Saturday 27 December 2014
Friday 26 December 2014
In the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, several commentators have less than glowing things to say about Michael Winner. He is accused of including rape "just to get his rocks off" as well as being a "pathologically brutal, strange, sadistic, insecure, egotistical character". Death Wish 2 evinces the point, but not (only) because of its appalling sexual politics. Winner makes a habit of placing the camera behind objects: desks, plants, picture frames, anything to needlessly obscure the audience's view of the characters. Consequently, the camera lurks, voyeuristically spying on the events. I suspect the technique was meant to be unsettling, as if "someone is always watching, ready to pounce" (i.e. mug or take revenge on the populace). Instead, it feels more like the viewing position is that of a creepy little man who chuckles with glee while people are harmed. Death Wish 2's tone is thoroughly seedy as a result, thus corroborating Winner's reputation. Nevertheless, his strange directorial choice is certainly the most interesting aspect of a film that somehow manages to be dull and offensive simultaneously.Thus, Death Wish 2 laid the groundwork for Death Wish 3's onslaught of class and race-based intolerance. It also mysteriously concretized Bronson's standing as an action star, despite being entirely unsuited to and ill-equipped for the role. Perhaps Death Wish 2's real legacy is the acceptability of aging action stars in mainstream Hollywood today.
Wednesday 24 December 2014
According to Vice.com, during the trial of Luka Magnotta, prosecutor Louis Bouthillier tried to have Basic Instinct admitted into evidence (to be played in full for the jury) to support his theory that Magnotta took influence from the film. Thankfully his request was denied, since it could have easily spun into a "media effects" argument (yawn). While rejecting the request, Judge Cournoyer gave an impromptu review of Basic Instinct:
"to be plain, frank and honest, I fell asleep last night trying to watch it. This is not a movie which has withstood the test of time very nicely. It's such a bore."
Sunday 21 December 2014
Even in pre-production, this was a tough sell. See No Evil was so mediocre that it did not merit a sequel. Still, there was hope that the Soska Twins might bring some fun to the franchise. Moreover, a mediocre original means that there is no legacy to destroy, and no tedious origin story to set-up (the first film did not have much of a backstory, but it was still plenty). Unfortunately, See No Evil 2 barely rises above its predecessor. The plot is threadbare. That would not have mattered if the movie had delivered scares, but sadly the blood is as thin on the ground as the character development here. Limited-environment slashers only work if the deaths are creative and the killer is menacing. Here, the kills are disappointing and Kane fails to convince: he is massive, but he is not very threatening. Unsurprisingly veteran Danielle Harris is the highlight, although there are spots in which the directors could have pushed both Harris and Katharine Isabelle further: a few of the emotionally heightened sequences are a little flat, and both actors are capable of more. I am still waiting for the Soska sisters to deliver on the promise of Dead Hooker in a Trunk. See No Evil 2 just does not cut it, but I live in hope. One request: I want to see no See No Evil 3... unless Noboru Iguchi willing to direct, Then we are talking.
Wednesday 17 December 2014
Wow, what a great idea. Playing older consoles on TVs now is a pain because few TVs have co-ax inputs. There are solutions, but this one is particularly elegant for those of us who have a stash of old NES and SNES cartridges.
The system operates by reading the game cartridge then coding that content through an emulator. That does not really matter inasmuch as the hardware is not original either, but there is something philosophically interesting about the step-removal between the original cartridge and the emulation produced: it is not like playing the original game because one is not playing the original game. This is no more authentic than using any other emulator, despite using original cartridges. Still, copyright holders and cartridge hoarders rejoice: the ghost of Christmas past has arrived!
Friday 12 December 2014
Wow, pre-debunked rumours about Demi Moore's ass - and this is the insightful documentary that fans have been waiting for?
Thursday 11 December 2014
The porn industry has been floundering for a while now, but if anyone is in any doubt about how bad things are looking for mainstream US porn producers, check out this article on Playboy:
In the article, Playboy CEO Scott Flanders discusses his strategies for sustaining the brand, which include making the content increasingly SFW:
'“You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it,” says Flanders. “At the time when Hef founded the company [in 1953], nudity was provocative, it was attention-grabbing, it was unique and today it’s not. It’s passé.”'
According to the article headline, the implications are that "Nudity Could Completely Vanish From the Brand": am iconic porn brand without any nudity. Playboy may be attempting to distance itself from the stigma associated with "porn", but this is also an indication that the meanings of the term "porn" itself are shifting.
Wednesday 10 December 2014
In March 2014, a UK branch of the supermarket chain Tesco took it upon themselves to remove The Hospital from sale after receiving a customer complaint (see here). Surprisingly, the film - which the BBFC classified as only being suitable for viewers over the age of 18 - was 'too graphic and violent for a family store' according to the article linked above. Aside from anyone who a) read the DVD box, b) understands the certification system, or c) can read plainly printed consumer advice, who could have anticipated that The Hospital was not wholesome family fun?
Flippancy aside, now that I have seen the film, I share the view that sales of The Hospital should be severely restricted. The content is "extreme"... as in extremely tedious. This life-draining atrocity ought to be restricted to bargain bins where it can remain hidden under the hundreds of other cheap horror films that one could spend time watching instead. The filmmakers have tried to tap into numerous trends in contemporary horror, but the resultant plot is a confused mess of found-footage motifs, supernatural events, torture porn elements, and hints of snuff. Imagine Death Tunnel with some offscreen rape, DeathTube with ghosts, or 7th Hunt featuring an Oliver Hardy impersonator who plays the role of "sex-criminal janitor". Now lower your expectations: rather than watching this unholy chimera, imagine that the plot is being vaguely relayed to you by an amnesiac who has Ben Stein's voice and Ed Milliband's charisma. That is how it feels trying to sit through The Hospital. The plot-based "rap" that accompanies the title sequence is easily the best part of the film, but only insofar as it is bad enough to be funny (unlike the rest of the movie).
