Archive | August, 2015

Remembering Wes Craven

31 Aug

I was just a little girl when I was first introduced to the works of Wes Craven.  I had a friend for a sleepover when I was eleven and somewhere in between the chips and salsa, putting on dresses and pretending we were fortune tellers, we were in front of the TV, looking for something to watch.  My child’s mind was still new to the concept of horror but I already loved the smell of Halloween, I liked to scare my friends and at this point the only episodes of The Simpsons I would watch were Treehouse of Horror specials.  While skipping through the channels my older brother walked into the room and remarked at a certain movie title he saw in the satellite guide.

“Oh Jess, you HAVE to watch The People Under the Stairs!”

peopleunderthestairs

Wanting to show my big brother that I could be cool too, I agreed.  My friend, my brother and I watched this movie, and although it was not his scariest film, it definitely left a mark on my psyche.  The twisted mother and father figures (Wendy Robie and Everett McGill, who were just as watchable and intriguing on Twin Peaks), the image of the dog chewing on a severed hand and the way its skin looked so rubbery and wrong, the actual PEOPLE under those STAIRS…  And more importantly Roach, the most awkward and confusing crush of my young life…

*licks finger* Tssssss  (I can't believe I just wrote that...)

*licks finger* Tssssss
(I can’t believe I just wrote that…)

I wouldn’t be brought back into the mind of Wes Craven again until I was 13, and while hanging out with my cousin, my brother, again, decided that we would watch a Wes Craven film called A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, which at the time he stated was the best one.  Now that I have seen them all, I beg to differ, but I still enjoyed the flick, the bus ride at the end stuck with me more than the gore and questionable undertones.  That night I dreamed that I was in a fist fight with Freddy.  And pretty much from that point on, I was hooked.

In my collection now, at 26, is the entire collection of NIGHTMARE films, all four SCREAMs (1, 2, and 3 on VHS, 1, 2, 3, and 4 on blu-ray…  I really like SCREAM…), CURSED, MY SOUL TO TAKE, and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW.  To say that I was a little effected about the news of Wes Craven’s passing is a definite understatement.  I don’t think I have ever ugly cried like that over the death of someone I have never met.

I stand corrected.

I stand corrected.

Wes Craven directed my youthful and teenage explorations in the horror genre.  People who love horror grew into it in different ways.  I believe those who were teenagers watching HALLOWEEN, or FRIDAY THE 13th, HELLRAISER, all have different experiences with the genre and are formed in their tastes accordingly.  When I was a teen, SCREAM is what really drove home the concept of good horror for me.  Not since (in my opinion) has a slasher franchise even touched the success or standing power of those films.  And to come out with a fourth film over ten years later and have it WORK?  Boy.

Wes Craven’s films have a certain flair to them.  When I was younger, and still on my way to being a surefire film nerd , I was about halfway through CURSED when I thought, “I bet this was directed by the same guy who did Nightmare.”  Wes Craven’s films have a personality all their own.  And with them, his memory will live on.

I am moving apartments soon and today decided I would throw on the SCREAM movies again (I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen them) but only just in the background while I packed…  Something I had seen at least a dozen times wouldn’t distract me from my business…

I couldn’t help but to watch them all from beginning to end.

Even SCREAM 3…

So with that little ramble I say rest in peace to a legend, to a great filmmaker, and to one of my heroes.  Wes, you formed my tastes in the horror genre, and dare I say made me a horror fan to begin with.  Your films (even the ones other people “SAY” they didn’t like) will continue to grow with me until I die.  Your brand of meta, semi-humorous, gore-filled films have made me who I am today and for that I thank you.

You and Freddy will live on in my nightmares.

xo
Jessie

<3

“Horror films don’t create fear, they release it.”  ~  Wes Craven

Ashes and Rashes vs. Wendigogo Girl

25 Aug

The Death of Ashes and Rashes

Friends, its time for a change.  I have a habit of committing to writing on here, and then dropping off the face of the earth, and I think the reason for that is that I have lost my identity on this website.

When I first decided to make this blog, I was just a girl who wanted to write about horror, talk to some cool people and watch a lot of horror films.  While this is still the case, I have somewhat lost my way.  After receiving requests to review independent films, I started to question what I was really doing on Ashes and Rashes, where did my ranting and raving about the genre I love turn into a job?

I never really did any of the reviews I received, I think because from the beginning I wanted this website to be all mine, I didn’t want to do what other people wanted me to do.  I wanted to recommend a movie for your Saturday nights, I wanted to re-watch films I used to hate to see if my aged, more cultured(hah) mind could see the light in them, I wanted to talk about cute boys (all my future husbands) in the industry and delve into why on a psychological, albeit girly, level we love the films we do.

I typed

I typed “girly horror” into Google and this is one of the first things that came up… I’d say it’s accurate.

Doing freelance work the last little while has been absolutely revelatory in a way because now I see that I can still be assigned to write something AND love it at the same time.  But this page…  This page is still 100% me.

I’ve done some thinking the past little while about what the title “Ashes and Rashes” means to me.  And it means absolutely nothing.  A 20-year-old girl wanted to make a blog about horror, she sat with the WordPress application at her fingertips, and thought of gross words that would tell the reader “This is a horror blog,”, “This is not a blog for girly people”.  But here’s the thing, I AM girly.  I am so girly.  It’s evident in my posts, I spend way too much money on make up.  In the past few years, I have come around to dresses, and PINK which is still weird for me…  And while these things don’t necessarily a GIRL make, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little girly.

