Carrie Remake Shows Women in Horror Are More Than Pretty Victims, By Angela Watercutter

As seen in Wired.

There’s a reason Carrie has endured for decades. Whether it’s Stephen King’s original 1974 novel, Brian De Palma’s screen adaptation, or any other version – including the one currently in theaters from director Kimberly Peirce – the saga of Carrie White perseveres because most of us have either been Carrie White or have known a Carrie White, and we can relate to the story of an underdog exacting revenge on bullies.

It gets a little more interesting, however, because it’s a tale of horror and the underdog protagonist is a woman. For decades, horror films were traditionally, seemingly one-stop schlock offerings for every kind of violence against women. Sure, some of them got out alive – the trope of the “Final Girl” doesn’t exist by accident – but it’s generally understood that some of the gravest and most gruesome things ever to happen to women onscreen happened in horror flicks.

There were exceptions like Alien, which subverted the horror trope of sexualized violence against woman into a story of male sexual horrorCarrie, too, was something very, very different from the traditional horror films where sexy girls got stabbed with knives; instead, we met the meek daughter of a religious fanatic who exacted revenge on high school bullies who mocked her when she got her period. In this sense, Carrie (the character and the story) is something of a feminist icon – and it’s intentional. “Carrie is largely about how women find their own channels of power, but also what men fear about women and women’s sexuality,” King wrote in Danse Macabre. “The book is, in its more adult implications, an uneasy masculine shrinking from a future of female equality.” In other words, the scares in Carrie are derived from a fear of strong women.

The modern version of Carrie, despite probably not being as seminal as De Palma’s 1976 version, manages to get one thing very right (in addition to its treatment of bullying): Carrie’s self-awareness. Chloë Grace Moretz in 2013 may not have the hapless outsider quality of her predecessor Sissy Spacek, but she makes up for it by playing her Carrie as someone who has agency. While she starts out not even knowing what menstruation is, she ends up realizing that women can have power. (Peirce even calls it a “superhero origin story.”) Maybe it’s the Hit-Girl in her bones, but there’s a knowing look in Moretz’s eye when she realizes just how powerful she is. Spacek had a bit of that, but in the late ’70s version she acted more as though the power simply worked through her, whereas Moretz harnesses it for herself. It’s subtle change, but an important one – and a nice reminder of how the role of women in horror movies has changed since 1976.

So if Carrie is the hero, what is the horror? In her book Men, Women, and Chain Saws, film professor Carol J. Clover suggests that she is both: a hybrid “victim-hero,” whose dual role is enabled by the cultural reaction to feminism – as something that creates fear in the men and women who don’t understand it and bestows power on the women who do. As Clover notes, it also provides a language to define Carrie’s victimization – at the hands of bullies both male and female – and gives justification to her ultimate Samson-bringing-down-the-temple retribution.

Yet the men in the audience also identify with her as she wreaks her revenge. Why? King has a theory: “One reason for the success of the story in both print and film, I think, lies in this: Carrie’s revenge is something that any student who has ever had his gym shorts pulled down in Phys Ed or his glasses thumb-rubbed in study hall could approve of.” In other words, Clover writes, a young man who’s been humiliated in a locker room can identify with a young woman pelted with tampons in a gym shower; King also suggests the “possibility that male viewers are quite prepared to identify not just with screen females, but with screen females in the horror-film world, screen females in fear and pain.” The new version of Carrie states this almost flat-out, using Carrie’s eventual prom date, Tommy Ross, who relates her locker-room torture to his own experiences being bullied in grade school.

There’s a second reason for this, as well: Movie-making can be a powerful tool to help us see the world through the eyes of other people, and to allow us to make those sorts of connections between our experiences and experiences of people who are different. In the simplest terms, movie watching is about identifying with a protagonist (or occasionally antagonist) that we root for – a perspective that’s largely delivered by the point-of-view of the camera and director. And what’s especially powerful is that it invites everyone in the audience – female and male – to see things through Carrie’s eyes, to identify with her humiliation and powerlessness (rather than treating it as entertainment) and to exult along with her when she finally fights back and claims her power.