If any of this sounds appealing or remotely entertaining, it is not. Consider yourself warned. Given a choice between being admitted to a real hospital or enduring The Hospital again, I'd pick the former: it is a "no-brainer", just like the film itself.
Tuesday 9 December 2014
Edited Book: Pornographies: Critical Positions
DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: 12 January 2015
Pornography has long been a controversial topic in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, though recently scholars and activists from a variety of disciplinary and experiential backgrounds have begun to move beyond divisive ‘for and against’ arguments to focus closely on pornography’s many instantiations, its problems and potentials, and its relationships with established and new theoretical and methodological approaches. As such, the multiplicity of perspectives in the emerging interdisciplinary field of Porn Studies is rivalled only by the diversity, proliferation, mutability and mainstreaming of pornographies themselves. This edited, peer-reviewed volume will constitute a snapshot of current academic thought in relation to pornographies in order to reflect and put into dialogue the many innovative approaches that seek to understand porn cultures, histories, social relations and political economies.
We particularly welcome proposals for chapters from new voices in the study of pornography and envisage that these will sit alongside, challenge and complement work from more established writers in the field.
Topics may include but are not restricted to:
• Alternative pornographies
• Amateur pornographies
• Close reading of specific pornographic texts in relation to constructions of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and/or social class
• Consumption and/or production of pornographies
• Critical perspectives on gender, postfeminism and discourses of empowerment
• Disability, bodies and pornography
• LGBT pornographies and pornographic subcultures
• ‘Mummy porn’ (50 Shades of Grey, etc.) and literary pornographies
• Political pornographies
• Porn histories and genres
• ‘Pornification’ and the mainstreaming of pornography in mass culture
• Self-pornification via social media
• Sex-positive feminist perspectives on pornography and critiques of this
• ‘Dirty’ food marketing
• Fetishized porn and categories of ‘other’
• Sex workers and the porn industry
• Porn for women
The volume will be part of the University of Chester’s Issues in the Social Sciences
(Series Editor: Katherine Harrison) and will be published by University of Chester Press (further information about the Press can be viewed here ; details of a recent publication in the series can be viewed here ). Finished chapters will be 6,500 words in length and written in accessible style for a diverse readership.
If you are interested in contributing a chapter to this volume please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biographical note detailing institutional affiliation (where applicable) to both Katherine Harrison (email@example.com) and Cassie Ogden (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 12 January 2015.
Contributors will be informed of acceptance by 30 January 2015. Final drafts of chapters will be expected in April 2015 with publication scheduled for summer 2016. All contributions will be reviewed by the editors and, additionally, blind peer reviewed by an expert reader.
Dr Katherine Harrison
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
CBB119 Best Building
Department of Social and Political Science
University of Chester
Chester CH1 4BJ
Tel. +44 (0)1244512032
Series Editor: Issues in the Social Sciences
Making Feminism Project Blog
Sunday 7 December 2014
A motion to annul Ed Vaizey's Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 (S.I., 2014, No. 2916) - which pertains to the censorship and certification of online video and came into force on 1st December 2014 - has been put forward by Julian Huppert
Thursday 4 December 2014
The new legislation against online porn rushed through parliament by the UK government bans depictions of female ejaculation: resultantly, many have called out this law as being fundamentally sexist. Other groups are concerned that the law is squarely aimed at the BDSM community. Both sets of complaints strike me as being entirely on point. Regardless of how one personally feels about any of the practices involved, if you are offended by the implications, consider signing this petition:
Remove Regulations for Video On Demand Pornography (AMSR 2014).
Sexist, archaic and damaging. This amendment to the communications act (2003) was rushed through parliament to take away the rights British people have on the internet.
Since 1/12/14, The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 requires that video-on-demand (VoD) online porn now adhere to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).
This includes the likes of: Spanking, Caning, Penetration by any object "associated with violence" , Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual), Watersports, Female ejaculation, Facesitting, Fisting.
The regulations make NO distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts.
They treat female ejaculation as a myth (and more unsafe/disgusting than male ejaculation).
This is one further attempt to censor the internet, as with David Cameron's plan to force ISPs to filter pornography.
They will damage smaller, independent film makers and producers, where as huge pornography companies will be left comparatively unscathed, causing a loss of British jobs as independent film makers are forced overseas.
Uneccesary censorship, patriarchal behaviour is all too often the path our government takes. We have 50 shades of grey out in the CINEMA in february, yet we're not allowed to watch a real equivalent made by British people. The government have no right to dictate what a responsible adult does for work, or what they look at on the internet.
We call for a complete removal of this amendment, underhandedly rushed through parliament in only ONE MONTH, which is inherently sexist, insulting and damaging to many British people.
Wednesday 3 December 2014
The Babadook treads similar thematic ground to other motherhood horror films, including First Born, Baby Blues, and even We Need to Talk about Kevin. I class the latter as a horror film on the grounds that the content is patently horrific and dwells on emotional distress, even if it does not conform to the genre's usual tropes. The Babadook plays the opposite trick: We Need to Talk about Kevin is a horror film dressed up like a drama, whereas The Babadook is a drama dressed up as a horror film. Sadly, the filmmakers' commitment to that genre-base does the most damage to the movie: the third act plays out like a supercut of horror cliches, meaning the climax provides the film's least compelling moments. That slip perhaps suggests a lack of confidence on the director's or the production company's part. Either way, it tarnishes an otherwise bold (if not wholly original) movie. The "descent into madness" theme has been done to death in recent years, but this is a good example of how to prevent that madness from spiraling into narrative incoherence. I am not convinced that the eponymous spirit is destined to become a classic horror boogeyperson, but The Babadook is a solid effort on all fronts, boasting good effects, convincing performances (especially from the central pairing), and an atmospheric but unobtrusive score. In sum, this is a well paced, creepy little story that has enough thematic meat on its bones to satisfy most viewers.
