Why We Write About Horror Amidst Tragedy - Dread Central
Connect with us

Editorials

Why We Write About Horror Amidst Tragedy

Published

on

Last night the United States was the victim of its worst mass shooting in the country’s history. As of this writing, at least 58 people were murdered and over 500 were injured by a man whose name I will not write, who shot from a high vantage point at the Mandalay Bay Resort into a crowd at a country music festival.

Like so many other mass shootings, it was a senseless act of violence. I won’t go into my own political thoughts on how tragedies like this can be averted because it’s not my place to foist my opinions on anyone. Instead, I will use this platform to mourn the dead, send my thoughts to the injured, and wonder what it will take to see some sort of change so that events like this can fade into history.

I’ve been asked how I can write about horror during such times, which I feel is a valid question. It’s not that I believe horror has no place during these moments; it’s that I feel some people don’t have the context or understanding of horror to understand why it’s so necessary.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle was believed to have coined the term “catharsis,” which he described as using performing arts of the time, such as plays, to purge ill thoughts and negative emotions from one’s self. It’s an incredibly powerful concept and one that is all too necessary and precious in times like these. In his piece Violent media may have a cathartic role in healthy lives, Virginia Tech Associate Professor of Philosophy James C. Klagge wrote, “It seems likely that [violent video games, horror movies, and heavy metal] tap something in us, or in some of us.” Meanwhile, in their 2005 Journal of Media Psychology paper The psychological appeal of movie monters, Fischoff et al. stated, “Movie monsters provide us with the opportunity to see and learn strategies of coping with real-life monsters should we run into them, despite all probabilities to the contrary.

Many of us are drawn to the more controversial forms of media for a wide variety of reasons. As a lover of heavy metal, violent video games, and horror (across all media), I know all too well the stigma that comes from associating myself with such genres. The problem I see is that some people are happy to immediately jump to conclusions without having even the most basic of curiosity so as to ask “Why?

I don’t watch horror because I love seeing people get killed. I mean, I DO, but that’s a bonus. Who doesn’t get a cathartic sense of joy when seeing the asshole get their comeuppance? No, I watch horror because I love seeing people survive. I watch it because I get to see people realize that life is so worth living, that it’s so worth enjoying, that they are willing to fight for even one more second. It’s those moments that fill me with inspiration and joy.

It’s seeing Lili Taylor’s “Carolyn Perron” exorcised by memories of love and family in The Conjuring. It’s seeing Heather Langenkamp’s “Nancy Thompson” realize that Freddy Krueger is nothing more than a nightmare, something she is old enough to see as powerless. It’s seeing Neve Campbell’s “Sidney Prescott,” even though she lives in a self-imposed exile, become a crisis counselor for others, despite all the trauma and tragedy she herself has gone through.

These are but a microscopic amount of examples of horror characters who prove that there is good in this world. These are characters who show growth, poise, grace, and strength far beyond what many of us are capable of. They are inspiring, at least to me. And if I find inspiration in horror, does that not prove its importance and necessity, even in the darkest of times?

By now we’ve all heard the phrase, “Look for the helpers.” In events like these, they are the people who rush to the aid of those fallen. They are the first responders who throw themselves into the fray, regardless of the risk to their own lives. And for many, they are the ones who help afterwards.

If you wish to help those who are in need, I recommend giving blood at your local Red Cross. For those who wish to show that horror can help, don’t forget that Jigsaw is continuing the tradition set out by Saw for their own blood drive, which you can read about here. By their own statement, the Saw charity blood drive has accumulated over 120,000 pints of blood, saving more than 360,000 people.

Horror may be known for bringing about death and violence. But let us not forget that it also celebrates the triumph of survival and the power of helping those around us. In times like today, I think we could all use that reminder.

Comments

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

News

Zena’s Period Blood: The Lure of it All

Published

on

It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”

“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.


The LureAll right, guys. Sorry that this review will get personal, but this is ultimately my love letter to director Agnieszka Smoczynska for her expert filmmaking. You may come across verbiage that is inappropriate and may get me fired, but I know no other way to write about this film. The Lure is a freaking horror musical with way too much good bait not to be caught by it. See what I did there? Well, expect more of my fangirling because that’s all you will get.

