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My Biggest Fear

1 Nov

Every once in a while I find myself in that Twilight Zone time of night where the only thing I want to do is sit and scroll through Facebook for a couple of hours.  I’ll admit it, sometimes, if the subject matter is interesting enough, or I am just bored enough, I’ll click on my friend’s result from a Buzzfeed personality-type quiz and see where I stand on the topic…

Some of them are good time wasters, some of them are sloppily slapped together shallow questions that no more accurately predict your future than Zoltar.  Sometimes however you strike upon the ability to look at your own answers, and determine something else about yourself entirely, Buzzfeed results be damned.

The Buzzfeed quiz I chose to postpone doing chores/living my life was something along the lines of “What is your Greatest Fear?”.  I, being the horror fan that I am, thought it very fitting.  Would they discover that I am claustrophobic?  Would they somehow derive so much from this quiz that they can actual pinpoint my squeamish aversion to “fingernail stuff”?  Only time would tell.

Upon beginning my quest to identify what my greatest fear was, I realized that the questions were a little goofy, relying more on shock value than actual psychology (what the hell was I expecting?)  Which of these is the scariest image? Followed by a collage of photos; a scary faced ghost girl, a demon, a scary clown, a man holding a knife.  I clicked the man holding the knife.  The next question was more of the same, Which of these is the scariest image? A creature under a bed, another spooky clown (no accounting for originality here), a man peering in menacingly from a sliding glass door.  I clicked on the man.  After several of these questions I realized that in every circumstance, I was choosing the image most realistic.  Instead of clicking on the frightening creatures, ghosts, ghouls, demonic clowns, and all other manner of beastie, I continued to choose humanity as my weakness.

That is when I realized something.  I do have a “biggest fear” that has nothing to do with the need to wear gloves while washing dishes for fear of softening my fingernails to a bendable degree (although that struggle is REAL).  My greatest fear is my fellow man.  I can watch Jason Voorhees hack his way through a group of promiscuous campers but show me something like Sons of Anarchy and I sometimes look away from the screen.  It is easier for me to stomach something outlandish and ultra-violent as a supernatural horror film (even though I fiercely believe in ghosts) than it is for me to watch a man get beaten up.  The exception to this, or a blurring of the lines, is Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN(‘s).  His films always focus on the dirty side of society, blowing up the image of hard times and brutality to a point where I know the film is “over the top” but the violence is sometimes too much for me to bear.

Call it compassion for my fellow (wo)man, but I truly do believe that my biggest fear in life is other people.  I know that everyone is fighting their own battles, illnesses, mental illnesses, home struggles, and the combination of those things, mixed with outside influences, past experiences and expectations of the future make it impossible to predict how an individual will act in any given scenario.  It’s what makes us all beautiful and unique, but it is also what makes “other people” terrifying.

You see and hear all the time about people committing murders over absolutely nothing.  I watched an episode of Great Crimes and Trials about a doctor (married with adult children) who had killed at least 75 people in the course of his career just… because.  He had no motive to kill these people, some of them he actually liked, his family had no idea that he had done these things, but he would kill them with legal doses of morphine, but sign their “cause of death” as heart attacks or strokes.  He did it simply because he enjoyed it.  That was more terrifying to me than any horror film I had ever seen, because it was real life.  Some men and women are so unpredictable that a family doctor can go on killing 75 people and no one ever suspected him.

I settled after a moment and realized that all things considered, these people are few and far between.  For every person with murder or brutality at the edge of their mind, there is a handful of wonderfully kind people ready to prove that people are inherently good.

After completing the quiz, waiting for the results to finish “calculating” on my screen, I contemplated my mini journey of self-discovery through the cold and automatic hands of this pre-programmed internet quiz.  I marvelled at the fact that a fear can be something so big and complicated yet so simple as “other people” and truly how scary it is to realize that you never do know anyone as well as you think you do.

The “Calculating” screen suddenly stops, the screen refreshes.  The verdict?

“Your Greatest Fear is Commitment!”

No wait, yeah, that’s definitely worse.

Stay Scared, Kiddies
xoxo Jessie

Man Crush Monday: Seth Gecko

28 Sep

Not George Clooney or DJ Cotrona specifically…  Just Seth Gecko.

It’s horrible.  Some women go for the lovely gentleman who buys flowers and chocolates, some women go for big strong men who can take care of them, but every woman, I don’t care who you are, EVERY WOMAN…  Goes for Seth Gecko.

Om nom.

Om nom.

And let’s not forget.

Om NOM nom. Photography: Robert Rodriguez Photo Courtesy El Rey Network (c) 2014 Dusk Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

Om NOM nom.
Photography: Robert Rodriguez
Photo Courtesy El Rey Network (c) 2014 Dusk Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

Who doesn’t secretly love a badass with tattoos who kills vampires and drives real fast?  WHO DOESN’T?  I DEMAND YOU TELL ME.

xoxo
Jessie

Man Crush Monday: Chris Sarandon

21 Sep

Tonight while recording episode 110 of Land of the Creeps we talked about the films we watch in the month of October, the films that remind of us the reason for THIS season, the ones that make us shiver and shake in our booties.  Among the thousands of films discussed (exaggerating) was FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), the film that made me ignore everything I saw in THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987) and fall madly in love with Chris Sarandon.