Tuesday 2 December 2014
Found is a difficult film to write about, but not for the reasons the hype surround Found might suggest. Having been severely cut in Australia, Found has gained a reputation as being a "shocker". However, anyone who has seen A Serbian Film, let alone any other "extreme" horror films will probably consider Found to be really rather tame even in its unrated form (the pre-cut BBFC certified version excises the most controversial material, and so is even lighter). So why is the movie difficult to write about? Because it is so mediocre. The acting and effects are (for the most part) passable, but little more. The story is fine, but ultimately hollow. The filmmakers should have spent more time fleshing out the characters and the psychological drama, or amplifying the "shock" factor... or perhaps both. Unfortunately, Found is forgettable and so the aforementioned hype is likely to damage its reputation in the long-term.
Monday 1 December 2014
Since it is a time-loop narrative, I was predisposed to like Repeaters. Bias aside, the film is nevertheless one of the smarter efforts in that micro-genre; it much stronger than its tepid reviews suggest [pro-tip: if anyone mentions Groundhog Day in a review for a time-loop film - as reviewers (ironically) seem to ad infinitum - stop reading... umm, except in this case]. Most explicitly, Repeaters is based on a moral thought-experiment: as the tagline has it 'what would you do' if there were no consequences for your actions? The three protagonists explore different answers to that question, resulting in degrees of self-destruction, (attempts) to forgive others, and outright criminality. These responses are augmented by a combination of the time-loop structure and the diegetic context; this imbricated thematic core is Repeaters' secret weapon. The opening depicts the three protagonists conversing about their damaged relationships in a rehab therapy session. Thus, the film grounds its moral thought-experiment in concerns regarding a) the damage drug-fueled hedonism has on one's social ties - which is paralleled by their initial reactions to the time-loop - b) cycles of addiction, including the propensity to downplay consequences in favor of short-term fulfillment and descent into unsatisfying compulsion in the long-term, and c) the cyclic nature of therapy, which provides a rigid structure that forces individuals to dwell on their actions: the goal is to affect change, but therapy can feel closer to stasis because it necessitates revisiting the past. These latter themes are astutely captured by the loop-framework. This rich, multilayered approach to form and theme results in a film that far transcends its modest budget.
Sunday 30 November 2014
I seem to be having a data-heavy weekend. This resource might be potentially useful for fellow researchers who are interested in sexual violence. This utterly depressing but incredible database lists all known Title IX complaints in US higher education institutions
Description from the Harvard Crimson website:
'The Crimson's searchable database details the outcomes of more than 7,500 Title IX complaints received and closed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights between Jan. 1, 2002 and Sept. 22, 2014. The data was obtained by The Crimson through a Freedom of Information Act request and includes the opening date of each complaint case, the date it was closed, the OCR's description of resolution, and whether or not the complaint resulted in a policy change.'
Saturday 29 November 2014
What could be sexier than a visualisation of the 500 most popular tags assigned to streamed porn? Prepare to be uncontrollably aroused by Max Eistein's "vital statistics":
For more information about how he compiled the information, see:
Friday 28 November 2014
The last I saw of Rob Black was on Louis Theroux's Twilight of the Porn Stars documentary, and he did not look well (neither, in fairness, did the industry). For anyone wondering what Black is up to these days, Vice have an interesting article about him. It is worth reading for his claims about the PBS documentary that nominally triggered his arrest, and his claims that the extremity he has become associated with was an exaggerated performance.
Tuesday 25 November 2014
Remember that old NES Friday the 13th game that was unplayable? What could possibly make that gameYou will also probably need to pick up one of these to play it on:
more fun? Well, for $40 you can find out whether playing as Freddy will do the trick. Somehow I doubt it, but this hack is great in any case.
Saturday 22 November 2014
It is that time of year again - the 2015 AVN award nominations have been published. Most categories fail to interest me (and there are so many categories). In fact, I'm only ever really interested in Clever Title of the Year (see my post here). Make no mistake, these are rarely "clever", and are most often patently offensive. For instance, this year 12 Inches a Slave has been nominated, and that is a title that definitely falls into the offensive category (see my previous post here). Other candidates include fellow nominees 1 in the Slit 1 in the Shit and (the rather boring) Pregnant and Pounded.
There are the usual batch of parody titles, which do verge on being witty:
- Dawn of the Planet of the Gapes
- The Little Spermaid
- Trans Formers
We have also been treated to some titles that don't really work, including Two Chicks at the Same Time, Man!, Romancing Her Rectum and I’m Not 50, I’m 5 Perfect 10’s.
Since this is all quite dizzying, let's pause for a reality-check:
Clever (klɛvə), adj.
Draw your own conclusions about how these titles measure up.
- quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas; intelligent. (antonym: stupid)
- skilled at doing or achieving something; talented.
- showing skill and originality; ingenious.
- (informal) sensible; well advised.
Draw your own conclusions about how these titles measure up.
Over the last few years, my favourites have been those titles that are so long and cumbersome that they don't come close to working. The industry did not let me down this year, offering My Black Stepdaddy Disciplined Me Now My Pussy Is Sore! and She Divorced Me So I Fucked Her Hot Slutty Attorney. Surely the latter already has the "Clever Title" trophy in the bag.
Wednesday 19 November 2014
My article “Torture Born: Representing Pregnancy and Abortion in Contemporary Survival-Horror” has been published in the online version of Sexuality & Culture (print version to follow).