Film theorist Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” suggested that most Hollywood films look at women through a very sadistic or fetishistic lens, something that she termed the “male gaze.” On the surface, there are plenty of examples of this in the horror genre, which, as Scream’s Sidney Prescott accurately observed, regularly features “some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door,” not to mention all manner of sexual violence against women, including “tree rape.”

But the genre has also given us the likes of the original “Final Girl” in Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in Halloween and Alien‘s tough Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). The genre turned out Charlotte McGee, the titular (and similarly King-created) character from Firestarter, whose stare causes blazes. And the changes in the new Carrie  – a more self-aware protagonist, a more sensitive student population – allow Peirce to demonstrate how women of horror, and really women of film, have evolved in the intervening years.

Clover originally published Men, Women, and Chain Saws in 1992. Since then the tide of women’s representation in horror films has only shifted further. Teeth turned vagina dentata (Google it) into a plot device. The Soska sisters from Canada are turning gendered horror tropes on their heads with films like Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary. The “rebirth” of Evil Dead (it of the infamous “tree rape”) that came out earlier this year [SPOILER ALERT] turned its hero into a heroine – a welcome change after the dismissive “she’s your girlfriend, you take care of her” language in the original.

Even Diablo Cody’s campy Jennifer’s Body, while still playing into the trope of the demonized (literally) sexual woman, attempted to flip the typical gender tropes of the slasher film. There’s now even talk of a TV show – starring Jamie Lee Curtis herself! – called The Final Girls, which opts to bring together women who have survived their own horror fates and are brought together for righting of wrongs. It’s way too early to tell if these women will have to fall into the “final girl” stereotype of masculinized women that are perceived as asexual or virginal (read: not deserving of death), but hopefully the new awareness will seep in. If it does – then the signs that Carrie’s real revenge will be coming to fruition.

A lot of the conversation leading up to the release of the latest Carrie can be boiled down to: Do we need another one? …

Continuing reading article and watch trailer here.

Tower of Terror: Toronto’s indie horror scene, by William Brownridge

As seen on Toronto Film Scene.

“Canadians have always created fantastic cinematic terrors, and Toronto is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the world of independent genre film. In fact, we probably already have.”

There isn’t a better genre of film for independent productions than horror, and you can’t beat the city of Toronto when it comes to film culture. From huge Hollywood hits, to films you may not have even discovered yet, Toronto has become one of the best cities in the world for film. The city plays host to the Toronto International Film Festival, with Midnight Madness bringing horror fans some annual goodies, and genre fans know that Toronto After Dark will be bringing the best that horror has to offer. The recent launch of the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival shines a bloody light directly on horror films created in Canada, proving that indie horror is on the rise.

Horror has always been a genre that existed more in the independent scene than anywhere else. When big companies get involved, the terror is frequently watered down, so horror fans have learned to seek out smaller productions. This is where boundaries are pushed, and while not every film is successful, the ones which get it right can create a huge hit. Fans of the genre also tend to be more accepting of the work. If you can provide a great atmosphere, some gory special effects, and a menacing killer, you’ll surely have a winning film. This is a sentiment echoed by local directors Justin McConnell and Tricia Lee.

McConnell, who directed The Collapsed and was recently added as a programmer for Toronto After Dark, explains why horror works so well. “Horror is always a wise choice due to it’s viability in an over-crowded marketplace, and the genre’s ability to present films to the public that can do well based on concept and elements alone. You don’t necessarily need a well-known cast, huge budget or any of the other bells and whistles to find an audience for horror. The concept is everything.” …

… “Many filmmakers are finding it difficult to navigate the traditional funding avenues found here in Canada, and are taking a much more DIY approach to getting their projects made.”

Read full article here.


AFM 2013: Ladies Get Lethal in New Horror Anthology XX

November 8th, 2013

As seen on Dread Central.

Around here we love our horror-loving ladies. Adore them in fact! That’s why we’re excited to report that an all-new female-centric anthology is on its way with some great names attached! Read on for details.

From the Press Release
MPI/Dark Sky Films and XYZ Films today announced a momentous project, XX, a landmark all-female horror anthology, with each segment featuring both a female director and female lead.

The directors on board include Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena, Chained), Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol, The Moth Diaries), Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), The Soska Sisters – Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary, ABCs of Death 2), and Jovanka Vuckovic (The Captured Bird, The Guest). The filmmakers will develop their own stories, and each will have a female lead character. The various segments will be linked by work by Guadalajara-based stop-motion animator Sofia Carrillo, who will also create the film’s title sequence.

