Thursday, February 28, 2013

WiHM: Five Otherworldly Women In Folklore

 Our final day of Women in Horror brings you some females we don't necessary want to meet anytime soon, but are utterly fascinating nonetheless.  Often depicted in horror films, many of these examples of not-so-friendly women will either terrorize you for all eternity, predict an ominous forthcoming event, or just outright steal your very soul.


In the old language of Gaelic, this Irish spirit was called Bean-sidhe. She is a ghostly woman, dressed in a white shroud, her hair flowing behind her, her hands extended before her like claws. She is usually described as old and ugly, but it isn't her appearance you need to fear, it is her wail.
The banshee is a bad omen, if her hear a long, shrill scream echoing out in the hills, it means someone will soon die. Banshees were usually thought to be attached to old families, but no one is safe from her song.
Banshees really ought to be featured in more horror films, because they are downright creepy. The only movie that I can think of is a silly but beloved Disney movie from my childhood, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, starring a very young and strapping Sean Connery.
These deathly hags are one of my favorite among folklore, I even have a published story about a banshee entitled, "She Comes to Call". You have to purchase the magazine to read it, but I'll provide the link HERE in case you should wish to do so


A very famous legend in South America and Mexico is that of a woman who was so in love with a man who did not return her affections that she drowned her children in the ocean, and then herself.  Because of her crime she cannot cross over into the afterlife, so she weeps eternally at the shore, searching the water for her children. Although it is often used as a cautionary tale for children to stay away from the water, many people actually claimed to have seen her. It is a very spooky idea, and has been used in several films. There are surprisingly more American made films, one from 1933 called The Crying Woman, as well as three from 2007,The Curse of La Llorona,
J-ok'el: La Llorona: Curse of the Weeping Woman, and The Cry. There is also a Mexican picture called La Llorona from 1960.


In India, a churel is a woman of low caste who died of childbirth or pregnancy due to negligence of their family members. The return as terrifying ghosts to suck the blood of the men who have wronged them. To lure men in, they appear as beautiful maidens carrying lanterns, but before they attack they show their true form, which is that of a hag with a long, brutish face, sagging breasts, and feet turned backwards. Sometimes they also have a thick, black tongue which I'd imagine would come in handy as they drain the men of their blood, semen, and life force. They roam places associated with death. If you think a woman will become a churel after her death, you can bury a corpse face down.


Sometimes from forests and sometimes from swamps, Kikimora is a Russian ghost of an old woman, usually depicted in artwork as being thin as straw with hens feet and a long, thing, beak-like face. She attaches herself to homes, living behind the stove. She can be helpful if treated kindly, but if not she will bang and break dishes and whistle at night. It is said at night she spins thread, and if you see her in her act, you will die. A Kikimora also delights in terrorizing men.


This time, a Scottish spirit, the bean nighe, or Washer of the Ford is a woman who died in childbirth and is forced to remain on earth until the day she would have died if not in childbirth. To occupy the lonely time of their sentence, they must wash the bloody clothes of those about to die. If you come upon the Washers of the Ford, they will look beautiful and sing to you, luring you to help them ring out the sheets. But do not get too close, for the wet garment will ensnare you, crushing you with your very own shroud.


                                                              ~by Marie Robinson

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WiHM: Six Female Writers Who Give Us Chills

On our next to last day of Women in Horror Month, Marie is spotlighting six brilliant women who give us chills by way of the written word.  Everyone should experience the thrill of reading something that prevents you from falling asleep - whether it is a book impossible to put down, or one that induces such terror that you have to leave the light on and listen to your knees knock. 

Here are six fine examples:


In 1948 she shocked readers of "the New Yorker" with her sinister short story, "The Lottery". Since then she has become one of the most respected (and feared) authors of gothic fiction. In 2007 the Shirley Jackson Award was created to awards achievements in psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantastic fiction. Her most famous piece, and my favorite haunted house story, is "The Haunting of Hill House", a tale of truly evil piece of architecture. She has also penned many short stories, some of which can be found in her posthumous anthology "Come Along With Me". If you haven't read her yet, you simply must! Light a few candles, but don't expect them to keep the chills away!


