Posted by Richard Harland Smith on February 24, 2012
Last week I sat down with Final Girl blogger-slash-filmmaker-slash-illustrator-slash-slasher aficionado-slash-other-stuff to talk about her cool new slasher movie primer Slashers 101 and the love that dare not speak its name… namely, cheap horror movies. And mid-priced and also expensive ones. Stacie’s got a unique mind and a great way of looking at things and after years of parallel play in the blogosphere it’s been fun to actually talk mano-a-metal-hook with her. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that Stacie kinda sorta interviewed me back in October 2010. Or, really, just asked me one question and then I kept on talking, as is my wont.) We’re wrapping up our thing today, sadly, because all good things must come to an end, especially when you rock freelance. When we left off last Friday, Stacie and I were talking about those particular horror movies in which we were inordinately drawn in by the characterizations and, yes, even touched and/or moved and otherwise poignanted by the plight of various ill-starred dramatis personalities. On that note, and without any further ado or folderol…
RHS: This brings us to the question of empathy, which always seems a bit in short supply with fans of horror movies. One of the things I appreciate about your blog, Final Girl, is that despite the avalanche of wit and wordplay you have a conscience — and you’re not afraid to use it. I was heartened by your review of NECROSIS (2009), which you took to task for capitalizing on the historical Donner Party situation, for fudging the facts in a completely cynical, commercial way in order to weave out of the elements a Grade-G horror movie, which you likened to “making a horror movie about the ghosts of Dachau or the vengeful spirits of the victims of September 11.” That was one of those stand-up-and-applaud WALKING TALL (1973) moments for me, though I actually did neither of those things. But I wanted to.
SP: Argh, that movie! I don’t know what’s worse- the fact that a whole bunch of people thought “Yes! We have no problem using the tragedy at Donner Pass as a cheap plot device!” or the fact that the tragedy at Donner Pass ended up being completely dropped partway through the movie and wholly useless as a cheap plot device. I mean, if you’re going to be tacky and disrespectful, then just do it, you know? And yeah, I do find it tacky and disrespectful. Taking real-life horror and twisting it into some substandard, lousy ghost movie? I don’t understand. I’ll watch a movie about Jeffrey Dahmer and I’ll watch a movie about John Wayne Gacy, but this DAHMER VS GACY (2011) business, I don’t get it.
RHS: Nor do I, Stacie. Nor. Do. I.
SP: I’ve been called out on Final Girl for being…I don’t know, a bit of a delicate flower sometimes, I suppose. I love horror movies, but I do have my limits. I’m not into watching people suffer, necessarily — though I do loves me some MARTYRS (2008) — and at times I question why I do, in fact, love horror movies. I don’t see a problem with thinking about these things, but I’ve received comments from fellow fans that run from “they’re just movies!” to the suggestion that I’m not well-adjusted. The world, she really don’t move to the beat of just one drum, I guess.
RHS: You’ve gotten some strange and even hostile feedback at a site that strikes me as being wholly inoffensive. I mean, if you can get past the fact that at least 90% of what you write about can be branded by a certain demographic as offensive in nature (with respect to violence, nudity, language and possibly religion), you are, by your own admission, fairly gentle in nature and you have never been provocative or encouraging of extreme behavior. And yet you seem to be a magnet for cranks. In all my years as a horror blogger, I’ve never had that reaction. Do you think it’s because you’re a woman?
SP: I don’t know why it is, really, although some of it certainly has to do with the fact that I’m a woman. I mean, I think I can safely assume that the majority of male writers and bloggers simply don’t get the same sort of hostile feedback that their female contemporaries do. I don’t really receive any “you’re a girl so your opinion on horror is wrong” messages, but I do get a large amount of…hmm, vaguely harassing comments. You know, about how much a commenter wants to make the sex with me or some such. Some people assume that the woman in the photo in my blog header is me (it’s not- it’s Anna Faris), so they like to tell me how hot I am. Even some reviews of my work begin with “It’s a neat site/comic/whatever” and end with talk of marriage. I know some people are flattered by that kind of thing, and maybe some of it is flattering- but I could do without 99.9% of those comments. I mean, it’s nice that you like me, but I just want to talk about horror movies or MATLOCK. I don’t want to date you.
RHS: It’s all so deeply weird, isn’t it?
