XX Anthology: Horror Directed By Women

I leave the Internet for a few hours to get my mustache waxed and the next thing I know, this big project is announced! I have been looking forward to this announcement for some time since director Jovanka Vuckovic told me this was brewing, and I've secretly yearned to know the details. Now we have them!

Jovanka Vuckovic is really the driving force behind this anthology of horror segments all directed by women. It was her initial spark that gave this project the power it has: she gathered some of the best female horror directors of our time: Mary Harron (AMERICAN PSYCHO), Karyn Kusama (JENNIFER'S BODY), Jennifer and Sylvia Soska (AMERICAN MARY), Jennifer Lynch (CHAINED), and animator Sofia Carrillo (PRITA NOIRE) for the first female-directed  horror film anthology.

XX is the title, but there are no plot descriptions yet. The anthology will also feature female leads.

From the official press release:

Producer Todd Brown 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."

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."

But I would rather hear from Vuckovic or the other directors, dudes!

I'm on this like I'm on horror films directed by women (white on rice).

XX horror anthology directed by women

Where Are All The Female ABC'S OF DEATH 2 Directors?

Meredith Borders, managing editor of BadassDigest, a genre news film site run by the people at Drafthouse Films, just posted a short article wondering where are all the female entrants to the second ABC'S OF DEATH contest.

You see, the first film was essentially a sausage fest except for two segments out of the 26: one directed by Angela Bettis (ROMAN) and the other co-directed by Helene Cattet (AMER). This year, the ratio is slightly better: three women directors, Jen and Sylvia Soska (co-directing one segment) and Kristina Buozyte with a potential fourth female director if one happens to win the current contest in which filmmakers are asked to submit a short film and viewers vote to pick the new director.  The comments on the article range from people lamenting how they can't name more than five women horror director to people suggesting that Karen Lam, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Maude Michaud are good possibilities to people saying that the reason women don't direct horror is because women characters are marginalized in horror and in our culture et cetera.

Borders states she is a feminist and I am really happy that someone with so much power at Drafthouse is willing to come out and say that she really wishes there were more women included in this thing. However, Borders doesn't ask the question that I think is really obvious: why were only three women asked to participate in THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2 from the get-go?

"Because there aren't any women horror directors to ask," you suggest? There are actually like dozens. I can name dozens. Right now. Danielle Harris, Karen Lam, Barbara Stepansky, Jovanka Vuckovic, Brea Grant, Axelle Carolyn, Marina de Van, Caroline Dupotet, Rie Rasmussen, Kristina Klebe, Devi Snively, Sofia Carrillo, Faye Jackson, Rania Ajami, Emily Hagins (she seems like a no-brainer for Drafthouse, which has been one of her biggest supporters in Austin, Texas), Amber Benson, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Maude Michaud, Izabel Grondin, Danishka Esterhazy, Elza Kephart, Gigi Romero, Asia Argento, Debbie Rochon, Mae Catt, Rebekah McKendry, Marichelle Daywalt, Anouk Whissell, Julia Ostertag, Tii Riks, Jen Moss, Jessi Gotta, Lindsay Denniberg, Juliet Landau, Isabelle Gaumont, Jenn Wexler, Mattie Do, Amy Hesketh, Jen Thym, Ursula Dabrowsky… and this is just off the top of my head. Any of these directors would be completely qualified to stand next to The Soskas and any of the male directors already currently hired for the ABC'S OF DEATH 2. Not to mention that there are women directors with long careers in horror and even cult followings that may be available for something like this including Amy Holden Jones, Jennifer Lynch, Mary Harron, Mary Lambert, Katt Shea, Jackie Kong, Barbara Peeters, Tammi Sutton, and Deryn Warren. And, I can think of some actresses and writers that have been interested in directing for a long time who would be not only great at cutting their teeth on an ABC'S OF DEATH 2 segment but would also bring a lot of fan love  to the entire project like Tiffany Shepis, Diablo Cody, Heather Langenkamp, Juliet Snowden, and Brinke Stevens.

