Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WOMEN SHOWING HORROR STREET CRED WITH "THE POP FIX: WORST THINGS I READ ABOUT HORROR MOVIES"

I've found myself growing increasingly obsessed with film/pop culture personality Clarke Wolfe.  I was first introduced to her through the awesome podcast The Bloodcast, but I've recently found myself addicted to the Youtube group she's with, THE POP FIX.  THE POP FIX covers just about every corner of of the pop culture world, but Clarke is the one I can depend on to bring up some awesome reviews and opinions on what's going on with horror.  A popular feature of THE POP FIX is a segment called "Worst Things I Read" or WTIR for short.  The host (or hosts depending on the topic) cite reviews, tweets, articles, and whatever else they can get their hands on that all discuss the topic at hand in a negative manner.  Clarke, in true form has finally put out a "Worst Things I Read" about horror!  Clarke isn't alone with this edition of WTIR and paired up with writer/director/producer/host/Youtuber/model/fashionista Jill Kill.  These two women give an entertaining and educational look at horror classics and discuss the topic with well researched arguments.  Think women can't talk about horror?  Think again.

Check out the video below!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

IN DEFENSE OF THE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

(Update: Turns out my tumor WAS malignant and I had to undergo severe abdominal surgery. They removed 40% of my pancreas and my entire spleen. I'm currently in recovery and doing pretty well.  However, in lieu of a traditional article,  I wanted to x-post an article I wrote as a guest for Gorepress last year.  I hope you enjoy it!)

In honor of this year’s annual Women in Horror month celebration, there are going to be countless articles published about the errors in the ways the horror genre has represented women over the years. While the injustices of female filmmakers are greatly apparent and consistently topical, the idea of sexism and degrading roles of women in the horror genre are perhaps the most talked about subjects. It is no secret that the gender bias within the horror genre is prevalent and it is infrequent for a female character to be anything other than a ‘stock character’. I may be disappointing my feminist allies everywhere, because I’m about to play devil’s advocate in a huge way.

I've seen Boy Scouts tie tighter knots.
The “Damsel In Distress” archetype is arguably the first character type for women in popular culture. It has without a doubt been cited as the biggest example of differential treatment of genders in literature, film, and works of art. “Damsels in Distress” are often scoffed at as perpetuating the stereotype that women are the weaker of the sexes and are rendered useless without the assistance of a man. The Damsel in Distress is the grandmother of other incredibly offensive female archetypes like the “princess in the castle,” “missing white woman syndrome,” “Daphne Blakes,” and most recently, “Bella Swans.” Despite their seemingly offensive and stereotypical portrayal of women in cinema, they may be quite possibly the most important stock character to happen to horror films.

Before I continue any further, let it be known that I firmly believe that women can be strong and independent members of society capable of taking care of themselves and making their own decisions. I do not believe women are prizes to be won. My ability to analyze a potentially counterproductive aspect of film criticism does not change my feminist viewpoints.

Why is hair smelling a thing?
 From the earliest examples of horror films, “Damsels in Distress” (or women in peril) were the only roles that actresses would play. From the beautiful Dea in The Man Who Laughs, to the kidnapped Madeline Parker in White Zombie, these women were often the sole conflict of horror films. Although these women were written as nothing more than beautiful prized possessions, it was their existence that propelled the story further than just introductory statements. Film theorist, Budd Boetticher, stated “what counts is what the heroine provokes, or rather what she represents. She is the one, or rather the love or fear she inspires in the hero, or else the concern he feels for her, who makes him act the way he does. In herself the woman has not the slightest importance.” To put it simply, without the simplistic nature of the “Damsel in Distress,” there would be no story. These female characters are absolutely vital to the storytelling.

Women: capable of continuing on the species.
 Here’s the thing. Here is the thing that no one ever cares to admit: we care more about the well being of women than we do men. Don’t believe me? As Major West said in 28 Days Later… “Because women mean a future.” When there is a disaster or a terrible event occurring, people scream “women and children first” or violent criminals are more willing to spare them. This concept has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of women and children being weaker than adult males, this has everything to do with the fact that without women, there is no existence. Men cannot bare children, therefore, they cannot continue on the species. Women are the most important attribute to survival and therefore, are the most valuable creatures to mankind.  When we look at it historically, the reason that “Damsels in Distress” were popular are due to the fact that up until the last forty or so years, there wasn’t any insight to the female psyche. Women were seen as inferior beings and the “Damsel in Distress” is merely a product of its time. Yes, the “damsel in distress” still makes its appearance into films today, but the impact this character type made on horror far surpasses its offensive nature.

*Plays Destiny's Child's "Survivor" in the background*

Without the “damsel in distress,” we wouldn’t have a character to be offended and angry towards. That may sound silly, but it’s true. If we weren’t so intensely offended by this archetype, we wouldn’t have rebelled and tried so hard to disprove it. Strangely enough, horror movies showcase some of the greatest female protagonists in film history regardless of genre. The rebellion against the damsel in distress introduced entirely new archetypes into the horror genre. Badass women like Alice in Resident Evil or the ladies in The Descent, intellectual anti-heroes like May, women who learned to use their gender against men like Ginger in Ginger Snaps, victims turned champions like Jennifer in I Spit On Your Grave, and brutal killers like Asami in Audition. All of these women (whether for the ‘good’ or ‘evil’) are the complete and utter opposite of a damsel in distress. While many of them do follow stereotypically sexist ideals (they’re all conventionally attractive and they’re ‘crazy bitches’) these women would not exist if it weren’t for the “damsel in distress.” In an attempt to create characters so opposite of the damsels audiences had become accustomed to, it forced storytellers and filmmakers to think outside the box and come up with different ways to explore the female character.

Just, you know, avoid that boat...
Witness: The Final Girl. The slasher film has arguably the biggest fanbase and brought more iconic characters to the horror world than any other subgenre. Although a bit formulaic at times, they all contain the all mighty Final Girl. Final girls are the virginal, usually brunette, woman who remains as the sole survivor of the slasher film for exemplifying intellect, morals, and strength. The Final Girl is the polar opposite of the damsel in distress and showcases one of the most radical ways to view female characters in the horror genre. Although it is nearly impossible for a filmmaker to write a totally non-offensive female character, the final girl is the closest thing we’re going to get. Hell, even Sidney survived in SCREAM after throwing her virginity to her mother’s killer. Female characters are evolving with every film, and it all goes back to the damsel in distress. Whether you choose to agree with me or not, damsels in distress were inadvertently the most important thing to happen to female characters in horror movies and potentially, all forms of cinema.