SP: I also do get plenty of insulting comments, but mostly those just make me laugh. I hate the fact that they’re just part and parcel of the Internet and yeah, I try to be inoffensive- although there’s no doubt plenty of my writing turns people off. But if there’s one thing I really can’t stand it’s people who insult one another over opinions. Sure, I may not understand why someone likes Rob Zombie films, but I’m not going to get into some argument over why that person is wrong or start name-calling, and I don’t let those kind of comments fly on Final Girl. I’ll argue and disagree and discuss, but everybody likes different things and the heart wants what the heart wants, yes? Yes. And I don’t go around thinking that my opinion matters more than anyone else’s simply because I have a blog or I’ve written for whatever magazine. I like a lot of crap.
RHS: You’ve recently made the jump from writing about movies to making them. How has that gone for you?
SP: I suppose my filmmaking experiences have gone fairly well, if only because I’m not making them for money. The movies I’ve made, I’ve made simply to make them and to have the experience of the process. I make a lot of things using different media- comics, paintings, etc- and these films were really just another way for me to get ideas out of my head. I have some scripts sitting around that I fully intend to shoot one day, but man, living in Los Angeles really burnt me out on making movies and also on writing about them for a long time. Even at my podunk level, it was all still so…so…Los Angeles. Everyone wanting to get something out of you, everyone immediately sizing you up to figure out where you fit in the social hierarchy…it just turned me off big time. I was sort of a part of the horror community out there, but I never really fit in with it- I’m not really into any “scenes” or the such, and believe me, I am decidedly uncool. I’d rather stay home in my Fortress of Solitude and watch some crappy VHS than go be “seen” at some event or whatever. I liked horror movies much more before I got a peek at all the wizards behind the curtain, you know?
RHS: Do you think on some level that horror needs to be rescued from the horror fanbase? Or at least something needs to be kept clear of the somewhat insular circles of horror lifers if the genre is going to remain primary and visceral?
SP: Hmm, that’s a good question. I suppose any rabid fanbase has its light side and its dark side. Horror fans are incredibly loyal- they dutifully follow the careers of certain directors and actors, and they make sure that whomever played Tutu Zombie in George Romero’s WHATEVER OF THE DEAD 30 years ago can enjoy a fairly lucrative second career traveling the convention circuit. Hell, Tutu Zombie is treated as a hero!
RHS: Well, sure, especially with the passing of Sweater Zombie.
SP: And, you know, John Carpenter could make nothing but crap for the rest of his life, but horror fans will line up because he made HALLOWEEN. I think that’s pretty cool. And I love that horror fans can be real movie nerds, trading VHS back and forth, or getting incredibly excited to finally track down a bootleg copy of the Producer’s Cut of some awful film. Horror fans keep the midnight circuit alive and nerd out over a 35mm print of PIECES (1982) — as well they should, it’s the best!. Horror fans really love horror, and I really love them for it. But! Sometimes that love goes hand in hand with a sense of…mmm, I’m not sure if superiority is the right word, necessarily… but you’re right- it can be an insular world, unwilling to let in “casual” fans, or people who might only catch a horror flick on Halloween night, or- heaven forfend!- people who won’t go any more hardcore than a PG-13 movie. Heck, I don’t feel hardcore enough to be a “true” horror fan most of the time, even though I have Tutu Zombie’s autograph, you know? And more than any other genre, perhaps, horror has a proliferation of fans-turned-filmmakers and fans-turned-writers. Yeah sure, this means there’s an inordinate amount of cruddy zombie movies out there to suffer through and painful blogs to read, but I kind of love it- even if I won’t suffer through said movies or visit said blogs much. I just can’t get down on people for making stuff and trying to dig deeper into a world they love. Now that I’m living where no one cares “who you are” or anything like that, I can feel the love coming back, though. Like I said, I’ve got scripts sitting here I want to shoot…although I have no designs of becoming a “filmmaker”- I just make movies sometimes. And I also feel like watching them again, and talking about them again. Horror movies and I are reunited and it feels so good!
RHS: Thanks, Stacie. This has been 7 Faces of Awesome.
SP: Hooray! I’m ten kinds of excited!To order Slashers 101, click here. To read the Final Girl blog, click here. To tap StaciePonder.com, click here. To order Stacie’s short film LUDLOW (2010), click here. To preview Stacie’s spring line of lacy intimates, click here.
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