-We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
-The Lovely House (1950)


Although American Pulitzer Prize winner Wharton was mostly known for her novels and use of dramatic irony, she also produced quite a few ghost stories, and darn good ones, too! She actually began writing supernatural fiction to overcome her fear of ghosts! Because of this fact you will find a genuine sense of creeping dread within her words. A few of her most frequently published stories are "The Triumph of the Night", "The Looking Glass", and "The Pomegranate Seed".

-The Ghost-Feeler: Stories of Terror and the Supernatural (2002)
-Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (2009)


Believe it or not, this lady started out writing raunchy gay fiction! Sex and the supernatural go hand and hand, no one understands that more than Anne Rice. She is the Queen of the Vampires, although she has written books featuring ghosts, witches, werewolves, you name it!  She puts immense details into her thick manuscripts, inventing entire bloodlines, histories, and even genetic mappings of her characters. If you only know her for her films, you must crack open one of her books.

-Interview with a Vampire
-The Witching Hour


A very popular writer in the Victorian era, and a prolific ghost story writer, Riddell has written novels and short stories abundant. She is often included in ghost story anthologies, some examples being Victorian Tales of Terror (1972), Gaslit Horror (1988), and a personal favorite of mine, The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories (2000).

- The Old House in Vauxhall Walk (1882)
- The Haunted River (1877)
- Banshee's Warning (1867)


Known as the Queen of Crime, Christie had a passion for the mysterious and otherworldly. She has a great, gothic spooky style, and is a master of the formulaic whodunit.

- The Hound of Death (1933)
- In a Glass Darkly (1939)
- The Idol House of Astarte (1932)
-And Then There Were None (1939)


American editor Datlow isn't a writer, but she is probably the most well-known modern horror editor and anthologist. She works often with speculative fiction publisher Tor, and partners with fantasy editor Terri Windling; she has edited several editions of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Below I have listed a few of my favorite anthologies she has edited.

-Supernatural Noir (2011)
-The Dark: New Ghost Stories (2004)
-Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (2002)
                                                               ~by Marie Robinson

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WiHM: Final Girls: Why Women Kicking Ass Melts Our Hearts

 -by Marie Robinson

Like any Bollywood film, horror cinema can sometimes be formulaic — in particular, slasher films. Our essential yet interchangeable elements are a small, quiet town and a terror turned loose upon it. Sometimes our antagonist is a supernatural force, but usually it’s some depraved dude wielding a trademark weapon. And since this is at the root a simple tale of good versus evil, we must have a heroine, who we genre fans have come to know and love her as the Final Girl.

What does it mean to be a Final Girl? Well, obviously it means you are the last one standing, that is, if some unexpected twist doesn’t come your way. Say, like, a rotted hand bursting from the lake you thought you were peacefully floating away on. It means you have come face to face with the incarnation of evil and struck that motherfucker down.

What does it take to be a Final Girl? A strong, courageous, bad-ass chick who isn’t afraid to shed some blood, which is why we love her. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a big hulking mass of human butcher triumphed by an angsty, blood-spattered babe.

The trials in our Final Girl’s life may be somewhat trivial, but unarguably relatable—well, to a point. Her everyday enemies are her parents and authority, who will pooh-pooh her cries for help and think of her as a child as opposed to the woman she is closer to becoming. If tension isn’t high enough in her swirling world of adolescence, she will soon have to deal with the added drama of fleeing a psychopath who is picking off her closest friends one by one, and then single-handedly killing that psychopath.

Seriously, when you really entertain the idea, these girls have a lot more to worry about than acne and good grades. You thought getting your period in the girls locker room was a big deal? Try watching all your best friends from K-12 get mutilated. If these situations occurred more often in real life I would totally open up a psychiatric institute for Final Girls.

Sexuality is a main theme in slasher cinema. The Final Girl is traditionally a virgin, and an overall symbol of innocence and purity. Her modesty is usually her strong point, since that lusty circle of friends of hers are getting picked off by the pair; getting poked means getting choked in the realm of the slasher. We could get real deep (that sounds filthy in retrospect) with all the sexual innuendo and Freudian slips in these films—phallic and yonic images and all that—but that would be a whole new article.