Here is the abstract:
In proportion to the increased emphasis placed on abortion in partisan political debate since the early 2000s, there has been a noticeable upsurge in cultural representations of abortion. This article charts ways in which that increase manifests in contemporary survival-horror. This article contends that numerous contemporary survival-horror films foreground pregnancy. These representations of gravidity reify the pressures that moralistic, partisan political campaigning places on individuals who consider terminating a pregnancy. These films contribute to public discourse by engaging with abortion as an individual, emotional matter, rather than treating abortion as a matter of political principle or a political "means to an end." This article not only charts a relationship between popular culture and its surrounding political context, but also posits that survival horror - a genre that has been disparaged by critics and largely ignored by scholars - makes an important contribution to sexual-political discourse. These films use horror to articulate the things we cannot say about abortion.
I draw on case studies including Dark Corners (dir. Ray Gower, 2006), Frontier(s) (dir. Xavier Gens, 2007), The Hills Run Red (dir. Dave Parker, 2009), Inside (a L’interieur, dirs. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, 2007), Madness (dirs. Sonny Laguna, David Liljeblad and Tommy Wiklund, 2010),Resurrection County (dir. Matt Zettell, 2008), Timber Falls (dir. Tony Giglio, 2007), and The Wreck (dir. James K. Jones, 2008).
The article is available here (subscription only): http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12119-014-9260-3
Tuesday 18 November 2014
Monday 17 November 2014
- In a broadly secular age, why are so many serial killer films still so obsessed with religion (particularly Catholicism)?
- Why burden what is otherwise a standard religious-themed serial killer film with Saw-style "trap" sequences?
- Why rip-off the iconic tropes of Saw so long after the trend, but not long enough after that anyone has yet forgotten where the tropes originated from?
- Why are the Saw elements even present when they are at odds with the killer's general ethos? Why point out the contradictions in the dialogue?
- Does anyone want to see unspectacular, gore-free Saw-style traps? By the close of the Saw series, the traps were grandiose contraptions, so what made the filmmakers think Shame the Devil's electric collar and pitch-shifted voice-over would cut it?
- Does anyone want to see a murder-mystery without any mystery? When it is perfectly obvious from the the film's earliest moments who the killer is and what their motives are, why include a reveal that implies that the audience is meant to be surprised?
- Why have I accidentally seen so many Paul Tanter films this month? Why does Tanter insist on making genre films that struggle to match the genre he is cloning (e.g. a whodunit with no mystery; three football hooliganism films with barely any football and virtually no hooliganism... and so forth)?
Shame on you Paul Tanter. Shame on me too.
Sunday 16 November 2014
Friday 14 November 2014
During a seminar about the 2008 rom-com The Women, my students and I had a discussion about femininity, power and child-birth, leading to the question of why child-birth is so "unfeminine" (in stereotypical terms) even though it is a) an ability only women have, and b) is so powerful. The point was to explore how "femininity" is constructed, and the powered connotations of gender constructions. As part of that stimulating debate, I began to ponder how the cultural connotations of child-birth would change (and how gender stereotypes might shift) if men could give birth instead of women.
Shanghai-based artist Lu Yang may have provided an answer with UterusMan. I am reticent to describe or comment on the video in too much detail since it is such an affecting experience. However, it is a fascinating thought-experiment. UterusMan is a superhero, but he is divested of the muscularity that is so often employed to denote masculine might in the comic-book context: his power instead emanates from his uterus (and his Pelvis Chariot, of course). Via his radically re-sexed body - which disassociates birth from the genital region - UterusMan produces weapons. The latter evinces that this is not an unabashed celebration of birth-as-power, but rather an exploration into alternative perspectives on pregnancy in a hypothetical post-sex epoch. UterusMan's violence stems more from his essence as a superhero rather than his essence as a man, since his biological sex defies the "male/female" dichotomy: even though he is explicitly called UterusMan and has XY Chromosomes, he also has a vagina.
For more on Lu's intense body-related art work, visit this article and her Vimeo page.
Thursday 6 November 2014
One of the standard tropes of hardcore porn is the "meat shot": close ups of genitalia. Personally, I'm not a fan of the kind of anatomical detail such shots provide (especially in HD). There are other parts of the body that are more interesting: faces, for instance.
For those who are bored or turned off by meat shots, the kind folk at Ghost+Cow Films have an alternative to offer: long-distance porn shot via drone. Surely this counts as an "extreme" form of porn?
Wednesday 5 November 2014
Some readers may be interested in this article (although the title is bound to induce a sigh or two):
Tuesday 4 November 2014
Monday 3 November 2014
Sunday 2 November 2014
From The Atlantic: although it is standard (dated) stuff, it is nice to see Elm Street getting some birthday recognition
Freddy Krueger turns 30 this Halloween season. Wes Craven’s 1984 supernatural slasher, A Nightmare on Elm Street, earned back its paltry production costs after just one week of theater runs, having ensnared its targeted teen demographic with the lure of body horror. Its infamous villain, Freddy—disfigured by burns, bursting with bile, armed with knife-fingers and the power to show up uninvited in teenage dreamscapes—was born to the '80s low-budget boom; he has since resurfaced in sequels, spinoffs, crossovers, and one (awful) 2010 remake.
Freddy still manages to resonate. And so, too, should his original vanquisher, Nancy Thompson: an obstinate, foul-mouthed, hyper-feminine high schooler, who remains one of the most progressive female representations in the teen horror genre.
