslie and Treadway have a powerful screen presence that engrosses the viewer into their relationship, intrigued to discover where it will all lead.

honeymoon6

Janiak’s direction is stunning, she transforms a beautiful, tranquil location into something unbelievably chilling and nightmarish, provoked further by the realism projected in in terms of pacing and tone. Her characterisation is portrayed wonderfully and incredibly captivating as it delves into something very desperate and anxious. Honeymoon is a disturbing take on discovery and connection within a relationship and is without a doubt haunting with a grim edge to it. Honeymoon is guaranteed to leave you teary and speechless.

lj

 

Intrigued? Honeymoon is now available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray to see for yourselves.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Women in Horror Month 666: Top 6 Fierce Females of Recent Horror.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

February means one thing for the female horror fan and no it’s not Valentine’s Day! Although if you’d like to get me a fresh, warm, bloody beating heart or a bouquet of red roses, I’m not complaining! (Just Kidding!). It’s the sixth annual Women in Horror Recognition Month. The cause began as a way to reflect and promote female talent within the genre and give support to various groups in horror who are under-represented mainly relating to race and gender and on the whole both together. Horror has been a male-dominated genre for decades and for a long time the traditional horror heroine came in the shape of the all-American white girl. While we’re not completely there yet, things have started to change; we have a range of female directors showcasing their bloodthirsty visions on screen as well as more dynamic roles being created for women in modern horror.

1455953_10153385250050558_6158865889426852646_n

You can’t really discuss Women in Horror Month without mentioning the twisted twins Jen and Sylvia Soska who have inspired a new generation of female filmmakers and fans alike. Most recently they teamed up with WWE Studios to create the sequel to See No Evil, and just completed their second collaboration with WWE with the action film Vendetta, proving they can take on any genre! 2014 saw Australian director Jennifer Kent gain well-deserved success on her terrifying and unique addition to the genre, The Babadook. All-rounder Jessica Cameron debuted her first directorial effort, inspired by Dead Hooker in a Trunk, titled Truth or Dare which I’m told is incredibly twisted and violent! On the short film circuit, Jill Sixx Gevargizian has recently garnered attention for Call Girl, a menacing little piece that’s interestingly shot, starring Tristan Risk and Laurence R Harvey, and in 2013 Isabel Peppard created an innovative and beautiful stop-motion animation titled Butterflies which was most recently screened at Australia’s Monster Fest. A groundbreaking all female anthology is also on its way, the eagerly anticipated XX that’ll feature segments from Jennifer Chambers Lynch and Mary Harron to name a few.

1466215_10152563532356356_9055160002352791423_n

For more information on Women in Horror Month 2015, visit Hannah Neurotica’s wonderful website: http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/ which includes AxWound, a blog dedicated to gender and horror. Its a great way to look out for talented women working in the genre today, including an interview with award-winning actress, director and artist Gigi Saul Guerrero. Take a look at the Massive Blood Drive PSA where several of the above names have created short segments to encourage blood donation. This year has proven to be an awesome collection of twisted gender-bending and goreific effects:

As a female horror fan there have been plenty of strong women characters in place over the years to identify with, problematically they have all been created by men and if you agree with Carol Clover’s theory their purpose is to provide an outlet for a male audience which links to iconic characters such as Laurie Strode or Ripley. There are so many ways in which horror needs to move forward and this is just the beginning, we need to see horror movies with a diverse range of strong female heroines of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Genre women are beginning to find their voice and despite the obstacles and challenges we must continue to support this movement so these voices continue to be heard.

10413430_10152537946471356_368260442990664956_n

As a dedicated horror fan and reviewer my contribution to raising awareness for women in horror is a countdown of some of the most intriguing and dynamic characters from films all over the world to have emerged from the genre over this past year. This is a look at the well-written and developed characters that made the top titles of 2014 the most talked about horror films. Will they become future genre icons? There’s a strong possibility and here’s why…

WARNING: There will be some spoilers. 

  1. Amelia, The Babadook, Portrayed By Essie Davis.

images

While she may not be the most glamorous of characters, single mother Amelia is an unforgettable force that drives the terror in the critically-acclaimed, The Babadook. Suffering from terrible nightmares re-living the tragic night of her husband’s death and the birth of son Samuel, Amelia struggles to hold down her job, care for her boy as well as deal with snide comments from fellow mothers. Amelia is a fragile character, which is interesting in terms of this expectation where lead females in horror have to be strong and kick ass. There’s most definitely a human quality about her as she’s written with honesty and realism which then corresponds wonderfully in how she copes with the threat of the ‘monster under the bed’ trope. For those of you who have seen the film, you’ll know that with Amelia there is more than meets the eye. For a seemingly ordinary character there is much more to her than first imagined.

