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Scream Queen Halloween Countdown #11 : Sharni Vinson in You’re Next

 

 

 

"I had to kill my own brother cos you guys keep getting beat up by some girl"

I was as surprised as you sunshine. Only I was as giddy as a kid on E numbers watching Sharni kick some ass.

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You’re Next was one of those movies that I knew had been made, but seemed to disappear for an age before it’s eventual release. It was a nice surprise when it finally saw the light of day at my local cinema.

Sometimes, just a title can get you excited. You’re Next was one of those titles. It screams 80s Slasher. So when I found out that, yes, not only was it a homage to that beautiful era of film, but it also had Barbara Crampton in, It was safe to say that my brain exploded like a Bruce Campbell boomstick to the throat. 

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It could be argued that You’re Next is a formulaic home invasion movie with nods to the past. Yes, it is.

But if you love the 80’s trash like the makers obviously do, you can be as formulaic as you fucking like. Cos there’s plenty of us out there that will lap this badboy up.

It’s not trash though. Don’t say that. Sharni Vinson is always one step ahead of you.

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I had no idea that they were to take the route they did with Vinson’s character. I knew there would probably be a final girl, but I had no clue that she wouldn’t be the victim that rises up. This girl is nobodies victim.

After it all kicks off and the blood starts wonderfully gushing, seeing Sharni’s Erin just soar into action made me bound forward in my seat. Seeing her completely destroy a man twice her size with a garlic smasher to the back of the head over and over made me fall in love.

From then on, it’s not about how these animal mask nutjobs (they look awesome) will push her to the limit to survive. It’s about whether they can survive HER.

It’s poetry in sweet redemptive fucking motion. AMEN!!!

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I’d never heard of Sharni Vinson before I saw this. IMDB would tell me she was in Home and Away. I asked my sweet, sweet, mother if she remembers her as she loves that show.

She told me she was a lovely girl.

I showed her the head smashing scene.

Mum got distraught.

Asked what the hell is wrong with me.

Sharni does look sweet. She has that pretty charm that could land her a dozen love interest roles. Thank god she chose this one. Cos this is her movie.

Thank you as always for your time xxx

Strong Women Movie Challenge #53 of 200 : Daphne Zuniga in The Initiation

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We’re only halfway through September, but horror fans (myself included) have been celebrating the coming of All Hallows Eve since November 1st of last year.

Some people don’t celebrate it at all which is fine. I was in Berlin last year for it and didn’t even see the slightest inclination of what day it was.

Some people REALLY celebrate it :

In that same visit, there was just one huge dude at 2am prowling the streets of Kurfurstendamm as Jason Voorhees. Live chainsaw, blade, and all.   

Now considering how quiet and well mannered most Germans are to me, this sight was greeted with me letting out a little bit of pee. Once with excitement. And once again because I genuinely was scared out of my wits.

I wanted to high five. I walked the other way. I’m not gonna be another statistic to that Mash-Ett-Ay folks.

*regathers thoughts* 

Anyhoo….on we go with my #12 pick :

 

 

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If you’ve seen The Initiation then you know how much Daphne Zuniga rules in it.

In fact, Miss Zuniga manages to charm me whether she’s owning the show in this underappreciated slasher, or making my heart melt with John Cusack in The Sure Thing.

I love her. I’m biased. She’s #12. So raspberries. ;-)

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This is one of those slasher movies that kind of got lost in the mix amongst a sea of other slasher flicks that would flood the market at this time. Not that I’m complaining about oversaturation.  

From my youth in the 80s right through to today, I’m still finding hidden gems from this time period. I would have ran out a long time ago had it not been for said oversaturation.

Sure there are some real hummers like The Last Slumber Party and Terror At Tenkiller. But for every one of these there’s the likes of The Initiation and The Slumber Party Massacre.

I’d sit through 10 Tenkillers if I knew there was a Slumber Party at the end. 10 Last Slumbers for an Initiation.

Such is the beauty of the Slasher flick.

 

 

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What’s so memorable about The Initiation is that it tells a story well for a movie in this genre.

The first half of the movie is psychological. Focusing on Kelly (Zuniga) and the recurrent nightmares she’s having about a burning man and a little girl. With the aid of a dream analyst, she tries to piece together the symbolism of the objects in her dreams.

It’s quite an interesting plot device to use for half the runtime of a Slasher movie. But it works so damn well when it comes time for the red stuff.

 

 

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Me if I’d have high-fived German Jason 

During this first half, characters are developed into like and hateables, Kelly tries to figure out what these symbols mean, red herrings are thrown around in abundance, and the build-up for the second half of bloodshed in the mall is set. It’s a great overall package.

And the mall half is bloody fantastic. (ahem)

From then on it’s all game and Kellies time to shine.

 

 

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Daphne Zuniga is probably best known for Spaceballs, The Sure Thing, The Fly2, and Melrose Place. I love her in all these things (except Melrose. I’ve never seen it sorry).

In Initiation she plays the nice girl to root for effortlessly. The sympathetic lead with ease. The take-no-shite survivor like it runs through her blood.

I’m always surprised when I go back to her straight roles as she is so convincing and natural in this survivor role. Talent. Pure talent.

 

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A descending list to come to a #1 conclusion sometimes makes me feel like I’m saying #12 actress is better than #13 actress.

But I look at Elaine Wilkes and Daphne Zuniga and could change that order round right now. Hell, I know who my number one is already, but I could easily flip the countdown upside down and would have no problem with Zuniga as #1 and my initial top choice being 13. 

It made me realise that, although my top choice represents everything and all to me in what this genre represents in my mind, Daphne Zuniga is #1 in my brain somewhere. Just like the other 12 ladies I do so adore.

Thank you for your time xxx      

Strong Women Movie Challenge #52 of 200 : Elaine Wilkes in Killer Party

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I decided that, as Halloween is fast approaching, it would be a great time to celebrate my personal favourite Scream Queens. Top 13 countdown style. Beginning now, with the number 1 being revealed around Halloween time. 

When I sent out invitations to join in on Twitter, my rule was that the only rule was Women In Horror. It’s a celebration after all. A reason to celebrate the women that maybe don’t get enough recognition for the part they played in the ever continuing history of Horror and cinema in general.

I decided to stick to Scream Queens so I could narrow the list down a bit to make things easier for myself. But still I would have about 30 ladies when really being hard on myself. Then I started to question "Is she really a Scream Queen?"

With every choice, fun turned into unnecessary frustration.

So my picks are simple but very personal :

My list may contain a lady who has only ever been in one horror movie. It is solely based on my love for an actress and a horror movie she was in. This is not a Best Scream Queen Of All Time list. They’re just women I adore. That ruled in a genre I cherish. 

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Elaine Wilkes is an example of how you present yourself on screen and grab a viewers attention.

I’d never heard of her before I saw Killer Party. And this is the only horror movie she has ever been in.

But I was smiling from ear to ear as I watched her in this. She seemed to be having so much of what most movie makers forget horror can be :

FUN!!! 

One movie. One lifelong fan.

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What makes Elaine Wilkes even more memorable is that Killer Party is not what you would probably regard as a slasher movie classic.

There’s no real atmosphere. The kills don’t happen until about the last 15 minutes. And they’re all off-screen. For a gore-hound this is not acceptable.

Yet I still adore this flick.

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It’s the aforementioned fun that puts it amongst the greats for me.

I’m not saying it’s a titan like Halloween (my favourite horror movie). I’m not even saying it can begin to cast a shadow to Psycho.

But you say "Slasher" or "Scream Queen" and I think of this movie and Elaine Wilkes in amongst the classical rest.

When I want to smile for an hour and a half, I don’t watch Meyers or Bates. I choose Wilkes. 

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For what it lacks in gore and suspense, it makes up for in camp excess. The sorority shenanigans are awesome. The scuba diver slasher ridiculously fun. The demonic possession just the icing on the cake that’s missing it’s red filling, yet it still tastes delightful. 

This is why Elaine stands out amongst all the carnage. The movie is played out for silly kicks. And Wilkes is right at home heading the fun with a smile that just radiates warmth. A rarity in a genre such as this.

 

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We all need friends like this woman. 

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This lady? Not so much.

When viewing Killer Party, I see it as I see the original April Fools Day.

I get why genre fans don’t like the two. I would agree even if I don’t feel the same. Slasher movies are about the setup for the promised payoff of gushings of arterial spray as much as they are the badass killer.

Killer Party has a scuba dude. Badass it is not.

April Fools day doesn’t even have a killer.

And there’s not a drop of the red stuff to be found in either film really.