Nightmare shares plenty of rhetorical patterns with its turn-of-the-decade predecessors—John Carpenter’s Halloween, Ken Wiederhorn Eyes of a Stranger, Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th—particularly that of the Final Girl. Coined by feminist film scholar Carol J. Clover in her book Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, the Final Girl is a filmic trope referring to the last female character left alive after a string of serialized murders. She survives, in part, by virtue of being both virginal and vice-free. She’s Not Like Other Girls. As Randy, the meta-voice of Craven’s '90s comedy/slasher Scream, informs a party of potential teenage murder victims: “There are certain rules you must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. Number one, you can never have sex. Sex equals death, okay?"
Nancy is an oft-cited example of Final Girldom—though the label, in certain respects, is an imperfect fit.
If the Final Girl is narratively rewarded with survival for exhibiting constrictive and conservative modes of femininity, Nancy more or less meets the mark. She dresses in barely varying shades of baby pink, from her sweater-vests to an enviable football jersey, which she uses as a nightshirt. Nancy also sleeps apart from her boyfriend, Glen (played by a baby-faced Johnny Depp), when he and her friend Tina’s guy, Rod, crash the girls’ sleepover. After Tina and Rod giggle their way upstairs, Glen tries to make moves, but Nancy sighs him off—“Not now, Glen”—preoccupied by a nightmare Tina had the night before; Nancy’s over at her house to begin with because Tina didn’t want to sleep alone.
Nancy’s exasperation at Glen doesn’t suggest discomfort, but distraction—Freddy’s wrath hasn’t yet had real-world implications, but Nancy seems to sense something her friends don’t. Terror’s afoot; why think about sex right now? Her survival-earning superiority is not necessarily of a moral brand, but an emotional and intellectual one. Sure, she’s plenty virginal when compared to her hormone-heavy peers; Tina’s gruesome death is post-coital, and later, Glen meets his demise while preparing to objectify Miss Nude America as he watches her muted (“Who cares what she says?”). Blatant misogyny aside, sex in Nightmare is construed less as punishable teenage deviance, and more as punishable teenage sloppiness. Glen falls asleep—against all of Nancy’s constant warnings—with a naked woman on TV and music blasting in his ears. Neither he, nor Rod, nor Tina, employs constant vigilance against the threat that awaits them after getting off and closing their eyes.
Nancy is different; she actively prioritizes her own safety. The first time she encounters Freddy in a dream, she cleverly burns herself on a pipe to wake herself up, after screaming “Goddamn you!” in his face. This is relevant, too: Though Nancy curls her hair and calls her father “Daddy”, she’s far from prim and proper. She swears like a sailor. When her mother tries to get her to rest, Nancy—knowing full well, by this point, that what happens in nightmares doesn’t stay in nightmares—she yells “Screw sleep!” and smashes her mother’s vodka bottle on the kitchen floor. She is a girl who speaks, loudly and often.
While her peers are thinking about typical teenage things, Nancy’s thinking about methods of maiming and killing. Glen, when he’s still alive, catches her with a book about building booby traps. “What are you reading that for?” he asks, dubious, as if two of their friends hadn’t recently been brutally murdered. “I’m into survival,” Nancy says with a shrug and a smile, in a tone she may use to declare being into high-waisted jeans.
Nancy survives by thinking, strategizing, building. When her body demands sleep, she positions Glen as a sentinel so that he can rouse her when things get rough. Glen, being a useless teen boy, falls asleep, and Nancy has to get herself out of a Freddy-plagued dream all on her lonesome. Upon waking: “You bastard, I asked you for ONE THING, and what did you do, you shit? You fell asleep.” (Nancy tells it like it is.)
Her goal, even after all her friends have perished at Freddy’s knife-hands, is to “whack the fucker.” Prepped with a plan, Nancy booby traps the hell out of her house, falls asleep, grabs onto Freddy in her dream, and again forces her own wakefulness, this time dragging Freddy into the woken world along with her. After some Home Alone-style horror hijinks, Freddy and Nancy meet in a bedroom face-off.
One of the most central tenets of the Final Girl trope is her eventual masculinization. In order to kill off the villain, she undergoes phallic appropriation while hoisting a weapon—be it chainsaw, knife or gun—with which to slay her attacker. Nancy raises no such weapon; instead, she turns her back. “You’re nothing,” she tells Freddy. “You’re shit.” By declaring herself no longer afraid of him, he loses his powers. While potentially questionable purely from a plot perspective, the move is an otherwise bold one: Nightmare’s heroine doesn’t win with violence, but with smarts, emotional authority, and nerve. (Technically, Freddy does pop back up in a confusing dream sequence before credits roll, but so do all villains vying for their sequels.)
Nancy’s win is all the sweeter after she’s spent the length of the film being called crazy. The words “fruitcake” and “lunatic” are continually bandied about by clueless characters shaming Nancy’s shrill determination to convey an omnipresent danger. As a horror film that transgresses the boundaries between what is real and what is imagined, Nightmare is perfectly positioned to paint a portrait of the vindicated hysterical woman. Teenage girls—in fiction and in life—are called crazy on the daily, as a means of delegitimizing their concerns and desires. Nancy is dismissed as a girlish nutcase dozens of times, yet it is she alone who defeats the danger—she alone who even recognizes the danger for what it is in the first place.
Thirty years later, through slasher revitalizations and the ever-growing popularity of the psychological thriller, Nancy remains one of my favorite women in horror. While she doesn’t escape certain pitfalls of being a woman in film, particularly sexualization—think of the famous scene wherein Freddy’s knife-hand emerges through the suds of Nancy’s bath between her spread legs—as a standalone character, she does just that: stands alone. She’s smart and she’s bossy and she doesn’t take crap from anyone—be they parent, peer, or murderous dream demon.
