Author Archive

Ms. Dreadful’s Nightmare Gallery

Posted: July 2, 2015 by Jenny Dreadful in Art, Events, Film

On the weekend of July 4th, many of us American worker bees are fortunate enough to have extra time to kill as workplaces shut down for the holiday. It’s time for stuffing hot dogs in our faces in the hot sun, fireworks, eagles, stars and stripes… all as Uncle Sam and God intended. MERICA.

I won’t be engaging in these festivities this weekend. What will I be doing instead? MOVIE MARATHON CREATIVE CHALLENGE is what, motherfucker. Want to join me? Introducing…

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Here’s the deal.

Watch the 5 classic horror films listed below. After each viewing, give yourself no more than ONE hour to create something inspired by the film. You have July 3rd, 4th, and 5th only to complete this challenge. (We’re using the honor system here. Try to keep things fair.) Post your creations online no later than Monday, July 6th and link to them with the hashtag #MsDnightmaregallery on Twitter or Instagram.

Any form of creativity is welcome. Write an essay or a short story. Sketch or paint something. Draw a comic. Compose a soundscape or song. Shoot a self-portrait. Create a themed dessert or mixed drink. Make a necklace or hat. Anything!

I’ll be posting commentary and in-progress photos of drawings using the hashtag on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FinalGirlSG. Although it’s not necessary, I would be delighted if you followed along and did the same.

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As acknowledgement of the holiday, I have selected a sampling of classic American horror films ranging from the 60s to the 80s. Each of these films is a monumentally important touchstone in horror history; not just nationally but globally. They’re game-changers. It’s time to revisit them.

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A few notes…

  • Whether you go with DVD, streaming or downloads, you will need to arrange access to the films on your own.
  • Chronological order, as listed, is encouraged but not required.
  • You may take notes or do sketches during the running time, but don’t ignore the film. That ruins the fun!
  • I’m no monster. If you need to fix formatting, correct typos, or make other small yet vital adjustments before presenting the final work, I will not send death eagles to destroy you. Just don’t fuss with it for too long.
  • I am offering no pay and seeking no rights to do anything with your work. What happens to your series of 5 creations is entirely up to you! You can throw them away, post them, sell the work, whatever you like. I would love to post or link to your work with permission, but I am setting up the challenge and my involvement ends there.

Ok! I think that’s everything! Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to set up my gear and get ready for the Art-pocalypse. I truly hope some of you will join me.

ex-Fest V Part 1: Rise of the Cinepunx.

Posted: May 11, 2015 by Jenny Dreadful in About Us, Events, Film

Hey there, horror friends! Just checking in to tell you about a recent adventure…

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Design by Justin Miller of http://www.hauntlove.com.

On May 2nd, Philly-area film weirdoes (including our crew) had the pleasure of attending Exhumed Filmsex-Fest V! If you’ve never heard of it, ex-Fest is an annual 12+ hour marathon of exploitation cinema, ranging from kung fu movies to blaxploitation to sexploitation, a little ultra-violence, Italian crime thrillers… all varieties of trash projected in classic 35mm. ex-Fest is a cruel injection of pure sleaze right to the heart.

I adore Exhumed Films’ most notorious event, the 24-hour Horrorthon, but I think ex-Fest is gaining my favor over time. I don’t know if it’s the reduced endurance challenge of only 12 hours, less space for “filler” material, or if there’s just so much more left for me to discover in the world of exploitation, but I look forward to it more every year.

So, in brief, yes! I had a great time. I didn’t love every film I saw, but it was a good day of revisiting classics, discovering forgotten gems, and spending some time with my local cinephile community. I have lots to say, but it’s been hard to find the time. I aim to write something up. Until then…

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Buy their shirts! But not online. Find them and buy them in person like it is the Dark Ages. http://cinepunx.com

Check out my appearance on the Cinepunx podcast! Josh Alvarez, Liam O’Donnell, Sean Bennis-Sine and I do a recap of ex-Fest V. There’s only so much you can cover over the length of a single episode, but I think we had a fun discussion about the films and our reactions to them. I do worry a little about people finding out I’m essentially a 13-year-old boy (not the sophisticated feminist genre scholar I want to be), but what the hell… it’s time to come clean. Listen to the post-marathon discussion here and BEWARE! Age of Ultron spoilers abound. We are the worst.

10271514_766887260012066_2594817008020421945_nIf you like what you hear, you can subscribe to Cinepunx on iTunes.  Josh and Liam are some of the nicest guys ever and their passion for film and music is infectious. Thanks for having me, guys!

Part 2, a closer look at the selection of films from my point of view coming soon. For reals. No, I mean it. Totally. (Maybe.)