I also saw this when I googled

I also saw this when I googled “girly horror”… Accuracy on point.

And wasn’t this blog supposed to be a place where this girly girl could come and write about a few of her favourite things?

I need this space to come and talk and vent in my own way and feel good about it.  I don’t need to put on a professional persona, I don’t need to appeal to male readership by making the title sound unisex.

I am a girl, and I am here to talk about horror in a somewhat girly way.

The Birth of Wendigogo Girl

When I was a little girly girl, the library at Plainville Public School had a lot of interesting books…  There were a couple of books filled with horror stories who’s titles I have forgotten, and that saddens me to no end.  I remember the stories though… *shudders* I had nightmares for weeks.  One book I do remember, I think you have all read this series, was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz with those terrifying illustrations by Stephen Gammell.  I didn’t remember many of the stories until later when a sweet friend gave me the collection, but one of them stuck with me all these years.

Yes, when I was LITTLE I read a book with these illustrations in it... The hell, Plainville Public School?

Yes, when I was LITTLE I read a book with these illustrations in it… The hell, Plainville Public School?

The Wendigo is a very short story, but it packs a mean punch and I have been fascinated with the legend of the wendigo ever since.  The wendigo is a creature from the legends of the Algonquin people and has appeared in many tv shows, films, books (Stephen King’s Pet Sematary for one), and many of my nightmares.  This creeping image of an unseen force (or seen, based on later adaptations from series like Supernatural) that knows your name and calls you out into the cold is terrifying for a poor little Canadian girl, where half of the year is made up of snow, and you live in a village (actually considered a HAMLET) that is covered in farmer’s fields and it takes a half an hour to get to any “towns”…

wendigo

Also what the hell My Little Pony?

Anyway, I’ve always loved burlesque, and go-go dancing.  I think it’s fascinating.  Taking the female form and empowering it, making the art of seduction something classy and confident, glamorous.  And then I realized how easy it is to add an extra “go” onto “Wendigo”, and then add a “girl” on the end, you know what I’m getting at.

Long story short (too late for that), I have decided to take back my original website and use it for its intended purpose.  To be a girly girl who likes ranting and interviewing people about horror films and not feel weird about the title, the label, the feeling I get every time I read it.  Ashes and Rashes is no more.  The website will be pretty much the exact same.  Maybe with some more weekly posts, or regular “columns”.  But rather than make this it’s own being, it will now be an extension of myself.  Something I can take joy in writing in, instead of purposely making it feel like a job.

With that said, with ashes to ashes and dust to dust, I say farewell and rest in peace to the Ashes and Rashes era, and say happy birthday to Wendigogo Girl.

100% me.

xo
J

SINISTER 2 – And the Pleasant Surprise of a Strong Sequel

25 Aug

I don’t generally appreciate horror sequels.  I will go, I will spend my money, I will buy a snack, and oh…  I will be scared, but I’m not gonna like it.  I go in with my standards not particularly low but certainly not high.  With my expectations just a touch more realistic, I can come out of a sequel with a nod to my friends like, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.”

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER(s) 2 and 3 were not horrible films, and as sequels go, they weren’t that bad.  But they are somewhat forgettable films in comparison to their predecessor.  It really hurt me to say that too, you know how I feel about Whannell and Wan…  That is true love that will never fail.  My point being that you can have a great film like INSIDIOUS that is wonderful on its own, but with a sequel that is sub-par, and kind of just makes you sad.

SINISTER 2 is not one of those films.

sinister2

The film begins in a very similar fashion to part 1.  We helplessly watch a home video that shows the demise of a family.  Ex-Deputy So and So (who’s name, I don’t think is actually mentioned) is now a private investigator who is traveling the states, trying to find out what happened to Ellison Oswalt’s (Ethan Hawke) family and all of the families like theirs who have been stalked and hunted by Bughuul.  Shannyn Sossamon plays Courtney Collins, a mother of two boys who is on the run from a troubled marriage, Ex-Deputy So and So tracks the mysterious murders to the Collins home, and things get freaky from there.

deputy so and so

I was going to write something about getting freaky with Deputy So and So but then thought that might be a little tacky… So I won’t say anything about that…

What I loved about this as a sequel is that while keeping with the tone of the first film, it still finds a way to do things in a unique way.  The children are not really used as a scare tactic this time around, instead as tools that keep the story moving, there is introduced a reason as to why the family movies exist, and it doesn’t undercut the story, or cheapen the original film.  Some sequels in over-explaining the origin of their ghouls and beasties do this poorly, in my opinion the SAW franchise is one over-explanation after another, after the first film, old characters come in and out like guests who’ve overstayed their welcome and the story drags, introducing instead more shock and gore to delight at least the gore-hounds in the audience who are less concerned about story.

The music continues to be a big player in the film.  The score, this round composed by tomandandy, does not disappoint and keeps with the tone of the original, subtle, creeping music of Christopher Young.

Without giving too much away (I hate when people do that) SINISTER 2 must be the strongest sequel I have seen in a very long time.  To come out of the theater and think to yourself, “I think this is as good as the original” is a rarity, and an accomplishment in an age where every horror film needs a sequel, and most of them are sub-par.

All in all I give SINISTER 2 4 out of 5 stars, which is ridiculous.  Go see it now.

I’m off to watch HEATHERS 1988 and wish I was Wynona in the later 80s…  Have a spooky evening!!!

xo
J

sinister2.1

Night night!