Monday, March 3, 2014

THE "BLURRED LINES" OF BODY HORROR AND RAPE CULTURE

(Editor's Note: February has been a very strange month. After enduring some unexplainable chest pains, doctors found a cancerous tumor on my pancreas.  I will undergo surgery in the near future and will be rid of this monster inside me. After spending some time in the hospital and feeling my body turn on me, I felt compelled to write something inspired about the experience. As this piece deals with rape, there is a TRIGGER WARNING for this article.)
Still from JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING

Body Horror is undoubtedly one of the most complex horror movie subgenres.  Rooted in the innate fear of meeting our demise, body horror films have played a prominent role in the expansion of practical effects and social commentary within the horror genre.  Body Horror can also be called "biological horror," "organic horror," or "venereal horror," classified as a work of horror fiction where the horror is predominately extracted from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body.  The subgenre includes disease, decay, parasitism, mutilation, mutation, anatomically incorrect limb placement, unnatural movements, and fantastical expansion.  The fear of the unknown is one thing but when that fear lives inside of you, there's no escaping or hiding from ones own mortality.
Poster for 1958's THE FLY

1958's THE FLY is arguably the film that pushed body horror into the threshold of the horror pantheon, and the films have only gotten more unsettling and graphic with its successors.  Advertising with a slogan of "100 pounds to the first person who can prove it can't happen!" THE FLY took away the fear of "other" and instead rooted horror in the realm of possibility. What separates body horror from the other subgenres is perhaps the irrefutable future of destruction.  Afraid of sharks in the sea? Don't swim. Afraid of Jason Voorhees? Don't have anything to do with Crystal Lake.  Afraid of ghosts in the house? Call a priest or move.  Afraid of the monster growing within you?  Pray that medical science can assist you or enjoy feeling yourself crumble to pieces.  In body horror, there are no "rules" for survival.  Body horror forces us into the world of the unknown and there would appear to be no way out.  In fact, most people will look to other unknowns to help with their own unknown.  Religion, theoretical science, voodoo, ancient texts, astrology, and many others have all been cited as resources for those struggling with some sort of internal ailment.
Rick Baker's phenomenal make-up work for THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of body horror is that the line between victim and hero is very much often blurred. Those suffering are literally the ones to blame for their predicament.  Sure, Dr. Brundle in THE FLY should have double checked his Telepods before experimenting upon himself and perhaps the kids from CABIN FEVER should have been a little more careful about how they dealt with the infected drifter, but do they deserve the horror inflicted upon their bodies for not being overly cautious?  The idea of "coulda, shoulda, woulda, didn't" in regards to the source of most body horror films is very reminiscent of the way we as a society deal with victims/survivors of rape.  Why is it that people immediately feel bad for MacReady and the boys when they're attacked by THE THING without ever telling them they were "asking for it" by playing with a stray animal but at the same time are still seeing news reporters and politicians try and discredit rape victims and assume it was the victim's fault?  Body horror is very closely related to rape culture because it puts a mask on the violence of rape by putting it in the context of an "other worldly invasion" and makes it permissible to revel in the other person's destruction. If we see a person raped in a film, we immediately feel a sense of sympathy, but when we see someone invaded by an alien pod or even a tree, we are filled with extreme delight.  The over-exaggerated and graphic nature of body horror presents a safe distance for the audience to feel a great sense of schadenfreude.
Ripley 7 in ALIEN: RESURRECTION looking a lot like Brother Fred in MONSTER MAN


Body Horror being a parallel to rape toys with those "infected" with the taboo subject of sometimes enjoying their transformation and again being demonized for it. Rosemary in ROSEMARY'S BABY was actually as excited as she was naive, Ripley enjoyed using her conjoined alien DNA to her advantage in the ALIEN franchise, and Ginger Fitzgerald in GINGER SNAPS greatly enjoyed "snapping" into a werewolf.  When this happens, our sense of compassion is toyed with and often muddled within the story. How could anyone possible be okay after enduring something like this? How could they get better? Wouldn't it be more comfortable for everyone if they just died? --- and that's what's really screwed up.  We champion survivors but they always seem to have that smell of tainted goods from then on.  In the end the "thing" that took over the body is what becomes the defining characteristic of the victim almost to the point of overshadowing the victim.  What do you remember about Dawn in TEETH other than the fact she has vagina dentata?  Do you care about the demised futures of the people sewn up in THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE or are you forever remembering them as the people forced to go ass-to-mouth for eternity? We remember all of the infected folks in NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, but what about their dates? Do you know any of their names? No, because they're not important. The victim is what is important.  Throw that parallel on every rape revenge movie and the picture becomes a little clearer.  This isn't trying to say rape victims "liked" it or anything like that, but rather that there are plenty of rape victims that don't allow the situation to completely destroy and ruin them.  Like Ginger embracing her werewolf transformation and making it her own, there are plenty of survivors of rape that live their lives like something other than a character on LAW & ORDER: SVU.
I'm surprised this shot from SLITHER doesn't have a BRAZZERS logo on it.

Body Horror also offers the most thinly veiled solution to the "invader(s)" - kill them. We kill The BrundleFly, we torch The Thing, we squash the SLITHER slugs, and we kill the "host" of THE BROOD.  This, by proxy, is what also justifies all rape revenge movies.  Based cinematically, rape should be a capital crime. The other Undiscussed side to body horror is once something is "birthed," the person that served as the "host" is crazy or unstable if they want to keep it alive and in their care.  Madeline is seen as insane for wanting to continue to feed human blood to her baby in GRACE when logical people would assume she should just destroy her.  Even after knowing the truth about the child, Rosemary smiles and rocks her baby.  These actions are seen as shocking and terrifying, but if a rape victim with the ability to become with child wants to rid themself* of their rape caused pregnancy...they're monsters.  (*Day of the Woman accepts that not all people with the ability to have children are women or identify as women and are continuing to become more open and educated with identification pronouns.) What degree of ownership and responsibility is attached to Body Horror?  Audiences often spend the film screaming KILL IT! KILL IT! and find people like Blair in THE THING crazy for wanting to keep the parasite alive.  We as humans like to think ourselves as the most valuable creatures in the universe, but to The Thing, we're nothing more than a host.  In the same regard, human children see "Mother" as nothing more than a host and a means of survival. That's why most babies cling to their mother more than their fathers.  It's not a matter of preference, it's a survival tactic.  If someone implanted you with a demon baby, you'd be screaming for it to go, but if someone implants you with a rape caused baby, you're a demon if you don't want to raise it.  With few exceptions, there aren't many body horror movies where society has tried to coexist with the issue.
My junior year prom date, or Three Fingers in WRONG TURN 2



