Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th (1980) is the worst horror movie I've ever seen. Here's the entire plot: crazy dude warns teenagers that they're all going to die if they go to this haunted camp...

and then they do.

I really really want to leave my review at that, but I wasted an hour and a half of my life on this piece of trash, so let me think of something else to say.

All the dudes in this film are gropey, rapey and gross and all the chicks are devoid of personalities. I think it kinda passed the Bechdel test, maybe? Not a single person of color anywhere and blatant racism, even. There were 11 deaths out of only 13 named characters. There was no suspense because you knew they were just going to get picked off one by one and you didn't care about any of them anyway. The characters made stupid decisions that made me yell at the TV alot. Slasher movies are so boring. I find no enjoyment watching people repeatedly die gruesome deaths.

There wasn't even an interesting villain. The murderer was a vanilla-looking mom avenging her son's long ago accidental drowning. Bore. ING.

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 1 (the point is for the scenery, not horror aspects of the film)

Plot: 0

Characters: 1

Score: 1

Treatment of Women/Minorities: .5

Rewatchability: 0


Monday, October 5, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Poltergeist

"No more."
Poltergeist (1982) is the most heartwarming horror movie I've ever seen. Steven Spielberg directed...'nough said. But honestly, the family dynamic in this movie was really quite believable. I cared about this family. It passed the Bechdel test almost immediately (these '80s horror movies are surprising me with how progressive they were!) and the women characters had definite personalities. The dad was a caring father. The little girl (above) didn't do a lot of unnecessary screaming, crying, or whining. In fact, the little boy did the majority of the screaming and whining. The mother smoked pot and had a youthful sense of humor, but wasn't painted as irresponsible or uncaring towards her children because of it. There was zero scolding of her for smoking pot by the dad or the movie itself either. In other words, she wasn't shown as a "bad" character because of this trait. This film almost set itself up as a sitcom. Lovable family that laughs together and loves each other. No nudity. Nothing pissed me off about this film.

There's this really great scene between the mom and a female psychologist/paranormal investigator wherein neither woman judges the other and they just have a philosophical bonding moment together wherein they obviously see one another as people doing their best in the world. This is the kind of moment you hardly EVER see between women in film. Kudos, Spielberg!

Minorities: there was one person of color and he was a side character, but he wasn't shown as inept or stupid and he didn't die, so half a point, I guess.

The only downside to Poltergeist is that the horror aspects of the film ramped up unexpectedly to 11 in the last half hour. As soon as you hear the little girl deadpan, "No more." I think the film should have gone to black. When I rewatch it, that will be my stopping point, I think. I liked that the horror was offscreen for most of the movie. Just when you think everything has been resolved, all the sudden they throw every possible horrific thing at the viewer and it's really overkill, for me anyway.

Overall, I recommend this movie. It's a philosophical horror movie with heart. I can dig that.

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 3.5

Plot: 3.0

Characters: 4.0

Score: 2.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 4.0

Rewatchability: 3.5


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Horror Movie Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is an enjoyable and straightforward horror movie from beginning to end. It includes many of the tropes of horror we have come to love/hate without using them against women.

******SPOILER ALERT******

Two of the horror tropes present: The virgin lives and if you have sex, you die. Buuuuut, Nancy never says she's a virgin and both of the characters involved in the sex die, not just the woman. It turns out in the end that it was ALL a dream, so no one really died at all. Bonus: no boobs!!! There were a couple of see-thru nightgown scenes, but they were focused on bush-peeps that were relatively subtle for horror.

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I like a horrific dream theme, what can I say? The teenagers actually look like teenagers, including Johnny Depp (though he's 21 here) in his very first role looking very non-Johnny Depp in khaki pants and Izod sweaters.

I am really pleased at the treatment of women in this movie. It passes the Bechdel Test within the first five minutes. The main character and hero of the piece is a woman. Nancy asks the men (her dad, her boyfriend, etc) in her life to help her, but they fail her repeatedly, so she saves herself! No people of color or other diversity in this film, but that's one of the only downsides to this nearly perfect horror film.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is simply damn good horror. I recommend it.

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 4.0

Plot: 4.0

Characters: 3.5

Score: 3.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 3.5


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Horror Movie Review: The Shining

Shut up, Tony!
The Shining (1980) is a legendary horror film for a reason. It is genuinely terrifying. Every shot is gorgeous. The score builds to a level that makes you feel like you're ready to claw through your skin by the end. The film is two and a half hours long and takes its sweet molasses time to build to the level of complete madness you feel by the end. If you like your horror psychologically realistic and simmered to a slow and total terror meltdown, this is the movie for you...