 

  1. Kylie Bucknell, Housebound, Portrayed By Morgana O’Reilly

housebound3

Twenty-something tearaway Kylie Bucknell is an unlikely heroine in Richard Johnstone’s highly entertaining horror/comedy Housebound. Moody, cynical and antagonistic, Kylie is the opposite of the traditional lead female protagonist in terms of likability. She isn’t best pleased to be put under house arrest after she is caught robbing an ATM machine. What makes matters worse is she is forced back under the same roof as her overbearing, yet well-intentioned mother who has her suspicions that their house must be haunted. Johnstone claimed he wanted to create a leading lady that ‘wouldn’t scare easily’ which works perfectly as along with Kylie the audience is able to remain as sceptical as she is until further developments are revealed over the course of the film. There is certainly something different about her, she’s frustrating yet endearing to a degree. Her characterisation comes full circle as she shows she isn’t afraid to take risks and proves to be resourceful when it comes to saving the day.

 

  1. Anna Peterson, The Guest, Portrayed By Maika Monroe

download

Anna is the only daughter of the grief-stricken Peterson family, the subjects of Adam Wingard’s fantastical love letter to 80’s action flicks, The Guest. Smart and sophisticated, Anna is one step ahead of her family in figuring out there is something darker at play when it comes to their mysterious new house guest, David who claims to have fought alongside their deceased son in war. Incredibly stylish with an awesome taste in music, Anna is no fool and will do what it takes to survive and protect her family even if it means taking on an unstoppable force in the shape of experiment-gone-horribly wrong David. Anna carefully researches who she’s up against, aligning her facts before facing confrontation. On the whole she is just an average girl in an extraordinary situation however manages to outlive a number of armed military men! Anna is The Guest’s standout female character and a surprising survivor.

 

  1. Louise, Spring, Portrayed By Nadia Hilker

spring-movie

Beautiful, mystical and enchanting, Louise is the core female character in the most romantic genre film of the year. She captures the heart of protagonist Evan in the idyllic Italian setting. Louise harbours a dark secret that threatens their entire romance but also enhances the vulnerability behind the confident exterior she projects. Louise is charismatic, charming and fun but also enigmatic and fearful. She has a naturalistic quality to her under the monster movie metaphor as she represents the fears and anxieties of beginning a new relationship and having that jeopardised if the other person was to discover something ‘different’ about the person they’re with. At times she comes across as a lonely creature that holds herself back but at the same she has a lot to offer. Louise is a captivating yet complex character and unique within her own mythology (you’ll have to watch the film to find out more!).

 

  1. Amy, See No Evil 2, Portrayed by Danielle Harris

safe_image

If you read my review of the Soska’s most recent feature See No Evil 2, you’ll be aware I wasn’t 100% sold on the film. Its redeeming feature for me was Scream Queen Danielle Harris’s portrayal of morgue attendant Amy. Amy is forced to cancel her birthday plans when a number of blood-soaked bodies slaughtered by serial killer Jacob Goodnight arrive at the hospital causing her to become stuck on the graveyard shift. Her loyal friends subsequently bring the party to her, unknowingly offering up fresh victims to the not-so-dead killer. In typical post-modern slasher style, Amy has been written with depth, allowing the audience to empathize and root for her as we should for a traditional final girl. What makes Amy all the more heartbreaking is her view on life and reasons for working in the morgue instead of chasing her ambitions as well as the unexpected twist on the character making her part in the film all the more meaningful. Amy is See No Evil 2’s saving grace, strong, intelligent and endearing, there’s a reason Danielle Harris is the ‘final girl’ because she plays roles like this incredibly well.

 

  1. Eva Sanchez, The Purge: Anarchy, Portrayed By Carmen Ejogo

maxresdefault

A character unaware of her full potential until her whole world is thrown into chaos. Eva Sanchez is a hard worker, trying to get by and earn whatever little money she can to provide for her ill father and teenage daughter. After her father offers himself up for purging to the wealthy in order to pull his family out of debt, Eva locks down her apartment and hopes that she and her daughter make it through the night. However when a scorned enemy breaks in and attempts to murder them, Eva and Cali are thrust out onto the streets. Luckily they join forces with a mysterious protector named Frank who has a hidden agenda, followed by a young couple also caught up in the anarchy when their car is jacked. Eva proves headstrong and somewhat of a leader as she works along with Frank to ensure the groups safety. Eva is compassionate and fierce; she comes to realize her true strength when faced with a harrowing ordeal.

Do you agree with my choices, are there any other kick ass females of recent movies that should have made the list? Feel free to comment below or tweet me on @hayleyr1989.

As a special extra, here’s something a little Nasty from the Ghostface Girls:

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

The Short Films of DreamSeekers Productions: The New World (2010): WiHM2014 Special.