So what about victims/survivors of body horror that continue to walk amongst us?  The most general way to examine these individuals is to look at mutants.  Mutant horror films are just whitewashed body horror.  These individuals cannot control the way that they are but because they live unconventionally and are seen as "damaged," they are treated as lesser thans.  Not exactly horror, but think about the X-Men.  We've got people that can't help what has happened to them and are fighting for the right to coexist with the general public.  Play that card on rape victims and their endless fight for better laws and after treatment, and it becomes clearer that we treat rape victims less like humans and more like mutants.  These are people to feel sorry for and to try and "fix."  These are people who are inspiring simply for existing, or terrifying for being proud of it.
A still of Bob Costas at the Sochi Olympics...I mean Najarra Townsend in CONTRACTED

(IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM DO NOT READ AHEAD)What happens when we have a film that deals with both body horror and rape culture?  Eric England's CONTRACTED shows a film about quite possibly the most terrifying disease a person can contract from sexual contact.  We only assume at the end of the film she became a zombie, but what if it was something more?  What if that wasn't even her final form?  At the moment of her transformation, she's finally taking control of her life in all aspects - from her mom, her lover, her friend, but because she's now a deteriorating mess, we're meant to see that change as a bad thing.  Much like rooting for the last man on earth in I AM LEGEND even though he's the parasite to the new world, who are we to say that Samantha in CONTRACTED isn't now exactly who she's meant to be?  Sounds a bit like that Justin Bieber, "everything happens for a reason" quote in regards to rape, doesn't it?
THE ACT OF KILLING was Oscar snubbed, but I promise there are reasons to live, BIO-COP!


Rape culture is a complex thing to understand and it will always be interpreted differently by other people.  However, I firmly believe that whether infected by an other worldly creature, contracting a disease, becoming the product of an accident, or simply being born with it, body horror is an exaggerated reflection of rape culture in Western civilizations.  While we may not have to worry about being implanted with pod people, we do have to worry about become a victim of rape.  The only difference is that unlike a Pod Person or an Alien chestburster, we can't teach these creatures to "not chestburst;" but we do have the ability to teach people not to rape.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

REVIEW: KEITH TEN EYCK'S LOCK-OUT/TAG-OUT

Cleveland filmmaker Keith Ten Eyck is truly a force to be reckoned with.  Known for his dystopian film A BARGE AND ITS WIND, about a government conspiracy involving a mysterious boat docked in Cleveland's harbor, Keith Ten Eyck is known for blending genres and giving films an entirely different flavor than what the common audience is accustomed to tasting.  A filmmaker completely unique to himself, it's not often that we see an upcoming individual with such a well established style.  A filmmaker, artist, and graphic designer, Keith Ten Eyck utilizes his variety of talents to create films that feel like cinematic performance art.  His pieces ooze of passion, skill, creativity, and his newest short flick LOCK-OUT/TAG-OUT is no exception.

An intriguing character study about the lives of elevator union workers; the film explores love, work relationships, friendships, and the way death changes them all.  Ten Eyck's cinematography is extremely impressive for such a young filmmaker, and his editing techniques showcase a highly under appreciated skill.  While his writing of the short is very strong, his camera work acts as the strongest character in the entire film.  LOCK-OUT/TAG OUT isn't exactly a fun film to watch, but it's not supposed to be.  This is a film where the drama stands forefront versus the premise.  Although the film is not without its bloody moments, it's a painfully accurate look at how things actually happen in dangerous work environments.  The fact special effects master Maxwell Desotell is an elevator worker himself makes the visions of elevator shaft dropped bodies even more haunting.  For Desotell, he was creating the images of the disasters that he overcomes every day a la 1000 WAYS TO DIE.  Ten Eyck writes very natural dialogue but plot wise, there's a bit more foils to contend with.  However, for a local Cleveland filmmaker, this is a remarkably ambitious piece...especially in acquiring and filming in working elevator shafts alone. Keith Ten Eyck isn't afraid to tackle the harsh realities of the chaos left behind in the lives when someone passes away, and he isn't afraid to do something other than the indie filmmaker staple of "shooting a horror movie in the woods with half naked women."

At just under twenty minutes, LOCK-OUT/TAG-OUT is arguably the most "different" from Keith Ten Eyck's earlier pieces.  There's no fantastical elements. The story is meant to be a cerebral investigation to how guilt and remorse affect the human psyche in the presence of a tragic demise.  It's a more relatable piece, a bit more conventional, and perhaps marketable...but that's how most gateway drugs work.

LOCK-OUT/TAG-OUT premieres FOR FREE at 7 p.m. tonight at Market Garden Brewery. Steve Macadams, another Cleveland filmmaker, will also screen his movie QBCCLE, which will also make its local premiere.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

HELP CHRIS SEAVER MAKE "THE WEIRDSIES!"

I love me some Chris Seaver films.  The king of Low Budget Pictures and Warlock Home Video, Chris Seaver has been making independent comedy/horror films longer than I've been alive on this planet.  With 50 films under his belt and 28 of those films in national distribution, Seaver isn't just some schmuck with a camera.  Chris Seaver is the real deal.  Seaver's style is very over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, and wicked fun.  His films aren't for everyone, but if you like one of his films, there's a good chance you'll love all of his films.  Some of his recent titles include SEXSQUATCH, PHANTOM OF THE GRINDHOUSE, MOIST FURY, GEEK WAR, I SPIT CHEW ON YOUR GRAVE, and DEATHBONE, just to name a few.  Now, Seaver is at it again with his newest flick, THE WEIRDSIES.  He aims to create his version of STAND BY ME but telling the story from the perspective of four 20-something females discovering who they really are over the course of a summer.  Now, I wholeheartedly believe in everything Chris Seaver puts out, and this film is no different.

