HORROR BUSINESS Episode 39: Women In Horror Month With Ashlee Blackwell (PARALYSIS, VENEFICA, WAKE)

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Greetings, and welcome back to Horror Business. We have one awesome episode in store for you guys. On this episode we’re celebrating the Women In Horror Month, and we were lucky enough to be joined by Ashlee Blackwell from Graveyard Shift Sisters to discuss the role of black women in horror films. In a bit of a departure from our usual format we’ll be discussing three short films instead of two feature length films: R. Shanea Williams Paralysis, Maria Wilson’s Venefica, and Bree Newsome’s Wake. First and foremost we want to give a shoutout to our sponsors over at Lehigh Valley Apparel Creations, the premiere screen-printing company of the Lehigh Valley. Chris Reject and his merry band of miscreants are ready to work with you to bring to life your vision of a t-shirt for your business, band, project, or whatever else it is you need represented by a shirt, sweater, pin, or coozy. Head on over to www.xlvacx.com to check them out. Thanks! We begin by talking about what we’ve done in horror recently. Ashlee talks about seeing The Ritual and the current season of Syfy’s Channel Zero, as well as the Exorcist TV series. Justin talks about rereading Joe Hill’s horror fantasy comic series Locke & Key. Liam talks about reading Red Dragon. Ashlee begins by talking about why she started Graveyard Shift Sisters. She talks about being a “minority within a minority” and starting the website in order to bring black women in from the outskirts of the horror community and within horror films, and to highlight the role black women often play in horror films. She notes that the underrepresentation of black women in horror films, both starring in and consuming, is something that needs to be addressed. The problem of horror being a culture somewhat resistant to addressing issues of race and misrepresentation/underrepresentation is discussed, as is the concept of the ‘white gaze’ in horror film. There is a brief discussion on Jordan Peele’s work in the film Get Out and how it brought to light subjects some people were uncomfortable with. First up is 2010’s Wake. Ashlee talks about her acquaintance with the film, and how it personifies the idea of a “Southern Gothic horror film.” She talks about the recent phenomenon of black women staying single, or “black women ain’t gonna get married”, and the desirability of black women as a whole. The phenomenon of rootwork is touched upon, and black horror’s highlight of non-Christian religions and folk magic is discussed. Ashlee argues that the three bystanding women in the film represent society as a whole telling black women they aren’t good enough for a man. Some of the technical aspects of the film are discussed, as are some of the tragic aspects of the film. The idea of gaining power in a world in which you have none is discussed. The concept of short films being great because of their length is briefly touched upon. Up next is R. Shanea Williams’ 2015’s Paralysis. Ashlee talks about her background with the filmmaker and about being a fan of her other works. She talks about Williams’ ability to craft well defined characters, as well as her ability to craft mood and tone. The difference between the feeling of “horror” and “terror” is discussed. Justin talks the recent upswing in interest in the concept of sleep paralysis, and how the film deals with the idea of questioning ones own sanity. The idea of which is scarier (external forces acting upon you, or your own mind creating something) is examined. The idea of the unknown, and the uncertainty around it, being truly scary is touched upon. The lack of access to mental health care black women suffer from is discussed. Ashlee discusses seeing the film with an all black audience and how that lent to the experience. Finally we have 2016’s Venefica. We talk about how the film was written, directed, and starred by one person, the unspoken way some of the more horrific elements of the film are introduced. Justin talks about how he loved the abrupt ending of th...

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