For my final 31 Films of Halloween: Women in Horror Edition post, I decided to show appreciation for the Black women in horror! The first Black women who began appearing in horror films were in the 1930’s, and they held roles that strongly represented the social values of America at the time. Films like Chloe, Love is Calling You (1934) and Ouanga (1936) showed Black women as the villain White people (mostly White women) had convinced themselves that they were- thieves of their babies and their men. As the film industry progressed and the horror genre pressed on making more films, the role of Black women in these films didn’t increase in number nor in value. They were pigeon-holed into roles that further stigmatized the ideas around Black people and their culture. They were voodoo priestess’s, gyrating natives, and loyal mammies who served the only purpose of furthering a plot or storyline.
For my next 31 Films of Halloween, I want to honor the Underworld series. Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) is my favorite badass, leather-wearing vampire woman in a 5-film series. The Underworld series definitely gets a bad rep, and sometimes it’s understandably why. It’s the only film series (besides Star Wars) where bullets never seem to land. And there is more emphasis placed on the aesthetics (hotness) of the film rather than the actually story-telling. Nonetheless, I love this film franchise!
It is said that the first noted “woman in horror” was Jehanne D’Alcy. After leaving the theatrical stage in 1896, she went on to participate in a number of “horror” films directed by her husband- George Melies. His work on The House of the Devil (1896), A Terrible Night (1896), and A Nightmare (1896) makes him the first technical horror director. Although his works were meant to instill wonder and amazement- not fear- his technical style, use of practical effects, and thematic stories of devils, giant spiders, and men turning into bats, made them what they are considered today. They helped establish a role for women in film that made them seductresses, damsels, and mystifying creatures from an unknown world.
I just started I May Destroy You yesterday. I also just got caught up with I May Destroy You yesterday. Written by and starring Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You is a new, HBO show that chronicles a young writer named Arabella (Coel) as she deals with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted at a bar one night. I May Destroy You explores the “perfect victim,” linear healing, and different forms of sexual abuse all in one. One line that really stuck out to me was, “The problem is when people don’t know what is a crime and what isn’t a crime, they don’t report it and people get away with it.”
25 years ago, Disney’s underrated gem, A Goofy Movie (1995), was released. Most of us grew up watching this classic animated film, including myself, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I could appreciate and understand it for all it truly has to offer. From the tender story-line between a father and son, to the themes of self-acceptance, Powerline’s “Stand Out” and “I2I” bops, and finally to the overall Blackness that the film exudes- A Goofy Movie is a critical film in Disney’s Renaissance era repertoire.
Atlantics (2019) was first released at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival when it competed for the Palme d’Or. The films director and co-writer, Mati Diop, made history when she became the first black woman who directed a film featured in the competition- also winning the Grand Prix award for it. After its release at Cannes and later in Senegal, the film was picked up and released on Netflix for wide viewing.
Women of Color
Jezebel (2019) is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age film written and directed by Numa Perrier. The story follows 19 year old Tiffany (Tenille) through the struggles of growing up and losing her mother, while she also finds work as a cam-girl.