Help Chris Seaver make this film a reality by supporting his Indiegogo campaign!

Monday, February 3, 2014

TRANS* WOMEN AND THE HORROR OF MISREPRESENTATION

HAPPY WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH, EVERYONE!  The major focus for Women In Horror Recognition Month is to shed a light on hard working women in the horror industry, and to start discussions on the representation of women in horror movies.  While women (especially women of color) are constantly misrepresented, the trans* woman is without a doubt the most misrepresented minority group in existence.  The horror genre frequently comes under fire for its formulaic uses of tropes and characters, and the "mentally ill trans* woman/psycho killer" is one we should really stop using. (NOTE: The asterisk at the end of "trans" is an umbrella term to encompass all non-cisgender gender identities including: transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.)

Felissa Rose as Angela Baker in SLEEPAWAY CAMP
 The first thing that needs to be addressed is the depressing use of trans*women or cross dressers in horror and the fact filmmakers are treating the two like they're interchangeable.  For example: Norman Bates in PSYCHO may lose his cool and dress like his mother when he kills someone, but that doesn't make him a trans*woman.  However, Angela Baker in SLEEPAWAY CAMP is revealed as having male anatomy but then returns years later in the sequels happily living and identifying as a woman.  I'd make the argument that Angela Baker is a trans*woman.  Buffalo Bill in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS wanted to be a woman, I'd consider him a trans*woman, while The Bride in Black from INSIDIOUS & INSIDIOUS 2 may have been struggling from an identity crisis caused by the years of abuse inflicted on him by his mother.  It's difficult to tell whether The Bride in Black wanted to castrate himself because he truly wanted to be a woman, or if it meant his mother would finally love him.  That's a complex issue and one that could easily constitute its own article.

Origin of The Black Bride in INSIDIOUS 2 (see: boy in a dress)

Mey Valdivia Rude is a trans woman and contributing editor/author to Autostraddle who recently covered this very topic with an incredible article titled Who's Afraid Of The Big, Bad Trans*Woman? On Horror and Transfemininity.  Her article is highly informative, but it is her experiences as a trans* person and a horror fan that are truly telling of the impact film has on its audiences.  In describing her theatrical experience watching INSIDIOUS 2 she states,
As the movie was ending, I sank down into my seat, hoping that no one would notice that I was trans*. I was afraid that if someone realized I was trans*, they might make the connection between me and the serial-killer-turned-ghost in the movie. After all, if you don’t know me, you might see me and (incorrectly) think that I’m just some man who is dressed up like a woman. According to the filmmakers behind Insidious Chapter 2, that makes me creepy, insane and dangerous.
When I think of women in horror films that I can identify with, I can respond with characters like the bodacious and brash Elvira, Mary from HOCUS POCUS, and a handful of other sassy, independent women.  For trans*women, they have motel owning serial killers, kidnapping lepidopterists, malicious ghosts, and slashers.  Considering horror films are predominately made by men and the fact Western society heavily values men over women, it's somewhat predictable that we'd have all of these "mentally ill" male characters dressing like women.  Why would a man want to live as a woman? That's just insane! Henry Lee Lucas was forced to dress like a girl when he was a kid, and look how he turned out!  Mey Rude goes on in her article to say, "The same insanity that causes them to be transgender is the thing that causes them to become serial killers, and causes them to be seen as frightening." It's very difficult for the average cis-gendered male to understand what it feels like to misidentify with the gender their anatomy and society tells them they're "supposed" to be.  Film representation is very, very important.  Think of it this way-- if JAWS made people scared of the ocean and IT made people afraid of clowns, what sort of idea are we perpetuating about trans*women if they're frequently shown as psychotic, violent, or perverted?

Buffalo Bill putting on lip makeup in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

A recent study showcased that trans* people across the U.S. experience three times as much police violence as non-transgender individuals.  Even more terrifying, when trans*gender people were the victims of hate crimes, 48% reported receiving mistreatment from the police when they went for help.  These statistics are the true horrors.  Mey Rude sums it up perfectly:
When people look to pop culture and see trans* women portrayed as dangerous impostors that they should be afraid of, they cease to see trans* women as people and start seeing them as monsters. In the fictional world of movies it may be the trans* women who are frightening and menacing killers, but in real life, those trans* women are far, far more likely to be the victims of horrific and violent murders.
To my knowledge, there is really only one horror movie that showcases trans*women in a positive light, and even then the film showcases drag queens...not trans*women.  (Pro-tip, not all drag queens are trans*women and not all trans*women are drag queens.) TICKED OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES is a tongue-in-cheek rape revenge film meant to be an entertaining film of empowerment a la I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.  GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)protested the film at it's original Tribeca screening, but opinions on the film are extremely polarized.  Considering the somewhat cartoonish film is the only real positive representation trans*women have in horror, I can sympathize with the anger from the trans* community.  At the end of the day, I can't hate the player but I will hate the game.  Hollywood (horror in particular) needs a makeover on its portrayal of trans*women, and fast.
Just picture Jamie Clayton as a Final Girl real quick. THAT is a film I want to see.


If horror were to take a page from the books of dramatic films like DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, or even the smash hit TV series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, we can start showcasing trans*women as actual people with feelings and complex thoughts and not just an easy way to tell an audience "this guy is supposed to be a weirdo, so we put him in a dress."  There are amazing trans*women actresses, and they would be amazing additions to the female horror cannon as much more than a punch line or a quick villain.  Laverne Cox, Harmony Santana, Jamie Clayton, and Candis Cayne are just a few working actresses that would completely dominate in the horror world.  Trans*women deserve proper representation in horror, and it's about time someone does something about it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

13-YEAR-OLD EMILY DI PRIMIO IS MAKING A SLASHER FILM

Emily DiPrimo: 13-year-old horror director
A thirteen year old girl named Emily is making a feature length horror movie.  After watching her father Ron Di Primio make films and from her own experiences working on horror films since she was 4 years old, Emily Di Primiohas decided to take a seat in the director's chair.  Di Primio will co-write and co-direct (along with her father) the upcoming flick CARVER; a throwback to the heyday of 80s slasher films.  The story follows a group of teenagers who have all kept secret the fact they caused the deaths of several people on Halloween when they were younger.  Years later on the anniversary of those deaths, the teenagers begin receiving terrifying threats in the form of pumpkins.  The film was fully financed through Kickstarter, raising $31,900 of its original $25,000 goal.  Di Primio has promised no CGI gore and her kickstarter video more than proves that this youngster has been raised on a healthy diet of horror.  Di Primio is currently casting CARVER and the film is hopefully projected to begin filming May of 2014.