 

 

RIP Marilyn Burns

Posted: August 6, 2014 by Jenny Dreadful in News

FG.SallyHardestyWe are very sad to report the passing of horror icon Marilyn Burns.

Burns is best known for her role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974); an incredible film that owes so much to her unforgettable, raw performance as Sally Hardesty (considered by many to be the first final girl). Her portrayal of fear and madness in TCM–her will to survive– will continue to shock and amaze generation after generation of new horror fans as they discover this classic.

Sally will live on, in our hearts and on our screens, forever.

Thank you, Marilyn. You will be missed.

Horror Block – July 2014

Posted: August 3, 2014 by Jenny Dreadful in Reviews, Shopping

jennydWell hello there, horror friends! What have you been up to? Moving right past my embarrassing absence like nothing happened… I am enjoying the hell out of sic-fi and horror this year! Snowpiercer, Guardians of the Galaxy, the reissue of Death Spa… 2014 has been a wonderful time for cinema so far, and I truly believe my greatest adventures are yet to come.

horrorblockToday, I’m here to tell you that I am really excited about the new service Horror Block! What’s Horror Block, you ask??? Let’s go back… wayyyy back in time… to a week and a half ago…

My husband (aka Russell aka crowbait) received a video game “mystery box” in the mail. It included 2 console games and 1 t-shirt and all 3 items were a total surprise. Delightful! He’d ordered this kind of thing before, usually big boxes full of anime dvds. I’m not really into anime and my video games tastes are very narrow, but I always get REALLY excited when one of these boxes arrives. OMIGOD OPEN IT, RUSSELL. OPEN IT!!!

I’ve been jealous of these mystery boxes for a while, but this latest delivery sparked an obsession. Why haven’t I seen mystery packs of horror movies? I want them! Trying to pressure my buddies at Diabolik DVD to offer them hasn’t worked, so I went on an internet quest for fun horror themed mystery boxes. While I never found exactly what I was looking for (movie packs), I did indeed find some fun options! The Box of Dread, organized by genre website Dread Central, and Horror Block, organized by the folks behind mystery box subscription service Nerd Block.

I was determined to sign up for SOMETHING to scratch this bizarre mystery itch, and I was really torn. Box of Dread does occasionally come with movies, which was my main target, but photos of past boxes didn’t excite me.  Horror Block seemed to favor toys, which isn’t really my thing either. After a little more research, however, Horror Block won the day. Here’s why:

  • Each Horror Block comes with the latest issue of Rue Morgue.
  • Each package comes with a horror-themed t-shirt in your size (meaning you select your shirt type and size when you sign up).
  •  The next block (their second set) was shipping in 2 days.

I’d wanted to sign up for Rue Morgue or Fangoria in the near future anyway and finding horror apparel sized for women is always a challenge. The cost of signing up for Canada-based Horror Block here in the States is just under $30 (including shipping). That’s typically the cost of the magazine and a nerdy shirt alone, meaning everything else is a fun bonus. Add near-instant gratification? Sold. I signed up immediately and waiting for my first box to arrive has been difficult. On Thursday, after 6 days of cold sweats and sleepless nights, it finally came! Let’s take a look.

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The items are packed up in a rather stylish box, complete with bloody handprint and Walking Dead reference. Very nice!

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Note: Subscribers outside Canada, beware! If you want to maintain your surprise until the second you lift the lid, avoid the Customs Declaration sticker on the box. It lists somewhat spoilery descriptions of the contents. Personally, I avoided looking at the sticker, but delaying the reveal by mere seconds won’t be a priority for everyone.

What’s inside? Here’s what we found…

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A Funko Pop! Sharknado figure! The folks at Nerd Block promised one Sharknado-related item in the July package and I was hoping this would be it. Score! If you desire a tornado shark of your own, you can find these guys for about $10 in the wild. This little guy might have to live at my desk at work.

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 A Lost Boys Frog Brothers shirt! I never would have expected that. Love the surprise, love the design. This one’s a winner. Horror apparel prices vary, but the designers of the shirt, ShirtPunch!, sell their tees for about $10.

Note: Ladies, I’m going to give you the kind of info I always want to find. This is the fitted girl’s tee option in L and I’m in the neighborhood of 38-30. Not sure how it will fare in the wash, but out of the box, the fit is good.

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A Nightmare Before Christmas Series 1 Trading Figure. It’s a “blind box”… sort of… I mean, the name of the character is right there on the package, so…? Anyway, the point is this item varies from box to box and not every subscriber gets the same figure. As you can see, I got Dr. Finklestein. Even though I’m not very into toys, I love this little guy! The detail is very impressive. The good doctor, his wheelchair (with working wheels), and his brain are all separate pieces. If this is the quality that can be expected, I’m tempted to track down more characters. Prices for these guys are all over the map, depending on whether you want a single or a set. Based on what I can find online, let’s set this figure at about $10 average value.