This article was originally published at
Friday 31 October 2014
This year I failed to organise my annual "Stevefest", but I did manage to watch a few films. Alongside re-watching the Evil Dead remake and Braindead, I also saw Big Bad Wolves, Simon Killer, Berberian Sound Studio, Christopher Roth, and Wolf Cop. Hopefully I will get chance to 15 Second Review them soon.
I also carved my first pumpkin:
My partner got dressed up to scare trick or treaters - she was in costume by 11am, which was a tad early, but dedication to Halloween is an admirable quality in my book
Thursday 30 October 2014
The premise may not be overly pleasant insofar as it is oriented around murdering (at least a handful of) people, yet Hitman is principally a strategy game. It is possible to rampage through, but doing so leaves the game feeling hollow. The narrative alone is certainly not strong enough to sustain one's interest in the material. The game leads the player towards committing multiple homicides inasmuch as one's progression is marked by taking out targets, but success is measured by stealth. The game is "about" skulking in corners, ducking into air-vents, and above all waiting... hours of waiting. That might not sound especially fun to FPS fanatics, but I had a blast. Where the game really comes to life is in its challenge mode. Each hit has a number of possible permutations and extra challenges (such as not using disguises). These options have always been part of the Hitman experience, but Absolution benefits from its challenge list/reward system which incentivises repeat plays and exploration. Absolution has been received negatively in some quarters (Io-Interactive even offered an apology of sorts following accusations of "suckery"), but having played the previous Hitman games again recently, the purists seem to be either mis-remembering the previous Hitman games - which are nowhere near as smooth or rich as Absolution - or are biased against change per se. Absolution is one of the best games I have played on the 360, and is easily the best in the franchise so far. The next-gen Hitman game is rumoured to be an open sandbox experience. I just hope the developers retain the challenge list system to highlight some of the many options the game offers.
Wednesday 29 October 2014
I like jerky. I like A Nightmare on Elm Street. I'm sure I've eaten jerky while watching A Nightmare on Elm Street. I am not sure there is any need to take that combination any further. Some sick puppies disagree with my assessment of the situation: behold -
The creators of this meatrocity have also shared a "making of" video for everyone to "enjoy": vegetarians beware, this is likely to make anyone feel a bit queasy.
The creators of this meatrocity have also shared a "making of" video for everyone to "enjoy": vegetarians beware, this is likely to make anyone feel a bit queasy.
Tuesday 28 October 2014
Cards on the table: I have no interest in sport and barely any knowledge about competitive cycling. Subsequently, I am probably not the ideal target audience for a documentary about seven time Tour de France "winner" Lance Armstrong. However, it is testament to Gibney's storytelling ability that, despite being fundamentally uninterested in the surrounding subject-matter, I found The Armstrong Lie riveting. Since the core story is well known, Gibney is left with space to explore the complexities of the situation; the (perhaps) conspiratorial cover-ups, the pressure of expectation, the power of inspiration, the disappointment of failure, the desire to win, the self-perpetuating nature of lies, and so forth. The film is fantastically rich, accounting for a variety of viewpoints. Most importantly, Gibney does not shy away from his own perspective on the case, underlining points at which he was swept up in the tale, and his disappointment at being lied to along with millions of others. The documentary also dwells upon the normalisation of drug-taking in competitive sports, posing uncomfortable questions about whether, for example, Armstrong really "cheated" if he was competing on equal terms with other cyclists (i.e. if the other major players were using performance enhancers). No definitive answer is available to such a question, but it is to Gibney's credit that he explores these issues rather than opting for an outright defence or vilification. Armstrong is a divisive figure, although even the most fervent anti-Armstrongists are probably most angry about their willingness to believe in the myth and to correlate good consequences (raising money for cancer research) with the agent's character.
Monday 27 October 2014
Torture Porn: Popular Horror after Saw, The Loved Ones is probably the most criminally underrated. The film offers its audience a set of uncomfortable balances. For example, although the narrative events are hideous, the cinematography is gorgeous - I am particularly taken with the rich dark navy and pink combinations in the colour palette. In another (more thematic) example, the fuzzy line between dark comedy and disturbing horror is kept in perfect equilibrium throughout. However, my favourite of the film's disquieting stresses arise out of Robin McLeavy's breath-taking turn as Lola. McLeavy walks a tightrope between sweet and rabidly psychotic throughout, never tipping fully into or abandoning either. Resultantly, McLeavy's performance is not only wonderfully nuanced, but it also creates an electrifying tension at the film's core: it is never wholly clear what Lola is capable of and what she will do next. My 15 Seconds are up, but I've said enough already: anyone reading this who has not yet seen The Loved Ones should stop reading and buy a copy. Anyone reading this who has seen it should stop reading and watch it again.
Surely this story is a hoax... are the porn laws in the UK really this broken? If this is true, the farcical nature of the story is hilarious (keep reading..."They're Grrrreat"), but it is also utterly tragic and terrifying that Holland's life has been so detrimentally impacted on by such a stupid mistake that stems from a ludicrous law. This is the news equivalent of dystopian science fiction.
The story is worth sharing in full. From the Huffington Post:
A law against "extreme pornography" is being challenged by a man whose life was ruined after he was charged for possessing a video of a woman having sex with a tiger, that turned out to actually be a man in fancy dress.
Andrew Holland, 51, was charged with possession of the video that a friend sent him unsolicited as a joke after the crucial distinction between a real and pretend tiger eluded police and prosecutors.
While facing trial, Holland suffered a heart attack, had to leave his hometown of Wrexham in North Wales because of harrassment from vigilantes and was prevented from seeing his daughter for a year, he told The Independent.
He also faced "public ridicule" from those who thought he genuinely owned a video depicting bestiality, his lawyers said.
The charge was dropped when Mr Holland appeared in court, after being on bail for six months and the clip was played with the sound on.