Sound familiar?

Emily Hagins of PATHOGEN, MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE, and GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS
When Emily Hagins was only 12 years old, she directed a feature length zombie film called PATHOGEN and was the subject of the documentary ZOMBIE GIRL.  While many dismissed Hagins' young age (and gender) as nothing more than a gimmick for an independent film, the final product of PATHOGEN proved that Hagins was a filmmaker far beyond her years.  While many could have accepted if Hagins' filmmaking career was going to solely consist of PATHOGEN, Hagins has since directed  three other projects including MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE and the SXSW selection GROW UP, TONY PHILLIPS.  There's nothing gimmick about Emily Hagins, she genuinely makes fun and clever movies.

So what does this say about Emily Di Primio?

Emily Di Primio in her kickstarter promotional video

Women and girls are not these fragile little creatures afraid of blood (you all do know what happens to us every month, right?) and there are plenty of young girls with an appetite for gore and horror.  Emily Di Primio proves that Emily Hagins wasn't a fluke, and she's not not some special exception to the rule of "sugar, spice, and everything nice."  Girls love horror. Plain and simple.  Hagins paved the way for girls like Di Primio, and it's incredibly inspiring to see young girls taken seriously with their desire to make a scary movie.  I'm excited to see that Di Primio is putting CARVER in motion and I look forward to seeing the final product.

Friday, January 24, 2014

24 EXPOSURES: SWANBERG'S SEXY FORAY INTO CRIME DRAMA

"I'm sure there are photos of flowers out there that would blow my mind, but you know, I just haven't seen 'em." -Billy

It feels like every "indie darling" in the last few years have had Joe Swanberg's name attached to it in some way, shape, or form.  The prolific demi-god of "mumblecore" movies, Swanberg's films are commonly adventures into the world of low-budget dramas showcasing relationships, technology, filmmaking, and love.  Films like DRINKING BUDDIES, HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS, ALL THE LIGHT IN THE SKY, and his Sundance hit HAPPY CHRISTMAS would paint Swanberg to be the filmmaker both critics and hipsters would recommend to their pals.

However, with things like his V/H/S segment (The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger), AUTOEROTIC (co-directed with Adam Wingard), and 24 EXPOSURES, it's proven that Swanberg is capable of creating a wide variety of films without ever losing the signature Swanberg touch.  If filmographies were ice cream, Swanberg would be Baskin Robin's 31 flavors.

Wingard personifying the stuff he reblogs on tumblr.
 Swanberg's filmmaking style generates a product very reminiscent of the "slice of life" theatre movements.  His films feel authentic, look natural, and sound completely unrehearsed.  Well, in the case of that last description, it's true.  24 EXPOSURES focuses on Billy (Adam Wingard), a fetish photographer specializing as corpse/crime scene style photography.  Think the death photo project from the Fitzgerald sisters in GINGER SNAPS and you've got an idea of what Billy tries to make sexy.  He lives with his collaborator girlfriend Alex (Caroline White) who has a penchant for picking out models that look like that could be her sisters, and if the model is willing, instigating threeomes.  It seems as if his life of shoot, fuck, repeat is working out well, until a depressed homicide detective named Michael Bamfeaux (Simon Barrett) shows up to ask about the murder of one of his models.

Another addition to the "Making it really hard to find pictures of these two individually," file.

The film plays with the idea of voyeurism, and it's clearly reflected in the filming style.  We see the photos of Billy and Michael's real crime photos and it's really difficult to distinguish which is which.  It forces us to ask a lot of questions regarding artist's integrity, artist's motivation, and the intent of artists working in non-traditional formats. Watching this film feels like intruding into the world of an artist and spying on the downward spiral of a depressed man trained on how to use a gun.  Of all of Swanberg's films, this was one of the more interesting to watch.  It's unsettling and feels like what the Investigation Discovery crime dramatizations want to be when they grow up.  If you came looking for flannel and kitschy situations, you came to the wrong movie.

At least this white van has windows, amirite?



Despite being about a murder, the film focuses on the Swanberg standard of personal relationships.  The way that the lives of these people intertwine and interact are complex, interesting, and perhaps all too familiar...which is exactly how it's supposed to be.  Perhaps the naysayers of Swanberg's films are uncomfortable because his characters are a little too identifiable.  Considering it's another leap into the realm of "directors as actors" style of Swanberg films, the acting isn't great.  When Wingard and Barrett are on screen together, the chemistry spikes up and their performances really shine, but that should be expected coming from the two filmmaking partners.  The story feels very true to life, which may lead this film to very polarizing opinions.  It doesn't feel like a movie, it feels like real life. Sorry, but there's really no escapism in this one. There isn't a cinematic gut-punch, but the film didn't feel unsatisfying.  I may be in the minority when giving this film a thumbs up, but I found 24 EXPOSURES to be a crime drama pretty unique to itself.  Swanberg himself admits in his cameo that this sort of story is "the sort of thing that happens in real life and doesn't make for compelling, commerical books."  It may not be your cup of tea, but I enjoyed my serving.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

WOMEN OF THE WEEK: VERA AND TAISSA FARMIGA

Taissa (L) and Vera (R) Farmiga
Despite the 22 year age difference, sisters Vera and Taissa Farmiga have a lot more in common than just genetic coding.  The beautiful and talented Farmiga sisters are also slowly becoming two of the most well-known faces in horror.  Vera Farmiga is known for her roles in ORPHAN, THE CONJURING, and currently plays Norma Bates on the PSYCHO inspired TV series, BATES MOTEL.  Following close behind is little sister Taissa Farmiga, the breakout star of AMERICAN HORROR STORY and the upcoming film MINDSCAPE.

