Thursday, February 7

Streamathon - February 2019 – WiHMX - Female Directed Horror

By Emery Snyder @leeroy711

Preface: This is part of an ongoing blog series of curated movie marathons that are thematically or otherwise tied together. The other common factor tying these films together will be their availability to watch them all from the comfort of your own home on various streaming platforms. The goal is that writing this blog will somehow justify the excessive number of streaming platforms I subscribe to. The films will be found on some combination of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Mubi, Shudder and/or Fandor. These titles will be available for the month that the blog is published. All of these subscriptions offer free trials so feel free to dive in and follow along… Have fun. Just don’t message me for my login information.
February 2019
February is Women in Horror Month and we here at Coda love to celebrate both women and horror, so as writers, we’re excited to have the opportunity to tie the two together. Phoenix’s FilmBar starts off this month’s celebration tonight with a screening of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
Following the hashtags and reading the various articles and projects, I’ve come across a litany of different ways to celebrate the work of women in horror. Women have historically contributed to the genre both in front of and behind the camera. On screen, we’ve come a long way from the incapacity of “Scream Queens” like Fay Wray’s “Ann” in (’34) KING KONG. These day, stronger women are more likely to fight their captors like last year’s underrated COLD HELL.
Behind the scenes, women have held every job in the industry from cinematographers like A QUIET PLACE’s Charlotte Bruus Christensen to writers like frequent Carpenter collaborator, Debra Hill. But for this list, I wanted to focus on directors. Because unfortunately, quality of work notwithstanding, this is the job in which women seem to have the hardest time getting. In 2018, less than 5% of studio films were directed by women.
This is specifically important when we talk about the role of a director and the overall role cinema plays in our culture. For all intents and purposes, the director provides the film’s primary perspective. And cinema’s long and storied history has been forcibly permeated by the “male gaze” perspective. It’s important to recognize, that when we talk about the “male gaze”, we’re talking about something that encompasses much more than just the objectification of women’s bodies. There is an entire fantasy world that comes along with it. In fact, much of our fantasies aren’t even about sex. You see, generation after generation of men being raised by pop-culture have made us a fragile gender. It is imperative to the fantasy that we are not only sexually irresistible, but the masters of our own destiny and the hero of every situation.

Women are more often props and prizes in this world. There is no room for equality or platonic relationships. It is this lack of competing perspectives that has largely contributed to machismo myths like the “friend-zone” and MRA concepts like “enforced monogamy” or “redistribution of sex”. To be honest, I don’t even know how much of this mentality is instinctual and how much is learned. I just know that it’s constantly reinforced by the feed-forward loop of the most popular form of expression in the world.
So, with that rant in mind, let’s all take just one month (the shortest month) to celebrate the less than 5% of films made from the perspective of people that make up over half of the population.

The Stream

Side Note: Coralie Fargeat’s REVENGE should have obviously made this list. It is currently in the penalty box because I’ve written about it a few too many times already. It is streaming on Shudder.

Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour – Streaming on Shudder

Bad City, Iran is being stalked by a melancholy vampire. This film has the air of a fairytale, modernized with sex, drugs and rock & roll. I love how the storyteller refuses to dumb down the symbolism and metaphors just to keep it simple. It’s complex and subversive and unfolds like a riddle that you didn’t know you were trying to solve. It should also be noted that anamorphic black & white should not be taken lightly. Cinematographer, Lyle Vincent did an amazing job capturing the landscape and interiors here.

Directed by Barbara Peeters – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

This is the only film in which the ventriloquist gets the girl. Not for long, but he does somehow manage to seduce her out of her clothes before the obligatory monster attack. This is essentially a 50’s creature feature done with 80’s gore and nudity. If that’s not enough for you, then you have my sympathies. It was produced by B-movie icon, Roger Corman and released under his New World Pictures label. It should be noted however that some of the more graphic and exploitive rape scenes were directed by the uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami. Allegedly, Peeters was appalled at the finished product and asked for her name to be removed. I included it on this list with some trepidation, but I can’t help but love a lot of what this film does right.

NEAR DARK (1987)
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow – Streaming on Mubi

Lance Henriksen and the late Bill Paxton are the only two actors to boast being killed by an Alien, a Terminator and a Predator. They are horror royalty. And if you ever get the opportunity to see them playing vampires in a neo-noir western horror, I don’t really have to finish this sentence to I? Kathryn Bigelow is the only female to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director (THE HURT LOCKER). Only 3 others have ever even been nominated. This is unequivocally my favorite of her films. “It’s finger-lickin’ good!!!”              

Directed by Cindy Sherman – Streaming on Shudder

You may think that 80’s stars, Molly Ringwald, Carol Kane and Jeanne Tripplehorn would be out-of-place in a late 90’s slasher/horror. But they work great here. I’m especially impressed with Carol Kane, specifically in the third act.

Directed by Alice Lowe – Streaming on Shudder

This movie is a romp. Alice Lowe writes, directs and stars in this all while she’s actually pregnant in real life. Baby knows best as Lowe’s “Ruth” carries on with a vicious homicidal spree guided by the in-utero voice of her unborn child…. And, why the hell not. I have a lot of fun with this flick. At times it’s hilarious. The symbolism is a bit too ‘on-the-nose’ but I really didn’t care. This would be a great one to show with a group of unsuspecting friends at a party… like a baby shower.

RAW (2016)
Directed by Julia Docournau – Streaming on Netflix

If this is what the college experience is like, I sure as hell don't regret missing out on it. This is a very well put together film. And more than that, it breathes in a very clear and unique voice. It makes me very excited to see what director, Julia Ducournau has in store. It's disturbing and gross, but still knows when to turn away from the realm of snuff or even exploitation.

Directed by Claire Denis – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video & Mubi

I sure hope you didn’t already fill up on French arthouse cannibalism movies… Did you save any room for dessert? If anything, this film proves that there’s always room for more. Typical of Denis’ other work, this one is tempered and meditative, with very little dialogue or exposition. In many ways, it fits right in with WHITE MATERIAL or 35 SHOTS OF RUM. Except of course, you know… nobody gets eaten in those films.

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