But I still feel it belongs. Because we all need a bit of daft in our lives. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously in the medium and winding up like a dick in a cravate.

I would kill for a movie like Halloween or Psycho to explode onto the scene today. An atmospheric slow-burning masterpiece to get under your skin and stay there forever. Nothing would make me happier.  

But I can’t deny I’d feel just as happy with a movie like this coming out today either. A fast paced slice of silliness to get under my skin and stay there forever. Tickling my insides while I giggle into my hand like a mischievous imp.   

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So Elaine Wilkes has only been in one horror movie. You could argue that this instantly doesn’t make her a Scream Queen as dues may not have been paid according to the law.

I agree completely that Scream Queen gets bandied about too much and it should be an honour bestowed on to you by others.

But Elaine Wilkes makes me so frackin’ happy when I watch her in this. This movie makes me so happy. And that’s what movies should do.

So she may not be a "TRUE" Scream Queen to many. But I sometimes judge this title on how much the actress makes me feel or how much she stays with me. And the happiness she brings me that will forever remain makes her a Scream Queen to me. Rules or no rules. 

Thank you for your time xxx  

Strong Women Movie Challenge #51 of 200 : Claudia Jennings in Unholy Rollers

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This 70’s exploitation fare aint your feel-good, Whip It type Roller Derby movie.

It’s also far from the modern day, non-choreographed kickass Derby you may or may not watch today.

In fact it’s not even your mommas Roller Derby the timeframe would line up to. 

It’s the Claudia Jennings Show baby. Your lead Jammer. The star on the helmet that now protects our world from above. 

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Unholy Rollers was another of Roger Corman’s exploitation quickies used to quickly cash in on a trend of the time. The trend this time, obviously, being Roller Derby.

It’s extremely low-brow. Choppy as all hell with it’s editing. Soundtrack-less due to ineptness. It shouldn’t work. Yet it still does. Big time.

Lack of budget can breed creativity. And some people can shine through any wreckage and piece the mess together by just being, well, Claudia Jennings.

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It may sound like I’m bagging on this movie but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s absolutely awesome. 

It’s brilliant DESPITE it’s inadequacies. If you’re a b-movie or exploitation fan then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll take a full franchise of inadequacy over another frackin’ Transformers movie.

The action is sweet in this too. It’s a shining credit to it that whether the movie is on or off the banked track, it never let’s up with it’s need to entertain. Rollers just flies by (ahem).

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And as I said above, this is the Claudia Jennings Show.

She’s not your team-playing, loveable, heart of gold you would normally root for. In fact she’s extremely unlikeable. She’s a piece of….no sorry I can’t do it.

She’s a FUCK THIS, FUCK THAT, BEER-SWILLIN’, BANKED-TRACK-PARKING-LOT-BAR-ROOM-BRAWLING, 8-WHEEL BADASS!!!

Can I get a wrist-guard donning high five.

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Jennings has proven with this performance that you can take the qualities of an antagonist and turn that character into a completely mental anti-heroine you just can’t, no matter how hard you try, fail to love.

Her life in Unholy Rollers is a ticking time bomb. You know it’s going to unravel. And that’s what sets it apart from other sports movies. 

This isn’t a journey to stardom for a plucky hero culminating in a championship at the end. It’s actually the other way around. From ego superstar, to megalomaniac, to crashing in flames. It’s a sport movie on the surface yes. But it’s also a Rock n Roll downfall. All set in the world I love.

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The era of Derby that was famous around this time was one filled with choreographed violence and fixed results. All designed to entertain. WWE style.

The modern day version is a complete world away from this thankfully. And it’s all the better for it. But I still look back on your mommas era with a cheeky smile.       

It is, after all, what drives the action in this flick. Learning how to hit. Learning to sell a hit. Where on the track to hit so the entire crowd can see. I may not have been alive during all this. But I’m still watching that idea today whenever I watch rasslin’. 

Hell. Even the managers get involved in Rollers. Taking out a star player to get the highest of heat from the crowd trying to get at him from the sidelines. It’s bloody marvellous.  

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I adore Claudia Jennings. Not only does she drive and make this movie, she owns the track too. Speeding round the oval and taking names like a pro.

Her loud, feisty persona making her to be one of the greatest and most memorable anti-heroines. The proof of this ladies talents can be justified in another role she ruled in.

The Great Texas Dynamite Chase :

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Starting off as the complete opposite to her role in Unholy Rollers, Jennings grows throughout into another badass persona. These are two of my favourite exploitation movies and I can put that down to one ladies out and out brilliance. I can only imagine now what kind of superstar this woman may have become. 

Because Claudia Jennings was a woman not allowed to have a resume large enough to justify her talent.

Taken away from us in ‘79 to be lead jammer up in the Gods. The star on the helmet that now protects our world. 

And up there……..nobody can tell Claudia Jennings to call it off.

Thank you for your time xxx  

Strong Women Movie Challenge #50 of 200 : The Ladies of Whip It

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This movie blows my mind.

Roller Derby is by far my favourite sport.

Beautifully Directed by a woman (Smashley Simpson).

Featuring my favourite stunt extraordinaire in Bloody Holly.

One of the bestest comedic actresses in Maggie Mayhem.

The completely unhateable, even when hateable, rock goddess that is Iron Maven.

And starring an irreplaceable starlet in Babe Ruthless. 

Biased? You bet your stinky elbow pads I am.

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This All-Star fusion doesn’t just throw in the names for the sake of covering some inadequacies with the rest of the movie.

There’s a true heart around the blood and guts of the banked track portrayed in this movie. This movie isn’t just women kicking some ass and taking some kickass names.

My heart would sing, float, break, and beat like a mother effer for it’s entire duration. I simultaneously and unashamedly cry with joy, love and heartache for every single second of Babe Ruthless’s journey.

Then of course there’s the kicking some ass and the taking of kickass names. It’s a clash of emotions that works so well because the real life stars of the flat track sacrifice many things in life to pursue this greatest of loves.

And these often untold sacrifices are placed front and centre of this movie. As they should be if this sport is to be represented fully.

 

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Directed by Smashley Simpson from a novel by Shauna Cross that I now simply have to read, this A-list darling has featured in, and created, maybe the most personal thing she’ll ever do.

An 8 wheel personal announcement to all aspiring women that you are never, and will never be second best. You can reach that seemingly unobtainable gold. The glass ceiling only exists as a false projection from another mind to your own. 

The story tells this message enough. But to look at the woman behind (and in front of) the camera’s career, Smashley Simpson is a lifelong proof of this theory.

There was never even the slightest doubt about the talent of Smashley before Whip It. This tale just cements her legacy for life.

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What is most wonderful about Smashley Simpson’s part in front of the camera is that it never takes the spotlight from Babe Ruthless’s tale.

Not that she is mere background fodder. The short fused, aggressive member of the Hurl Scouts is mindblowing in her role. You don’t know what she’s going to do next. You just know it’s not going to be elegant.

The fact that this lovingly memorable character is very much a part of the Hurl Scout family whilst never taking the spotlight is a testament to the sheer class of Smashley Simpson. What a lady.

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Nobody needs to tell anyone about the ridiculous talent of Babe Ruthless. She proved with her alter ego Ellen Page that she could carry a movie with Juno. And considering the phenomenally strong lady supporting cast in Whip It, she only carries on that rightful perception.

There isn’t an actress in the support that I don’t adore for one reason for another. So the fact that Babe Ruthless’s tale hit me so damn hard is an absolute credit to her.

Her life kind of mirrors the struggle many real life Derby girls go through. A sport that pays very little, if at all. These amazing women sacrifice so much financially, physically, and at home to pursue their dream of the kind of family, sportswomanship and comradery that only Derby can offer.   

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And boy can Ruthless go on that track. Nippy, effortlessly weaving, and just a downright pocket rocket. Her preparation and work she must have put into this role is outstanding. I never doubted she wasn’t a real derby girl for a second.  

Some critics of this movie have complained that these women (Babe in particular) don’t look like real Derby girls. I officially call bullshit. I try and steer clear of negativity in this blog as I treat it as an outright celebration. But again. I call bullshit.

The argument is that the girls aren’t the size of the larger ladies of Derby reality.

Well I’ve seen tiny blockers hold their own against jammers twice their “size”. I’ve also seen “larger” jammers match speed with girls half their “size”.

Size is not an issue in Roller Derby. It’s a word that doesn’t exist in this sport. It’s an ugly presumption in a word that girls can’t do a certain thing. And for a third and final time, I call bullshit.

So it’s no surprise that Babe Ruthless is utterly convincing. If you want something and are willing to put in the graft, you’ll get it.