Even the beginning credits, hovering ghostly over an illustrated intro, uncover a glimpse of the enchantment of mermaids in a lagoon crowded with their leftovers, which we witness are human skeletons. At the end of this magnificent, almost museum-like exhibition, you see the hands and kiss of a mermaid luring another human into the water. Here, you understand your uselessness in warning future humans of this alluring peril.

The live action begins at night with three members of a cabaret band singing on a beach. Instantly, you see what dilemmas will occur as soon as two pairs of eyes emerge from under the sea. Silver (Marta Mazurek) appears first, a blonde mermaid with eyes of astonishment and love for the form and voice of the shore-fixed human boy Mietek (Jakub Gierszal). Golden (Michalina Olsanska) emerges second, eyes of animalistic hunger that she uses to lure her victims before feeding. At this point, you could pause the film and deduce the conflict you will endure: Silver wants to be with Boy; Golden wants to eat humans; Boy sees new, hot girl. But trust me… play the movie and never pause it again.

The Lure excels at giving you its own history, anatomy, and peculiarities of a mermaid. It does it in such a stylish way through camera movement, reasonable curiosity, and attractive scores. Even at the moment we discovered that mermaids in human form don’t have vaginas or buttholes, I felt that I was in the room with everyone else with an interested but let’s move on look. All of these delightful oddities happened under splashes of effervescent colors reminiscent of Dario Argento’s 1980 classic Inferno. Smoczynska seamlessly blends the old and the new.

And it’s all horror. I specifically remember when Zygmunt, the nightclub manager, asked the mermaids where they learned to speak Polish. They answered, “The beaches of Bulgaria.” Okay. Here, I would’ve asked, “Well, why aren’t you in Bulgaria anymore? What happened to the person who taught you guys Polish?” But Zygmunt only noticed their sex appeal inflating his cash flow. The mermaids were hot and could sing. I’d probably be in the I’m-totally-winning-and-nothing-can-stop-me mood as well. He already had a profitable band called the Figs n’ Dates. Adding these mermaids to the mix just multiplied the moola.

Matter of fact, the mermaids were such stars that they formed their own band, The Lure. The Lure should be a band in real life. If they were, my dream would change from taking over the universe in a Ric Flair speedo to just being the band’s only background dancer. At that point, just call me The Twerk Sage or Headmistress Twerk, because I’d be the master of the art of twerking. I actually thought about this. Check it out. I’d grow my underarm hair long enough to braid it to the hair from my scalp. Then I would connect the red lipstick from the corners of my lips to the corners of my bloodshot eyes. Yes, you’d be disgusted. But I’d do all this to prove that my twerking is so mesmerizing that you can’t help but stay in the club and stare at me. And guess what? I’m staring back at you—just you, my armpits sweating and all. But I stop only when the music stops. I’d be mind-blowing. I’d have to be. I refuse to be the only one in the band (or the cast) that lacks talent. Hopefully, this is a testament to the great acting, music, and overall production you will witness when you see this movie. Don’t worry. I’m not in it.

The standout performances were often encapsulated in handheld camerawork that triggered intimacy between you and the story, which you wanted when you were first seduced by these characters and this world but ultimately despised with the realization that everyone would suffer in the end. Some things happened so seamlessly in this movie that I didn’t even realize the movie magic I had just witnessed. For example, I actually thought I had viewed the transformation of a human-shaped figure into a mermaid; but after exploring closer, I realize that Smoczynska simply understood my brain and chose to David Blaine the crap out of it. Like, how am I writing her this love letter when I’m already married? See? She’s good.