Greg Newman, EVP of Dark Sky Films’ parent company, MPI Media Group, says, “We know that women make up about half of the audience for horror films, and yet, the female creative voice has been nearly silent in the horror genre. So we are thrilled about the new and distinct approach that these talented directors will bring to the project.”

Perhaps no film genre has lent itself more to the anthology format than horror, and in recent years the trend has returned with the successes of films such as V/H/S and The ABCs of Death. But whether it’s anthologies or full-length features, female directors – and horror from a female viewpoint in general – have been notably absent. The Dark Sky/XYZ project aims to change that.

In January 2013, a study was released in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival that posted some disheartening numbers. One, women only made up 4.4% of directors found within the top 100 box-office movies each year from 2002 through 2012, and two, only 29.8% of the films screened at Sundance during those 10 years were made by women (including directors, writers, editors, producers, and cinematographers). And the numbers for women making horror films are even more dismal.

Producer Todd Brown at XYZ said, “One of the givens of so many horror films has been the objectification of young women, and we thought it was time for a different approach to scaring audiences and letting the female voice be heard.”

Todd Brown will produce for XYZ. Greg Newman will serve as executive producer for MPI/Dark Sky, while Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer and Aram Tertzakian will serve as executive producers for XYZ. Jovanka Vukovic will act as associate producer. Malik Ali, Badie Ali, and Hamza Ali will also serve as executive producers on behalf of MPI/Dark Sky


Cameras roll on Bruce McDonald’s new horror-thriller ‘Hellions’, by Etan Vlessing

As seen on Playback.

Indie producers Whizbang 
have started the cameras rolling on Bruce McDonald’s Halloween 

The latest genre picture from the Pontypool director stars Chloe Rose as a pregnant teen who must survive a Halloween night from hell when three trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door.

No word on the budget for Hellions, which includes Telefilm Canada financing.

The ensemble cast includes Rookie Blue‘s Rachel Wilson as the teen’s mother, Luke Bilyk as her boyfriend and Rossif Sutherland in the role of a doctor.

Hellions was penned 
(The Colony) and is produced by
 and Paul 

“It is thrilling to be underway on this project and very auspicious that we are getting started Halloween week,” Siracusa said in a statement on Friday.

Norayr Kasper is the director of photography on Hellions, Andrew Berry is the production designer, Sarah Millman is the costume designer and Duff Smith (The HusbandYou Are Here) will edit the film.

Follow Hellions on Facebook and Twitter

Exclusive: Steve Hoban Talks Darknet and More!, by Drew Tinnin

As seen on Dread Central.

From Blood and Donuts and Ginger Snaps to Splice and, his latest, Haunter, producer Steve Hoban has been a staple in the Canadian horror scene since the mid Nineties.

He’s now working again with director Vincenzo Natali on a new experimental web series called Darknet that should be making its way onto television here in the States in the near future. For now, as of 12:01am this morning, fans can watch the first installment over at And, believe me, it’s worth checking out. Consisting of interweaving storylines and connected characters in different instances of urban horror, the first episode runs about 25 minutes and features some really solid, well-crafted moments. Just before the debut, Hoban was kind of enough to speak with us for a few minutes to talk about the series.

Dread Central: Since the idea of the Darknet files has been kept close to the chest and the teasers don’t really show too much, can you expand on the concept and talk about what horror fans can expect from the series?

Steve Hoban: Sure. We kind of flew under the radar because of the way we put it together. We ended up shooting six episodes but really we shot them as a prototype block of six. They are an adaptation of a very successful Japanese show called “Torihada” and they really key off on what that show originally was. Their show was very lo-fi and really just had creepy or scary or horrific things that felt very immediate and felt like they were things that could happen in the real world. Our show is a little more polished than that show is but we started with that. It’s short, visceral, fast, scary things that should feel like it could happen to anybody in the audience. You should watch this show and think as you’re stepping out your door that night or the next morning, ‘Hmm, maybe I should keep my eyes open.’

DC: With “Torihada”, it’s difficult for fans here to find a version with English subtitles but apparently it’s available everywhere in Japan. Are you taking any moments from that series or is it completely original?