UNLESS you're not into women and minorities being treated like garbage. This film repeatedly names women "bitch" in that really ugly way that women used to be called bitch on the regular by their abusive husbands. There's also a scene in which a black man is referred to as that lovely N-word not even I of the foulest mouth will utter. We are supposed to forgive the "women are bitches" and "black people are n______" arguments because they are uttered by the bad guys, but I'm betting that Kubrick is one of these bad guys. You'll not get forgiveness from me, Stanley.

This movie doesn't pass the Bechdel Test either. Despite the lengthy conversation between the doctor and Wendy in the beginning of the film, the doctor was not named and they only talked about Danny and Jack.

The storyline of this film is a little too close to home for me. I don't like my horror to mirror life. Men go "crazy" and ax-murder their wives and children all the time. I was pleasantly surprised, however,

**************SPOILER ALERT******************

that Wendy and Danny actually survive. The Shining is thought to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time and there's only one onscreen murder and then the eventual freezing-to-death of Jack the psychotic protagonist.

This movie is actually fairly impressive, but I won't be watching it again.

Aesthetic/Visual Effects: 4.0

Plot: 2.5

Characters: 2.0

Score: 2.0

Treatment of Women: 1.0

Rewatchability: 0


Friday, September 25, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice (1988) is a movie I'm sure you've seen at least ten times, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time describing it. It's a Tim Burton movie that includes all of the usual Tim-Burton-ness and Danny Elfman did the score, 'cause he always does the score for Burton's films.

Still a super fun film. The only thing that upset me was how gross Michael Keaton's Beetlejuice looks, but he's supposed to look that way, so whatevs. Oh, and the characters are SUPER white-washed...was there anyone of color in this movie? The dead voodoo dude might have been the only one.

I was really surprised by the treatment of women in this movie. It passed the Bechdel Test within the first five minutes and with the exception of Beetlejuice's general crudeness, there was no sexism present whatsoever and the women in this movie were just as complex and respected as the men.

Overall an enjoyable movie, great for the whole family! Except for an f-bomb and a couple of other language moments, you could totally watch this with your kid. I know I saw it at the age of 6 when it first came out and I turned out totally fiiiiiiiine.

Aesthetic/Visual Effects: 3.5

Plot: 4.0

Characters: 4.0

Sound/Score: 3.0

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 4.0 (very whitewashed, despite being kind to women)

Rewatchability: 4.0

Overall: 22.5

Horror Movie Review: Interview With The Vampire

Claudia's transformation.

Interview With The Vampire (1994) is based on the Anne Rice novel of the same name and is one of the most beautiful horror films of all time. It's so gorgeous to look upon that one could make a pretty compelling argument against it even being classified as a horror film. Most of this review can be summed up by two major points: 1) preeeeeeetty and 2) you don't like women much, do you? Like, you don't even think about them at all...this was written by a woman?!?

As a book series, I genuinely enjoy Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Her version of vampires as elegant, tortured and beautiful souls works for me and as I've written before, her vampire origin story chronicled in Queen of the Damned is the most believable and intriguing, in my opinion. I know it's uncool to like Anne Rice novels, but I do and I refuse to apologize.

Now, take a moment to look upon Brad Pitt's pillowy lips, mint-green eyes and supreme broody-vulnerability. Go ahead, take your time.

The vulnerability of Louis (Pitt's character) is one of the most intriguing aspects of his character. He was THE tortured vampire before Angel from Buffy. Tortured souls are my Achille's Heel and godDAMN that man is resplendent in this film! Though he's undoubtedly a beautiful man, Pitt doesn't usually do it for me, but you would have no idea this was the case watching me drool over him in this role. He's pouty, he's pretty, and he's pale: the Mixtress-Rae-swoon-trifecta. And that hair!! I have to move on, because all I have to say here, obvi, is PREEEEEEEEEEETTTTTY!

To add to the pretty, this film truly holds up in the categories of score, makeup and visual effects. The vampire transformations (see Claudia's above) still look good. The animatronics and makeup techniques of Lestat's death look truly horrific and realistic and this was before film's heavy reliance on digital effects. Elliot Goldenthal's score for the movie references the time in which these vampires lived (from late 1700's to late 1980's) while employing full orchestras and drama drama harpsichord drama. It's delicious. The vampire fangs are my favorite of any vampires in film ever (you can see these in Claudia's transformation at the top of the post). I really like that both the lateral incisors AND the cuspids that you'd normally associate with fang teeth are pointed. I also like that they are always pointed. Their fangs don't come out like switchblades like in True Blood or anything. One of the only things I don't like about Buffy is that the vampires can look normal when they're not in "vamp-face". I mean, what's the point in being an otherworldly creature if you don't get to look like one all the time? The eyes in this movie, man...Brad Pitt's Louis has these piercing mint-green eyes that glow. It looks magnificent and truly did the vampire eyes of the book justice. Every visual in this film is decadent and delightful.