When we inevitably have our showdown of Final Girl vs. Baddy, she is liberated not by sex, not even entirely by violence, but by vengeance -which in her case is probably more satisfying than getting laid, anyway. Watching her struggle from the beginning to the very bloody end, we get to know our protagonist, and we can’t help but cheer when that bastard gets what’s coming.

Some Final Girls are more complex than other— and more likeable. Some are a downright disgrace to womankind and make a fierce feminist like myself want to take a chainsaw to their face. This could be said for any film, as any genre has its share of classy and trashy, but it seems that the horror genre in particular finds itself teetering between the lines of misogyny and feminism fairly often.

Films like The Cabin in the Woods and Behind the Mask are a tribute to slasher films and both give a great example of a Final Girl. Tasteful and empowering, not a dumbass with a dye job and tits galore. In order for a Final Girl to be effective, she needs to be as close to the real thing as possible. It makes her victory that much more gratifying.

Speaking of “the real thing”, I wish there was more diversity in the realm of the Final Girl. I’ve seen a million skinny, beautiful white girls kill off the bad guy, but how about we get some voluptuous ladies kicking some ass, or some women of color? I’m looking at you, filmmakers!

If you are interested in the topic of feminism in horror, a few print titles you might be interested in are Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films by Kier-La Janisse. Also, Day of the Woman is a blog dedicated to “the feminine side of fear” and is an absolutely fun time.

*The second week of February here at FWF, we highlighted two Final Girls everyday. Check it out!!

Happy Women in Horror Month, everyone! And to all the vicious vixens out there, keep your machete hand strong!

Monday, February 25, 2013

WiHM: Spine-Shivering Ladies

There are some characters, however minor, that are just so damn creepy they stick with you. Here’s a list I compiled of ladies that will give your spine a little shiver as you remember them.

Mario Bava’s 1963 classic Black Sabbath is a three part anthology. One segment entitled, “The Drop of Water” concerns a nurse who has been called to a large estate to prepare the corpse of an old woman for her burial. While doing so, the nurse notices a beautiful ring on the woman’s finger and steals it. She will, of course, go to regret this, as the ghost of the woman will come back to haunt her, and that sucks for her because she is one freaky lady.

The Shining
was the first book that ever frightened me, and it was because of one scene in particular. That scene would be when Jack goes into room 237 to see what frightened his son so badly in there. What he finds is horrifying: a woman, long dead, floating in the bathtub, who then proceeds to get up and stumble after him. The image alone made me afraid to go to the bathroom by myself. The first time I saw Stanley Kubrick's film version, I dreaded the scene, and with good reason, because the visual was spot-on with my imagination. I have since recovered the ability to go to the bathroom with the door closed, but that woman still terrifies me.

Clive Barker has created a lot of freaky creatures, and the Cenobites must be up there with the freakiest. They are a race of people dedicated to finding the limits of pleasure. This happens to coincide with great amount of pain, and usually the humans who call upon them to experience a higher plane of ecstasy aren't prepared for what they receive. In Hellraiser we meet a crew of Cenobites that includes the one and only Pinhead, Butterball, a chattering Cenobite, and one we know only as the Female Cenobite. Really, besides the fact that she is billed as being a woman, the only other clue we have is this vulva-like skin display on her neck. With her husky voice and pale, hairless skin, she will tear your soul apart.

In Ti West's The Innkeepers the Yankee Pedlar Inn is haunted by the ghost of Madeline O'Malley, a young bride who was waiting for her groom at the inn, but killed herself when he never showed. As the Inn is open for just one more weekend, the two young members on staff set out looking for her ghost, and find their bloodied bride.

One of the portions of found-footage anthology V/H/S is directed by David Bruckner and is called "Amateur Night". A group of guys score two girls and bring them back to their hotel room. One is a little strange, and keeps whispering, "I like you", but she is willing to go to bed, so they forget about it. They get a little more than they bargained for when the weird chick, Lily, is some sort of demonic succubus. Oops.