Boy did Babe Ruthless graft for this role. Boy did she get it. 

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Maggie Mayhem (above right), and her alter ego Kristen Wiig, can go with anyone on the comedic front. She’s no different in her delivery here either.

But what I love in this is her home life. Not being able to sacrifice herself fully to the afterparty life and fun that goes with the aftermath of a bout because she has a son.  Mayhem is a continuation of the real life juggling of a Roller Girls life.

 

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Her love for her family of Hurl Scouts is never in doubt. Neither is the love for her son. It’s one of the most beautifully touching side stories of the movie and Maggie Mayhem proves she’s not just another comedy-only actress.

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I don’t need to go into detail about Bloody Holly. I have and will again touch on her brilliance in greater detail elsewhere.

But she really brings her A-game to the physicality of the role just like she does as Zoe Bell in everything she does.

It’s also worth noting that she looks the most awesome on 8 wheels. The word Skills doesn’t do it justice. 

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WOW!!! I refuse to ever dislike Iron Maven in any form. The woman is in the thesaurus as an alternative word for Badass.

I despise her in this though. Go Maven for switching the cogs in my brain.

There is a glint at the end of her nicer side. But the way she owns her part in the grander scheme makes me really want the Scouts to kick her ass.

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Iron Maven plays for Texas family The Holy Rollers. A real life squad I adore and always keep track of.

I hate the Holy Rollers in this. Hate Iron Maven. It’s the best compliment I could pay to an actress that she played a part so well, that I hated the unhateable.  Disliked the team I love. What a woman.

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It would take me another write-up of similar length to praise the rest of the amazing cast justifiably.

Babe’s parents. Wonderful. 

Her best friend. Wouldn’t change a thing. 

Ruthless’s boss. Subtly perfect. 

Her boyfriend. Bleurgh. Loved it. 

Coach Razor. Underappreciated, delightfully played, master tactician. One of my favourites.  

Each individual is a rightful part of the weaving mesh that makes up this perfect story.

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I am not affiliated with any Roller Derby team. I can’t skate for toffee. I have no right to cover a sport I have no hands on experience with.

But I can tell you how it makes an outsider looking in feel.

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Coming from England, our main sport is men’s football (soccer). Since I was a child I had idolised the “beautiful game”. Even owning season tickets for my local crappy team.

Then money took over and the sport I had always loved had alienated a fan that isn’t driven one iota by the papery stuff.

As I gave up on football for good, a sporting void appeared. But I was ok with that.

Then came Roller Derby and I was like :

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This sport didn’t grow on me over time. My brain exploded in seconds. Within a few days I had picked my team and was rewatching every bout I could with any teams involved.

To me this isn’t just a contact sport where women get to show they kick ass. It’s a massive, worldwide, welcoming, family.

They may not be your global, rich superstars like these overpaid divas in football. But they’re MY superstars.

Nobody inspires me more than these ladies of the flat track. Smashley Simpson had a vision with Whip It. That you are never, and will never be second best. You can reach that seemingly unobtainable gold. The glass ceiling only exists as a false projection from another mind to your own.   

She may have cemented that vision with this movie. But the real life ladies of Roller Derby were showing me that from my first taste of Derby.

Thank you for your time xxx    

Strong Women Movie Challenge #49 of 200 : Pam Grier & Margaret Markov in The Arena

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Ahhhhh. Who doesn’t love a good swords and sandals movie. Well, me actually. But I’d enjoy watching Pam Grier tidy up her ‘fro for 90 minutes if it were a film. The woman rules the roost. So I was going to enjoy this too.

Throw in the awesome Margaret Markov and my wallet is open. Take whatever. They’re worth it.

 

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IMDb : "Follow the adventures of a bevy of slave girls who, upon finding themselves thrust into the gladiator ring, mount a vicious rebellion to fight their way to freedom."

This, as you can tell, is exploitation fare. Part of Roger Corman’s stable that you either love or hate. I’m personally on the side of the former. I don’t love everything he puts out, but a lot of the movies I buy just happen to be Corman affiliated. Sometimes without me knowing. The Arena is one of those movies.

Starting off with the leaders of two separate tribes (Grier & Markov) being kidnapped by the Roman’s, they are forced into slavery to cook and clean for the rich audience that come to see the male (also slave) gladiators.

Bloodthirsty Roman’s are bored of the men and want to see something new. So the idea of women in battle is born.

The rebellion would follow.

And as you can imagine, a Markov/Grier rebellion is a rebellion we can all get on board with. Cos it’s awesome and stuff.

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The Roman baddies in The Arena are quite the despicable, bloodthirsty, lusty, pieces of work. So it’s a joy to watch the ladies tear them a new one when given a chance.

The action in the gladiator pen is great too. And is a wonderful location for the final rebellion when our team of pissed off heroines take over.

This movie is filled with memorable characters to love and loathe in equal measure which leads me to have to give a shout out to whoever the actress is that plays the drunk. She just keeps popping up in random places. Off her koo-koo on Roman wine. And I love her so much.   

And then there’s the costumes. C’est Magnifique.

I’d love to dress up as Pam or Margaret for Halloween but would tire quickly of answering the question : "who are you supposed to be?" 

 

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sooooooooo awesome and stuff.

 

This may not be your big budget period piece akin to Gladiator. But sod your big budget period piece akin to Gladiator. 

I don’t need gloss. I need me some amazon women.

Budget is a luxury. Not a necessity. 

Icon’s aren’t forced. They’re Pam Grier & Margaret Markov.

Kicking ass in any period of time.  

 

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This movie was one of those purchases that I make when an actress comes into my life (after seeing Coffy) that changes that top ten list in my mind that is 'Most Amazing Women Everererer' 

Hurriedly searching what they’ve been in. Frantically buying them all like it’s a meal someone is going to take away from me if I don’t digest it all as soon as possible.   

Pam Grier is that meal. And I’ve gleefully dined on her brilliance ever since.

I get engaged by many ladies and gentlemen of the screen. But Pam just rules my world. Obviously the lady is attractive. Just look above. That’s crash your car beauty right there.

But as I always say, talent comes first ALWAYS. And Pam is THE talent.

 

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I’ve spoke countless times about my adoration and will no doubt some more in the future.

I feel eternally grateful for Pam choosing to take up the profession she did. She represents, and has given me and millions of others so much. She isn’t just a lady kicking ass. She’s OUR lady kicking ass. 

I have a religion in this little world/bubble of mine : 

Tura Satana is Goddess of said religion. Saviour amongst it’s people is Zoe Bell. Residing Queen is the lady above. Queen Grier. Lover of the people. Adored back by all. HURRAH!!! 

 

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That’s not to take away from the fact that The Arena is a team-up movie. And Markov more than holds her own just fine thank you. As she did in their previous meeting.

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Two movies with Markov and Grier teaming up? There IS a Goddess. (It’s Tura. I wrote that earlier silly).

These gals were rockin’ it dynamic duo stylee 12 months previous in a movie called Black Mama, White Mama.

Similar type of setup where they must escape the evil bastards and take revenge, Markov is the leader of a rebellion against all that is unjust. In this movie, Pam plays a regular Josephine. Albeit a no-shit-taking regular Josephine.

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There’s just something about these two titans teaming up that makes these two films work. It’s awful to watch them bicker when they long for the same goal. So when they do take charge as a team, it’s exhilarating.

You can tell they got along immensely just by looking at the screen. Yes, these are exploitation flicks. But there’s a playful side to the scenes they share that can’t be faked.  

Markov is a talent that should never be forgotten. She should have gone on to become a star like Pam did. But I’m ok with what I have I suppose.

Cos this team is badass.

Thank you for your time xxx     

Strong Women Movie Challenge #48 of 200 : The Ladies Of How To Marry A Millionaire

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These three ladies are an absolute work of art. Like a live action painting. 

A trio of sunrises that were put on to this world to make us happy whenever we take the time to stop and take them in.

And I’m not just talking about exterior beauty here. These girls had the talent of Goddesses. Commanding your attention with their chops, delivery, and just sheer presence.    

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Notable for many facts, Millionaire is probably most known for two in particular.

It was the first movie to use the CinemaScope technology. And it was also a passing of the torch from Betty Grable to Marilyn Monroe. 

Those facts alone should make this work of art a must-see. Cinemascope shaped how we see the silver screen today. And you don’t need me to tell you what a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon Monroe is.

But what makes it what it is isn’t just new technology or the passing of torches. It’s the three angels at the top of their game and bringing the clinic we call acting. 

