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Press Release: July 2004
Pretty/Scary: Women in Horror
Women in Horror: Why?
Pretty/Scary. The duality of the phrase is simple. Women can be pretty. They can also be scary. Women can be pretty scary. In a world where most geeks are men, it’s hard for women to find one another among all the testosterone-ridden conventions, film screenings, comic book stores, and underground video collections. It’s also difficult to find a way for women to accept their beauty, sex appeal, and femininity while acknowledging that they are smart, talented, and intelligent as well. When you think of a geek, does Angelina Jolie pop into your head? Well, not really. But if you think about some of the films she’s been in (Tomb Raider, anyone?) it’s clear to see that she’s got a geeky side to herself. For years women have been presented as only the objects of men’s affections, gracing the covers of Draculina Magazine and appearing nearly naked in slasher films, with never a thought from anyone that maybe women are doing it cause they like horror and science fiction. Maybe they don’t only exist to please men, but to please themselves. Maybe there are pretty geeks, after all!
When I started getting to know women in the horror business, I soon found out that many driving forces were women. There are actresses who seduce, but also produce. There are horror writers, actresses, and artists out there who are just as active, if not more so, than men, who don’t get a chance to exploit their femininity. It’s the twenty-first century, and it’s about time that women can be pretty and scary without having to compromise either their beauty or their intelligence in order to be part of the horror world.
Amy Lynn Best, Jennifer Whildin, and I (Heidi Martinuzzi) started Pretty/Scary so that women in horror have a place to promote their films and novels, to congregate, to read about other women, to network, and to read about horror from the point of view of other women. Not to sound like a feminist (and I’m not knocking feminism), but most horror magazines and websites are all about men. Women are treated only as eye candy only. At Pretty/Scary, we treat men like Eye candy. Every month we will list a new Hot Man in Horror, and we’ll turn him into a piece of meat for all to see. Our first HOT man is Eli Roth, director of Cabin Fever and his interview is about 5 lines long. He’s lucky we gave him that before we started drooling. We will also honor actresses, writers, and producers for their contributions to the horror industry. Our first honoree is Cassandra Peterson, AKA Elvira, who graces us with a three page interview and her view on women in horror.
Aside from interviews and news, Pretty/Scary hopes to be the definitive review site for horror films and novels by women. Giving an in-depth look at all novels and films written, produced, or directed by women, Pretty/Scary will also review books and films where women are the main characters (like I Spit on Your Grave, Catwoman, and The Grudge). There is a mailing list and a forum, plus an area where members can post their own horror fiction. We have original dark and horror themed artwork by women in our art galleries, and we will be covering and reviewing women in punk, gothic, and hardcore metal bands. We’re trying to cover all aspects of horror, so if we’ve left anything out, please let us know! We want to cover independent and mainstream horror alike; there’ s no room for distinction when our main focus is on women.
The website will be launched July 30th, 2004 and can be found at http://www.pretty-scary.com. We welcome anyone in the horror business, female and male, to come visit and contribute in any way. Likewise, we are always looking for news stories and women to promote.
Pretty/Scary, in conjunction with Necroscopic Entertainment, is launching a 2005 Women in Independent Horror Calendar that will be available for purchase on the Pretty/Scary website and in comic book stores and book stores around the country this Fall. The calendar features horror actresses Sheri Moon Zombie, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, Ryli Morgan, Melantha Blackthorne, Suzi Lorraine, Amy Lynn Best, Syn DeVil, Lilith Stabs, April Burril, Rachael Robbins, and me, Heidi! (even though I am not a Scream Queen) One of the main issues I have found with Women in Horror is the strange distinction that some horror actresses have developed, that of Scream Queen. I thought it was an interesting topic to ask the girls about, since not only are they Scream Queens, but they are being put in a Calendar for that very reason. Here is what some of the most important women in horror films today have to say about the ideas of women, horror, and being pretty scary…
“Well, it has been my experience that most horror actors limit themselves to just that…acting. I have made it a point over my career to ask many questions and inform myself about all levels of film production. The knowledge I have picked up along the way has allowed me to participate to varying degrees in the writing, directing and producing of most of the projects in which I have been involved” -Melantha Blackthorne
“Part of me loves it, and wants to at least come close to that status. The other part of me doesn’t like that term very much, because I know a few of these ladies and there is SO much more to them than their ability to jiggle in the right places and scream at the horrible monster that’s coming their way. I don’t want to say it’s demeaning, but it isn’t as all-encompassing a description as it should be, in order to properly describe these women.” -Ryli Morgan, on the term “Scream Queen”
“Right now I think it helps to portray myself as having sex appeal. I mean, why not? I’m young and sexy, right?! But in my last film “Screaming Dead” I was actually cast as the plain, level headed girl. And that was a nice departure. I mean I can’t play the damsel in distress forever. It was fun playing the bimbo, cheerleader, and bombshell. But what comes after that for those characters? They are fun and cute when it’s a young girl playing them, but the aging version is just plain old pathetic! Think of Mrs. Roper on “Three’s Company”!!” -Rachael Robbins on being hot
“There’s this scene that I did in a movie called “Love” – basically I play this obsessive compulsive chick with numerous neuroses – my character has a fight with the other lead actor – I just seized the moment and went balls to the walls ballistic & crazy. I think everybody on set was genuinely scared, haha. Afterwards they told me the scene kicked some major ass!” -Suzi Lorraine on her favorite scene in a horror film
“I think it’s been turned into a generic word. Nowadays, ever woman in a low budget movie, horror or not, has been called a Scream Queen. The meaning has been completely diluted. My own term has become “Spicy Sister”.” -Amy Lynn best on the term Scream Queen
“One certainly doesn’t become a Scream Queen without solid attributes; she could hit a high pitched scream as well as her low budget sisters could, but more importantly, well endowed or not, she was perfectly inclined to go topless. And the willingness to go topless has been the number one requirement of a working Scream Queen since the ‘big’ 80’s.” -Debbie Rochon on Scream Queens
“I have set myself apart by perfecting a Jekyll & Hyde switch in films. I often start out normal — an apparent victim — and then something happens to transform me into a villain. Like, I get possessed by demons, or go insane and become a homicidal maniac, or I get bitten and turn into a blood-sucking vampire. (Examples of that are “HAUNTING FEAR”, “SPIRITS”, “GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE”, and “TRANSYLVANIA TWIST”.) I’ve also played a lot of strong female characters, despite my petite size (like “HYBRID”, “CORPSES ARE FOREVER”) — and I’ve fondly been dubbed “The thinking man’s Scream Queen” because of my college degrees.” -Brinke Stevens, on what makes her different from other women in horror
“ I think my name is pretty cool…hell that’s why I use it…. to hear a horror actress playing a vampire or monster or something & her name is like June summers it just doesn’t seem right” -Syn Devil on her name
”…The final, bloody killing scene in “Chainsaw Sally”. Something about having all that fake blood splashed on me while holding a running chainsaw as I stand over my victim really lights my fire! Call me crazy…” -April Burril on her favorite scene in Chainsaw Sally
Women have minds and intellect and talent. And beauty. And they can be terrifying. From film festivals to magazines to movies, women are taking a much bigger role in horror than ever before, and it’s time someone was there to get the story straight. That’s what Pretty/Scary is all about….
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