Posted in The Short Films of Dream Seekers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Welcome back to the monthly reviews of The Short Films of Dreamseekers Productions exclusively on Hayley’s Horror Reviews. While not strictly a horror short, The New World does deal with notions of the magical and fantastical which is closely linked to the genre. The production company present a versatile and strong female led piece that fits in perfectly with February’s Women in Horror Recognition Month’s celebrations. 

obj106geo132shd8pg1p29

The New World (2010) was more of an experimental film for Dreamseekers Productions. In this offering, Peter Dukes and his team use the fantasy genre wonderfully to present a captivating visual tale of a wandering fairy (Katy Townsend) enchanted with the human world. The New World truly embodies the power of film as it returns to the silent era, taking it’s viewers on a breathtaking journey of imagery and music. The narrative itself most definitely has a Hans Christian Anderson vibe to it, taking inspiration from the classic fairytale The Little Mermaid (story:1837) featuring a mythical creature discovering a whole new life in which she longs to be part of. Through the POV of the fairy she sees the human world as idyllic and connected, aspiring to belong there. She sees the beauty of the earth that most humans take for granted as everything but her remains still. This evokes notions of not seeing the reality of the true world but also slowing down for a moment in order to appreciate what’s around us. Following a visit to the Fairy Queen (Elyse Ashton) her wish is granted. The short then takes a more ambiguous turn incorporating an intriguing ending which speaks volumes without having to use any dialogue.

NewWorld_05_800Xx533

index

The fairy herself is a determined creature, she knows what she wants and takes action in order to fulfill her wishes. Through giving up a world of magic for an ordinary life she demonstrates that she is aware there is much more out there to explore. Her costume is also another interesting aspect to the film as she displays an earthy look complimented with gothic fashion that could belong in a female-fronted rock band. Other than the narrative, The New World is a film that relishes in its cinematography and embraces it’s stunning locations, notably the beautiful forest. Cinematography is one of Dreamseekers strengths and they certainly take advantage of their surroundings in this instance. The blue lighting used in the fairy world among the trees is nicely done and proves effective, enhancing the mystical elements of the short. Katy Townsend carries the film purely through expression conveying the fairy’s sense of wonder throughout, its an interesting role from an acting perspective in that sense by not working from a dialogue heavy script. Mesmerizing and compelling, using pleasant, dream-like non-diegetic music to compliment its visuals, The New World is another quality and creative short film from Dukes’s company.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (3-1)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here is part five and the final piece of coverage celebrating the fifth annual Women in Horror Recognition Month. Earlier this month I began a countdown of who I consider to be the bravest final girls in horror as well as the most psychotic and deadly women. Narrowing it down out of a vast range of characters that have made an impact on our blood-splattered screens for decades has been tough and there’s plenty more I’d have liked to have included. A follow-up countdown next year may be a possibility. Now we’re onto the top three, it’s time to analyze my ultimate favorite genre women. The criteria set for these three is down to the impact they’ve had on the genre and on myself, their iconic status within Horror, how they’ve either set up recognizable tropes or challenged them and just for being downright awesome.

1003221_10152571738910558_1375135215_n

I want to thank everyone for their support in reading my work. For all the shares, likes, re-tweets and comments. Your feedback is always more than welcome and its always brilliant to speak to like-minded fans. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices. Who do YOU think should be THE Woman of Horror?

I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Hannah Neurotica who has set up this amazing cause to address the restrictions and prejudices that many women have faced in the industry and to celebrate a genre that has so many phenomenal female contributors. Let’s all keep raising awareness for Women in Horror Recognition Month. Long may it continue…!

WARNING: There will be Spoilers!!

3. Mary Mason, American Mary (2012)

  • Played By Katharine Isabelle
  • Written and Directed By Jen and Sylvia Soska.

amermary01  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sadistic surgeon Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) slashed her way onto this list. Interestingly, she is the first character included in this countdown who has been written and directed by women, which to a degree emphasizes the lack of strong, iconic female characters written by women for women within the genre. But when Mary splattered onto the Horror scene back in 2012 she certainly made her mark as the fabulous filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka. The Twisted Twins) worked incredibly hard to promote the film, generating plenty of interest via social media and the film wound up being one of the most ‘must-see’ events in the horror genre that year. It also resulted in major studio Universal acquiring the rights to the film making it’s female directors a modern day industry success story. The film itself actually laments the disheartening experiences the Soska’s went through as striving filmmakers echoing the negativity and sleaziness they encountered amongst the film system.