Her skin is like porcelain.
Taissa Farmiga is the youngest of the seven Farmiga children.  Although she had absolutely no interest in acting, she made her on screen debut in 2011 playing the younger version of her sister Vera in the film HIGHER GROUND, which was also Vera Farmiga's directorial debut.  It was after attending the Sundance Film Festival that Taissa decided that she loved acting and wanted to pursue a career.  Shortly after, Taissa Farmiga burst into the homes of millions with her role as Violet Harmon on the first season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: MURDER HOUSE.  Her portrayal of the angsty teen in a Romeo & Juliet-esque love story with Tate (Evan Peters), a ghost, quickly made her a fan favorite.  The love story between Violet and Tate (Violate to all you shippers out there) became the favorite storyline of the season, and she overwhelmingly became one of the most "giffed" characters on the series.  Although she did not resurface for AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM, she's back on the third season AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN as the "black widow" witch, Zoe Benson.  This season also marks the return of "Violate" with the budding love story between Zoe Benson and Frankenboy Kyle Spencer, again portrayed by Evan Peters.  AHS: COVEN has only two more episodes in the season, but Taissa Farmiga has really shown that she can hold her own as an actress, and I hope that the 19-year-old is opened up to new work.  Later this year, Taissa's film MINDSCAPE will premiere in Spain, a film about a man with the ability to enter peoples' memories who takes on the case of a brilliant, troubled sixteen-year-old girl to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma.  Taissa Farmiga will play the "troubled sixteen-year-old girl" and I cannot wait to see how she performs.

Vera Farmiga with her trademark smile.
In comparison, the second oldest of the Farmiga siblings has been acting for many, many years.  The Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Emmy award winning actress has an incredible resume of performances.  Known for her work in crime films, and dramas, Vera Farmiga has recently become somewhat of a familiar face for the horror fan.  In 2007, Vera Farmiga dabbled in horror for the first time playing the mother of a sadistic boy in the film JOSHUA.  Two years later, she stepped in the familiar shoes by playing the adoptive mother of a deranged young "girl" in ORPHANORPHAN was given a wider release than JOSHUA, and this performance put Vera Farmiga on the map in the world of genre filmmaking.  Recently, Vera Farmiga blew audiences away with a stunning performance as the real-life Lorraine Warren in THE CONJURING.  However, she's currently continuing to terrify and woo audiences everywhere as the iconic Norma Bates on A&E's BATES MOTEL.  With the exception of flashbacks and PSYCHO IV, BATES MOTEL is the first time we've ever had an in-depth look at Norman's loving mother.  Vera Farmiga has locked herself a place in horror history by personifying the woman who inspired the insanity of one of the most iconic killers in all of cinematic history.

D'awwww.

The Farmiga sisters have taken our genre by storm and portrayed characters that will live on for a very long time.  Way to rule.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WHY SIMON BARRETT'S DICK IS BIGGER THAN YOU REALIZE: AN ANALYSIS OF HIS PROGRESSIVE TREATMENT OF THE SEXES

Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett: Important
Historically, horror films are known for showcasing gratuitous female nudity, and the seemingly unnecessary instances of topless women are frequently some of the biggest complaints people have against the genre.  As social justice becomes more prevalent and the feminist movement gains more spotlight than ever before, it would appear that equal representation of the sexes is starting to become a priority for those in the media.

With Women In Horror Month a little over two weeks away, I've been really starting to put on my "gender equality" hat and giving a more analytical eye to the films I love most.  After re-watching V/H/S/2, I realized something that completely flew past my radar on its initial view.  Simon Barrett's dick is way bigger than we realize.

V/H/S/2 opens with a couple doing the dirty in a hotel room.  Immediately we're given a shot of some perfectly shaped breasts with nipples that would make Tony Moss from SHOWGIRLS proud.  My immediate thought was "Awesome, the sequel is going to be just as misogynist as the original."  Then, something happened that came straight out of left field.  Simon Barrett's character stood up in front of an open window, and we were given a view of full frontal male nudity.  Perhaps it's because I'm so desensitized to nudity in general after years of watching movies, but the fact I saw a wiener didn't even register the first time I watched the film.  However, upon the second viewing it actually took me a second to realize I hadn't just seen nudity, I had seen MALE nudity.

I found this picture on the gay equivalent of Mr. Skin. That exists, by the way.


In terms of nudity represented by the genders in horror films, women have got the men beat by a devastating landslide.  I can list off horror movies where I've seen female nudity without a second thought, but I have to genuinely concentrate to recall films that showcase male nudity.  I don't know if it's because men are way more insecure about their sexual organs or if women are just so used to being objectified that finding a woman to take her top off is a lot easier, but women are way more likely to be presented nude in a horror film than a man.  This brings me back to Simon Barrett's penis, and why it might be one of the most important things to happen to the horror genre in recent memory.

Right now, Simon Barrett is becoming a household name in the horror world.  Thanks to penning films like YOU'RE NEXT, he and Adam Wingard seem to be turning into the indie directors that busted out and took over the world.  Their status as the household names of indie horror are precisely why showing Barrett's package is so important.  Simon Barrett is a writer, and a damn good one at that. The things that writers write are done specifically and intentionally.  One of the biggest names in horror screenwriting specifically wrote for there to be a nude male on camera.  More importantly, he wrote that the often implied (but rarely shown) parts of the male anatomy were to be front and center.  It's important to note that Simon Barrett directed this piece as well as starred in it.  That's possibly what is the most spectacular about the whole situation.  This isn't the member of some actor who is getting paid to do what a director tells him to do, this is a writer/director performing a role that requires male nudity and doing it deliberately.  We're constantly demanding equality of the genders, and allowing for the potential sexualization of a character that has a Y chromosome is a sign of the progression of equality in horror films.

