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Elizabeth

Twin Peaks Laura and Maddy
Posted on May 19, 2017

Twin Peaks: Why Laura May Not Be Female Corpse Exploitation

Elizabeth

When Twin Peaks initially took television by storm in 1990, I was a fourteen-year-old classic horror nerd hell bent on consuming every bit of popular culture that seemed at odds with my conservative hometown. In other words, I was the ideal audience for David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surrealistic tale of murder and debauchery in a small town. And while I initially tuned into the series for Piper Laurie, I (and most of America) soon became obsessed with the tragic backstory of Laura Palmer, the Prom Queen whose sweet smile hid an array of dark and seedy secrets. Since I was myself on the cusp of entering high school in a small town, Laura’s story was instantly identifiable, even as it also possessed an air of otherness.

Over the years, I have periodically gone back and rewatched the series, and it holds up remarkably well. But on Sunday, a new chapter of Twin Peaks will be written when the lauded show returns for a 9 episode run on Showtime. But while I am excited about the prospect of revisiting old friends–and old fears–I’ve been somewhat take aback by a couple of merchandising decisions designed to accompany the show’s return.

If there has been one criticism that has plagued the Frost/Lynch saga, it is that Twin Peaks almost singlehandedly ushered in the dead-teen-girl-as-spectacle trope that now plagues network and premium television at an almost incomprehensible rate. But does the show truly deserve that criticism?

In terms of narrative, I’d argue no. But in terms of recent merchandising decisions? Maybe.

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Posted on May 4, 2017

Loot Crate: Women in Horror Dream Crate

Elizabeth

It’s no secret to anyone who has ever entered my office that I am a hardcore collector of all things Final Girl related. So when Loot Crate reached out to us to create our own “Dream Crate” on a theme of our choosing, we may have broken the speed of sound in accepting the challenge. As the collector of the group, I was given the enviable task of assembling a crate of goodies that would represent Loot Crate’s commitment to providing fans with fun, unique and geeky gifts while highlighting a theme near and dear to Horror Homeroom’s heart.

The decision to select ‘Women in Horror’ as our theme was an easy one. Recent statistics indicate that more women are buying movie tickets for horror films than are men. There has also been a noticeable uptick in the number of female led horror films entering production. Yet, check out the merchandise marketed to fans and it becomes glaringly obvious that the presumption most horror fans are adolescent teen boys still reigns supreme. Our Dream Crate takes that assumption and smashes it! Read more

stalking
Posted on April 17, 2017

Wait Till Helen Comes Review

Elizabeth

TV-14      87 mins.          Dominic James               Canada                2016

Despite themes ranging from suicide to mental illness, Wait Till Helen Comes is ostensibly a horror film geared toward the PG set. Drawing heavily from its source material, Mary Dowling Hahn’s 1986 YA classic of the same name, the film deserves credit for trusting its audience to follow a somewhat complicated narrative structure. While there have been some exceptions, most notably the brilliant Lady in White(1998), horror films marketed toward younger teens have often relied upon jump scares and gross out shock scenes to move the plot. For example, the moment when the witches peel off their human masks in The Witches (1990) or when the maggot covered meat is revealed in Poltergeist (1982). Wait Till Helen Comes does the complete opposite. It is slow moving and picturesque with a sensibility that is more implied horror. And the end result is a very mixed bag. Read more

Posted on March 30, 2017

The Belko Experiment: Aesthetical Violence Meets Life Boat Ethics

Elizabeth

Please be aware this discussion contains spoilers.

To say that I have been looking forward to screening The Belko Experiment, directed by Greg McClean and written by James Gunn, is an understatement. The well-designed trailer for the film positioned it as another entry in the increasingly growing oeuvre of “life boat ethics”[i] horror films in which survival is intimately tied to the choices one makes when thrown into a moral quandary. These films, in which ethics and choice collide, are somewhat unique to the genre in that the physical violence is secondary to the psychological warfare being waged. Consider, for example, the first Saw film in which the majority of the narrative tension comes not from the actual acts being perpetrated but by the struggle of the unwilling game participant to make a choice.  Early trailers for The Belko Experiment, which showed the film to be about a group of employees who are held hostage by an unseen mastermind and forced to decide who in the group should die so that others could survive, gave every indication that this film would follow the conventions set out by previous “life boat ethics” films. Boy, was I wrong.

What I got instead was a wholly original postmodern horror tale that takes the conventions of a morality fable and repackages them to be less about psychology and more about shock and awe. In this case, spectacle is not part of the narrative. It is the narrative. Read more

Posted on March 6, 2017

Get Out and White Privilege

Elizabeth

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS

I never intended to write about Get Out, Jordan Peele’s whip smart takedown of institutional racism packaged up in one of the best horror films of recent memory. While empathy building in horror isn’t all that new, Get Out approaches its subject matter in such a wildly innovative way that I initially left the theatre thinking that this is what audiences must have felt like after seeing Hitchcock’s Psycho for the first time. For someone who sees as many horror films as I do, the feeling was special and I just wanted to savor it instead of immediately dissecting the film. But then I started reading articles about how some viewers found the film anti-white and the absurdity of it all inspired me to write about experiencing the film through the lens of white privilege. Because if you don’t appreciate the way that privilege plays into how you view this film, you’re missing the entire point.

For those unfamiliar (and seriously you need to head to a movie theatre immediately), Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), an interracial couple, convene to Rose’s parents house for a weekend. What follows is one of the most innovative forays into horror committed to film. There is a distinct narrative break in the way that Get Out tackles its social commentary than in the way horror has traditionally handled such explorations. Most films tend to either code its social commentary within horror tropes (Night of the Living Dead, American Psycho), an anthology format (Tales from the Hood) or to play uncomfortable moments for comedy (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil). Get Out falls back on none of those devices and instead, presents its satire aggressively and unapologetically. And the approach works. Instead of making the audience comfortable by putting a bit of distance between the commentary and them, the film doubles down and forces the audience to consider our own behavior and assumptions contribute to institutional racism. Read more

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