10月 29 2008

英语阅读 It’s a scream!

Published by at 21:43 under 英语阅读

Wendy Roby 介绍了一种新现象:针对女性的恐怖电影、网站和艺术节。

It’s a scream!

As Halloween draws near, Wendy Roby explores a new wave of films, websites and festivals feeding women’s growing hunger for horror

Wendy Roby
The Guardian,
Wednesday October 29 2008

For horror film fanatic Leah Holmes, a tolerance of fear began at an early age. Her anaesthetist father “had half a human skeleton which he used to get out to entertain me and my brother,” she says, “so I was very blasé about scary things. Years later, he was trying to put me off becoming a pathologist, and gave me a book with graphic photos of dead bodies in it. I think he was trying to frighten me, but I just flicked through and thought, ‘Oooh, interesting.'”

Holmes, who now works for SFX, a sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine, isn’t the only woman with a long-standing love of gore. For Adèle Hartley, founder of Edinburgh’s Dead by Dawn horror film festival, the attraction of scary movies is the sheer pleasure of leaving the cinema feeling physically changed. “It’s nice to watch a film which makes you glad to get home and put the lights on,” she says. “And there’s nothing like going down a dark lane to your car after you’ve watched dozens of horror movies.”

When Hartley started Dead by Dawn 15 years ago, only a handful of women attended. These days, the audience is split 50/50. “I’d like to think that the stereotype of lots of boys in black zombie T-shirts is finally going away,” she says. “They’re not the majority any more.” This is backed up by the new wave of print and online communities that have cropped up to address the female hunger for horror.

Sites include Ax Wound (named after a derogatory term for a vagina), launched by fright fanatic Hannah D Forman. The site’s mission is “to provide a safe, stimulating environment for feminists who struggle with their enjoyment of these films”. It features essays by horror film enthusiasts and interviews with new film-makers who have torn up the rule book. One such film-making team is Gonzoriffic, a duo who happily admit to their lack of experience, budget and taste. Their brand of female-driven underground cinema has made Monica Puller, one half of Gonzorrific, a counter-culture poster girl. Then there’s the Viscera Film Festival prize for short horror films produced by women, which offers its winner help with marketing and distribution.

Heidi Martinuzzi, who runs horror networking website Pretty-Scary.net, says she has often felt that female horror talent has been ignored. “You’ll hear about really tiny indie projects by men, but not those by women. So we created a place where women could talk about horror without being harassed by teenagers.” Martinuzzi’s site includes a busy forum that allows female film-makers to swap tips on fake blood, ask the advice of Bambi-Lyn, their fictional Scream Queen agony aunt, and read news items about screenings. She’s even written about where to buy your daughter’s first Ouija board, “because you’re never too young to start screwing with stuff you shouldn’t be screwing with!”

Martinuzzi’s short film, Wretched, which she produced and co-directed, clearly explores female experiences. It follows a couple squabbling over dinner in a restaurant and the heroine’s frequent trips to the ladies’ room. “I was bulimic for a long time,” she says, “and I always thought there was something incredibly terrifying about it. So in my film, rather than confront the argument, she keeps going to the bathroom to throw up. I found a way to include horror in that idea,” she says. “There’s a lot of blood in it, let me put it that way.”

Body-horror is a popular subgenre for female fans, perhaps because, in Hartley’s words, it is the female half of the species “who have to deal with real horror – giving birth”. Faye Jackson’s film, Lump, which was showcased at Dead by Dawn, depicts a woman suffering seemingly benign growths in her breast, and doctors failing to listen to her as they put her repeatedly under the knife. Jackson says she wanted to chronicle the indifference of some doctors, and contrast non-elective surgery with the rise of cosmetic procedures.

“I was a bit disgusted about how casual people have become about plastic surgery and so wanted to make a film about that.” She is currently organising the publicity for her next film, a vampire movie set in Ceausescu’s Romania.

One of the aspects of horror that tends to put women off is the stereotype of a helpless, scantily clad female protagonist being chased by a slasher. “Horror is a peculiar genre for women,” says Holmes. “On the one hand, there’s a tradition of having a female victim, but then you also have the academic idea of the ‘monstrous feminine’ or female monster.” She is fascinated by the raging little girls of Japanese horror, naming the character Sadako, from 1998’s cult movie, Ring, as her favourite horror heroine ever. As for claims that horror largely casts women as limp victims, Hartley thinks this is unfair. “Although a lot of horror is guilty of assuming that women are vulnerable, it’s not as guilty as people think. There have always been horror films that have acknowledged women are infinitely smarter, less likely to go down to the basement and more likely to run away. Which, incidentally, is what you should do when confronted with a monster of any kind.”

Debbie Rochon, a host on US horror radio station Fangoria and veteran of more than 100 horror films, was inducted into the B-Movie Hall of Fame in 2004, and crowned Scream Queen of the Decade, 1990-2000 by Draculina magazine. She admits that nudity is often a requirement of the films she stars in, but says: “In what other genre can you play characters that are so crazy and insane?” And although she started out playing “victim roles”, now “in at least 75% of my roles, my character is left standing at the end. It’s almost a credibility thing – if you’re killed off at the beginning, it doesn’t look good on your CV.”

While Rochon admits that she enjoys being drenched in red corn syrup, horror film-making has its drawbacks. She recounts an incident in which a prop knife was switched for a real machete. “I was hacking up a body when my hand slipped and my fingers were literally cut off, everything apart from the bone – the nerves, the tendons, everything.” She lists the ways in which her characters have been killed. “I’ve had one of my breasts cut off with an axe and bled to death, I’ve been shot, drowned, had my head cut off, have been stabbed through the heart, and beaten to death … I tend to get dispatched very quick, with a shotgun blast, or a Ouija board spell gone wrong.”

The recent emergence of “torture porn” – the term applied to films like Saw and Hostel, which are characterised by seemingly endless displays of violence – elicits an almost identical response from these female horror fans. They’re bemused and a little bored by the idea. Rochon says it’s become “a showcase for the SFX artists’ technical expertise”. Yet none of the women condones censorship in any form. As Martinuzzi says, “I hate romantic comedies – but I don’t think people should be stopped from making them.”

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