It was then that prosecutors realised the "tiger" in the video could be heard saying "that's ggggreat!"
While Tony The Tiger, the animated talking mascot for Frosties cereal says this, real tigers do not.
Campaigners have said there have been thousands of prosecutions a year under the law, which could "potentially criminalise millions of people".
This is despite ministers' prediction the law would only result in around 30 cases a year.
Backlash, a coalition of lawyers and academics who campaign to protect sexual freedoms, have written to David Cameron about the case.
Mr Holland's solicitors Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) have written to Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions and one of the government's most senior lawyers, to ask for a review of how the relevant law is enforced.
Myles Jackman, legal advisor to Backlash and a lawyer at HJA, wrote that the huge increase in people sharing videos made the review more urgent.
"(Mr Holland's) name became synonymous with the joke, which had a devastating impact on his reputation," he blogged.
"Now, Mr Holland has requested that the Crown Prosecution Service (led by DPP Ms Saunders) review this law, to save other innocents from facing the same fate as him."
He added: "This review comes when it has become clear that millions of adults using mobile phone messaging services like WhatsApp can be sent potentially 'extreme' material to their phones, by friends, without knowing that they are actually in technical possession of illegal images.
"If it is unclear whether an image might be extreme and therefore illegal, how can a person be expected to know if they’ve broken the law?"
Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act forbids possession of "extreme" pornography that shows necrophilia or bestiality, threatens life or could cause serious injury to a person's "anus, breasts or genitals".
It also says "extreme" images are those that are "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character".
In addition to Mr Holland's request, HJA and Backlash have asked the Home Office to do a human rights impact assessment, to back their claim that the law is "disproportionate," the crime is not clearly defined and people cannot be expected to judge what images might be illegal.
If it fails this assessment, they will push for a judicial review of the law.
Backlash spokesman Jon Fuller said: "This law threatens anyone with a sex life they want to keep private.
"It threatens ordinary members of the public who exchange dirty jokes by phone and over the internet.
"Potentially criminalising millions of people is a disproportionate consequence of a law not based on harm and with no clear benefit."
In a statement, HJA said: "Mr Holland does not want others to go through the ordeal that he has faced.
"He wants to ensure that others are not prosecuted unnecessarily in the manner that he was.
"He remains subject to the risk of further criminal charges in the event that he is in possession of similar joke images in the future."
The Crown Prosecution Service, which pursues prosecutions against those charged under the act, had not commented as this story went live.
Sunday 26 October 2014
The Purge: Anarchy is a lesson in how to make a sequel count. The series is based on a fascinating thought experiment, but the first movie failed to capitalise on its central idea; instead of following the idea through, the premise was used as a backdrop to a mediocre home invasion movie. The Purge: Anarchy finally delivers on the core idea taking the action out onto the streets (where the Purge is actually happening). Moreover, the characters encounter a series of riffs on the core theme: a revenge plot hindered by compassion, homicidal domestic squabbles, a version of "the most dangerous game", a rebel pro-Purge army, a rebel anti-Purge army, and so forth. The latter is problematic inasmuch as their hypocrisy is not addressed: killing people under the protection of the Purge as a way of protesting against the Purge is so dubious that at least one of the characters should have voiced a concern... not least when one character states that she wants to stay with the anti-Purge army because she "want[s] to Purge". As a whole piece the film also struggles to maintain a cohesive narrative since the premise does not lend itself to following the same characters for 100 minutes. The film comes across as a series of set-pieces. That is fine, but the movie may have worked better as an anthology of sorts (perhaps an option for The Purge 3?).Those niggles aside, the sequel is much more satisfying and engaging than its predecessor.
Saturday 25 October 2014
It is worth clarifying from the outset that the marketing campaign for White Settlers - which ties the movie into the ill-fated Scottish independence campaign - is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy to get bums-on-seats. This is not speculation: the director, producer and writer stated as much in a Q&A following the screening I attended. This is unfortunate for at least three reasons: a) the devolution horror movie promised by the campaign would have been intriguing, b) White Settlers ends up being about nothing in particular, and c) the duped audience are left with the bitter realisation that the film-makers are entirely indifferent to the audience they have misled: that much is evidenced by the lazy dross viewers are expected to endure once they have paid. The narrative is not just thematically barren, it is utterly vapid. The plot (such as it is) is so painfully generic that the run-time is almost entirely constituted by scenes pilfered from other movies. The lead actors offer stiff/passable performances, but the central couple lack chemistry. Subsequently it is difficult to engage with their plight. The ending is being touted as "brave" in some circles. Others will feel it is anti-climactic (although the film would first need a crescendo to fall short from). My problem with the ending is that it was utter nonsense, although I look forward to the dry lawsuit that must surely form the basis of White Settlers 2: Dude, What About Our Mortgage? When I am feeling charitable, I think of White Settlers as a boring film and a missed opportunity. Yet, when I think about the money I spent to see the film, I consider White Settlers to be brazenly insulting. Viewers are advised to seek out absolutely any other backwoods horror film, as it will almost certainly be more compelling than this one. #NoOneWins
Friday 24 October 2014
Thursday 23 October 2014
Wednesday 22 October 2014
Saturday 18 October 2014
Quassim Cassam (Warwick) has launched a website in support of his latest book Self-Knowledge for Humans. The site includes a handy "beginners guide", reading suggestions and a lecture podcast, all of which offer interesting ways into the topic of self-knowledge, especially for the uninitiated.
Thursday 16 October 2014
I lived in Brighton for many years, and I was under the impression that it was among the most liberal of places in the UK, at least as far as sexuality is concerned. So, I'm left bemused by this report that a supermarket customer reportedly told a security guard that she was "worried for the safety of her child" after witnessing a woman kiss another woman on the cheek. The incident leaves me with a number of questions:
- How can someone be endangered by witnessing a consensual kiss?