Even though the 1981 cult classic Evil Dead is remembered now for its campiness, I think it has its creepy elements, as well. When a group of teenagers venture out into a remote cabin, a unexpected evil is awakened in the forest and turns them one by one into the undead. With her blank white eyes and goofy fixed smile, the zombie version of Linda has always freaked me out.

In The Caller, Mary Kee has a lot to deal with in her life. She is fleeing an abusive ex-husband, trying to make it on her own, and now is getting pestered by a woman named Rose who claims she used to live in her house, before she died. Suspense builds the whole film as Rose torments Mary Kee via telephone, and when you finally see her, well--I nearly screamed.

Okay, this one takes the cake for me. Pet Sematary is one of my favorite films, but one character will never cease to scare me. In the film wife Rachel recounts a traumatic childhood memory of her sister Zelda who was inflicted with spinal meningitis. It twisted her body and deteriorated her mind, and while that is tragic, she is just really, really fucking scary. Fun fact, Zelda was actually played by a dude!

~Marie Robinson

Sunday, February 24, 2013

WiHM: Favorite Female Fangs!

For our final week of Women in Horror, Marie will be your host as she highlights females from various paths of horror. Today she lets her blood lust free and spotlights the fanged femme fatales!

I love vampires! That is no secret, so why not compile a list of all lady bloodsuckers! Obviously this isn’t nearly all of them, I just picked a handful, and if you need even more vampires after this list, you can revisit Christine and I's list of favorite vampires (of both sexes) here:

Lucy is a favorite of mine, especially the version of her from 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Lucy starts out as the lusty best friend of Mina, but is slowly drained of her life by the Count, himself. In the novel she becomes known in the local papers as the Bloofer Lady, a ghostly woman in a white dress who steals little children at night. Buried in her iconic wedding dress, Lucy is beautiful and memorable as she is ghastly. I loved her so much I was her for Halloween last year!!

This is the first widely recognized female vampire, and oh yeah, she’s a lesbian. Created by Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu, the short gothic story Carmilla was published in 1872 and is about a vampiress and the young girl she preys on. Carmilla has been referenced countless times in all types of media, but perhaps my favorite adaptation is the 1960 film Blood and Roses.

JESSICA (True Blood)
This is Jessica’s second appearance in our Women in Horror Month themed posts, but we just can’t get enough of her! Bill’s prodigy is one sexy, fiery red head with an attitude and of course, a taste for blood.

One of the perks of being a vampire is that you cease aging. Eternal youth sounds great, right? Well, except if you are stuck in the form of a child, then it’s just creepy. As is the case with Claudia, the little vampiress of Anne Rice’s classic novel turned film, Interview with a Vampire.

Grace Jones is one freaky, hungry vampire stripper you don’t want to go backstage with in 1986’s Vamp.

“She gives you that weird feeling,” boasts the poster. This lovely lady has the honor of being Dracula’s Daughter, the 1936 sequel to Universal’s classic Bela Lugosi. The poor countess yearns to be rid of her bloodthirsty curse, but alas, it is just not that easy.

Tae-ju is transformed into a vampire by her reluctant lover in Chan-wook Park’s 2009 film Thirst, and boy does she love the lifestyle. So much so that her creator, Sang-hyeon, starts to realize the evil of their bloodthirsty ways and means to end her immortality much sooner than she’d like.

Brewster’s lovely girlfriend, Amy, becomes one vicious vixen in the 1985 camptastic classic Fright Night.

And finally, I leave you with this:

A vampire uses the art of seduction to lure the victims into a relaxed situation where one might need to fit their mouth around a neck… Salma Hayek entranced men and women alike in From Dusk ‘till Dawn as the undead seductress Satanico. I’ve included a link to her unforgettable scene in the film. You will be speechless for the next four minutes.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

WiHM: Our Favorite Female Roles In Horror, Day 7

Well, better late than never. Here's our final day of Favorite Female Roles in Horror!  Two of our favorites. Hope they are yours, as well.