Another detail that stood out was that the girls passed out when they were away from a body water for too long (e.g., a pool or a bathtub). The only thing I can compare it to is me with a new purse. My husband often finds me in a tactless, unconscious position throughout the world if a new bag hasn’t entered my life in a specific amount of time. As a lesson to everyone, find somebody who knows how to water you properly so you can stay alive. Now, back to the review. Actually, back to marriage. Communication is important. Sometimes I wonder why my husband can’t just read my mind. Perhaps it’s for the same reason I can’t read his. I have better things to do. But it would be great to communicate in some other way than just talking. For example, Golden and Silver communicate using what I gathered was sonar. You will hear it throughout the movie as metallic, oceanic vibrations. How convenient would that be, communicating with my husband in a posh dining restaurant, letting him know that that skank in the window booth needs to stop looking over here before I add more blush to her cheek with my elbow? See why I need the Ric Flair speedo?

Speaking of clothing, I applaud the costume design, led by Katarzyna Lewinska. Although the costumes were straightforward, they were unforgettable and fit expertly in the world. I saw costumes that I called instant wears. Zena’s English Dictionary (which I am making into a real thing) defines “instant wears” as any outfit that an individual sees, screams at, Instagrams immediately with caption #fashiongoals, searches Amazon for, finds (of course), places into shopping cart (of course), and verifies delivery date so that unworthy members of the household know that he or she is expecting a package. Speaking of instant wears, I would wear this movie if it was an outfit. That’s how much I loved it. You’re wearing The Lure. Well, why yes, I am. That sounds spicy.

The Lure left me with opposing emotions of fulfillment and deficiency. On one hand, I had just experienced a great musical with great visuals; on the other, I had been ripped apart by Silver’s final decision, almost solidifying that I could never endure this journey again. I usually keep movies like this on my shelf. This allows me to relive particular scenes mentally without being lured into the entire excursion that leads to the inevitable heartbreak.

Check out The Lure as soon as you can. Yes, it is named after the band in the film. However, there is so much that will lure you in. There is so much that lures characters to each other—the lure of the unknown, love, money, hunger, and so much more. You, too, will ask yourself: What did I just watch? Why did I just watch it? And how have I not seen anything like it before? This is a great horror. Point blank. PERIOD.

Love,

Zena from Zena’s Period Blood


In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.

 


Comments

Continue Reading

Editorials

Bobby Joe vs Evil Dead: The Female-Driven Evil Dead Spin-Off That Should Have Been

Published

on

Whatever Happened to Bobby Joe?

That is a question that has plagued me since the first time I saw Evil Dead 2 at a party in high school. There might be a comic book that explains her final fate, but I don’t know about it, so I’m writing this up all the same.

This is my pitch for not only what happened to her after she was drug out into the middle of the woods by killer trees but also what could have happened after to our badass backwoods beauty queen (BBBQ).

Let’s call it: Bobby Joe vs Evil Dead

To begin, let’s start with the last time we saw little ol’ Bobby Joe. The poor girl got a mouthfulla eyeball and a hair fulla Ash’s hand and ran off into the woods alone, only to be taken by the trees. Dead, right? I call BS. After all, we have seen numerous people attacked by the Evil Trees (Cheryl, Scotty, and Mia spring to mind) and guess what? All of them survived, to varying degrees.

The point is the Evil Trees tend to, you know, molest and mutilate, but they aren’t known for their life-taking skills. Therefore it makes total sense that Bobby Joe survived her encounter with the trees out there. But that begs the question, “What happened to her?”

One of the coolest aspects to remember about her character is that she is (to my memory) the only character in the Evil Dead series that is “killed” and doesn’t come back as a Deadite. Strange huh? Almost seems like Raimi and co. were setting her up for an eventual return and then just kinda, I guess, forgot about her. But let’s not make the same mistake over and over, Bobby Joe needs her redemption and she needs her revenge. Bobby Joe needs to reemerge as the series’ badass female hero. But how?

Let’s get into it now. Bobby Joe is pulled off by the trees and, duh, fights back. Or maybe gets Mia and Cheryl’d but still walks/limps away from the ordeal. Now she’s pissed. That could work, but I have one better. She is pulled off by the trees and just as things are about to get really bad, she is rescued.