SH: We’ve done both. We have a combination of episodes that are literally the same stories that were in “Torihada” episodes and then we have others that are originals. Then, we have some that mix them. The biggest difference is that we could have four segments within a half-hour episode. In Darknet they tend to be interrelated, so there are characters that go from one to another or there are elements that connect the stories. So, in a way, it’s a little bit more like a pulp fiction TV-series in that there are connected episodes. We even have characters that go from one episode to another even though each segment is its own unique story with a beginning, middle, and an end.

DC: Now, how do those connections work with different directors? When they sign on, do they have to use a certain character or a certain moment?

SH: Yeah, the way we did it is that Vincenzo [Natali] and I develop the scripts in-house with six different writers, so we were developing all of the scripts. Then, we put it to the writers initially to find the connections within the segments within their episode; then, we worked with them to further enhance those. Then, we took the six scripts and said, ‘Let’s take this character – she’s in the first episode – and let’s put her in episode three and in episode six.’ So, in some cases, it was to take a character that a writer was writing in one episode and make her a slightly different character or make him a her or vice-versa. Vincenzo and I were really just marshalling along the screenwriting. Vincenzo directed the first episode and I directed the second, so we had seen so many actors by the time we got to the third episode that we had a very good idea of what actors could fill a lot of the roles. It was done as a very collaborative thing.

DC: Well, I like the inner connections like that, especially with actors playing different characters. That’s been proven successful with something like “American Horror Story.”

SH: Absolutely. In a way, I think fans of “American Horror Story” would like this show and in another way it’s very very different. “American Horror Story,” of course, gets a whole season to explore these characters. In ours, you can have a whole story, beginning and end, and never see any of the characters again or hear anything about that story in four minutes. Or, then a character can reappear a number of times. I’m a huge fan of short story fiction and have been for years, so, to me, it’s what makes short stories so fun. They’re so visceral; they’re so fast and so satisfying as opposed to waiting so long to find out what’s happening. I would say, for any of our ongoing elements, nobody needs to see an episode where a character reappears because they get everything out of every discrete episode itself.

DC: How interactive will the Darknet site actually be? After the first six episodes, the series is opening up for fans and other filmmakers to direct or to contribute, right?

SH: That’s one of the things we’re most excited about. Once we get up and running in the new year, people will be able to submit their own scripts or even finished stories or finished segments that can be compiled into other episodes. Ultimately, we’d like to have those play on the website and some of the selected ones would ultimately become part of a TV show and end up on the DVDs that will follow the broadcast of the show. It’s a real opportunity for people out there to start becoming part of the show and make the show themselves. Even though we haven’t put a call out or anything, people have become aware of the show in, I guess, a grassroots kind of way. So, the core of people that are already interested in this type of thing already know about it. We’re not at all set up right now to handle submissions; we really don’t want them yet. We may put out our ten favorite scripts online and get people to vote on them.

DC: I’ll be sure to put a little disclaimer saying, ‘Screenwriters, do NOT send your scripts in yet!’

SH: (laughs) Yes, please. Not yet. We definitely want them; we just don’t want them quite yet!

Darknet is directed by Natali, Hoban, Brett Sullivan (“Orphan Black,” Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed), Rodrigo Gudiño (The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh) and newcomers Anthony Scott Burns and Jeremy Ball. The writers are Natali, Pascal Trottier, Doug Taylor (Splice), James Kee, Randall Cole (388 Arletta Ave) and Sarah Larsen. Darknet is executive produced by Vincenzo Natali and Steven Hoban, producers are Jensenne Roculan, Mark Smith (Haunter, 388 Arletta Ave), Paul Rapovski (Lost Girl) and supervising producer Kana Koido.

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Shock Til You Drop’s Blood List 2013 Has Been Unveiled!

As seen on Shock Til You Drop


by Ryan Turek
October 31, 2013

Another Halloween and another Blood List! Today, The Blood List for 2013 was revealed. This is a breakdown of the top 13 most liked, unproduced dark genre screenplays of the year. This is the fifth year for the compilation. Over 100 feature film executives vote on their top three favourite dark genre (horror, sci-fi) screenplays of the year.

Stay up to date with the latest horror news by “liking” Shock Till You Drop’s Facebook page and following them on Twitter!