Christine's pick

Laurie Holden - The Walking Dead

Genre fans should be pretty familiar by now with Laurie Holden's work.  She spent several seasons in the  memorable recurring part of  government informant Marita Covarrubias on The X-Files and co-starred in both Silent Hill (2006) and The Mist (2007).  But for me, she's really come into her own with her role as Andrea on The Walking Dead.

A civil-rights lawyer, Andrea has been on the show since the second episode and has shown us many sides to her personality. After her younger sister is bitten by a walker, Andrea holds her in her arms until she dies, then shoots her the moment she reanimates.  Soon after, Andrea decides to take her own life by staying on at the CDC when she knows the building is set to blow up.  Her friend Dale convinces her not to commit suicide, and though she's mentally exhausted by the whole experience, she becomes hardened and quickly evolves into one of the toughest people (male or female) on the show. 

When the group's safe haven farm house is overrun by walkers one night, Andrea is mistakenly thought of as dead, and the rest of the group leaves her behind.  She escapes into the woods and spends several days running and hiding out from walkers.  She meets a walker face to face and just as she is no-doubt seeing her life flash before her eyes she is rescued by Michonne, with whom she develops a tight bond.

Months later, the bond between the two tough women is put to the test when they end up at a community called Woodbury and Andrea starts a relationship with their leader - aptly known as The Governor. 

As of now on the series, Andrea's loyalties are tested when she realizes the group that left her behind at the farmhouse are indeed still alive, living right up the road at the prison, and that they have essentially become the enemy of her current lover.

Holden is a terrific actress and a crucial part of the cast of The Walking Dead.  She projects a very strong female persona, with guts and bravery that exceeds most of the others in the group.  It's awesome that there is such a spirited, female character on TWD, but even better that it is played by an actress with such formidable acting chops! 

Marie's pick:

Angela Bettis - May

I know this is my second post this week about a Lucky McKee film, but what can I say, I like the guy! This time I’ll be talking about his 2002 film May and, more specifically, star Angela Bettis.

Bettis plays titular character May, a girl who grew up isolated from everyone because of an eye patch covering her lazy eye. Her strange mother only added to this isolation by giving her a doll, telling her that this will be her best friend with the added advice, “If you can’t find a friend, make one.”

So May grows up talking to a doll, and boy, does it do wonders for her social skills. Although May tries in vain to make relationships with people who assure her that they enjoy “the weird”, May proves to be too strange for them and they push her away. After May’s porcelain friend Suzie is destroyed, she will go to any length to make her own friend.

Angela Bettis is extremely convincing as the strange and misunderstood May. You feel the sting of each prolonged awkward interaction, and the tension rising as she is denied by those who at first accepted her. Just like the glass encasing her silent friend Suzie, May begins to crack…

Angela Bettis is an established genre actress and isn’t afraid to take on challenging and unconventional roles, often those of emotionally disturbed women. In the same year she played May she was also Carrie White in the David Carson remake. She is also a favorite of director McKee; she’s featured in other films of his such as Sick Girl, The Woods, and The Woman.

In the film May’s sexuality isn’t necessarily defined by gender, but she does have a repressed bloodlust that she is desperate to indulge in. She thinks she finds the perfect match in her horror-obsessed crush Adam (Jeremy Sisto), but he’s not as hardcore as he seems, and gets disgusted when May tries to kiss his bleeding lips. Her other lover, Polly (Anna Farris), is willing to indulge in a little playtime, but only until it is too late, and May has cracked, and is looking to quench her thirst.

When all is said and done, May is just a lonely girl who was been alienated by her peers her entire life because of a physical different. The only person she can find understanding in is inanimate, and the people she chooses to give herself to just happen to be douche bags. In the end she will do anything to have a friend, so she uses her pent up frustration and sewing skills to make one.

On top of acting, Bettis also produces and directs film on occasion. In 2006 she directed Roman, a film written by Lucky McKee that is described by the pair as the reverse gender version of May. The roles of two are even reversed as Angela Bettis directs and McKee plays the lead role of a socially disturbed man who has an infatuation with a stranger. Bettis also directed a portion of the ambitious upcoming anthology, The ABC’s of Death.