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Ladies aside, another thing that keeps me coming back to this movie time and again is the pacing and lovely plot turns.

Not once does Millionaire plod along or lag in pace. It helps that the casting choice was perfect of course. But not a second is wasted on menial tasks like getting from one scene to the next. It’s explained. Then it happens.

Every scene is like SNAP SNAP SNAP!!! Taking it’s time on the important. Sacking the mundane. It’s a movie to relax to and cherish that is also over before you know it.

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The use of Cinemascope really benefits the leads too. Every time Bacall, Grable, or Monroe are in a scene, the set is ridiculously wide. Showing more in the shot than probably needed.

But in this case it’s a perfect thing. Because when any or all of these ladies are in this space, they command the room through sheer talent as if to say :

"All this. This entire vast space of scene. Is mine."

It’s bloody wonderful.

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The passing of Lauren Bacall was deeply saddening. And what prompted this celebration of these women.

Lauren was like no other. I remember seeing her for the first time in Key Largo on a rainy afternoon all warm and cosy by the fire. I fell in love immediately.

A talent so measured and precise, it’s not hard for me to see why, out of the three talents on show in Millionaire, she is the lead.

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Taking charge of the trio to bag themselves a rich husband, there’s a beautiful depth to her character.

Whilst Marilyn and Betty are along for the ride, you can see clearly that they just want to love and be loved. Money is just a bonus in life to them.

This makes Bacall’s character seem like the cold assassin in comparison. Underlying all this however is her tale of an ex-husband who did her wrong and took all that she had. Including her heart. Especially her heart.

This damaged leader wasn’t going to give herself up to anyone but a Mr Rich. Or so she’d have you believe.

Lauren plays the initial cold, agenda-filled woman like she does everything she did : masterfully.

I don’t like her character for a while in this movie and I adore Lauren Bacall. Testament to how perfect she was at her craft. It also makes her development throughout the movie that much more satisfying when she unravels her true feelings.

I love you Lauren Bacall xxx

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Betty Grable. 

 “The Pin-Up Girl.”

“The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs.” 

“The Queen of Technicolor.”

To me she’s just "Miss Freakin’ Awesome."

It’s impossible for me to yadda on about these women without repeating myself. Each one is as talented as the last and it’s what makes this movie the timeless juggernaut it has become.

There is a reason that Betty was the “Face of 20th Century Fox” when she was. She had a talent that transcended Hollywood’s obsession with beauty. And you only have to look at the picture above to see how beautiful this woman is. Talent personified.

Her tale is probably the sweetest of the three in their quest for gold. Set in the snowy peaks of Maine with a wonderful young Ranger. It’s so ruddy romantic I tells ya.

And Betty plays the sweet lady like she did everything : masterfully. 

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Whilst researching the passing of the torch yesterday, I was filled with an initial dread. Marilyn being the new "Face of 20th Century Fox" caused many publications to speculate that Betty and Marilyn would be at each others throats on set. My stomach sank as I just had to know the truth.

Not because I relish dirt. Completely the opposite. Nothing saddens me more.

I looked for the truth and there it was. Whilst on set at the beginning of filming, Betty would take Marilyn to one side and tell her :

"Go and get yours honey. I’ve had mine." 

See. Miss Freakin’ Awesome.

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To me, Marilyn Monroe isn’t just worthy of her eternal crown as Queen. She’s actually underrated.

As the torch was passed to this absolute idol, I feel like one thing was cemented in this film that doesn’t get touched upon enough : she’s a comedic genius.

Not only does she know how to deliver a line to get the laugh required. She tweaks it to perfection to get that little bit more. And Millionaire cements this ladies place among comedies greats.

Playing the role of a near-blind beauty who won’t wear glasses around men conjures up this movies most memorable scenes. Her constant, glassy vacancy in her eyes is simultaneously adorable and funny as hell.

DISK-BAFON    Gente… Tudo bem que vocês querem soar entendidos e ~experientes~ mas pra isso, um pouco de embasamento é mais que necessário né?? Não foi uma drag que perdeu o dedo no lendário Massivo (que aposto que nenhum de vocês ai deve ter frequentado - por falta de idade ou por falta de conhecimento mesmo); quem se acidentou lá, durante um show, foi a maravilhosa Juliana Di Primo, transex linda e talentosa. Browse her… Beijos!    Ahahahaha… ai, gente. Amamos vocês, de verdade. Quando vocês projetam essas frustrações na gente, então… nem se fala. Obrigado pelas informações extras, amor! A verdade é que quando chegamos na noitch, a lenda já existia. Mas é sempre ótimo poder contar com pessoas mais experientes e muito, muito, muito, muito, muito, muito, muito, muito mais velhas que a gente e que possam nos transmitir alguma sabedoria. Já corrigimos o texto. Nestes tempos de Carmen Carrera e tals, sempre bom poupar más interpretações. Obrigado pela aula de história, mona! Sempre que puder compartilhar seu conhecimento paleontológico, não hesite em nos escrever! Revivalismo tá super in, né?    *      não falaram nada sobre o PopPorn? vocês já foram mais espertinhos.    PopPorn? Aquele festival na TRACKERS? Pois é, vocês também já foram bem mais espertinhos.    *      Ninguém tem nada contra a Léo Áquila, desde que surgiu aquela tal de Tchaka Drag, chata pra porra! Morra, Tchaka Drag!!!!      Affe… Chega!!! Vão beber, vão amar, por favor. Vocês tão precisando. Tchaka, a gente aqui não compartilha deste sentimento! A gente te ama! <3 

When she attempts to interact with potential husbands you can see that not a single face movement or look is wasted. Each measured movement is as funny as the next and I’m not ashamed to say that it takes me up to 2 hours to watch this 90 minute movie because I’m constantly rewinding her scenes as every subtle movement she makes is such a hoot.

 

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It would take me a lifetime to try and justify why she’s not just the Queen, but underrated. There simply aren’t enough words in the English language. She’s just that damn good.

In a world where everyone is the "next big thing" or the next "this actress” or "that actress", there simply is, and will never be, another Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn was no "next (insert any actress that ever came before)" and nobody will ever be the next Marilyn Monroe. It’s not necessarily a sad fate. It’s a reason why she should be cherished until the end of time.

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Heaven now has all these ladies to entertain them. Somewhere, up there in the ether, are some lucky people in the afterlife that are discovering what we knew all along :

These ladies are absolute perfection.

Thank you for your time xxx

 

Strong Women Movie Challenge #47 of 200 : Lori Cardille in Day of the Dead (1985)

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Lori Cardille had one of the toughest jobs in being the lead for the third of a trilogy. A zombie trilogy at that. I may adore the genre but I can clearly see it’s not one that’s lauded over by critics.

Luckily for Lori and everyone involved, they were about to become a part of the greatest zombie movie ever made. 

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Many other trilogies have shown that, you can deliver in the first, then go bigger in the second and get results. But where do you go with the third? Bigger isn’t always better and it’s why many have flopped.

Day of the Dead goes the opposite route. Stripping itself down from the previous (and awesome) OTT mall carnage of Dawn of the Dead and going underground for its duration with story as it’s main drive. And the story is magnifique.

Dripping with atmosphere. Laden with fear within the dark corridors of the underground mine. Every character remembered for life. Not one speaking part underdeveloped.

This latter is what is missing from most zombie movies and it’s just one of many reasons DotD has been standing on it’s own since 1985.

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I’d seen Night and Dawn. Loved them a lot. It wasn’t until Day that I became a bonafide George A. Romero swooner. The man was always a decade ahead of everyone else.

Take Night of the Living Dead from 1968. Casting Duane Jones as the black lead at a time when there wasn’t really any black leads. Still, to this day, we touch upon that masterpiece as a shot at the horrific racial tension at the time. George’s theory : "I just cast him cos he was the best at acting out of all my friends"

If only people would have seen colour in the same way George does. ie he doesn’t.

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Jumping back to Day. It wasn’t, even at the time, strange to feature a female lead in a horror movie.  But still to this day, there aren’t many that were birthed to stand ground from inception.

I love me a final girl, but most play the victim who rises up. As Sarah, Lori Cardille brings the fight from the opening scene.

What I feel is still ahead of it’s time today is the fact that George writes (and Lori plays) Sarah like she doesn’t need a fist or a boot to show the viewer she can handle this shit-storm. You just know. Not once does she punch a dude. Not once does she go off into a crazy fight sequence and take out a 10-zombie-circle with a jumping spin-kick. It’s all about the presence. And, horn-dog soldiers aside, nobody else in the film questions it either. Jolly good show.  