Still from Eric England's CONTRACTED


This isn't the only time Simon Barrett's penis has been a beacon of equality.  Recently, Eric England's film CONTRACTED showcased an out-of-focus Barrett as a man that gave a girl an STD that caused maggots to fall out of her vagina and ruined her life.  Barrett willingly made his sexual organs the villain in a horror movie.  His character in CONTRACTED resembles the faceless killers of famous slashers, but also closely resembles the often-faceless men of pornography.  In many instances in pornographic films, men are nothing more than a torso or a lower region and their value in the film is entirely dictated by their penis and what is has to offer.  Simon Barrett's character is the personification of the male objectification in pornography where we care less about the face and personality of the male, and more on their physical gusto.  By blurring the focus on Simon Barrett's face, he becomes the everyman that PSAs and Sexual Education classes have warned countless students about.  Depicting his weapon as a penis is exactly what the root core of slasher films embody.  The phallic imagery is now exactly that.  He penetrated his victim and she suffers as severely as anything a knife could provide on Halloween night.  At least here, lust is the motivation behind the crime (you do know it's illegal to have sex with someone if you knowingly have an STD, right?)  What does this have to do with equality?  In every other horror film, horror fans tend to gravitate towards the villain.  We root for Freddy to slice up teenagers and we scream with laughter when Jason makes a pinata out of sleeping bags filled with people.  By making the villain literally a body part, this puts the focus where every horror film should be...on the victim.  Simon Barrett willingly put himself in a position where he was nothing more than a body part, and that speaks absolute volumes about his character and his intentions.

Simon Barrett, Sharni Vinson, & Adam Wingard
This leads me to revisit a point I made earlier this year about Barrett and Wingard's film YOU'RE NEXT.  (Seriously, I analyzed every single female character in that damn movie.)  Although the justification for the lead character Erin's knowledge on how to survive a home invasion was a little disappointing for my taste, it doesn't change the fact that Barrett and Wingard wrote a film that contained a game-changing female character.  To quote the previously linked article:
"Erin is a female fighting a bunch of male animals with incredibly phallic weapons.  In the Animal Kingdom, the alpha male is always seen as a dominant and physically aggressive creature while the alpha female is important for breeding purposes. Erin completely changes the game. While her male animal attackers are shooting arrows at her (reminiscent of the way animals "mark their territory" and determine things to be off-limits to other animals) or trying to insert overly long phallic machetes (hurray for wiener imagery) into her body.  99.99% of the time, female horror victims express pains in sounds that resemble an orgasm.  Erin expresses pain with barbaric wails or subdued sounds of pain, never once does she sound post-coital. This simple action shows that Erin is a woman that is not defined by the male sexuality, but secure in her own identity."
This is the sort of female character being written by a man who uses his penis in responsible representations in horror. The horror genre is home to a man that challenges the representation of the genders in horror movies with the work of Simon Barrett, and it is encouraged by the directorial work of Adam Wingard.  What Barrett writes down could easily be manipulated in an opposite direction by Wingard as a director, but he and Barrett clearly share the same mindset and a great amount of their work is very encouraging of gender equality.  Again, no film is perfect but seeing these two produce films that are making waves outside of just the world of indie horror is very, very important. 

Do you know how hard it is to find pictures of him without Wingard? Damn, Google Images. Step up your game.

Look, I'm not saying Simon Barrett is some feminist God, but whether he realized it or not, the decisions Simon Barrett has made with his genitalia in regards to horror films were much bigger than any of us could have anticipated.  What I hope, is that this ushers in is an era of gender equality in horror through sexuality.  That men can be seen and embraced for their sexuality, and that people realize a penis can be just as titillating as, well, a pair of tits.  I also hope that this will de-mistify and promote a healthier body image than what pornography usually depicts with its representation of men.  The other thing to consider is that by embracing male nudity, it's also an inclusion of all people that enjoy male nudity.  Heterosexual females as well as homosexual males; two groups that heterosexual males can admit have been marginalized (put away your fedora, damn it.).  There's a chance that all of these decisions were merely coincidental and I just spent way more time than I'd ever admit trying to psychoanalyze a penis, but what I hope to address is the growing problem that there are more and more fans clammering for the same treatment for male nudity in contemporary cinema...and the fact Barrett is willing to treat the genders of his characters equally, starting with himself.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A GUINEVERE TURNER APPRECIATION POST

Women in horror month is only nineteen days away, but it's never too early to shine some light on a woman that has made wonderful contributions to the genre we love dearly.  Whenever the topic of "women in horror" comes about, people are usually quick to mention that AMERICAN PSYCHO was directed by Mary Harron.  Perhaps it is due to the seemingly universal praise given to Christian Bale's most iconic performance, (suck it Batvoice) but everyone is constantly bringing up Mary Harron, Mary Harron, Mary Harron, like she's CANDYMAN around Women in Horror Month.  If AMERICAN PSYCHO is such a strong testament to the fact women CAN make good horror films, where is the love for Guinevere Turner?

Guinevere Turner is an actress and screenwriter.  While my personal favorite of her work lies with THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, she's also the co-author of the screenplay for AMERICAN PSYCHO.  I understand that Mary Harron also directed the film, so it's a lot easier to slap a writer/director title on her, but that's devaluing Guinevere Turner's contributions and giving AMERICAN PSYCHO the HALLOWEEN treatment.  What I mean by "HALLOWEEN" treatment is how people often fail to mention Debra Hill co-wrote the screenplay because John Carpenter co-wrote and also directed.  I'm not trying to downplay the incredible work done from Carpenter or Harron, but it's important to know that they weren't working alone.

Guinevere Turner is a frequent collaborator with Mary Harron but also has some wonderful credits to her name.  The film that put her name on the map was GO FISH, an LGBT film she co-wrote and starred in.  Filmmaker Kevin Smith enjoyed the film so much that one of its scenes became one of the inspirations for what is arguably considered his best film, CHASING AMY
This scene is an in-joke as Turner IS openly a lesbian and actually did attend Sarah Lawrence.

Turner's most well-known script work is undoubtedly AMERICAN PSYCHO and she even has a cameo as the "I'm not a lesbian!" girl.  Considering she helped write the script and assisted to craft one of the most incredible horror films of the 2000s, why isn't she given her fair credit?  Perhaps it's because people are just uneducated to the fact Mary Harron didn't write the film alone, or perhaps her reputation has been so severely tarnished by the film BLOODRAYNE. Oh, Uwe Boll...I still can't believe people gave you money.  Don't get me wrong, BLOODRAYNE is an absolute travesty of a film, and I can understand why people wouldn't want to associate the screenwriter of that garbage pile with the glory that is AMERICAN PSYCHO, but here's the thing...BLOODRAYNE is not reflective of Guinevere Turner.  Her recent participation with the documentary TALES FROM THE SCRIPT (available on Netflix instant watch) shed some light to what really happened with that screenplay.


