Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Female Villains in Horror: Sylvia Ganush

Scary old women really freak me out.

I mean, ever since that rotting corpse rose out of the bathtub in The Shining, I've had this aversion to pruned up, creepy looking old hags. Maybe it was there before The Shining...yeah, probably. But man... that one really sealed the deal. Scarred me for life.


Anyway - Sylvia Ganush of Drag Me To Hell is a prime example of pure senior citizen revulsion. And malevolence.

From the first moment she is shown in the bank, begging loan officer Christine for an extension on a mortgage loan, you just know things aren't about to end well.

Christine is trying to get ahead in her career and picked the wrong person to piss off on the wrong day. Even after the elderly woman's repeated attempts and pathetic begging, Christine denies Mrs. Ganush the money needed to keep her home.
Her boss praises her and all but guarantees her a promotion.
But the sound of Mrs. Ganush's pleading and her evil bewitchment after Christine's refusal sticks in Christine's head with an uneasiness she can't shake.

We might only be fifteen minutes into the movie at this point, but believe me when I say it's all downhill from there for Christine.

Ganush attacks her in her car on her way home, eventually pulling a button off Christine's coat.

Obviously the catalyst for a curse, Christine finds herself hurled into one hideous situation after another. Following the assault in her car, she is told by a psychic that she's being tormented by a sinister spirit, brought on by Mrs. Ganush's hex.
She starts having crazy nightmares with Mrs. Ganush in them...

...she has messy nosebleeds the caliber of an Evil Dead movie...she attempts to contact Mrs. Ganush to see how the spell can be reversed only to find out the woman died...then the psychic finally tells her she is being haunted by a Lamia. Obviously drummed up by the curse of Mrs. Ganush.

Now here's the part I can hardly get past. After the demon spirit attacks her in her bedroom, the psychic tells her perhaps the lamia needs a sacrifice to send it away. And good God... Christine kills her own kitten to appease the demon! Right about then, I couldn't care less what the hell happened to Christine. I hoped the lamia demon kicked her ever-lovin' ass.

Anyway - Mrs. Ganush's curse doesn't stop there. When Christine goes to visit her boyfriend & his parents she makes a complete ass of herself trying to fend off the demon.

Eventually, after a ridiculous goat-offering seance, the psychic says Christine can stop all the madness by gifting the cursed item (the button) to someone else. She decides to dig up Mrs. Ganush out at the cemetery and pass it to her.
(One thing I always find amazing is the strength anyone in a horror movie shows when digging up graves. I mean, can you yourself imagine digging up - with just a shovel - a grave six feet under the earth? Let alone that nearly all caskets these days are sealed in vaults....Sorry. I digress...)

Anyone who has seen the movie knows the ending, and I won't spoil it here since it's a relatively new-ish film. It has a lot of classic Sam Raimi touches in it which threaten to steal the show from the cast, but Lorna Raver - who plays Sylvia Ganush - cannot be upstaged.

She, with her (fake) Hungarian accent, bad wardrobe and creepy eye, is certainly one of the more physically frightening villains in recent history. And when was the last time you saw an octogenarian roughhouse a twenty-something? Their fight in Christine's car was epic. Nearly hilarious.

Buy it here.

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1 comment:

Hope said...

I just watched Drag Me to Hell last night. Sylvia Ganush is terrifying & even as a corpse she can't help but vomit all over poor Christine. Gotta love it. :)