One of the most fascinating pieces of horror to emerge this decade, American Mary is a modern day Universal Monster in every sense of the word. She is a deeply complex character with so many layers its hard not to be compelled by her story arc within the film from promising medical student to rogue body modification surgeon to psychotic woman. Mary is the embodiment of a woman who can be both highly intelligent and sexy. With an array of stylish yet provocative outfits, Mary looks amazing whether she’s covered in blood in a PVC apron or in the designer green dress created for her by Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). She knows what she has to do in order to survive and is not to be crossed with as deadly consequences will arise. The majority of the time Mary is cool, calm and collected which is vital as she carries out some obscure and unconventional methods of surgery in order to either please her clients or torture her victims. When a horrific incident happens to her she takes matters into her own hands enlisting the help of smitten club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo) and gentle giant, bodyguard Lance (Twan Holliday) in order to act out her revenge.

A master at her craft, its evident she relishes in the work she does, which molds her into a creative, beautiful yet feared woman. The majority of the time Mary is sarcastic and deadpan which underlines her disillusion with her unfortunate experiences. Her relationships with the other characters in the film is interesting. She doesn’t quite let them in and deals with her problems mainly alone. Her quasi-friendship with Betty Boop lookalike Beatrice (Tristan Risk) is one of the film’s highlights, with contrasting personalities and attitudes Beatrice tries her hardest to get to know what’s behind Mary’s exterior more so than other characters. Through Billy’s eyes she is seen as sensual yet frightening, comparatively to other women he hires at the club he holds more respect for Mary and there’s a genuine fondness on his part. She also manages to deceive Detective Dolor (John Emmet Tracy) for as long as she can demonstrating how double-crossing she can be while protecting herself and her unique body modification “business”.

A complex and compelling character, Mary continues to gain cult and iconic status providing Scream Queen Katharine Isabelle with another memorable role under her belt next to Ginger from Ginger Snaps (2000). Whether feared or admired, there’s certainly something about Mary!

2. Laurie Strode, Halloween Series (1978, 1981, 1998, 2002)

  • Played By Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Directed By John Carpenter
  • Written By John Carpenter and Debra Hill

laurie strode  Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is one of the earliest examples and arguably the most famous of the ‘final girl’ trope. Despite not being the first horror heroine to come up against and survive a maniacal killer in the slasher territory (See. Jess, Black Christmas (1974) and Sally, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as earlier examples) she holds a great deal of significance. Laurie’s character and status as ‘the final girl’ has been famously examined by Carol Clover in Men, Women and Chainsaws and its become pretty much concrete that Halloween (1978) set the standard for the slasher films that came after it and coined several of the tropes that have been recognizable ever since. The term ‘Final Girl’ came from Clover who stated the attributes as being a strong female character and one that was distinct from other females within slashers. As us horror enthusiasts know if you’re the slutty blonde cheerleader your more likely going to die but if you’re the shy, bookish, virginal girl, you’re going to survive! The final girl is the one who realizes the extent of the threat facing her and its even suggested that once she confronts the killer and more than often stabs him with a knife (a penetrative motion) its used as a metaphor for her sexual frustration.

It seems as if ‘Final Girls’ during this period of horror were constructed as masculine, with their feminine qualities suppressed, they were in place more as an experience for cinematic terror. By having a female figure rather than a male the intent was to convey fear as women aren’t viewed as physically strong as men. It created more vulnerability when the final girl would face up against a killer twice her size.

Another attribute of ‘The Final Girl’ is having a gender neutral name which supports this idea that the role of the female in slasher films is for a male audience to be able to identify with. Clover’s theory however has been criticized for being problematic as it doesn’t suggest that the heroine reflects female identity and anxieties. Laurie in fact does display several of the characteristics Clover set out. Despite thwarting the killer at the climax and surviving, Clover’s focus on a male outlet has been argued against as Laurie is ultimately rescued by a male character Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Through this she is not entirely an ‘active’ final girl who seeks out the killer herself but she is one step ahead of the other characters as she remains continually cautious and is smart enough to keep herself alive. Laurie is an early reference point for the trope however she does evolve over the years. In the sequel she is hospitalized but still displays more awareness, warning others about the boogeyman who attacked her, the doctors dismiss her fears and continue to sedate her. In Halloween II (1981) Laurie makes the connection that her attacker is in fact Michael Myers and also her brother. With that knowledge she is able to defeat him once more with the help of Loomis. During Halloween IV (1988)V (1989) and The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) she is presumed dead leaving behind a young daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) who becomes Myers next target. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) its discovered that Laurie is alive and living behind a secret identity. Fragile and unable to cope with her past, she is on medication and a shadow of her former self, which makes her more human. This time round she has her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett) to protect as Michael targets his little sister once more. By the end Laurie gains the courage to fight back and finish off Michael Myers once and for all, beheading him with an axe. By this point Laurie had molded from the vulnerable teenager in the first installment to a stronger woman. Unfortunately Halloween:Resurrection (2002) exists, destroying everything the previous film had intended with the evolution of Laurie’s place as a final girl, by having Myers kill her off in an asylum in the films opening minutes. Allegedly Laurie had decapitated a security guard rather than Myers in H20.