Friday, February 22, 2013

WiHM: Our Favorite Female Roles In Horror, Day 6

Today we offer not our usual two, but three actresses who got our attention in three memorable and controversial films. These women put it all out there, holding nothing back for the beauty of the performance. Thanks to Marie for spotlighting these three remarkable roles in horror, portrayed by a trio of impressive actresses.

Pollyanna McIntosh - The Woman

Director Lucky McKee is known for his explicit and controversial filmmaking, and he did not disappoint with his 2011 film The Woman

Although it stars one of his favorite recurring actresses, Angela Bettis, I’m going to highlight another female performance in the movie.

The film is centered around the Cleek family, consisted of mother Belle (Angela Bettis), daughters Peggy and Darlin’, son Brian, and father Chris (Sean Bridgers). The well-off family live in a somewhat secluded area with surrounding woodlands that Chris often goes hunting in. On one of these hunts, he finds some unexpected game, a woman. That woman is played by Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh.

McIntosh takes on the hefty role of a feral woman who Chris decides to capture and chain up in his basement. Instead of keeping it a secret, he fully involves his family in “civilizing” her. This woman could not be at the hands of a more psychotic family.

The subject matter of this movie is as dark as it gets, and it takes guts to take on a role like this. Pollyanna’s character may endure a rape scene and plenty of gruesome torture at the hands of her captors but it is not in vain. She gets her share of revenge.

Even though Pollyanna has not a single coherent line, she still nails this role and takes all the criticism it gets with stride.

Yum Jung Ah (Yeom Jeong Ah)- A Tale of Two Sisters

Before Jee-woon Kim made I Saw the Devil, he made a film based on a Korean folktale called A Tale of Two Sisters.

The two sisters in question are Soo-mi and Soo-yeon, who are moving back into their childhood home with their father and a new mother. Stepmother Eun-joo (Yeom Jeong Ah) is cruel and controlling, and becomes jealous at any affections the girls have towards their own father. As tensions rise between the sisters and stepmother, it is hard to tell which is a more trying problem—Eun-joo, or the ghost that is haunting their house.

Yeom Jeong Ah plays this complex, multi-demensional role with grace. Her performance is apt and on-target, and boy, is she easy to hate.
 For further reading on this film see my article on it here.

 Charlotte Gainsbourg - Antichrist

I’m not sure if I could call this a “favorite” female role, as it is downright disturbing, but I must give it to Ms. Gainsbourg for taking it on.
I, for one, will never look at her quite the same again.

In Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Charlotte Gainsbourg plays an emotionally disturbed woman distraught by the accidental death of her son, who she blames herself for since she was having sex with her husband when he died.

Gainsbourg clearly isn’t worried about getting nude for a film, as she bares everything—I mean everything in this one. It even seems like she is one of those rare actresses who truly has no limits, as we watch her mutilate herself on screen.

Although the film was very well-received in Europe, von Trier has been accused of being a misogynist. That you can debate for yourselves, but one thing you cannot deny is that Charlotte Gainsbourg is one dedicated actress.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WiHM: Our Favorite Female Roles In Horror, Day 5

Today's two beauties are courtesy of Marie, who is back from the cold grip of death (just kidding) to give us not one but two fine examples of fantastic (and unsettling) performances in horror.

Cécile De France - Haute Tension (2003)

French film Haute Tension - or as we English-speakers know it, High Tension - has become quite a popular and controversially violent film since its release in 2003.

This film put director Alexandre Aja on the road to horror and he has not turned back since, afterwards giving us The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors, Piranha, and the upcoming flick starring Daniel Radcliffe, Horns.

A home invasion film turned psychological thriller, Haute Tension stars Cécile De France as Marie, a young woman who is joining her best friend Alexia (Maïwenn) to visit her family in the country. Marie is quiet and reserved but harbors an obsession for Alexia, who is all but oblivious to it as she chatters on about sleeping with various men.