Rescued? Yes! By who? We’ll get to that. First I want to make sure to point out that just because she recused doesn’t mean she is a weak character. After all, Ash is about the weakest of all characters for most, if not debatably all, of the Evil Dead films, so this isn’t a damsel-in-distress situation. It’s a means of introducing a very interesting side spin-off to this spin-off.

So, Bobby Joe is being taken by trees when a shadowy male saves her at the last minute. They fight off the trees and then turn to each other… but don’t recognize one other. “Who are you,” she askes the man in the shadows with bitchin’ hair. And out steps, you guessed it, Scotty from the original The Evil Dead.

We’re now in an alternate timeline because the cabin sure as hell could pull off that kind of thing and now we live in a world where all of the events from all of the Evil Dead films – including the remake – can co-exist.

But back to the Scotty thing at hand. What happened was Scotty walked off from the original film and was going to be beaten by the trees but then happened upon Bobby Joe. The two then head back to the cabin where they find Ash fighting with Linda’s Deadite. They accidentally distract Ash and Linda whacks off HIS head with the shovel. Ash is dead!? This is getting crazy now. Yes, with Ash dead, Scotty and Bobby Joe fight off the remaining evil in the original film, with only Bobby Joe making it to morning.

This time around she is the one to lose her hand. This time around she takes up the chainsaw appendage. This time she is the victor. But just as the sun is rising and she moves out of the cabin in the woods – the Applehead Demon attacks! She reads from the book of the dead and the portal opens bringing us up to speed with the end of Evil Dead 2. Bobby Joe is sucked through the portal and lands, yep, in Army of Darkness.

We’re not through yet. Bobby Joe lands just where Ash did but this time she isn’t surrounded by knights played by Sam Raimi’s siblings. This time she is all alone. But wait… there is a cave a ways off… she enters to find Ash sleeping from too much of the sauce – and wakes him up.

Now it’s Ash & Bobby Joe vs Army of Darkness II: Dead by Modern-Day.

That’s a working title, by the way. But yes, Bobby Joe has now found her way into the original Evil Dead timeline and will join forces with newly awoken Ash (following his adventures in Army of Darkness). The story continues from there with the alternate heroes of the two Evil Dead universes going back-and-forth on who’s more badass, and their general shenanigans as they fighting their way through history (courtesy of fun and ironic random time-jumps via the main evil force).

Will the two chainsaw-handed warriors take to each other like soulmates and quickly join forces or will they see each other as arch-enemies? After all, Ash did shoot Bobby Joe accidentally in Evil Dead 2, and I highly doubt she’s just going to let that go. The mind reels with possibilities.

In closing, yes, all of this is a bit silly, but what have the Evil Dead films become other than sillier and sillier. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I would love to know the origin story of Bobby Joe. What must it have been like to grow up as a BBBQ? How did she end up with such a catch as Jake? These questions intrigue the hell out of me and I would love to see them explored in a possible comic series.

The Evil Dead series needs a strong female lead. In the years since the original trilogy, both the remake and the STARZ series have tried to give us strong “Female Ash” characters with Jane Levy’s Mia and Lucy Lawless’ Ruby. While both were arguably successful attempts (I love Mia especially), I still think the best candidate was always Bobby Joe from Evil Dead 2.

That’s my pitch. What do you think? Let us know!

#BobbyJoeLives

Comments

Continue Reading

Editorials

10 Terrifying Moments from Kids’ Movies That Haunted Our Childhoods

Published

on

When the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped a couple weeks ago, I watched it with a tinge of dread. See, Han Solo traumatized me as a child. I was 7-years-old when I saw The Empire Strikes Back in theaters, and the scene where Harrison Ford gets tortured at Cloud City gave me my first bona fide panic attack. It was dark, intense, and completely out of left field in an otherwise fantastic franchise where no one ever bleeds (or screams).

I might be the only one who had such an adverse reaction to Solo’s torture (which happens, primarily, off-screen), but those of us who came of age in the 1980s can probably relate to encountering terrifying moments in otherwise kid-friendly films. For the most part, these were the days before PG-13, meaning there was a ton of leeway for movies that fell in between the extremes of Cinderella and The Shining.