As stated Laurie Strode is one of the most emblematic heroines to emerge from the genre. Even though she does fall into several categories that make up the traditional final girl, its not to say that she doesn’t display any feminine qualities. She begins as a teenage girl with insecurities and becomes a strong woman which is plenty for a female audience to relate to. Laurie is without a doubt the first notable final girl in the slasher sub-genre and a huge influence on all the strong horror females that came after her.

1. Sidney Prescott, Scream Series (1996, 1997, 2000, 2011)

  • Played By Neve Campbell
  • Directed By Wes Craven
  • Written By Kevin Williamson

scream4_06  The countdown has now reached an end and its time to finally discuss the feistiest female in Horror and that is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from the slick, post-modern Scream franchise.

If Laurie Strode was responsible for evoking ideas about ‘the final girl’ then Sidney Prescott was in place to challenge them. The 90’s were upon us and the horror genre was in dire need of a re-vamp. Precisely everything had been done by this point and filmmakers needed to find a way to keep on terrifying audiences who were now all too aware of the cliches and tropes thrown at them. Enter Kevin Williamson, a complete godsend. Williamson re-invented the genre with his quick-witted, self-aware but also brutal Scream (1996) along with the experienced genre director Wes Craven on board. Instead of re-hashing the same tired conventions, Williamson challenged them by creating a slasher film where the characters were conscious of being in one yet still met a bloody demise at the hands of an all new sinister serial killer, Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) who knows these movies inside out and through the knowledge of the conventions is able to outsmart the targeted teens.

As a final girl Sidney on one hand does qualify for some of the attributes Clover discussed. She has a gender-neutral name and has intimacy issues. On the other hand she is clued up on how females in horror are constructed yet when faced with a slasher-type situation she acts on instinct rather than logic. That’s until the sequels where she becomes even more savvy on how to outsmart the knife-wielding masked murderer. The previously mentioned intimacy issues are down to trauma rather than just playing the good girl. Sidney’s mother was brutally butchered before the events of Scream (1996) however she eventually bows down to pressure from suspected boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and sleeps with him right before the blood-curdling climax. Even more of a turning point is Billy does turn out to be one of the killers meaning in this instance rules have changed and Sidney not only has sex, she has sex with the villain which establishes what audiences thought they knew about horror conventions is about to change.

By Scream 4 (2011) Sidney has encountered and defeated seven serial killers that donne the Ghostface disguise all out for her blood. Sidney achieved somewhat of a sick, celebrity status as ‘everyone’s favorite victim’ even though she yearns for a normal life where she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder. She overcomes more than most, the death of her friends and her only stable boyfriend Derek (Jerry O’Connell) as well as family members attempting to massacre her yet she still comes out on top. There has been rumors over the years that if another Scream installment was to be made there is the possibility that Sidney may be killed off however that would be disrespectful to her character and legacy and would be taking it down the previously mentioned Halloween:Resurrection route, which would just be awful! What’s empowering about Sidney is she isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and takes no second chances when eliminating the threat. There has been criticism that technically Sidney is as bad as the killers in the franchise as in self-defense she murders them in equally bloody measures however given the situation any rational person would react similarly in order to save themselves and remaining friends. She does all she can to protect herself, in the sequel she stays around her friends and is given two bodyguards, in the third installment she is a broken woman who isolates herself in a highly-secured house before deciding to come out and face the danger rather than pushing her surviving friends away. By the fourth and most recent film Sidney is wiser and displays more confidence, she even becomes an author recounting her traumatic experiences as a way of catharsis.

Sidney Prescott is my number one female of horror because she is strong, empowered, determined, will always fight back and has a well-rounded character arc. Sidney is a survivor who has left just as much as an impact as Laurie before her through turning conventions on their head and giving genre audiences much more to expect from what a final girl is capable of.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (6-4)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Welcome to part four of my continuation of coverage for Women in Horror Recognition Month. Additionally to this countdown there is plenty more awesome Women in Horror goodness on the way as Caitlyn and I have recorded a podcast focusing on the topic as a whole and it’s importance in terms of raising awareness surrounding the cause. The podcast is part of our new collaboration, Ghostface Girls, which you can read more about here.

Now at number six, I am close to revealing who will be the top feisty female from the genre. The final girl or psychotic woman in question will be a character that I have been able to identify with for a number of reasons and has the repeated watch-ability factor, if she’s a villainous vixen it will be down to the lengths she will go to in order to successfully carry out her motives. But until then here’s some more wonderfully, wicked women that are worthy of the title “Women of Horror”.

1459328_10153513983180387_1261675860_n

Once again, here is the obligatory **SPOILER WARNING**, I encourage you to check out the films discussed before reading any further.