This film takes its beauty so seriously that it gives women and men alike what we've mostly been starved for in our culture, especially by the film's release in 1994: homo-erotica! Everything we see is a tease because Anne Rice's vampires can't, you know, but I don't care because it's hot! We see Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt almost make out in a drawn-out scene of extreme closeness and hair everywhere. Behold!

I haven't mentioned Lestat yet. Tom Cruise does his Tom Cruise thing in this movie and that works for this character just fine, but his visage just doesn't catch my eye when there are long-haired and pale versions of Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas around. Sorry not sorry.

Ok, so you get it. Every visual and every sound in this movie is pretty. The performances from almost all the leading actors are pretty solid as well.

Let's move on to the movie's one HUGE, glaring, and terrible flaw. It treats women like total trash, literally. Women are mothers or children or whores and always, with no exceptions, victims. And where are the people of color? Oh, they're slaves and victims too. Grrrr. The only leading woman is a girl, Kirsten Dunst (then 12) as Claudia. She's made into a vampire at age 10 or so (grosssss!) and because of this, she never grows into a woman and is weaker than other vampires so she has to literally rely on the men in her life (Lestat and Louis). Most women in this movie are whores that die mid-orgasm (their pleasure caused by dying, not by sex) at the hands of mostly Lestat, so at least you get to see them having a good time, but they're nameless victims treated dismissively. Claudia does kill a couple of men, but most victims in this film are women and most beautiful vampires are men. The film barely passes the Bechdel Test, and only because of ONE line towards the last 1/4 of the movie. The treatment of women characters in this film is a really really big disappointment, but it's the only downside to a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 4.5

Plot: 3.5

Characters: 4.0

Sound/Score: 4.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 1.0

Rewatchability: 4.0

Overall: 21.5

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Bride of Frankenstein

"More fearful than the monster himself!"

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is one of, if not THE, first movie sequel and it's largely thought of to be better than 1931's Frankenstein. The director James Whale was an out gay man. OUT in 1935, children! Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus" is the first science fiction piece of culture EVER.

The bride herself, as a character, is one of the most iconic images in horror, though she never came to life in the book and is BARELY onscreen in the film of her namesake. That's the biggest flaw with this film, in my opinion. You see the bride hissing and jerking magnificently for the last maybe 3 minutes of the film. You wait and you wait and you wait for her to come to life and take the monster and Frankenstein down with her superior strength and angry confusion, but sadly, it isn't to be.

The film's score was created especially for the movie, which was a new thing in 1935. The film also exhibited humor, which is something horror is still squeamish about employing.

I have more thoughts about the imagery than anything else about this movie. Frankenstein's monster and the bride are both images that have prevailed in our culture for 80 years now. The machinery in the film used to reanimate the bride is also breathtaking. The bride is sewn into my backpack I wear every day. I want to embody her glamorous horror. She is an inspiration to me. The character has lived on in many other films. There's an excellent article about the progression of the character in pop culture here.

The movie taken on its own without all the iconic history surrounding it is still quite enjoyable. The score was a little distracting and the wilting-fainting-ness of Frankenstein-the-scientist's soon-to-be wife is nauseating, but that scene with the blind guy and the monster is emotional and genuine, even by today's standards. You have sympathy for the monster, you laugh, and you wait for the bride to arrive...that's the film in a nutshell. The cinematography is, as I wrote above, simply breathtaking.

My Ratings

Aesthetics/visual effects: 3.8

Plot: 2.5

Characters: 3.5

Sound/Score: 2.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 1.0

Rewatchability: 3.0


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The search for my Top Ten Horror Movies, part 1.

Happy Autumnal Equinox, e’erybody!!

I’ve been thinking about horror films lately. It’s been awhile since I watched my favorite horror movies. Also, I haven’t seen several of the iconic movies from the horror genre. You see where I’m going with this, right? It’s time for a rewatch/watch-for-the-first-time and review blogfest!!

Disclaimers/Caveats/Rules of the Rate:

Disclaimer: I am definitely a fan of horror, but my love of it is mostly due to gothic imagery and the potential for girl villainy. I enjoy a good psychological thriller, but the “being hunted by hillbillies in the woods” and “being tortured by psychotic individuals” oeuvre are not for me. I like being worried and maybe a little freaked out, but I don’t enjoy things that are disgusting or overly violent. I like my gore to be beautiful, not squishy. Also, I can almost guarantee if there’s a rape scene, I am OUT. Immediately.

Caveats: I am limited to movies I own, movies I can check out at the library, and movies that are available on Netflix or Hulu. This will by no means be a complete list. Thems the breaks. Shaun of the Dead should probably be on this list. Perhaps I’ll add it later, but I’m really mad at Simon Pegg right now because his last few movies have been crap-fests with terrible treatment of women characters. I thought you were on our side, Simon...WTF?!