It shouldn’t still be ahead of it’s time. But I don’t need to tell you about how unlazy and genius Hollywood is at writing a strong female lead. Pft.

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I could go on for days about how perfectly this whole operation called Day of the Dead was put together.

The evil soldier Rhodes and his equally repulsive muscle named Steel. Horrid human beings that I wouldn’t change a dot about.

The amazing Bub (above). The most likeable zombie ever that manages to be loveable without tarnishing any grit of the story.

The chilled out duo that are living in relative paradise away from the others.

The crazy scientist. The broken husband. The make-up. The setting. Everything comes together so beautifully in the end. 

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Sarah is a very personal character for me. I have talked on many occasions how Tarantino’s Death Proof awoke the fire inside me I never knew was there for strong women in film. That passion is now my favourite thing in life.

I’ve since gone back through my 32 years on this earth to movies I watched and adored as a child up until Death Proof in 2007.

As a kid I, like many, idolised Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. My favourite part has always, and will always be, Geena Davis.

As an adult, I would watch the Three Colours Trilogy and it would move aside Back to the Future as my favourite trilogy. Three women. Three different tales.

Between this timeline is Day of the Dead (I saw it after Beetlejuice). This movie has stayed with me for most of my life as my favourite zombie movie whilst other genre favourites have been breezed aside time and again by something else.

It wasn’t until Death Proof made my brain explode that everything started to make sense as I ventured back. This love was there all along.

Geena Davis wasn’t just a crush. She rules the screen in everything she does. 

Three Colours wasn’t me maturing with movie taste. Those women brought sweat and tears to every second of their screentime.

Day of the Dead was my first glimpse as a child to what a strong female lead looks like. Day wasn’t JUST the greatest zombie story ever told. It also had a strong woman to help tell it.

Thank you for your time xxx

Strong Women Movie Challenge #46 of 200 : The Women of Switchblade Sisters

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To some, exploitation cinema is trash. Badly made, thrown together, piles of garbage out for a quick buck that sometimes oversteps the mark called bad taste.

To others they’re a veritable goldmine that involves first swimming through piles of garbage to find a gem that transcends the genre.

It’s all a matter of opinion. Mine being that Switchblade Sisters is that transcendent.  

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It doesn’t take much to get me excited when it comes to girls kicking ass on screen. As long as they’re doing it, I’m easy money. And Jack Hill gave me a whole gangs worth to get behind.

The Dagger Debs as they are known, are all going steady with the guys who run the town, The Silver Daggers. The Silver Daggers are the power and see The Debs as accessories at best. Using them as props.  Gaining money from prostituting one and just generally treating them like dirt.

This isn’t the Silver Daggers story though. This is the rise, fall, and final rise of The Dagger Debs baby. And rooting for them is a joy.

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Lace (bottom, middle) is the leader of the Debs. Played by Robbie Lee, this lady is a phenomenon. Robbie Lee has a real “nice girl” look about her. The fact that she pulls off the brutal, take no shit, badass leader so effortlessly is a proof of how much this lady can run.

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(I want this photo framed)

Lace is an awesome leader. Though her power-hunger and jealousy would inevitably be her downfall. I love how far Robbie takes the character too. She’s intense enough when she’s on top. But she just goes wayyyyyy off the chart when her place at the top of the Debs is in jeopardy.

Having a rotten-to-the-core boyfriend Dominic, who is also the leader of the Silver Daggers, Lace and her girls are always second in command while she continues to take shit from her “love”

Maggie has other ideas.

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Maggie joins the Debs after refusing to take any shit from THEM, the authorities, and, well, just about anyone. Maggie was always going to be the eventual leader.

Caught in a triangle with Lace and Dominic after Dom has his cake and eats it (bleurgh), his rotten ways start the ball rolling on Lace’s jealousy and inevitable downfall. Maggie doesn’t so much rob her place at the top of the Debs. She does what should have been done from the beginning. And that’s to dethrone the Silver Daggers and show that the power lies with the girls.

This internal conflict is going on while they’re all at war with the Crabs Gang. It’s marvellous stuff.

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Joanne Nail is remarkable. Taking Maggie to the top with a performance so full of guts and fury that it’s one of those iconic characters that stays with you forever. Joanne is my kind of actress.

There comes a turning point in this movie that gets me so excited and gleeful that it never gets any less reaction from me no matter how many times I see it.

Maggie gets tired of being the Silver Daggers bitches. Tired of what the name Dagger Debs stands for in this sense. Renaming the girls The Jezebels (evil and scheming), she takes the girls to new heights.

Removing the Silver boys from the picture altogether, she sets out for war with the Crabs Gang armed with her contacts in the underground and The Jezebels. It’s Boys v’s Girls. It’s The Jezebels time to shine. It’s fucking amazing.

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Under the surface of all this fighting and betrayal is Patch (Monica Gayle).

Always in Lace’s ear with paranoia and lies, her quest for her best friend/obsession to remain on top is what is actually tearing the girls apart. As well as Dom and his despicable Dom-ness. (spits)

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I despised Patch on first viewing. Still do. Hats off to Monica Gayle. Because not only does she play it so well that I could feel such a disliking for her. But she is so effing cool and comfortable in her role that you  can replace all the negative words above with “adore” and it would adequately convey how far across the spectrum this woman makes me feel. What a star.

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(I love this photo of Jack Hill and the girls)

Rounding off the front and centre of The Jezebels are Donut (Kitty Bruce, left) and Bunny (Janice Karman, far right).  

Both bring a brilliant game, and I adore each of them as much as the others I’ve mentioned. Both are kind of the whipping girls for Lace when she needs to remind people who’s in charge of the Dagger Debs. In contrast, both are accepted and trusted gang members under Maggie and The Jezebels. Love it. 

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Director Jack Hill would launch Pam Grier off into goddess territory with his movies Coffy & Foxy Brown. Mix that together with his kickass girls in Switchblade Sisters and it’s safe to say that the guy likes to write his women strong.

Jackie Brown would get me interested in who this Pam Grier chick is. Jack Hill would cement her as my Queen. It’s safe to say I love the guy. And Switchblade means as much to me as Pam’s two films do.

I don’t know how to praise the guy any higher.


 

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The solidarity of the ending (SPOILER INBOUND) is mind-blowing to me. Throughout the entire reign of the Dagger Debs, every time the police come a-knocking, the Debs claim they know nothing of the gang that the 5-0 speak of. It’s a form of solidarity that always makes me smile, knowing they will be out of jail in a week or so.

When the final scene unfolds and a murder is involved, the Jezebels realise it may not be such an easy ride.

Rather than rat Maggie out to save ass, the girls band together as one and proclaim themselves to all be a part. All of them a gang. The final shot above of a bile-spewing Maggie telling all in hearing range that the girls will be back and to watch out gives me goosebumps. It could be considered a sombre end that the game is up if not the fact that, under Maggie’s leadership, the game is only just beginning.

I fucking love Switchblade Sisters

Thank you for your time xxx    

Strong Women Movie Challenge #45 of 200 : Su-jeong Lim in I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK

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I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK (IACBTOK) is one of those movies that not only moved me, but left me scratching my head at the bonkers-ness.

It’s one of those movies where, you have to ride a lot of crazy shit to get to the heart-melting beauty within. But if you’re like me and you like the crazy shit, then you’re good to go. 

The crazy is every bit as wonderful as the beauty though. And I wouldn’t change a solitary second of it.

 

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Even the basic premise is crackers before you’ve even switched the movie on :

IMDb : A girl who thinks she is a combat cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics. Eventually, she falls for a man who thinks he can steal people’s souls.

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Young-goon (Su-jeong) is said “cyborg” and she refuses to eat just in case the food messes up her circuits and she breaks down.

Relying on personal radio transmissions and licking batteries for energy, her goal is to eliminate all the white un’s (doctors) who took her granny away and put her in a nuthouse. Only problem being, she hasn’t got the energy. And she’s just too damn lovely to fully remove her sympathy that allows her to pursue her goal.

Su-jeong absolutely throws herself into this role. So convincing and comfortable is she in it in fact, that I genuinely wondered on first viewing if she was actually the combat cyborg she believes herself to be.

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When you watch too many movies you can sometimes start to see the actor/actress playing the part. So perfect is Su-jeong in this beauty, that you can never see it. Fully invested. Fully realised. Fully perfected.

I mean, we’re talking about a character that wears her grandmothers dentures to talk to light bulbs. A character that truly believes there are seven deadly sins for robots. A character that licks batteries and thinks she has rocket feet.