6. Kate, Inbred (2011)

  • Played By Jo Hartley
  • Directed By Alex Chandon
  • Written By Alex Chandon and Paul Shrimpton

kate inbred From growing cult classic in-the-making Inbred, Kate (Jo Hartley) is one of the toughest women you’ll encounter in British horror cinema. As part of a character-building weekend, care-worker Kate embarks on a trip to the fictional, backwoods Yorkshire village of Mortlake with a group of young offenders and her socially awkward co-worker Jeff (James Doherty). After crossing paths with the deranged locals, events take a brutal and sinister turn as the group must band together in the ultimate fight for survival. One by one they are captured, tormented and tortured through some strange and twisted methods that accumulates in one of the goriest shows you’ll ever see, reminiscent of the grand-guignol with a 70’s nostalgic edge. Kate is strong and feisty, she does what it takes to get out of Mortlake alive while protecting the young teenagers left in her care. She is the maternal figure of the group and despite displaying her down-to-earth personality she doesn’t take any grief off anyone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.  In comparison to Jeff who enforces strict discipline she is able to handle the teenagers through engaging on they’re level, with a fun but firm approach. Eventually she influences Jeff to work with them in a similar manner. With the shock and panic that follows the carnage and as the group are killed off one by one, Kate remains determined and holds her own against the endearingly insane landlord Jim (Seamus O’Neill) and the rest of the inbreds! Kate also displays a more human side in one of the film’s most dramatic scenes; while trapped in an isolated cottage, she has an emotional break down as events begin to get to her, which strongly reflects Jo Hartley’s acting range. A fighter until the bitter end, Kate has qualities of a final girl, she keeps on running for as long as she can and is extremely handy with a shot gun. Well-written, brave and fiery, Kate is the ideal modern horror heroine.

5. Carrie White, Carrie (1976)

  • Played By Sissy Spacek
  • Directed By Brian DePalma
  • Written By Stephen King (novel) and Lawrence D. Cohen (Screenplay)

carrie  Stephen King’s groundbreaking, teen novel Carrie has been adapted for the big and small screen on more than one occasion. However this review will focus on the most iconic adaptation of the telekinetic, terrifying teenager portrayed by Sissy Spacek in Brian DePalma’s 1976 classic film. Abused, humiliated and tormented, Spacek’s Carrie generated an undeniable wave of empathy for the character as she plays a naive, young girl unaware of the depths of the power she possesses. Carrie represents teenage insecurities that are present in all of us, it’s the difficult age where we’re all settling into our own skin. Adding onto these troubling years is the extreme bullying Carrie endures at the hands of her more self-aware, pop-cultured peers. Carrie also suffers mental and physical abuse by her mentally ill and fanatical religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie), a woman so fearful she shields her daughter from the reality of the outside world. Considering all this, it’s a surprise that Carrie didn’t snap before prom night however the development of her powers is in place as a metaphor to reflect her coming-of-age and descendent into puberty. Ostracized for being “different”, Carrie is the subject of public humiliation and cruelty as she experiences her first period unaware of what’s happening to her. Led by the bitchy Chris Hargansen (Nancy Allen), the group of viscous girls maliciously throw tampons at her and make cruel jibes. The only one on her side is her gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) who is compassionate and encourages Carrie’s sense of self-worth. She punishes the girls with good intentions, denying them access to prom unless they attend daily detention but ironically it acts as the beginning of Carrie’s downfall when Chris refuses to comply and has an even nastier trick up her sleeve.

Carrie’s home life is no better. Her mother treats her first period as immoral, “first comes the blood, then comes the boys”. She frequently locks her in the closet, forcing her to pray for her “sins”. Another character that encompasses any kind of empathy for Carrie is her former tormenter Sue Snell (Amy Irving), racked with guilt, Sue comes up with a peace offering. By sacrificing her own dreams of prom, she insists her boyfriend Tommy (William Katt) take Carrie in her place in a bid to bring her out of her shell and experience one night of high school normality. Sabotaging her plans is the bitter Chris who decides to pull the ultimate prank. Armed with a bucket of pigs blood, Chris orchestrates Carrie and Tommy to win the titles of Prom King and Queen, ensuring they’ll be center stage. At the pivotal moment, Chris and boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) pull the chord, unleashing blood all over poor Carrie. One humiliation too far and proving her mother’s fears right, Carrie gives her high school a night of terror to remember. With her powers in full swing, Carrie traps her peers and teachers in the gym, killing them in a series of brutal attacks following a vision of each and every one of them mocking and laughing at her. It doesn’t stop there, when she returns home she wreaks revenge on her mother, literally crucifying her in a symbolic and fitting killing. The house then falls down around them and Carrie meets her bloody demise.