Rawr.

Rawr.

Jerry Dandrige is one of the hottest vampires in the history of hot vampires.  He’s super charming, he’s got a sultry voice, he’s very easy on the eyes, and he’s a blood thirsty vampire with an infatuation for pretty girls.  He’s that guy that every girl wants to be with, but knows would absolutely ruin their life.

When the show was over, and I turned back to my television, I realized that NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS was still running and Jack was lamenting, I realized that Chris Sarandon had been in my life a hell of a lot longer than the first time I watched FRIGHT NIGHT as well.

That voice.

Hope you enjoyed the first Wendigogo Girl Man Crush Monday…  It won’t be the last.

xoxo
Jessie

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!

Back From the Dead – THE DESCENT (2005)

11 Nov

What?  Two posts in two weeks?  UNHEARD OF!

I have returned again for another segment of Back From the Dead, where I will watch a film I used to dislike, or watched only once and judged unfairly, in the hopes of either being pleasantly surprised having wrongly judged a film in my angsty black haired youth, OR confirming my high-school assumptions that EVERYTHING SUCKS.

Last week we looked at DARKNESS FALLS, and thus far, scary black-haired, perma-frown Jessie was winning.  But this week we take a look at Neil Marshall’s 2005 cave-diving, claustrophobia inducing THE DESCENT.  Of the other films of Marshall’s I have seen, DOOMSDAY and DOG SOLDIERS, it is safe to say that I am split right down the middle having loved DOG SOLDIERS and having hated DOOMSDAY (next week on Ashes and Rashes (just kidding)).

I SAID NO.

GO AWAY DOOMSDAY. I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT.

THE DESCENT (2005)

I’m going to begin this by saying that my problems with claustrophobia have not always been a thing.  In fact I think that it actually only started a couple of years ago, not that I have had a lot of experience traveling through small spaces or crawling through tunnels.  This film…  This film, confirmed that I do in fact have a problem.  Y’know, because waking up to a full-fledged panic attack from dreaming that I was crawling through a tunnel and got stuck didn’t confirm it enough for me.  But all that aside…

Uh-huh.

Yeah.

THE DESCENT begins with a scene that I thought set the mood for the film… absolutely… perfectly.  We open on a group of women white-water rafting down a giant, tumultuous river, you can hear a child in the background screaming for her mother.  The rapids pick up, and the faces of the women in the raft change from lighthearted and excited to concerned.  Soon after, the rapids pick up even more, it looks as is we might lose one of the women to the intense river, the women start to look terrified and the audience genuinely fears for the women.  Soon after this, the women make it to the end of the river, faces back to smiling and laughing, and they calmly return to the shore, hugging family and friends.  We are introduced to our main character Sarah, who’s husband seems to be giving a little bit too much attention to her friend Juno.  Cut to a car, Sarah’s daughter sits in the back seat as Sarah and her husband discuss hushedly his strange behaviour when he swerves slightly into the next lane, hitting a vehicle head on who’s cargo of lead pipes finds it’s way into some faces.

The imagery in the beginning of this film, showing the women putting themselves in real danger, purposely terrifying themselves for the sake of the thrill and then coming out laughing really got my attention.  Then with the added comparison of something so routine as driving your car leisurely and causing such a horrific crash was done masterfully.

A year after Sarah lost both her husband and her daughter, still struggling with the weight of the horrific accident, she and her adventurous friends decide to go cave-diving!  From here, the nightmares really start.

Like worse than my claustrophobia nightmare...

I mean, imagine not being able to check the picture before it was developed? NIGHTMARE.

I don’t know exactly what it was about this film that bothered me when I was younger…  Maybe I was mad about not being able to go to some party or something.

THE DESCENT is an exercise in many different types of fear: the fear of losing your loved ones, the fear of the unknown, claustrophobia, fear of the supernatural, and the fear of losing your mind.  In that order actually.  You can look at the film as Sarah’s descent into a personal cave, fighting these demons and creatures, breaking ties with the people that only remind her of her past, and breaking free, finally finding her peace, (or so you might think).

On second viewing, and with a little extra thought post-credits, I’d have to say that I was very very wrong about THE DESCENT.  The creatures were scary, the scares were plentiful, the characterization of the characters (though not very thorough) still made me care a bit about them enough to not want them to die, as far as I can see there is not a very clear reason as to why I should hate this film.

ANGSTY ANGST ANGST

ANGST
Sidenote: I literally just looked up my old profile on MySpace to find this picture… You’re welcome.