It speaks volumes that she can make you believe through all that, and makes practisers of a craft with a resume full of generic rom-com love-interest parts seem quite bland. Awesome lady. 

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Il-sun is the other half of this beautiful tale. Convinced that he will go so unnoticed that he will eventually fade into a dot, he steals other patients personalities just to keep existing.

Ignored and shown no attention by his parents, Il-sun genuinely believes he can become invisible. His somewhat selfish obsession with being noticed is dragging him down until his true calling in life arises : to keep Young-goon from starving to death and to hand himself over to love. Peace and happiness comes from turning selfish to selfless and Il-sun embodies this ideal wonderfully.

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Played by a gentleman named Rain, I was not aware until after watching IACBTO that said gentleman was a ridiculously huge pop star in the east. This was also his first feature length.

Well cover my face in a rabbit mask and call me K-Pop. This guy deserves to be a star even from this movie alone.

He portrays so many different eccentric personalities as he goes through the first half of this movie and plays each one to loving perfection. But it’s during the second half where Rain really shines.

Casting aside selfishness to help our heroine get back on her feet, he starts the metamorphosis from wonderful madcap to a truly adorable love story (that’s also wonderfully madcap). Of course, it takes two to tango. And this tango is gold. 

"Pop star in the movies" could put many off. Rain is above all that shit. 

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Director Chan-wook Park dreamed up the idea for this movie after completing his Vengeance Trilogy. Describing it as something to “give him a rest” after concocting a taxing set of movies. If this is what his idea of a “rest” movie is, then this guy should be the king of Hollywood.

Tarantino describes Death Proof in much the same way. His description was what he would refer to as a “left-handed” movie. Well Death Proof is my favourite movie and IACBTO is in the list somewhere high up too. So sometimes just doing something from the heart can touch an audience no matter how much the maker may play it down. 

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His use of colour and imaginative sets are a joy to behold. Everything from the way Young-goon has her toes light from pinky to big as she charges her batteries.

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To the brightly covered pipes and padded cells. It’s loving tale and bonkers ideas was enough to more than hold my attention. The sets send it skyward.  

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I could go on and on about how much this movie means to me. And I haven’t even touched upon the amazing support cast. But if you’ve seen it, you know how perfect each and every part is. If you haven’t, it’s like a gem that just keeps shining brighter with every turn.

I wish there was a word for me to describe how i feel about this movie that meant more than ADORE!!! 

Thank you for your time xxx  

Strong Women Movie Challenge #44 of 200 : Candace Hilligoss in Carnival Of Souls

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Well paint my eyes black this movie is a masterpiece.

It’s only taken me my 32 years on this earth for this 52 year old movie to enter my existence. Questions like "what the hell have you been doing with your life dumbass? and "you call yourself a movie fan?" are just two of the things my inquisitive brain would ask. 

Better later than never though I guess huh?

 

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I have no idea how this movie popped up onto my radar after all these years. But when it finally did, the selling point was a no-brainer. Because if a blurb tells me that a movie is the main influence behind Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead, it’s safe to say I’m gonna watch the hell out of that shit.

The fact it isn’t anywhere near as well known as the aforementioned made me think it was maybe a weaker movie and hasn’t stood the test of time.

Well Night Of The Living Dead has been one of my favourites since I was a nipper. And Carnival Of Souls is every bit as perfect. The fact I don’t have nostalgia on my side says a lot for how awesome this movie truly is.  

 

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There’s not a single jump scare in this. Not a single drop of blood. It freaks you the proper way.

Haunting organs lacing it’s score. The fact that our protagonist is the church organ player makes it that much more sweeter/eerie. Creating her own soundtrack to the insanity she’s drifting into.

Dark imagery that leaves you feeling ill at ease. Taking on an almost art-film type quality to unsettle even the most die-hard. We’re all a little immune to modern horror movies nowadays. Carnival reminds you why. They’re just not freaking you out right.

Carnival Of Souls takes it’s time and gets under your skin to the point where, I was actually more freaked out as time passed AFTER watching it. Not a great deal of films stay with me like this one has. I’ll cherish it for life for the dark gem it is.

 

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This would be Director Herk Harvey’s only feature length. I wonder what would have become of his career had it been as huge as Night Of The Living Dead. Maybe we would now have a Carnival Trilogy to hold as dearly to our hearts as Romero’s Dead has been to mine since forever.

Editing issues and green cast members can’t stop an idea. And Herk and Co. would rise above it to leave a mark labelled “masterpiece” on this landscape we call cinema. 

Of course, the movie is elevated to even more ridiculous heights thanks to our lead, the great Candace Hilligoss.

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Harvey reportedly never revealed to Candace how she was supposed to feel during scenes. Not only does Candace handle her scenes like a boss anyway, her uneasiness and unsure nature infects out of the screen.

In talentless hands, this genius idea would fall flat on it’s face. But Hilligoss just fucking nails it. Every. Single. Scene.

Like the director, she wouldn’t really go on to have much more of a career herself. But I’m a firm believer that if you can change the landscape of any art-form in one try, you deserve to go down in history as a great. And everything about Hilligoss screams greatness.

Give me a sole masterpiece on a resume over a hundred knocked-out half-arsed movies any day.

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It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a movie that I know I will watch again and again until the day I die. Hilligoss and Harvey have made that movie.

Thank you for your time xxx

Strong Women Movie Challenge #43 of 200 : The Women of All Cheerleaders Die

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All! Cheerleaders! Die! Frackin’! Rules!

I usually try to just concentrate on one actress when doing these mini celebrations of all things woman. But there are 5 ladies in this badboy. And they all rule the school.   

Give me an A! an M! an E and then an N!!!

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I went into this movie blind.

A follow by this movies twitter page got me curious. Which then prompted me to check out the trailer. Well, part of it anyway. Because I was already on the hunt for this movie before the preview had even ended. You just KNOW sometimes don’t you?  

Imdb sets the plot as :  A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.

This is an understatement. You will absolutely despise said captain. And the ‘different battle’ is so wonderfully original I honestly want to stop typing to go and watch this movie again. And I only saw it last night. 

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The one element I adore about this movie (apart from that it kicks ass) is the sense of unity between the girls. They become a strong unit together and you reeeeeally want them to win in this war they’re embroiled in with the (mostly) dickhead boys.

It’s fist-in-the-air kinds of wonderful watching them get stronger as a team. And part of the genius of this flick is how the unity is both figurative and literal.

Because they literally feel each others pain and pleasure. And it makes for some of the biggest belly laughs I’ve had in ages.  

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"Somebody got fucked! Somebody died! And I’m going to P.E.!"

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Caitlin Stasey is kind of the lead in All Cheerleaders Die. The awesome wave that wants to rock the boat and right some wrongs with the men when nobody else will stand up.

Stasey plays it with this "I don’t give a fuck" attitude that makes you easily get behind her and her girls.

To me they’re all the leads. But Stasey gets them to woman the fuck up and take names. Gotta love that attitude.

And she looks cool as you like riding a motorbike :

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An absolute peach in the writing and the way Caitlin plays it is her sexual preference. She’s a lesbian character who’s not a token lesbian character. She’s also a lesbian character that has love scenes that aren’t put in for male titillation.

It’s played as the norm and it makes you kind of think : “SEE!!! IT’S THAT EASY!!!”  

You’re a legend Caitlin Stasey.

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Sianoa Smit-McPhee plays the goth witch that knows something the others don’t. An outcast that becomes part of the cheerleaders dysfunctional family. 

Her power is in her knowing. They all need each other. And they most definitely need Sianoa’s all-knowing witch.

This woman is awesome and she plays a stalker-weirdo-turned-awesome-group member with ease and brilliance.

I haven’t seen any of these women before. But along with Sianoa, I’ll be keeping track of their careers and hoping they get the recognition they deserve.  

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Reanin Johannink, like Amanda Grace Cooper, plays two parts here.

I had a lot of fun with her character because of it, and it must have been a hoot to play bible basher turned, well, not so bible basherererer.

It’s easy for me to love this gang of femme fatales, and Reanin aint nobodies supporting cast. They all have a talent to bring. And Reanin brings it. Love love love.

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Amanda Grace Cooper is Reanin’s sister in this. And also plays two parts.

Her change is a joy to behold as she, like the others, brings her own brand of justice.

Cooper plays the loveable lady brilliantly. So when it’s time to bring the pain, you’re behind her all the way.

I’m glad I can’t single someone out as outstanding here as Cooper and Co are all this and more. I love this team.

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Rounding off the awesome fivesome is Brooke Butler.

