Ellie and Sandie from Last Night in Soho – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kalie Zamierowski of Just Dread-full

Every year a group of bloggers and I write about fearless fictional women to celebrate International Women’s Day. Each of these bloggers will be featured on my blog this year. The blog-a-thon started with Michael of My Comic Relief and, after my post, will go on to feature Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2 and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Here’s my contribution to the Blog-a-thon this year!

Soho 1

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho opens in the warm home of a quaint British town, a home where main character Eloise basks in her vintage-inspired bedroom listening to music from the 60s. The opening scene is so reminiscent of life sixty years ago, in fact, that we may suspect that we are in 1961, not 2021, and because of Wright’s ability to establish a scene we may also feel like we’re temporarily inhabiting a much more idyllic time period than our own. Certainly, that is what Eloise/Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) imagines, the main character who we meet in the film’s beginning. Ellie has just been accepted to fashion school, and we get the impression, based on her excitement, that a glittering life in Great Britain’s fashion hub looks just as perfect, just as idyllic, as the 1960s do in her eyes. But sometimes attractive surface appearances mask a more insidious lurking reality—a fact which may be true of Soho in general, and is definitely true of Soho in the 60s, a reality that Ellie will soon find out.

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Norma Bates – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kalie Zamierowski of Just Dread-full

One thing worth noting about the horror genre is that it produces images that resist quick mental erasure.  From the statuesque model who turns into a decrepit, decaying old woman in the infamous shower scene of The Shining to the bloody womb hanging limply outside the skin of Nola Carveth in The Brood, horror does nothing if not supply us with grotesque images of often monstrous women.  Psycho’s Norma Bates, then, is no exception.  In Hitchcock’s original film, Psycho, we see Norma not as a mommy so much as a stereotypical mummy; all that is left of her is a skeletal, eyeless frame and some tousled hair pulled back in a bun. We hear her character, and therefore understand her character, only through Marion Crane’s ears as the delusional Norman voices her from afar in the antiquated Victorian house on the hill outside Bates Motel.  But Norma is a famous mummy, and a famous mommy, to be sure, one who lingers in the mind of the viewer long after the theater lights go on, and one who has lingered in the cultural imagination now for sixty-one years and counting.  Significantly, Norma Bates didn’t get to speak for herself until 2013, when the hit TV show Bates Motel rescued and re-invented her character through Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of her as Norman’s mildly cooky but vivacious and loving mom.  As a woman who navigates an excruciating past, a corrupt, drug-infested city, and a psychotic son with surprising sangfroid, Norma Bates in Bates Motel is who I choose to feature this year for the annual Fiction’s Fearless Females blogathon. 

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Dani from Midsommar – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kalie of Just Dread-full

Warning: Because of the film I’ve decided to talk about, the following subject matter will be unavoidably uncomfortable and dismal. Second Warning: If you’ve not yet seen Midsommar and you want to see it, well, first of all, get to it 🙂 (it’s free on Amazon Prime), and second, you may encounter some spoilers. Okay, you’ve been warned, onward: Continue reading

Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance

By Kalie Zamierowski of Just Dread-full

One of my favorite scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a two or three second shock during which a series of terrifying events happen.  At this point in the film, Danny has been replaced by Tony, who’s saying “Redrum” in a voice that’s robotic at first and amplifies in intensity and urgency as Jack’s presence gets closer.  As Danny—or “Tony,” his psychic alter-ego—screams “Redrum,” Wendy reads the words backward in the mirror.  The camera pans in on the word “murder” written in childish handwriting with blood-red lipstick.  Almost as soon as we, the viewers, read “murder” in the mirror, we hear the unnerving sound of an ax chopping through wood and the camera moves to Jack, who wields the huge, sharp, silver device and uses it to slice through the wooden door of the caretaker’s quarters, where Danny and Wendy reside.  As if this nexus of sensation weren’t enough to alarm us, the viewers, and pull as even a little more deeply into The Shining’s sinister, unpredictable world, Wendy’s voice intercepts this moment with a simultaneously frenetic and bone-chilling scream—a scream that we’ll hear different variations of for the rest of the movie.  In turn, we, as the viewers—at least a little bit—start feeling Wendy’s maddening fear, and our cognition is ultimately forced to accept a mis-en-scene and narrative moment that’s eliminated anything reassuring or comforting for us to latch onto.  We are, in a sense, in the void, and we are there with Wendy. Continue reading