I think, if maybe more women directors were represented as actual hires from the beginning, more women would be encouraged to actually enter the contest. I'm not surprised some women may not feel encouraged or excited about entering if they feel that there's already a barrier between them and the project. I'm curious why more women were not initially hired, especially when there are people at Drafthouse, like Borders, who are clearly aware of women directors and want more of them in the project. If the producers are interested in what women are doing, they're more than welcome to read my blog. And I'd be happy to make any suggestions or connections they might need for an ABC'S OF DEATH 3 that is more gender-balanced. The real tragedy here, of course, is that they haven't read my blog. I mean, that's the main, larger, much more important issue: me and my stuff and my ego. Me. Me. Me.

EDIT: director Marcy Boyle (NOBODY CAN COOL) reminded me of an article I wrote in 2011 about this same issue, to which producer Ant Timpson responded.  You can read the article here, and this was Ant's response to the original article:

Just wanted to say that I actually went all out not to make this a sausage fest and even though I didn't invite Marina (agggrhh one of my favourite films ever is IN MY SKIN) as I had a brainfart and totally forgot about her. Not sure she would have done it but I love her work.

I made an effort to try and get quite a few women involved. I wanted Katt Shea and even approached her via Facebook. You have to understand that this was a low-fi project at the start, Magnet weren't involved it was just myself and Tim trying to put it together. I don't want to mention other names. The issue was that some higher profile women directors simply did not respond or had agents protecting them from projects like this. So what happens is that we fall back onto who we know (and into that bloody boys club) which is directors we have personal contact with and who can make a call about participation immediately. This whole thing was being rushed for Cannes like you wouldn't believe.

I have no issue with the anger in your tone as I believe its totally warranted. It is a sausage fest in horror. I see all these gatherings of horror directors and its always dudes with one token woman in the photos. I don't think there's a conscious decision to exclude but there's also a huge fucking lack of getting them recognition.

Anyway, just wanted to say that there was consideration and I did try. We just had time and some other pressures working against us.

Keep up the good fight.

Ant

 

But my ego aside, here are the current entries in the ABC'S OF DEATH 2 search for the 26th director:

M IS FOR MAKE BELIEVE written and directed by Summer Johnson:

M IS FOR MEMORY co-directed by Melanie Coleman:

M IS FOR MONEY co-directed by Shelly Doss:

M IS FOR MASK directed by Arianne Goddard:

M IS FOR MISERYEATER directed by Alicia R Norman:

M IS FOR MATERNITY WARD directed by Val O. Morris (I know her! Hey Val!):

M IS FOR MOLESTER co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:

M IS FOR MUCUS also co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:

I happen to know that there are a few more women who are going to submit before the deadline, like Ama Lea and Emma Julia Jacobs, and the contest doesn't end submissions until October 31st, 2013 so who knows how many they may get between now and then. Voting goes on until November 30th, 2013 and the winner will be announced on December 15th. I really do hope it's a woman who wins (and because she deserves it, not as a hand-out because of her vagina) just because – honestly – out of 26 segments the producers only invited three women? That's a bit silly.

I'll keep you posted on this!

Mary Harron's New ANNA NICOLE Movie Trailer

Mary Harron (director of AMERICAN PSYCHO) has a new TV movie coming out – Lifetime Network's ANNA NICOLE, the tragic story of model ANNA NICOLE SMITH, from a script by John Rice and Joe Batteer.

I've been looking forward to the new ANNA NICOLE movie for a looong time, and it seems to be living up to my expectations. Played by Agnes Bruckner, Anna Nicole goes from Texas girl Vicky Lynn Hogan to the sexy and infamous Playboy regular Anna Nicole Smith, and ends up dead in a Florida hotel room in 2007 at the age of 39.