A tragic figure. Carrie’s external influences are the reasons behind her frustration and anger. Had she not been treated like an outsider in all aspects of her life Carrie may have used her powers for positive means. She is a character many can relate to and when I first watched the film aged thirteen it proved a cathartic experience. Despite her destructive end, Carrie proves that bullies need to be stood up to with the homicidal element in place as a metaphor. She is a girl we’ve all been at one point or another trying to find our way in the world amongst the brutality of high school in which she offers a fantastical outlet for.

4. Nancy Thompson, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  • Played By Heather Langenkamp
  • Written and Directed By Wes Craven

heather-1  Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is arguably one of the most memorable final girls of 1980’s horror movies from one of it’s famous franchises. Nancy was the first final girl to take on the frightening Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) and proves that the original is superior. A Nightmare on Elm Street was groundbreaking for its time. It reflected 80’s American culture and fears present within society as many films of that era were said to do so at the time. As a horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street blurred the gap between reality and fantasy or ‘secure’ and ‘paranoid’ horror, a theory developed by Andrew Tudor. This then allowed the character of Nancy to be more of an ‘active’ final girl, instead of waiting for the monster to come and terrorize her, she brings him out herself ready to fight.

Nancy’s character demonstrates a change in how slasher movie heroine’s were written. This was arguably a turning point in the genre and hinting at a more post-modern approach that was on its way, in which Craven experimented with further in the mid-90’s. Resourceful and productive, Nancy is one step ahead of her oblivious parents and ignorant authority figures, as her friends are murdered by the knife-fingered, badly-burned psychopath, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. Nancy must rectify the mistakes of her parents and the adults in the town by restoring the balance of normality. As stated, the film was a reflection of the breakdown of the family unit which was on the increase during this period. Nancy’s role is to literally pick up the pieces and put Kruger to rest once and for all. In comparison to her mother, who is an alcoholic and displays weakness, Nancy is self-reliant and is aware of what she needs to do to survive. That said, she comes up against several hurdles in order to defeat Kruger. The insomnia she develops leads to the assumption that Nancy is physically losing her mind. As she descends further into a state of insanity it becomes questionable as to whether she will come out alive.

We’re all aware that Nancy is in fact successful, drawing Kruger into her environment instead of allowing herself to be killed in his version of reality. In the end she turns her back on him, demonstrating she is no longer afraid, ultimately destroying him. We meet Nancy again in the third installment, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). Now working as a dream researcher at the Westin Hills Asylum, she returns to help the last children of Elm Street battle Kruger once and for all, drawing on her own experiences. Sadly Kruger does kill her second time round, however her legacy lives on in horror history. Nancy is a well-remembered woman of horror, determined, independent and is one of the first of a new breed of the horror heroine.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (12-10)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

To continue the celebration of the fifth annual Women in Horror Recognition month, here’s some more feisty, fearless and fiendish females to sink your teeth into.

I would like to thank everyone for all your kind comments on Twitter regarding my work on this site and collaborations with Caitlyn Downs, it is very much appreciated and I’m glad you all enjoy the HORROR as much as I do!

Again there will be spoilers included therefore if you have not seen the films that feature these gory girls I’m about to discuss you have been warned!!

1618703_10152184521686215_525207042_n

12. Nancy Downs, The Craft (1996)

  • Played By Fairuza Balk
  • Directed By Andrew Fleming
  • Written By Peter Filardi and Andrew Fleming

Nancy-the-craft2  Welcome to the witching hour! This is the first supernatural woman of horror to feature in this countdown. 90’s fantasy/horror The Craft tells the story of four teenage witches who dabble in the occult for their own gain. It has become a  quiet, cult hit over the years and for me was one of the most significant films that dealt with both concepts of witchcraft and female empowerment. I first saw the film during my younger teen years, it proved impressionable and did influence me to dabble a little bit in Wicca without the negative effects of course! As mentioned The Craft featured four, young teenage girls all with their own issues and abilities however the standout character has to be troubled goth Nancy Downs. Fairuza Balk plays this antagonistic character with malice and a side of kookiness in an expressive performance. Nancy is the witch that takes her spell-casting too far, raising her levels of insanity as she loses control of all the destructive events in her life. When we first meet the gothic witch she is reluctant to accept new girl Sarah (Robin Tunney) into her coven which also consists of Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True) but caves in when Bonnie insists they require a fourth member and Sarah is definitely “the one”. Nancy’s jealousy of Sarah grows throughout the film especially when her user ex boyfriend Chris (Skeet Ulrich) develops an interest in Sarah. In this case she demonstrates notions of sisterhood warning Sarah of Chris’s notorious reputation, also informing her she contracted an STD from him. When it comes to the crunch she provides him with his just desserts by using her powers of telekinesis and glamouring  to push him out a window. Her home life isn’t much better, her mother’s seedy boyfriend often makes inappropriate remarks toward her and is abusive toward her mother, when enough is enough she uses her powers to cause him to have a heart attack.