Spider-Man’s Modern-Day Frankenstein Tale – “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy”

Alright, originally I intended this as a Halloween post.  I was going to finally read “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy” and write about it, analyzing how Dan Slott expands the premise of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a modern setting.  However, life and work got in the way and I just got around to finishing reading it the other day.  I contemplated saving it for next year but I’m impatient and it’s more fun to keep the spookiness alive anyway.  When I finally jumped into Dan Slott’s world of Spider-Man tales, I avoided this storyline.  I’d heard conflicting reports about it and wasn’t ready for something with that sort of “baggage” as I was meeting his Spidey for the first time.  What I found upon finally reading it was a haunting tale that left me more emotionally shaken than I could have expected. Continue reading

Waking Up To A Living Nightmare: A True Story

This story is not for the faint of heart.  But enough time has passed that I feel I can talk about it.  What follows is a true story, not embellished for either humor’s sake…or horror’s sake.  It is a tale of primal fear.  It is a tale of crushing fear.  It is a tale of waking before work to find yourself wrapped in your worst possible nightmare come to life.  But it’s also a story of survival (which, uh, is kinda obvious because I’m writing this).  Are you ready?  Then let’s go… Continue reading

Locke & Key and Horror Comic Books

I read a FOR REAL horror comic book that was super scary and everything.  It was IDW’s beyond brilliant Locke & Key series by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, and Jay Fotos.  It was recommended to me with the highest of recommendations by Nancy (of Graphic Novelty² fame).  She digs this comic.  It took me months to marshal the courage needed to actually read a for real horror comic series.  But I did it!  After surviving, I wrote this post for Kalie on her blog Just Dread-full.  Listen, this was a big moment for me.  I read something super scary and survived!  Also, the comic had a powerful message at it’s heart.  As if that wasn’t enough, I also wrote it to mark the three year anniversary of the day Kalie and I met.  I know…awwwww.  So, um, why haven’t you clicked the link yet??  C’mon people!  Time’s a wastin’!  You should read this thing!

A Very Deadpool Nightmare On Elm Street

with Kalie Zamierowski!

[Michael’s Note:  Well, the school year’s ended and summer vacation has finally arrived (yay!!!).  I’ll be kicking it off with a week-long mission trip to Baltimore with twenty of our upcoming seniors.  Obviously that means no new material on the blog for a week.  I know we’re all sad about that BUT I’m leaving you with something EPIC.  Kalie and I have finished our second original short story genre-mashup.  This time we’ve dropped Deadpool into A Nightmare On Elm Street.  I think we may’ve topped the first one too.  Personally, writing this was SO MUCH FUN.  Enjoy!] Continue reading

Surviving Horror When You’re Scared of EVERYTHING

I am a HUGE baby when it comes to scary movies.  However, I have also been dating an avid horror enthusiast for two years now.  How do I survive all the horror movies I watch now?  How have I come to even – gasp! – enjoy and appreciate the genre myself?  Well that story, my friends, is in this new guest post I wrote for Kalie over at Just Dread-Full.  I had a lot of fun writing it and I’d be super excited if you clicked over and checked it out too!

Oh, The Horror (Light) of the Clone Wars

It’s been too long since I’ve written something about Star Wars!  However, while I was enjoying an excessive or amazing (you be the judge) day-long binge-watching marathon of Star Wars: The Clone Wars the other day, a new idea for a post came to mind.  I decided to write about how the show was cleverly paying homage to classic horror films!  So if hearing me talk about some great episodes of The Clone Wars AND how they are full of brilliant allusions to the horror genre sounds like fun to you (and I so hope it does!) then feel free to click here and check it out for yourself.