The film premieres June 29, 2013, on Lifetime, but check out this teaser here; it looks really good:

 

ANNA NICOLE also stars Martin Landau as Anna Nicole's husband J. Howard Marshall; Cary Elwes as his son E. Pierce Marshall; Virginia Madsen as her mom Virgie Arthur, and Adam Goldberg as her attorney Howard K. Stern.

Ten Best (Mainstream) Genre Films Directed By Women


A few lists of the Best Movies Directed By Women have come out lately, written by journalists hoping to shed some light on the saddening state of invisible women directors. Indiewire actually hosted two separate lists (one here and the other here), so I decided to make my own. With input from a private group of over 390 women directors of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and action films, as well as private suggestions from women genre directors, I came up with a list of films that represent the best theatrical and mainstream genre movies directed by women. Ever.

Now, this list is mostly about mainstream, theatrical releases directed by women (hence another list in the works about smaller releases). It also, when it can, only includes movies that people seem to generally agree are GOOD. For instance, Karyn Kusama's "Aeon Flux" is not on the list, nor is "Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (sorry, Karyn, Lorene!). I also cannot, in good conscience, include "Twilight" by Catherine Hardwicke, despite being wildly popular, because it is a terrible story (not Hardwicke's fault). You might disagree with this list. You probably will. I invite you to write, in the comments, how you would amend the list and to suggest anything you think was unfairly left off or unfairly included…

1. Mary Harron – "American Psycho" (2000)

Based on the book by Brett Easton Ellis, this darkly funny and ultra-violent study of Patrick Bates, a serial killer travelling successful 1980s Manhattan circles was phenomenally bloody. Guinevere Turner's script captured the satirical essence of Ellis' novel while Harron's direction shifted from austere and draconic to candy-colored and sickening.

2. Kathryn Bigelow – "Near Dark" (1987)

Probably the best-known genre film directed by a woman. Even mainstream audiences can name it when asked! Bigelow's western vampire movie had action, gore, violence, and a romantic love story.

3. Mimi Leder – "Deep Impact" (1998)

Morgan Freeman was The President of the United States, and he had to prevent a giant comet from hitting the Earth and annihilating mankind. No small business!

4. Mary Lambert – "Pet Sematary" (1989)

Lambert's Stephen King adaptation goes down in history as one of the few truly good ones (right up there with Kubrick's "The Shining," "Carrie" and "Christine"). Lambert brought vibrancy and action to King's story about renaimation in a small, Maine town.

5.  Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker (2009)

The term "genre" includes action, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to films. Yes, Bigelow gets two films on this list. She won an Oscar for this one, it was so good (not that winning Oscars always means something is good; Gwenyth Paltrow has one). "The Hurt Locker" is a marvel of action and war and grit set in this current war, in 2003.

6. Ida Lupino – "The Hitch Hiker" (1953)

Lupino was an actress who got behind the camera on a fortuitous whim one day out of necessity. She ended up being the first woman to direct a mainstream film since the 1920s, when women were all but pushed out of the director's chair in Hollywood. Only one other woman in the world, Wendy Toye, was directing mainstream film in the 1950s, and she mostly for TV. "The Hitch Hiker" is a thriller about an escaped sociopath who takes two men hostage, at gun-point, and then mercilessly toys with them as he uses their car to evade police. Lupino also directed an episode of the original TV show "Twilight Zone" (which by rights could be on this list all by itself) and episodes of "Boris Karloff's Thriller."

7. Katt Shea – "Poison Ivy" (1992)

Drew Barrymore needed a comeback movie at age 15 more than possibly anyone who was aged 50 in 1992. Katt Shea's dark, sensual, violent thriller "Poison Ivy" was lavishly and artistic sexy in a "V.C. Andrews" kind of way. Gorgeous runaway Ivy befriends  mousy Sylvie and slowly takes over her life, her mom, her dad, and her soul until Sylvie has to fight back. It was a smash at Sundance.