Essentially Nancy is a murderer and grows more and more psychotic as the film goes on. Nancy’s hostility is down to rejection from her school mates, broken home life and negative sexual experiences. She is treated like an outsider and does embrace that to a degree by manipulating the elements around her. Nancy grows into a very powerful witch which is presented as a metaphor for a deep addiction. Her complex relationship with Sarah is interesting to watch, in the beginning she uses Sarah as a gateway to explore her own powers, they do bond however Sarah becomes frightened of what Nancy is capable of. Sarah’s only choice is to strip Nancy of her powers leaving her completely insane by the film’s end. The last we see of her is locked away in a mental institution unable to harm again. This is where Fairuza Balk really showcases her acting talents in an unforgettably disturbing scene. Nancy is one of the most feared women on this list and left a trail of destruction behind her. Twisted, stylish and completely derailed Nancy deserves a worthy place as a woman of horror  as an example of a woman who’s perhaps too influential with more than she can handle.

11. Feral Woman, The Woman (2011).

  • Played By Pollyanna McIntosh
  • Directed By Lucky McKee
  • Written By Jack Ketchum

thewoman  The Woman is undeniably one of the most thought-provoking and disturbing pieces of horror to emerge so far this decade. The character of the feral woman is an interesting and different addition to the countdown as unlike the other characters included she hasn’t been conditioned into being an empowered female through specific gender ideals within society or her relationships with men. She is independent through her own means and has had to be tough through surviving in the wild. She is a fascinating study of a person who lacks social experience, displaying animalistic tendencies and how that contrasts women born into a society dominated by men. Through being known as simply “The Woman” it evokes a sense of ambiguity as to who she is and who she potentially could be. The film’s prime focus is on one middle-class male’s twisted experiment to “civilize” her into being submissive to him just like he’s enforced on his own wife and daughters. Unfortunately for sicko Chris Cleek (Sean Bridges) he may have asked for more than he bargained for! Through tormenting The Woman with torturous devices he only maintains a certain level of control. Cleek can only restrain The Woman but without those means the level of control is reversed and without knowing right from wrong she is not held responsible for what she is capable of. The Woman herself signifies the core of what it is to be a female being by taking away all the teachings and expectations women have been put upon and forced to accept throughout history. For Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), Cleek’s conflicted daughter, The Woman represents an outlet for her to explore her full potential, signifying strength and independence. The Woman is a character that’s so close to the bone as she defines an overwhelmingly strong female, challenging the concepts set out by traditional gender roles and society’s expectations. The Woman certainly entices and welcomes feminist readings as her character construction of what she symbolizes is intriguing in several ways in relation to how she’s compared to the more obedient women within the film.

10. Marybeth Dunston, Hatchet II (2010)

  • Played By Danielle Harris
  • Written and Directed By Adam Green

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell  With Adam Green’s 80’s throwback, splatter-fest Hatchet series, as well as a recognizable new killer, the films have presented the ideal, modernized final girl in the shape of Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris). Despite being played by another actress, Tamara Feldman in the first Hatchet installment, it’s legendary “Scream Queen” Danielle Harris’s performance that has shone through in the follow-up sequel as the young woman, tormented and hell-bent on revenge against murderous monster Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). The strength that lies in Marybeth’s character is that she is self-aware, determined and fearless, willing to go to any lengths in order to defeat her opponent. She originally encounters the grotesque Hatchet-Face when its discovered that her father and brother were brutally murdered following a fishing trip to the murky swamp. With only one culprit in mind, Marybeth enlists the help of the cryptic Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) and a number of hunters and gunmen to assist her in yet another swamp visit to obliterate Crowley once and for all. When it comes down to the crunch, Marybeth is the one left standing as the bodies pile up. She certainly doesn’t hold back in the badass stakes as she takes Crowley on head first releasing all that pent-up anger by repeatedly bashing his head in with his own weapon. She then fittingly finishes off the job with a shotgun with no qualms about getting covered in blood! Marybeth is always one step ahead and outsmarts Reverend Zombie with his own dark plans to rid the world of Hatchet-Face. This also means that Marybeth has to deal with more than one villain in order to gain what she desires but still emerges the hero. Adam Green has written a final girl who is feisty, sophisticated, resourceful and capable. Marybeth’s character is the embodiment of what audiences need to be seeing from a final girl in recent times. It’s as if she represents a particular stock character who has evolved as the decades have gone on and is horror’s strongest  current example. Instead of hiding from the killer, she takes matters into her own hands, she doesn’t play the victim and has a clear idea about what she wants. Head-strong and smart, Marybeth is the prime reason to watch the Hatchet films, strong women don’t get any better than this. I’d like to note that I’ve yet to see the third Hatchet film. Despite hearing some unpopular opinions it will still be an interesting watch to see what Marybeth does next when she is faced yet again with the gruesomely gore-tastic Victor Crowley.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.