- What did the customer think would happen to her child?
- Does the customer know where she is living? (if this is a case of naivety, she had better brace herself for Pride weekend...)
- How can a Brighton resident be so far behind even the Vatican in terms of their attitude towards sex? Actually, that is quite an impressive commitment to bigotry,..
Enough teeth grinding. Time for some Siya...
UPDATE: on Wednesday a protest was held in the supermarket - showing the bigots the way it is via the power of loitering with the intent to smooch. Good on them.
Call for Papers/Presentations: Zombie Culture
Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association 2015
Make plans to join the Southwest PCA/ACA for our 36th annual conference, February 11-14th
2015, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
330 Tijeras NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87102
Tel: +1 505 842 1234 or 888-421-1442
The area chair for Zombie Culture seeks papers and presentations on any aspect of the zombie in popular culture and history. It seems as though the world has gone “zombie crazy.” There are zombie walks, games on college campuses like “Humans Vs. Zombies,” zombie children’s books, zombie poetry, fiction, video games, zombie ammunition and guns, and zombie running contests. Almost anything can be “zombified” and society and fans all over the world are literally
“eating it up.” The zombie has come to represent the chaotic world we live in, and courses continue to pop up on college and university campuses all over the world. This is due in large part to the success of films like Night of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2), Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, and most recently Warm Bodies, World War Z, and the television program The Walking Dead.
Any aspect of Zombie Culture will be given consideration. What is distinctively American (if anything) in the zombie in film, literature, and popular culture in general? How does the zombie influence American Culture in a way that resonates in our transmedia world?
Some topics to consider:
- Directors: George Romero, Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, Todd Sheets, Danny Boyle, Sam Rami, Peter Jackson, Amando de Ossorio…
- Specific zombie films: White Zombie, King of the Zombies, Dawn of the Dead, Tombs of the Blind Dead, Dead Alive, Evil Dead, Zombies on Broadway, World War Z…..
- Specific books/zombie literature: Zombie Bake Off, World War Z, Book of All Flesh, Case of CharlesDexter Ward…
- Zombie writers’ fiction and non-fiction: Stephen Graham Jones, H.P. Lovecraft, RobertKirkman, Steve Niles, Max Brooks, Matt Mogk, Jovanka Vuckovic, Stephen King…..
- The Walking Dead
- Zombie comics (any aspect: history, cultural impact, storytelling…)
- Zombies since 9/11
- Zombie children’s books
- Zombie running
- Fast vs. slow zombies
- Zombie gore
- Teaching the zombie (zombie pedagogy)
- Zombie cos-play
- Zombie brains-food
- Zombie video games
- Zombie ants
- Can a real zombie outbreak happen?
- The voodoo zombie-the historical roots of the zombie
- The Euro-zombie
- Viking zombies
- Marvel zombies
- What exactly is a zombie?
- Humans vs. zombies
- Zombies across the world (Ro-langs…)
- Zombies’ roots in cinema
- Are mummies/Frankenstein’s monster zombies?
- What does the rise in the zombie’s popularity tell us about society?
These are just a few of the topics that could be discussed.
Please submit your paper title and 100- to 300-word abstract by November 1, 2014, through our
database, which can be accessed at:
Please note there are monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of
The organization also has a new open access peer reviewed journal that encourages you to
submit your work.
See: Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy
Area Chair: Rob Weiner
Humanities Librarian, Texas Tech University Library
Wednesday 15 October 2014
Daughter of Fangdom:
A Conference on Women and the Television Vampire
18 April 2015
The University of Roehampton
Following the success of TV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires in 2013, the organisers announce a follow-up one-day conference, Daughter of Fangdom: A Conference on Women and the Television Vampire. Though Dracula remains the iconic image, female vampires have been around at least as long, if not longer, than their male counterparts and now they play a pivotal role within the ever expanding world of the TV vampire, often undermining or challenging the male vampires that so often dominate these shows. Women have also long been involved in the creation and the representation of vampires both male and female. The fiction of female writers such as Charlaine Harris and L.J. Smith has served as core course material for the televisual conception and re-conception of the reluctant vampire, while TV writers and producers such as Marti Noxon (Buffy) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals) have played a significant role in shaping the development of the genre for television.
Since vampires are not technically human, the terms male and female may apply, but representation of gender has the potential to be more fluid if vampires exist outside of human society. Given the ubiquity of the vampire in popular culture and particularly on TV, how is the female represented in vampire television? What roles do women have in bringing female vampires to the small screen? In what ways has the female vampire been remade for different eras of television, different TV genres, or different national contexts? Is the vampire on TV addressed specifically to female audiences and how do female viewers engage with TV vampires? What spaces exist on television for evading the gender binary and abandoning categories of male and female vampires altogether?
Proposals are invited on (but not limited to) the following topics:
• TV’s development of the female vampire
• Negotiation of gender and sexuality
• Evading binaries
• Female writers/ directors/ producers/ actors in vampire TV
• Adaptation and authorship
• Genre hybridity
• Female vampires in TV advertising
• New media, ancillary materials, extended and transmedia narratives
• Intersection with other media (novels, films, comics, video games, music)
• Audience and consumption (including fandom)
• The female and children’s vampire television
• Inter/national variants
• Translation and dubbing
We will be particularly interested in proposals on older TV shows, on those that have rarely been considered as vampire fictions, and on analysis of international vampire TV. The conference organisers welcome contributions from scholars within and outside universities, including research students, and perspectives are invited from different disciplines.
Please send proposals (250 words) for 20 minute papers plus a brief biography (100 words) to all three organisers by 15th December 2014.