Oh my gosh this girl is hilarious. She went from being the character I disliked most (only because she’s an unlikeable so and so to begin with) to one of my favourites in a bat of an eyelid. She’s one of the first you sympathise with. And one you have no end of fun with watching.

There’s some inspired hilarity played by all the girls. And Brooke is just amazing when it’s time to shine. I wouldn’t say she’s the token funny because that would be an insult. She has just as rounded a character as her teammates. And she’s every bit as talented.    

But when I think back on the movie, I’m grinning from ear to ear at some of the shit she gets up to first. I can’t emphasise enough how perfect all these women are in this. And the fact they are a unit pleases me no end.

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I can’t praise this movie any higher. A lot of peeps are proclaiming this as Heathers meets Jennifer’s Body.

I don’t like when people feel the need to join two movies to describe a newer one. Some Heathers fans will only be disappointed because it’s not Heathers 2. Likewise with Jennifer’s Body.

Just say that All Cheerleaders Die fucking rules. Cos that be the truth.

Give me an A! an M! an E and then an N!  

Thank you for your time xxx

Strong Women Movie Challenge #42 of 200 : Amy Steel & Deborah Foreman in April Fools Day

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This was meant to be a celebration of Deborah Foreman and Deborah Foreman alone. I wanted to showcase Amy Steel seperately in Friday the 13th Part 2 at some point. Then I watched this movie again.

And I can’t NOT write about both of these ladies. They rule my world. And having them together in one movie is like an overload of awesome. And the movie is just as great. 

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The only reason I own this movie is because of my insistence on collecting everything 80s slash and trash. However, genre fans can be in agreement that for every classic like Halloween, there were a dozen films like The Last Slumber Party.

I love the hell out of the more serious takes on the genre like The Prowler and The Burning. But it’s safe to say my preferences lie in takes on the slasher formula like The Slumber Party Massacre series and the sequels to Sleepaway Camp and Prom Night. (except 4. 4 doesn’t exist)

Daft and bloody. Ounces of gore with a cheeky wink and a smile. Give me a serious slasher any day. Give me campy schlock all the time.

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I was kind of expecting something in between with this movie. And it nails the balance perfectly.

It throws in all the tomfoolery of assorted April Fools pranks but plays it straight when needed. It’s remarkable really that I regard this movie as one of my favourite slasher flicks, yet it doesn’t really contain any gore.

Granted, it doesn’t contain the gore-less suspense and perfection of the blueprint that is Halloween. But it ticks all the boxes of what I mentioned above for what I adore about the genre.  

I absolutely love April Fools Day.

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Even after seeing this movie many times and knowing what the payoff is, I can still easily reset my brain and take in the whodunit aspect.

It just builds so marvellously. It’s ruddy delicious I tells ye. 

Of course it helps that Amy Steel and Deborah Foreman are on screen together.

I thank the Gods of cinema when they share a scene together. Such is my love for these two ladies talents.

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I regard Deborah Foreman as one of the sweetest ladies to ever grace the screen. 

She has a smile that could heat a planet for aeons. A cheeky persona that makes you want to be her best friend. A loveable demeanor that could make you fall in love at the drop of a hat. (Or head in this case)  

It absolutely amazes me every time that I see this film. I feel this high regard for the talent of this lady. Yet I can’t help but be freaked the fuck out when she goes all crazy-crazy.

When her dress sense goes all Annie Wilkes? And her pale look and distant stares?

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Well colour me creeped. Deborah Foreman is a goddess. 

I was sold on Deborah wayyyyy before April Fools Day. The fact that she can play such a scary looking lady doesn’t surprise me so much. But it doesn’t stop being deliciously creepy no matter how many times I view this wunderbar flick.

If having Amy and Deborah in the same movie wasn’t just a personal present from the celluloid gods, then having TWO Deborah Foremans in the same movie was the kitchen knife that cuts through the cherry and the icing on top of the awesome-cake.

God bless you Deborah Foreman.

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I’ve always had a theory that your favourite Friday the 13th movie has a lot to do with not just the inspired kills, but your favourite lead lady. It’s why I have the utmost amount of love for parts 2 and 6.

Jennifer Cooke rules the roost in Part 6. And Amy Steel is just fucking amazeballs.

Jamie Lee Curtis rightfully became a star after a series of slasher appearances. The fact that Amy isn’t at the exact same level tells me that there is no justice after all.

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Lovers of Friday the 13th Part 2 don’t need telling how epic Amy is in that role. And I love her every bit as much in this.

This movie is cheeky and creepy at the same time. And Amy embraces both sides masterfully. She is able to make you beam from ear to ear at the lighter parts, whilst rooting all out for her when it’s time. And it still holds up when you already know how the movie ends.

There are certain actresses that have a huge presence when on screen. Amy Steel is always that presence. She demands your adoration through her sheer talent alone. The fact that she’s so beautiful only adds to the wonderful beauty within.

I heart Amy Steel.   

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So I may be biased about April Fools Day. This much is obvious. It just has so much about it that makes me so giddy with happiness.

But I’m not biased about Deborah Foreman and Amy Steel. I adore them because they’re just THAT DAMN GOOD!!!

Thank you for your time xxx    

Strong Women Movie Challenge #41 of 200 : Irene Jacob in Three Colours Red

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Sometimes you feel like an actress/actor was born to play a certain role. And this is Irene Jacobs. She doesn’t just own it. She owns your life. As for an hour and 40 minutes, nothing else exists in your own but her.

And she goes hand-in-hand in solidarity with Director Krzysztof Kieslowski. This film is about the French theme of Brotherhood. And it exists in this duo as much as in the fictional story itself.

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You can see from the off that Valentine is one of the good ones. And by this I mean she’s one of those people that just radiate goodness. 

Irene Jacob, like the other ladies from the trilogy, can sweep you away with subtleties in their acting craft that just make you believe in them.

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From the off we’re introduced to her jealous and slightly manipulative boyfriend via a phonecall.

All the while, (and throughout the whole movie) we see the way a handsome strangers life is simultaneously living in close proximity.

Its beautiful to watch Kielowski pan between these two separate but equally endearing personalities. 

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As we find out Valentine is a model, it brings up shot after beautiful shot of Valentines varied emotions.

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As Blue and White did before it, the colour Red surrounds Valentines life. Everything from books and chairs, to cafes, billboards, and cars. It’s a sea of beautiful red and the cinematography is second to none.

Its worth noting how quiet and elegant the whole thing is too. The movie flows in a sea of whisper and beauty. Kieslowski really puts his arm around you and pleasantly invites you into Valentines good nature.

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So you really feel her pain when she leaves the photoshoot and accidently runs over a dog.

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Watching her concern melts my heart. The way she struggles but refuses to do anything else but help the poor thing is like a mini love story in itself.

I love the little things in movies. The parts that are very human. I’m talking about a part where Valentine, after finding the owners address on the dogs collar, is looking for directions on a map. The dog is licking her free hand and Valentine is simultaneously looking for directions whilst smiling with love at the dog. Its silly I know. But it all helps the love.

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As Valentine meets the owner, I have never felt so conflicted about a character in the first half of a movie before him. First he doesn’t give a damn about his dog. As Valentine says :

"If I ran over your daughter, would you be so indifferent?" Go Val.

Then, after Valentine has paid to get the poor thing fixed up at the vets, he overpays her by more than triple for her trouble.

I’d just begun to warm to the guy then we find out he spies on his neighbours phonecalls via radio signal. Sheeeeesh.

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Valentine : “What were you before? A cop?”

Le juge : “Worse……A judge.”

This revelation sets off one of the greatest scenes. Not just of the film, but of the whole trilogy. It’s so tense and back-and-forth. And actually quite thought provoking.

There’s no question who’s right and wrong. But Le juge points out that, as a judge, he didn’t know what was right or wrong. This way is nothing but truth.

I loved that the variation of phonecalls over the radio sparks the dialogue. And seeing Valentine get more and more intrigued as each call passes through the room is astonishing. 

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The lines become increasingly blurred in three phases.

The first call is a man on the phone to his gay lover with a wife and child downstairs. It’s immoral to encroach on someones life like this.

Secondly there’s the drug dealer. This man deserves to be shopped and its a good job the judge WAS spying.

Then the third is a couple very much in love. It happens to be the man we’ve seen simultaneously living his life around Valentine. Its a beautiful section of the scene hearing such a beautiful union and seeing Valentine trying so hard not to listen. SHE deserves that kind of love.

At this point you’re kind of unsure whether the judge is a snooping old man, or a kind of vigilante. Oh Kieslowski, you make me think like no other. How I love thee. 