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Alien pinback buttons featuring the Xenomorph lifecycle! Wow! I don’t know where I’m putting them, but I love them. A little confused internet research and I’m guessing $6 value.

Also included is a Zumbies: Walking Thread charm doll; another one that varies from box to box. This is the one item I’m not really into, but I think we’ll put him to work when we need to decorate the Christmas tree this year. He would fit in well with Jack Skellington and his crew. Looks like you can find these fellas for about $8.

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Last but not least… the latest issue of Canadian genre magazine Rue Morgue,  featuring stories on The Crow, Motel Hell, Phantom of the Paradise, and more. As previously mentioned, getting this magazine every month was one of the features that convinced me to sign up. I am pleased. $10 value.

So that’s my entire Horror Block stash!

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I am very satisfied with my first mystery box; a collection of items valued at far more than the $19.99 + shipping that I paid for it. I would recommend signing up to any horror fan who likes fun. You have 22 days to mull it over.

I will continue my subscription. What shirt will I get? Will they ever include movies? I can’t wait to find out.

Love and lacerations,

Jenny

The Return of Jenny 2: This Time it’s Personal

Posted: March 10, 2014 by Jenny Dreadful in About Us
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Photo by Rae Winters

Hello again, horror friends. Jenny Dreadful here. It’s been a long time.

Although I was never as fast or competent with writing as I wanted to be, I used to be more active on the site and within my local horror community. I miss that. I’m an artist, a game designer, a hardcore horror fan, and now… as of August… I’m working a somewhat square office job too (after a decade of freelancing). Wow, I’m tired. I truly don’t know how so many of you keep the content coming, but I admire you and I’m working to achieve that elusive work-art-horror balance again.

For a little while, I think I was content with letting my parts of the blog go dark and allowing Jenny D to disappear. I saw the way so many local cinephiles treat each other, the way they talk about each other, and it was discouraging. What do they really think of me? What do they say when I’m not looking? I didn’t feel like I was good enough to keep up. I didn’t think I would be missed. I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

This past month, I’ve attended a few events and I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with wonderful people who care about the genre and social issues like I do. I’ve learned that the people who matter care about what I have to say and about sharing our passions for the genre whether I’m actively writing and getting involved or just watching movies and geeking out with friends on someone’s couch. Whether I’m cool enough, pretty enough or if I have the “right” opinions or not. Because love is what draws us all together. Love for fear, dread, shock, love for blood and screams, but love all the same.

The folks who care more about tearing each other down, about being better and smarter than everyone else, they’ve lost that love. I hope they get it back one day, but I can’t worry about what people like that think of me. It’s exhausting and a waste of time. I need to find those people who chase the experience of being scared the way that I do, who care about the causes that I do, who are genuine and kind, and hold on tight. Between the Philly Loves Women in Horror event, a visit to Monster Mania 27, and ongoing adventures with my girl Rae “StayFrosty” Winters, I think I’ve found what I’m looking for.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll return to form and put out as many articles as I used to. I’m just not sure that I’m ready. But I feel good about where I am. Want to talk about some horror movies? Awesome. Me too.

Philly Loves Women in Horror!

Posted: February 22, 2014 by Jenny Dreadful in About Us, Events, Film

Hey, Philly horror freaks! This is an important announcement!

PHILLY LOVES WOMEN IN HORROR kicks off at 3pm today at The Rotunda! See more details here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/380316498738942/
A selection of horror films from female directors will be on offer, as well as a panel featuring ladies active in the local genre scene.

PLOT TWIST:
Jenny Dreadful and Rae “StayFrosty” Winters and I are on the panel! Gasp! I bet you didn’t expect that! Come see us gush about horror. It is our favorite thing.

This will be a fantastic event, all thanks to Ashlee Blackwell, founder of Graveyard Shift Sisters; a site dedicated to celebrating the experiences and achievements of women of color in the horror community. Check it out here:
http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/p/mission.html

8 More Days til Halloween – presenting Evil Dead (2013)

Posted: October 23, 2013 by Jenny Dreadful in Film, Reviews

jennyd              Since I saw Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead early, I totally could have had a review ready a long time ago. Look at me! I’m on top of things! I’m professional. Ughhhh I’m so lazy. Or busy. Let’s go with busy. Though I’m also a little surprised by the irrational levels of bile and praise folks were slinging back and forth since the film hit theaters and that’s given me pause. I’m sure I occasionally fail, but I have strong beliefs about not being that film critic that judges viewers with differing opinions, talks down to their audience, needs to be better than everyone else… get over yourself and enjoy the medium… but I would love to urge horror fans to calm down, accept the fact that the film isn’t perfect, and enjoy the blood-soaked practical fx wonderland that is Evil Dead. Together. Like a family.