The two arrive late in the evening, and there isn’t much family fun to be had before terror strikes. A brutish, sexually deranged man breaks into the home and begins slaughtering the family one by one—except for Alexia. “If he wanted to kill you he already would have,” reassures Marie, who has been narrowly eluding the murderer and tries to free Alexia from her chains.

The character of Marie is our protagonist, and she is the only character who is really permitted any development. After all, she is the only one alive, except for Alexia of course, but she is stuck in the back of a truck for most of the film. However, that development doesn’t go in the direction you might expect…

There are, of course, times when we find ourselves attempting to scream through the screen at Marie, but for seeing what she sees she seems to move on quickly and get back to the task at hand—saving Alexia. But honestly, Marie has nerves of steel; she watches every single member of her best friend’s family brutally murdered and still, she does not give up. Even when attempt after attempt to contact the police fails, she carries on.

Actress De France really delivers in this film, and while she might not give us the most likable, sympathetic character, she gives a strong, memorable performance. When Marie is cowering under the bed, keeping her breath sucked in tight until the killer leaves the room, you are holding that breath with her, exhaling, as well, when the coast is clear. When she sees each person mutilated before her very eyes, we feel her sorrow and disgust.

One thing we can’t relate to is Marie’s strange infatuation with Alexia. While her drive to save her friend is admirable, it just doesn’t feel all the way right. It is clear she has a motive to be alone with Alexia, and as the film unfolds we see she might do some disturbing things to get what she wants…

De France brings to life a surprisingly complex character, one that must be examined just underneath the surface. You feel an unease about Marie’s affections in the back of your mind the whole film, and it is that creeping sensation that De France has mastered in her role.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this movie will shock you. De France’s performance and portrayal of Marie is one to be remembered.

 Eihi Shiina - Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike shocked and revolted the world with his 1999 film Audition. He’s known for his unflinching scenes of violence, having directed Ichi the Killer and one third of the film Three…Extremes. It’s one of those movies you get bullied or dared into watching - but in the end, you will thank yourself, because this film is considered by many horror fans to be a masterpiece.

After seven years of living single, widower Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi, The Grudge) feels it is time to begin dating again. Given his son’s blessing, he goes along with his film producer friend’s plot to host a mock movie casting to pick a new mate

Out of all of the girls that show up, Shigeharu is instantly enchanted by plain, quiet Asami; a woman made legendary monster by Japanese actress Eihi Shiina. Originally a model, Shiina has also done a dozen films—many of them horror—including Tokyo Gore Police.

Shigeharu gets Asami to fall for him almost immediately, but he quickly realizes that she is not the polite, simple girl that he thought she was. Asami harbours a deadly hobby and a dark, disturbing past, one that has shaped her into the thing she is today.

We, the audience, see all that Shigeharu sees and more. So, while he may realize that all of the references Asami put on her resume are fake, we also realize that she sits endlessly by the phone in an apartment that nearly empty, save for a large bloody sack…that moves.

Asami’s childhood was devastated by a physically and probably sexually abusive man who she later exacts her gruesome revenge on; this trauma has bred in her an insecurity cured only by bloodlust.

Audition is known for its scenes of brutal torture, which last less than ten minutes. What is really disturbing is the way Asami adores torturing men, and the way Eihi Shiina is cute and terrifying at the same time. She has created every man’s girlfriend from hell, and is made memorable by lines like, “Kiri, kiri, kiri…” and of course, her weapon of choice—razor wire.

To play a role like this a person must have real dedication and even bravery. One must make themselves vulnerable to try and understand what kind of person might have this sort of…hobby.

This film has had a record number of walkouts in theatres and audience members have even claimed needing medical attention after viewing the movie. Now that is what I call a powerful performance. I wonder if Shiina is proud of all the terror she has inspired—if she is a true horror girl, I’m sure she is!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WiHM: Our Favorite Female Roles In Horror, Day 4

Two of the finest performances in horror are in the spotlight today.  Tell us if you agree.

Christine's pick:

Ellen Burstyn  - The Exorcist

When Academy Award winning actress Ellen Burstyn took the role in The Exorcist, anyone doubting the film's legitimacy and quality no doubt squashed that apprehension immediately. 