8. Patty Jenkins – "Monster" (2003)

This serial-killer expose masqueraded as a drama and blew audiences out of the water with Charlize Theron's incredible performance as Aileen Wuornos, a woman who killed six men in the 1980s and 1990s. It won an academy award (but not for Best Director). (This film got plenty of play on Indiewire's lists, but it's just that fucking good I can't not include it).

9. Antonia Bird – "Ravenous" (1999)

Touted as a 'black comedy' by studios to play down the horror aspects, "Ravenous" stars Guy Pierce and Robert Carlyle as two miltary men stationed in 1840s California, in the mountains, and has some roots in the notorious Donner Party tale. There is snow, cannibalism, hunting of humans, people eating human flesh, and gruesome deaths. It's pretty brilliant.

10.  Amy Holden Jones – "Slumber Party Massacre" (1981)

Slightly less well-known, but just as important to women directors and the evolution of the slasher film mythos, is the seminal slasher film directed by a woman for Roger Corman, "Slumber Party Massacre," which has an extensive cult following and there is OODLES of info on it out there on the Internetses. In a nutshell, it was written by feminist Rita Mae Brown (who has since gone insane and now co-authors books with her cat, Sneaky Pie) as a snarky take on the slasher film movement, and then turned into an exploitative slasher film by Corman. It did feature one of the first female horror film directors of the 1980s, as Corman is famous for being an equal opportunity exploiter of eager young filmmakers. It features Brinke Stevens in her first shower scene and a giant drill that is supposed to represent PENIS.

For reference, some of the mainstream, theatrical films suggested but that were not included are Catherine Harwidcke's "Twilight" and "Red Riding Hood," Lexi Alexander's "Punisher II," Rachel Talalay's "Tank Girl," Jane Campion's "In The Cut," and Karyn Kusama's "Aeon Flux" and "Jennifer's Body." Brenda Chapman's "Brave" was not included because it had a second director. "Red Road" (Andrea Arnold),  "Winter's Bone" (Debra Granik), "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (Lynne Ramsey), and "Frozen River" (Courtney Hunt) were left off the list because they are dramas and have gotten plenty of attention on other lists (see Lists above). Western "Meek's Cutoff" was not included because it was given such a small release, it belongs on a second list I'm making entitled The Best Genre Films Directed By Women You've Never Seen.

Some of the films suggested for this second list include "Innocence" by Lucile Hadžihalilović, Maria Beatty's "The Black Glove," Liliana Cavani's "The Night Porter," Mari Asato's  "Ju-on: Black Ghost," Karen Lam's "Stained," "Amer," Nancy Meckler's "Sister, My Sister," Cindy Sherman's "Office Killer," "Spellbinder" by Janet Greek, and the films of Roberta Findlay and Doris Wishman. I can tell you "In My Skin" and "Trouble Every Day" will definitely be appearing on this second list. Please feel free to make suggestions for that as well in comments below.

I Just Interviewed Mary Harron And Was At This Thing For 'Among Friends'

You can read the whole interview here, because I'm a bitch like that. I make you go somewhere else to read interviews and reviews. In this interview, Harron says things like,

On one level The Moth Diaries is a re-telling of Carmilla but it's more ambiguous and it's as much a portrait of the pain and the craziness of female adolescence as it is a horror movie."

On another note, my much-lamented absence here was because my film festival, Viscera, was co-presenting the first ever screening of Danielle Harris's feature horror film "Among Friends".

It went well.

I'm one of these women:

Coming tomorrow: Penny Vozniak Interview, news, and other shit. Good Night.

 

Mary Harron's 'Moth Diaries': She Says It's More Like 'Virgin Suicides' Than 'American Psycho'

I recently interviewed Mary Harron, and while I won't be posting the interview until the week of April 20 when the film is out in theaters, I can tell you she distinctly says that horror fans should not have "false expectations" about her new gothic thriller "Moth Diaries" because the film is much closer in tone "to 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' or 'The Virgin Suicides' than it is to 'American Psycho'."