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That’s a tough tagline to live up to

Evil Dead, a remake/sequel/homage/whatever to Sam Raimi’s 1981 original, had been in development hell for years. In 2011, Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures finally announced their choices of Alvarez (known for the short film Panic Attack) to direct, Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body, Juno) to work on the script, and a tentative lineup of good-looking twenty-somethings to play the leads. Oh yeah. And there’s no Ash.

People. Flipped. Out.

If you don’t know who Ashley “Ash” Williams is, I fear you’ve stumbled into the wrong blog, but let me help you out. Beloved genre icon Bruce fucking Campbell, won our hearts as Ash with his campy performances and one-liners in The Evil Dead and its over-the-top 1987 remake, Evil Dead II (the favored version for most fans). His transformation from frightened vacationer to chainsaw-wielding badass (to hilarious jerk in the third film Army of Darkness) is a delight. Ash is the heart of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series. No doubt. So I can understand this reaction… if there’s no Ash, it’s not Evil Dead… but I strongly feel that leaving him out of the new film was the right decision. Go ahead. Just imagine them recasting the character. Pick an actor in their 20s working today, put him a blue shirt, cover him with fake blood and mud, and call him Ash. We would not accept him. We would tear this poor kid apart. Having Bruce Campbell, at 55, reprise the role is no good either unless it continues Army of Darkness (which IS in the works). No. Without even going into the remake vs sequel issue, this was the right call.

There was also the–at this point– predictable fanboy outrage about Diablo Cody’s involvement, which as a hardcore female horror fan, I find almost offensive. Although Megan Fox is usually blamed, I feel that Jennifer’s Body was a massive failure due to bad marketing choices. This wasn’t your typical T&A gory horror film aimed at dudes. This was smart insightful horror aimed at–HORROR OF HORRORS– high-school girls. (Unfortunately, the advertising was deceiving, chasing that “default” straight male audience, and the results were box office disaster.)  With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of a female writer and I was looking forward to seeing what her perspective would lend to Evil Dead. As it turns out, so little of her work appears in the final film that she doesn’t appear in the credits. So much for that.

Deep breath.  Now the review…

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This is probably going to turn out just fine…

frosty          The story doesn’t stray far from the plot of the original – kids in the woods find a cabin, a creepy book, read some words, bad shit goes down.  The only change is this time the story is played completely serious, without the wild, creepy but wacky fun that is a Sam Raimi film.  It’s an interesting choice, and I think a smart one.  Trying to replicate Raimi’s original would have been folly – that film is lightning in a bottle, and that can’t be remade.  Choosing the same exact story but an entirely different tone – that got my attention.  More remakes/re-imaginings/whatever the kids are calling it these days should think about this instead of just copying.

Instead of following Ash (as JennyD discussed earlier), our main character is Mia (Jane Levy), a former drug addict trying to go cold turkey.  To help her with this, her friends and brother take her to a cabin in the woods where she won’t be able to get a fix or leave to find one.  Not a bad reason for the isolation that is so often contrived in these films.  Once in the cabin, things go pretty much the way you’d expect.  A book is found, words get read, trees come to life, things get all sliced up and cut off and slashed – shit gets real.  To avoid spoilers from the few horror fans left who haven’t seen this movie, I won’t give away who’s possessed and who survives (hint – not too many people).

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Yep, totally normal behavior.

Evil Dead could be in the dictionary under “Grand Guignol”.  It is the goriest horror film in a theater that I’ve seen in a long time.  And that’s not a bad thing at all.  Even better, every drop of blood, splat of internal organs, or monstrous facial distortion is done practically, in camera.  Props to Fede Alvarez for choosing to go that route, because it definitely adds to the sense of realism.  I won’t say what’s in the last 15 minutes, but damn, gore lovers will rejoice.  It is insane.  I mean, you’ll be happy the whole time, but that ending will just warm your little blood-splattered hearts.  Production design is another strength, as is use of color, especially once things go nuts.

So much red stuff!

So much red stuff!

As a shout out to long-time fans, there are little touches from the original film in this movie, both hidden and overt.  I thought they were fun touches which also added a potential larger scope to the film, but I know others found it distracting or annoying.  Same with the after credits scene (which I will not reveal).

I’ve heard things like this movie is going to change the face of horror itself.  Do I think that’s the case?  No.  Do I think it’s a quality flick that I enjoyed, would watch again and can recommend?  Definitely.