In retrospect, 1980s kids were subjected to a litany of scares that would be considered highly inappropriate by today’s standards—perhaps explaining our generations’ intense love of horror! Return with me now to those terrifying days of yesteryear with 10 terrifying moments from kids’ movies that haunted our childhoods!


The Tunnel of Terror in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The only film on this list that wasn’t produced and released in the 1980s (and the only one I didn’t see in theaters) is nonetheless one every child of the era has seen: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. I remember my parents telling me that I was in for a treat when they sat me down in front of the TV at the tender age of 6.

I was already unnerved by the tall man in the trench coat and the bizarre antics of Gene Wilder’s Wonka, but that boat-ride scene completely destroyed my childhood. It wasn’t even the chicken decapitation or the centipedes that rattled me; it was Wonka’s unhinged shrieking! To this day, the scene gives me the willies (pun intended!); Wilder truly channels the dangerous intensity of a lunatic.


Gmork attacks Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The NeverEnding Story was an exciting alternative in the Disney-dominated landscape of kids’ movies in the 1980s—exciting and dark! But a kid trapped in an attic, a horse drowning in a swamp, a nihilistic turtle, and a devastating void all paled in comparison to Atreyu’s confrontation with the insidious Gmork.

Those green eyes staring out from the cave froze my blood. The fact that it could speak made it infinitely more terrifying; this wasn’t some primal beast, this agent of The Great Nothing was a cunning and merciless villain. The matter-of-fact way it informed Atreyu that he would be his last “victim” was beyond bleak. When the monster attacked as thunder roared and lightning struck, I screamed.

Though many aspects of The NeverEnding Story show their age, this moment remains, objectively, as scary as any horror movie werewolf attack.


The Wheelers Descend in Return to Oz (1985)

When Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) first arrived in Oz back in 1939, she was greeted by a community of cheerful Munchkins. When Dorothy (reprised by Fairuza Balk) returned to Oz in 1985, her reception was much colder.

The eerie silence of a seemingly abandoned wasteland was broken by an assault by Wheelers: colorful, mechanically enhanced cousins of the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys. As adults, we can laugh at the impracticality of villains who can’t even maneuver stairs, but we weren’t laughing as kids, I can promise you that!

While the hall of heads, an unintentionally terrifying Jack Pumpkinhead, and a truly demonic Gnome King are perhaps the scariest moments of Return to Oz, the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Wheelers was a truly devastating moment. It obliterated all our happy memories of Oz in an instant, transforming the land of enchantment into a labyrinth of evil.


Large Marge Tells her Tale in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Many of the films on this list are dark from start to finish, containing multiple terrifying moments. But part of what makes the tale of Large Marge so impactful is that it appears in an otherwise completely lighthearted film. Sure, man-child Pee-wee Herman has always been subversive in ways that only become apparent as we get older, but he never dabbled in ghost stories or jump scares.

Luckily, the scary face of Large Marge was as funny as it was shocking, so even though kids like me hit the ceiling, our fears quickly dissolved into fits of hysterical laughter. Today, I remember practically nothing about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but I’ll have fond memories of Large Marge until the day I die.


The Emperor Turns to Ash in The Dark Crystal (1982)

Over 35 years after it’s release, The Dark Crystal remains a unique and beautiful anomaly. Jim Henson’s G-rated Muppets were left in the workshop! This film was populated by fascinating and terrifying characters, conveying a tale that wasn’t dumbed down for its audience. These factors give the film profound resonance and contribute to its status as an enduring classic

Like the title warns, this film is dark. The Skeksis are demonic, Augrah is arresting, and the Garthim are pure nightmare fuel. The process of draining Pod People of the essence and the stabbing death of Kira are horrifying. But it was the death of the Skeksis Emperor that really hit me like a ton of bricks.

There was something metaphysically terrifying about this moment; not only is the idea of a creature crumbling into ash creepy as hell but the effect was gasp-inducing. As a child, it was something I’d never seen before, a concept I’d never imagined, and it floored me. Death had never been conveyed with such shocking profundity.