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And he makes me ache with love with the next scene. Kieslowski manages to pan between the apartment of Valentine and the home of the stranger in a single, no cut, shot. It’s a joy to behold.

Valentine is taking abuse over the phone from her lover. The stranger is on his phone so very much in love.

I love that we get to see a nice love story with the stranger unfolding at this point. I just wished it was Valentines.

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Kieslowski’s choice of shots are making my head explode at his point. The guy just knows how to shoot beauty with intelligence and grace.

So the above scene nearly had my brains up the wall. Hearing the heartwrenching music Valentine is listening to, then Kieslowski panning across to others getting their kicks with their very different musical choices : it’s just movie perfection. And a perfect example of how to use score for tone perfectly.

I also loved that the stranger bought the last copy of the cd Valentine wanted. Nice touch.

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The final third is absolutely breathtaking.

Back at the judges house, the scene is as captivating as the previous meeting there.

My heart melted when the judge tells Valentine he’s turned himself in to the neighbours and the police. And what he says next is just pure poetry :

"The other day, after you left, you cried.

And I turned off my radio.”

Then the next 10 minutes float through your system as they talk family, loved ones, her planned trip to England, and the judges court cases. Seeing Valentine radiate with happiness couldn’t have come sooner. And boy does Irene Jacobs smile just grab your heart.

I have seen this movie 4 times now. I always hate the judge up until this scene even though I know his story. That’s great writing folks. ;-)

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It seems that when Auguste (the stranger) catches his love in bed with another man, his life and Valentines sort of overlap. The score ebbs and flows and you feel the connection in their lives properly for the first time.

As Valentine would later say :

"I feel that something important is happening around me.

And it scares me.”

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The fashion show near the end just personifies the perfection of this film. Its bathed in a beautiful red and the lengthy dialogue scene between Valentine and the invited judge just caps the movie off.

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The judge explains his life from years ago exactly like the strangers life that we’ve been seeing throughout. He tells of the love that cheated and got away. How he never loved again.

After you’ve seen this film a couple of times, it feels like a tender love story between Auguste and Valentine is unfolding in this scene. And Auguste isn’t even in it. Magical.

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I love that the ferry to England that Valentine is on to get away from everything is also the same that Auguste takes for the same reason.

I also love how it ties all 3 movies together.

The ferry crash aftermath live on tv : 

Out come Julie and Olivier from Blue. Together.

Out come Karol and Dominique from White. Together.

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This film is my favourite of the trilogy.

I’ve watched it in an all-in-one marathon, and ive watched them all separately.

In a marathon, to me, the trilogy feels like a rising emotional journey that ends with a feeling of hope and love. I always walk away happy with the world.

On it’s own it has no less of an impact. I adore the other 2 just as much but whereas Blue and White touched my heart, this touched deep into my soul.

Thank you for taking the time xxx

Strong Women Movie Challenge #40 of 200 : Dominique in Three Colours White (Julie Delpy)

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Dominique may not have a large bulk of screen-time in this movie, but Delpy more than makes up for it with the raw emotion she brings to her complex character. And it’s 2 for 2 for team-ups as Kieslowski and Delpy knock it out of the park. Over the French border. And straight through a Polish jail cell. 

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As the film begins proper with the divorce of Dominique and the central character Karol Karol, we can see straight away where Kieslowski’s theme of Equality is heading.

Karol being a Polish immigrant living in Paris pulls you into his plight straight away. The reasoning for the divorce (breakdown in communication/language barrier), and the court not even giving him a chance because he’s not French, stings to the core.

You feel for Karol straight away as he’s left on the street with nothing. And to see Dominique dismiss the thought of being anywhere near still in love with Karol is heartbreaking. And cold as ice.

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Delpy does so much with this role through seemingly doing very little. It’s the subtleties. Which to me is a lot harder to do than is given credit for. She’s mesmerizing.

So is  Zbigniew Zamachowski for that matter. He truly owns the role of beaten lover Karol and I truly loved and felt for him.

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As homeless Karol breaks into Dominiques hair salon, it kicks off a beautifully prolongued scene between the two central characters. Something Kieslowski is best at.

From homeless Karol breaking in, to the failed sex scene, to Dominique sending Karol on the run by setting fire to her salon as a seeming act of revenge on Karols part. It’s perfection in every way, and also opens us up to Dominique slightly.

She may not be as cold as we originally envisaged. It kills her to have been so in love with a man who cannot communicate properly back :

"If I say I love you, you don’t understand.

If I say I hate you, you still don’t understand.

You don’t understand that I want you, that I need you.”

Kieslowski. Delpy. Zamachowski. Together they have created a beautiful, complicated, and very non-Hollywood beauty. Ahhh, how the heart does sing.

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As if that scene wasn’t genius enough, Karol then meets fellow Polish immigrant, Mikolaj.

The interaction between these two in the underground is perfect. Kieslowski stays with them at length as they engage in seemingly mundane things like card tricks, hair-cutting, and getting back home. And I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

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To hear Karol profess his still-deep love for Dominique is heart-wrenching.

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And Seeing Dominique exiting the church bathed in white light……….wow. I love this movie so.

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As Karol heads back home in a suitcase, it’s wonderful to see the contrast between the whites of Paris, and the whites of Warsaw. The cinematography is second to none.

I adore the prominent colours to each of the 3 Colours movies and how they contrast and work perfectly for each story. 

Karols heartache isn’t helped by the fact that he clings onto a Dominique-a-like statue he stole in Paris. Its his only link (apart from 2 francs) to his ex-lover and it tortures him.

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But what I didn’t notice after the first viewing was the tiny 2-second shots that Kieslowski shows us of Dominique back home. Delpy is only shown for this short period but manages to pack so much anguish and sorrow into such a short space of time. And this is the power of cinema, Delpys perfection at her craft, and Kieslowskis way of just punching you in the gut. Ahhhhhhhh.

I love that the movie went in this direction. It’s all about Karols life at this point. But what is great, and again I missed first time out, was that in many ways, the torture Karol feels about this statue, and the sorrow Dominique is feeling back home, has the same vibe to how Julie is haunted by the score from Blue. Remarkable.

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After all this heartache, it’s awesome to see him pick himself up and take charge of his life. Watching him learn French fluently and swindle his way into becoming a very wealthy man is a punch in the air moment after you’ve fallen so hard with Karol for the last hour.

It’s also interesting to see the contrast between resident in Poland and immigrant in France. In Warsaw he’s a highly respected individual. In France, completely the opposite. As he said in his court case at the beginning :

"Where’s the equality?" 

The money made is just part of an amazing master plan that you cannot possibly have a clue about. That’s what is perfect about this movie. You just never know where it’s heading. Or care. Just as long as it doesn’t end.

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Helping his sad friend die as a thank you for getting him home is the second most poignant scene in the entire movie. I still, 4th watch in, say to myself : “please don’t Karol, please don’t Karol.”

And I still well up every time when he reveals its a blank in the gun after shooting him :

"Now…..do you still want to die?"

"No"

I’m welling up just typing it.

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As Kieslowski reveals that the money from Karols ‘death’ was a ruse to get Dominique to Poland, seeing Karol watch his own funeral really puts a smile on my face.

But I was soon brought back down to earth watching Dominique break down alone by his graveside.

Just like Blue, this film takes it out of you if you allow yourself in.

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From the graveside to the end credits, it’s just scene after scene of perfection. Although you could argue that it’s like that from opening to Fin.

Dominiques face when Karol is waiting in her hotel bed alive gets me every time. The thing that doesn’t get mentioned a lot is that Three Colours White is funny as hell despite what it puts you through.

Then its just beauty after beauty. Hearing Karol speak perfect French. The kiss to win over any romance-a-phobe. And Karol satisfying Dominique like she’s never felt before. Its actually incredibly erotic and so bloody romantic at the same time. Go Karol.

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Again, what I didn’t notice the first time was, when Karol leaves before she wakes, and the police arrest her for her part in Karols ‘death’, Dominique just kind of looks on in resignation and takes the fall for him. Its the ultimate act of true love.

It’s far from conventional cinema, but I’ll take this kind of ride over convention any day of the week. :-) 

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Thus to the end. When Karol is looking up to the jail cell and Dominique is using sign to communicate, I didn’t care what it meant. If it elicited this sort of reaction from our beloved Karol :

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Then I’m down with whatever it was. Sometimes you don’t have to know what something is. It just is.

I did look it up in the end though :

"When I get out of prison

You and me

We’ll leave together

OK?

Or we’ll stay here together and get married again.”

Beautiful isn’t it.

Thanks for taking the time.

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