Rules of my rating system: I’ll be scoring these movies on 6 factors (Aesthetics/Visual Effects, Plot, Characters, Score/Music/Sound Effects, Rewatchability, and Treatment of Women/Marginalized Groups) on a scale of 1-5. These scores will be added for an overall possible score of up to 30 points. They will be ranked at the end of the project using these scores. I can then present you with Mixtress Rae’s top 5 (or maybe 10) horror movies of all time. I’m limiting myself to reviewing only 25 movies so that I can hopefully finish the project by October 31st or at least somewhere around Day of the Dead (November 2nd). This list could definitely be a LOT longer. If you think I’m missing something really important, give me a good defense of a title you think I should add and I’ll consider it (provided you let me borrow it if I can’t find it at the library, Netflix, or Hulu). For the most part, I’m sticking to first in series. The exceptions are sequels that have more badass girl villains than their debuts.

Here is the list of movies that I’m planning to rewatch/review that will likely have a better shot at hitting the top five (or ten):

*Bride of Frankenstein
*Interview with the Vampire
*Queen of the Damned
*The Ring
*Cabin in the Woods
*Blair Witch Project
*The Descent
*The Cell
*28 Days Later
*return of the Living Dead 3
*Resident Evil
*The Crow
*Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Here is the list of horror movies I’ll be watching for the first time/rating:

*The Haunting
*Friday the 13th
*A Nightmare on Elm Street
*The Shining
*Only Lovers Left Alive

Ok, that’s it. I’ve already watched two of these movies, so reviews will be up soon. I wanted to let y’all know what I’m doing because I’m super excited. Tell me YOUR favorite horror movies. Oh, and if we’re friends IRL and you like any of these movies, let me know and we can watch them together!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Digital Witness: a 2014 mix

I didn't put out a zine at the beginning of 2015 with my best of 2014 disc attached like I normally do and I'm sick of looking at my angst-words from the last few blog entries, so here's my best of 2014 mix (above from YouTube, below is the tracklist).

by MixtressRae

Two Weeks // FKA twigs
West Coast // Lana Del Rey
Digital Witness // St. Vincent
I Look Fuckin' Cool // Adore Delano and Alaska Thunderfuck
Lost Boys and Girls Club // Dum Dum Girls
High Ball Stepper // Jack White
Go // Grimes
Get Well // Nothing
Paper Bag // LaziRae (not on YouTube playlist but embedded below)

Yellow Flicker Beat // Lorde
Ultraviolence // Lana Del Rey
Interference // Thom Yorke
Queen // Perfume Genius
Days Are Dreaming // Goldbloc
A Friend // Say Yes Dog
Silver // Caribou
Clearing // Grouper
West Coast (Solomun Remix Dub)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I kind of hate that everything I write here lately is just sadness. anxiety. depression. woe.

The facts are that I am healthy. I have a home. I have friends. I have family. I have a great job...several, in fact. I have resources.

But these things fall away when your brain isn't ok. And it's not as if I won't survive. I am resilient and like I said, I have resources.

But the only things I think are moment-to-moment survival. I'm trying not to complain because so many others have it so much worse, which is why I won't promote this particular blog.

There's been a death in my best friend's immediate family. I don't even have the words for how she must be feeling right now. I keep trying to offer paltry advice on what I know of PTSD but all I have to compare her experiences to is the stupid tornado.

And THAT is something I really really wish with all of my heart that I could forget. I'm tired of being a wreck every time the wind blows. I'm tired of the anxiety that descended upon my brain in 2011 that hasn't let go. I've had more of it in the last 4 years than the rest of my life combined.

I went to Florida for the funeral. I left my wallet in Florida. Because I didn't have my ID at the airport I had to undergo a background check, have my bags thoroughly searched, and a thorough pat-down (with gloves and everything). Because of that, I haven't wanted to be touched since then even though the woman was very professional. I dreamed of being molested. I keep feeling my breasts being grabbed at (even though that is NOT what happened at all).

I'm really quite fragile.

I know I need therapy. And probably medication. But instead I curl into a ball. I drink. I cry. I take shallow breaths.

Sometimes this world wreaks death and disaster and trauma and isn't kind at all. It takes good people from us. It takes down our childhood homes. It scatters our sentimental objects. It rapes and it kills and it decimates us.

But there's also a wealth of good people on this earth...people willing to help without being asked. People ready to give you exactly what you need before you even know you need it. There is so much goodness in other beings on this earth. We do what we can to help each other.

I know I will survive this depression like I've survived all others. I've GOT to believe I will eventually ignore a thunderstorm like I used to pre-2011. That stupid word: hope. But it's there and peace will come as it always has. Goodness and calm are more prevalent than malice and upheaval.