I just hated everything.  You’d never know because I am ridiculously cheery now, I swear.

ANYHOO.  With a rockin’ beginning, one scare that was super predictable but with perfect timing still scared the HELL out of me, and great characterization and story, I give 2005’s THE DESCENT 4 lead pipes out of 5!

Thanks for tuning in again darlings, next week I tackle…  *pukes in anticipation* 2006’s BLACK X-MAS.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, maybe it will grow on me…  Maybe…

*pukes*

XO
Jessie

Back From the Dead – DARKNESS FALLS (2003)

3 Nov

Back when I was younger, more naive and not very specific about why I loved or hated the things I did, I watched a lot of horror films (that hasn’t really changed though…).  Most of those films I loved.  But some of them I absolutely loathed.  Looking back on those films, it is hard for me to place the exact reason behind my hatred.  So in honour of October rolling by with nary an entry from THIS lazy writer, I thought it appropriate to start November off with a bang and start something fresh.

I give you Back From the Dead: a new segment(thing) where I will watch these films that I swore I would never watch again, but this time critically, analytically, and either report back with a list of reasons for my hatred OR perhaps a new outlook, maybe after really paying attention and on second watch, these films will shred their way into my heart.

Only time will tell, but so far things are looking dim for the side of these movies, as I bring to you, my twice baked review of a little film called…

DARKNESS FALLS (2003)

We begin DARKNESS FALLS with a boy, getting ready for bed at night and tucking a tooth under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy, and following the classic warning of “If you hear anything, don’t peek!” from a window-sneaking friend, the suspense starts to build.  With a fake-out here, and some genuine terror there, we have a great set-up for a good old fashioned horror film.

NOW anybody who follows me on Twitter (IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?!) will have seen recently this hilarious tweet of mine.

OMG I’m so funny.  And yeah, it’s been a while since I dreamed up this new segment, who asked you?  The reason I bring this up is that only at THAT point in the film, the first five minutes, did I actually feel fear.  You’ll also notice, dear followers, that that was the only thing I tweeted, twittered, twatted, during the film.  Because the rest of my time was spent eating hardboiled eggs with no fear.

The tooth fairy (in this film) is said to have been a woman who loved children and when the children in the village would lose their teeth, they would bring them to her in exchange for a gold coin.  But her house caught on fire, and she suffered horrible burns that would leave her sensitive to light.  So naturally she made herself a mask of teeth and only went out at night.  Clearly this is bad decision-making on her part.  When two boys go missing, the town immediately blames the woman who wears a mask made out of body parts, and they have her hanged.  A few days later the boys return to their families unharmed, and it is revealed that the whole town is just AWFUL at making decisions.

All this to say, if you peek at the tooth fairy, she is going to murder you.  And she hates the light.

When a boy in present-ish time loses a tooth and after peeking at the tooth fairy survives, tooth fairy kills his mother and the boy grows up never shaking his fear of the dark, and pops pills to mask the depression of knowing that no one ever believed him.  His friend from years ago gets in touch and tells him that her little brother now claims to have seen similar things, and they band together to find out what is going on, in a town APTLY named DARKNESS FALLS, on a night when a huge storm hits, and all the lights go out…  But it’s a fishing village…  So luckily…  There’s…  A lighthouse.

I'm sorry it does what?

I’m sorry it does what?

One of the main problems I had with this film was the story was built around itself so tightly.  The town only exists within this story, and the story can only exist within the town.  MANY films cater to themselves effectively, where certain elements in a story just have to line up in a specific way for it to make sense.  But I start to get bored of a film when you can predict what will happen in the first few minutes because it has been so meticulously set up.  A good horror film can take place anywhere, you can look at the town in which it exists and say “this could be my own backyard” which is the main reason behind Wes Craven creating a horror so seductively set on “Elm Street”, a street that HAS to exist in every town.  Now, the character of Fred Krueger “existed” in the town set in the movie, but tell me after watching A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) you don’t worry about who’s going to visit your dreams.

He really does have beautiful eyes, though.

He really does have beautiful eyes, though.

Many horror films exist in a world where urban legends come to life, and you can say that that makes them “tight circle” films where the legend only exists in the town and the town only exists in the legend.  But even in a film like URBAN LEGEND (1998) it is plainly said during a lecture (I think with my love Robert Englund, fittingly) that not one legend has been proven exclusive to one town or another, an urban legend is a legend because it has the ability to travel around and seem true to wherever it is being told.

I guess you know where I am going with this.

DARKNESS FALLS, though your depiction of the tooth fairy as a teeth mask wearing, light sensitive wraith is disturbing, your story is somewhat claustrophobic in it’s setting, and predictable from the start.

I give you 2/5 milk teeth.

Stay tuned for more critical analysis (ranting) of twice-baked horror films coming soon.  Next I aim to tackle a film everyone else loved, but I couldn’t stomach for some reason THE DESCENT (2005).

Thank you for reading 🙂

Jessie