Her talent as an actress was already proven, so as Chris McNeill- the mother of a young daughter who may or may not be possessed by the devil - she was an excellent choice to make the film an even more veritable hit.

Normally, Linda Blair is the first actor people think of in The Exorcist.  But as good as Blair was as Regan, Burstyn was equally as commendable as her mother.  She brought a deep-seeded emotion to the part that would have been hard to come by if an unknown actress had been cast in the role.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story here.  Popular actress Chris McNeill is working in Georgetown and lives with her daughter Regan - who loves horses and apparently playing with Ouija boards by herself. Hmm.

When Regan starts exhibiting bizarre symptoms (like cursing and peeing on the floor in front of a room full of guests), Chris takes her to a doctor and has several series of tests run.  Nothing turns up from the tests and things get worse. So much worse that Burt Dennings, Chris's film director, is thrown out a window by Regan in one of her super-human strength episodes in which the bed shakes, the room is freezing, and Regan swears like a truck driver. 

At this point Chris is at her wits end and goes to a priest for help. And so begins the exorcism, and the horrific hours spent trying to release the demon (who claims to be the devil himself) testing everyone's last nerve, most of all Chris.  What she goes through is something that no mother should ever have to deal with - and let's face it, no one does.

For a fictional character, Burstyn brings a realism to the character that is so credible - so human - that we feel every emotion she is going through as she fears for her daughter's very life. It's such an impressive performance that it was a no-brainer when she was again nominated for an Oscar (as well as a Golden Globe) for Best Actress for the role. And it remains one of my favorite performances in horror to this day.

Marie's pick:

Sissy Spacek  - Carrie

The upcoming remake’s tagline boasts, “You will know her name.” But hopefully, you already do—Carrie White.

Carrie, of course, started out as the 1974 novel by Stephen King and has gone on to have not one, but three screen adaptations, come this October. For me, I’m pretty sure there will always be just one, and that is the 1976 version brought to us by director Brian De Palma and starring the one and only Sissy Spacek.

Carrie White is a teenage girl who has just as much trouble fitting in as she does fading into the crowd. She is strange, shy, and extremely sheltered. The memorable opening scene is of gratuitous nude girls in the school locker room. Carrie White is crumpled in the corner of the shower, shrieking, her hands covered in blood. She is frightened and confused because her overprotective Christian mother didn’t inform her daughter that she would one day menstruate. Her all too understanding peers help her out by pelting her with pads and tampons—and that is just a dose of what Carrie White goes through on a daily basis.

Whether it is at home or at school, her life is miserable. Her mother (Piper Laurie) constantly ridicules Carrie and punishes her by locking her in a closet filled with creepy crucified dolls. Another reason Carrie struggles to relate to the rest of her class (as if she needs any more) is the fact that puberty has blessed her with telekinesis.

Unbelievably, Sissy Spacek was 27 when played the role of teenage Carrie White, and had to do much persuading with the director to allow her the part. In the end, it seems she was the perfect choice; she captures awkward and often heartbreaking adolescence with perfection and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

 It is hard for us to really, completely sympathize with Carrie, however, because, well, she is a weird girl. We all knew a girl like Carrie White in our school, and we all most assuredly said some awful things about her. I find it hard to consider Carrie a protagonist either, for she is driven by humiliation and madness to do some horrible, horrible things.

One reason I am angry at the casting of Chloe Grace Moretz in the upcoming remake is that I find it hard to believe that a girl like her could ever get picked on to the extent that her character does, whereas Sissy Spacek was (no offense) a weird looking girl. But alas, in this day and age it seems everyone is getting picked on. Maybe I should give Chloe a chance… NO, I REFUSE!

Every high school student faces some degree of ridicule, but Carrie is downright tormented. But the final prank is when a group of “popular” kids convince pretty boy Tommy (William Katt) to ask Carrie out to the prom and then humiliate her. What unfolds is a prom night to remember (if you survive) and one stellar, iconic performance from Sissy Spacek.