So get off of that crap.

It's a visually stunning movie that involves the classic Gothic literary tradition and a haunting relationship between two young women at an isolated, creepy old boarding school. Watch this just-released-today featurette about the making of "Moth Diaries":

Picture of Mary Harron directing "Moth Diaries"

Here's a picture of Mary harron directing her latest gothic thriller "The Moth Diaries" (based on the novel by Rachel Klein):

Harron has said to me that her film is "an emotional drama in a modern Gothic setting…with some supernatural trappings." She says it's "more emotionally intense" than scary.

Here's the official synopsis:

Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), a young girl who, haunted by her father’s suicide, enrolls in an elite boarding school for girls. Before long, Rebecca’s friendship with the popular Lucy (Sarah Gadon) is shattered by the arrival of a dark and mysterious new student named Ernessa (Lily Cole). Lucy falls under Ernessa’s spell and becomes emotionally and physically consumed by her glamorous new friend. Rebecca, whose overtures of concern are rejected by Lucy, finds herself lost and confused. She begins to develop a crush on her handsome English teacher, Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman) and immerses herself in the Gothic vampire novel Carmilla for his class. Rebecca starts to suspect that Ernessa is a vampire, but, despite the suspicious deaths that begin to occur, her fears are treated as simple girlish jealousy. As the bodies of young girls pile up and the line between reality and the supernatural starts to blur, Rebecca decides to take matters into her own hands and get rid of Ernessa. Who can say what is real and what is unreal to the heart consumed by passion and a mind afire with loss? Based on the bestselling novel by Rachel Klein, THE MOTH DIARIES is a harrowing story of the anxieties, lusts and fears of adolescence.

And here's the latest trailer and poster:

The film is being distributed by IFC and will be out on April 20th, 2012. Will it be in theaters?

 

Mary Harron's "Moth Diaries" First Clip: Gothic Thrills

Thanks to QuietEarth for, once again, saving my life. Not literally. If they hadn't posted this first, I would have died of grief because I would not have seen it, since I was languishing in a gothic pneumonia last week. Mary Harron's new horror film "The Moth Diaries" has finally leaked some footage, and I'll embed below for your enjoyment.

The long synopsis of the new film remind me of a gothic thriller:

Rebecca, a young girl haunted by her father's suicide, begins her junior year at an elite girls boarding school, hoping for a fresh start. From the outset, her friendship with sunny, innocent Lucy is shattered by the arrival of Ernessa, a mysterious, dark and beautiful girl from Europe. As Ernessa consumes more and more of Lucy's attention, the latter’s healthy young body grows pale, thin and weak – as if being drained of life itself.

Her friendship with Lucy slipping away, Rebecca develops a crush on her handsome English professor, Mr. Davies, who is teaching a course on supernatural literature. Obsessed with "Carmilla", the vampire story that inspired Bram Stoker’s "Dracula", she grows increasingly suspicious of Ernessa's odd behavior and Lucy's wasting illness, and when mysterious deaths shock the school, becomes convinced that Ernessa is a vampire. Rebecca finds herself isolated when the other girls dismiss her suspicions as mere jealousy and Mr. Davies betrays her trust. As Lucy's inexplicable illness turns deadly, Rebecca is left alone to battle with Ernessa for the life of her friend.

"Lucy," "Rebecca," Carmilla, Dracula… etc. I think we can see where the story is going. Harron directed "American Psycho" and is a personal hero of mine; I am an avowed fan of gothic romance and I'm willing to see how this unfolds…

Mary Harron Talks "Moth Diaries" At Sitges

Mary Harron's new horror flick "The Moth Diaries" just screened at the Sitges genre film festival and she's been talking to the Spanish press. But what the heck is she saying? Even Google Translate doesn't seem to be helping me much. At the Spanish news site Terra, she was quoted as saying,…

Continue reading Mary Harron Talks "Moth Diaries" At Sitges