When this scene played on my screen, my jaw immediately dropped.  Not only was it mindblowing to hear how Uwe Boll absolutely butchered her script, but the fact Turner was willing to go on record to talk about what really happened was incredibly inspiring.  All too often, women in this industry are told to play nice or keep their mouths shut and here was Turner completely calling Uwe Boll for what he was, and speaking out about the injustices that occur to screenwriters after the script has left their hands.

Guinevere Turner is responsible for one of the best horror films of all time, and some very influential pieces outside of the genre.  Here's to you, Guinevere Turner.  May the movie gods bestow upon you a hundred million dollars to create whatever next comes out of your mind.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

THE TOP 15 HORROR CHARACTER DESIGNS OF 2013

The ever increasing presence of computer generated imagery in horror films may make a bloody blow-out much cheaper, but its overall appeal on the eye cannot hold a candle to the practical effects and man-made monster suits.  2013 was an interesting year for horror, and a lot of its excitement comes from the characters the films produced.  This was a year where I saw a lot of Halloween costumes come from movies released in the months previous, which truly showcased the cultural impact of these films to the horror community.  To celebrate these creature/monster/character designs, I've compiled a photographic list of my personal favorites.  Some of these characters are masked, some are makeup designs, and some are just plan creatures.  Again, this isn't an attempt to be a definitive list, these are just the character designs that stuck with me long after the viewing was completed.

15) EVIL DEAD
Deadites are an iconic creature so giving new life to them without blatantly ripping off the original design was going to be a difficult task.  Combining the rage infested eyes of modern zombie films and the over the top gore of the original, these new deadites were a perfect fit.
14) JOHN DIES AT THE END
This film had a multitude of different and unique character designs, but I have a thing for weird masks. I found these faces to be very interesting to look at and added to the strange feeling of the overall film.
13) THE CONJURING
Considering the original Annabelle doll was a Raggedy Ann toy and this was a James Wan film, I knew were were going to be given a doll or puppet created of 100% nightmare fuel.  The unsung character of the entire film, the Annabelle doll is one of the scariest inanimate objects I've seen in recent memory.
12) YOU'RE NEXT
When this film make it's theatrical debut, you couldn't go to any pre-screenings without seeing these animal masks.  A sought after item of memorabilia, the animals have become modern masked horror icons.
11) THE LORDS OF SALEM
God, I couldn't escape this makeup design this year. There are at least five different makeup tutorials on youtube and I saw a handful of people rock this look for Halloween (I'm looking at you, Killer Kalyn).  Dia De Los Muertos meets Rob Zombie, this was a look that plastered ads and blogs everywhere. 
10) STITCHES
I've seen plenty of clown makeup designs over the year, but they tend to either attempt to emulate Pennywise the Clown (of Stephen King's IT) or look like some demented clown out of a cheap suburban haunted house.  STITCHES has a clown with a combination of low-rent birthday clown (which he is) and decay from years of being buried (which he was).  The perfect combination for a killer clown.
09) INSIDIOUS 2
The design of a ghost hasn't really changed much from the earliest days of ghost films, but there was something really special about the abusive mother ghost in this flick.  Taking the classic 'pale look, dark features' of traditional ghosts and giving her a haunting beauty a la Joan Crawford, this design made Danielle Bisutti terrifying and unrecognizable. 
08)CONTRACTED
Makeup in illness films truly become a character of their own.  The thing is, illness makeup can look like garbage very, very easily.  The makeup design for this film looked definitely ill (instead of possessed or rotting or zombified) but without looking like any specific illness.  Emphasizing on the detail of the work instead of a POW! IN YOUR FACE style of design, this mysterious STD gives an intriguing look to the character.
07) AMERICAN MARY
Oh, Beatress.  This was a look that could have very easily worn the actress, but Tristan Risk owned this character design and made it her own.  I was very impressed with the plastic look of the living Betty Boop, and the attention to detail of making a woman look like an actual cartoon character was on point.  In comparison to the "Ruby Real Girl" character, Beatress didn't look like the typical 'overly plastic-Jocelyn Wildenstein' character, she really looked like Betty Boop.
06) EASTER CASKET
Dustin Mills is no stranger to horror puppetry, but his Peter Cottontail design for his blasphemous EASTER CASKET is the right combination of cute and creepy.  A bunny puppet with human teeth and weird-ass googly eyes, Mills truly shows that a budget does not dictate creativity.
05) MANBORG
Astron 6 is infamous for their over-the-top characterizations, but MANBORG may be their strongest flick, yet. Showcasing the impressive skills of Steven Kostanski, there are masks, stop motion, prosthetics, and, amazing costumes a plenty.  Every single character, regardless of how secondary they may be, is fun to look at.
04) BAD MILO!
LOOK AT HIM! HE'S SO CREEPY AND CUTE AND I LOVE HIM SO MUCH AND I WANT ONE LIKE I WANT A MOGWAI AND OMG. That's my analysis. You're welcome.
03) FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY
Resembling the nightmares of a gothic, steam-punk mad scientist, the creatures of this film are absolutely breathtaking.  Regardless of how loose the actual story may be, these monsters are mindblowing.  The fx team deserves all of the awards imaginable, because these creatures look like something that could only exist on paper...and they gave them life.
02) BIO-COP
Faux trailer, shmo trailer.  Astron 6 made a character in a short film so memorable, it now has its own action figure. The immortal melting cop of biological waste has an incredible look and gave me one of the best first-watch experiences of my life.

 01) UNDER THE BED
The monster under the bed has been a creature haunting humanity for generations.  Steven C. Miller's film finally gave that monster a face outside of eyes glowing or an outstretched arm, and gave us a reason to want mom and dad to check under the bed before sleep.  When the monster finally showed its face, it caught me off guard how terrifying it actually is.  I was immediately shot back to the nights of my childhood where I watched one too many horror movies (that I probably shouldn't have seen before bedtime) and resorted to hiding under my covers in the hopes that the monster wouldn't be able to see me.  Gross skin, huge stature, creepy eyes, mutated facial features, and a mouth that could eat us alive...the creature in UNDER THE BED took all of the traditional childhood fears of a monster and gave us the epitome of our collective nightmares.
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