The Lab Rats are Injected in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

When I sat in the theater in 1982, I don’t think I realized that The Secret of NIMH wasn’t a Disney movie, but I realized soon enough Mickey and Minnie weren’t hangin’ with these rodents! The Great Owl was petrifying and the finale was as harrowing as anything my young psyche had yet experienced, but it was the flashback of experiments conducted on lab rats that stuck with me and haunted my childhood.

It wasn’t just the brilliant animation that powerfully conveyed the rats’ pain as syringes were plunged into their bellies, it was a brutal moment of education they don’t teach kids in school. It was my first introduction to the realities of animal experimentation, and the fact that grown-ups would perpetrate such atrocities felt like a betrayal


The Ending of Time Bandits (1981)

In retrospect, it was irresponsible for any of our parents to think that Time Bandits was a kids’ movie just because the main character was an 11-year-old boy. In 1981, the only other film Terry Gilliam had directed was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, Time Bandits is funny and exciting with motifs common to kid-friendly time-travel fiction, but the film is nearly hopelessly bleak from start to finish.

Kevin (played by Craig Warnock) is completely neglected by his parents and essentially kidnapped by a troop of interdimensional robbers. He’s made complicit in a series of crimes throughout many dangerous eras, forced to endure wars and even the sinking of the Titanic. Eventually, Kevin is dragged into a realm of ultimate darkness. Though triumphing over Evil personified, he’s abandoned by God before returning home—only to find his home engulfed in a blazing inferno.

Though rescued by firemen, Kevin’s parents didn’t even realize he was missing and are soon reduced to piles of ash by a stray bit of concentrated evil. The friendly firemen take little notice, leaving our young protagonist utterly alone.


Faces Melt in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

A lot of my peers will count the human sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as one of the most terrifying moments of their childhood. Not me. After what I’d endured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was ready for anything.

Since it gets less attention than its predecessor (bonus fact: Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark), I think people forget just how scary Raiders really is. It’s worlds darker and grittier than Doom, which has a colorful, comic book pallet by comparison, not to mention a clear emphasis on comedy. The spiders, the snakes, the boobytraps: they all put monkey brains and extracted hearts to shame.

But the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark is more intense than most horror movies, past and present. The face-melting evoked Cold War Era fears of nuclear annihilation and the idea of a vengeful God was devastating.


The Death of Shoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

I wasn’t always the jaded gorehound I am today; I was young and sensitive once. And even though I was well into puberty by 1988 (or maybe because of it) I was especially traumatized by a moment in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The hard-boiled plot loaded with barely veiled sexual innuendo was, for the most part, completely buried beneath a cacophony of cameos from just about every cartoon character ever penned.

But it wasn’t the fever-nightmare of Roger’s mania or even the emergence of Judge Doom’s true form that devastated me; it was the execution of poor Shoe, a paradigm of animated innocence unceremoniously dropped into a barrel of “dip” (a toxic concoction made from turpentine, acetone, and benzene).

Most kids in their early teens couldn’t stop thinking about Jessica Rabbit; I was haunted by the death of Shoe.


Supercomputer Makes a Human Cyborg in Superman III (1983)

There’s an evil streak that runs throughout Superman III, the third film to feature Christopher Reeves as the titular Man of Steel. While Superman II had its dark spots (specifically the devastation caused by Zod and his companions) there’s an undercurrent in Richard Lester’s follow-up that’s absolutely wicked—containing a scene that contributed to the destruction of my childhood.

A makeshift batch of Kryptonite turns Superman into an immoral, selfish thug before he participates in a troubling fight to the death with himself. But as unsettling as the concept of an evil Superman may be, the scene where the supercomputer turns Vera into a cyborg was some next level shit for 10-year-old me.

I re-watched the scene in preparation for this article and was shocked at its similarities to the moment in Hellraiser II when Dr. Channard is transformed into a Cenobite—especially the wires! No wonder it scared the hell out of me!

Comments

Continue Reading

Exclusive Clip – Primal Rage

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC