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.
There are many memorable moments in Spike Lee’s 2020 film Da 5 Bloods. From Delroy Lindo’s performance- hell, the entire cast’s performance- to the cinematography and the story line, the film held me awestruck, tearful, and contemplative through its entirety. But perhaps the most compelling aspect of this film for me was Lee’s incorporation of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On. It was such a minor, yet monumentally, moving choice that etched this film into my brain and sent my thoughts soaring.
I wanted to use For My Culture 1 this month to highlight these works, not only because they deserve it- they are amazing works of art- but because I want to support Black women. I want their films to be a part of our discourse, our top 10 lists, our reviews, and daily conversations. These are all films directed by Black women that you can stream RIGHT NOW. The future of the film industry is slowly looking brighter when it comes to opening up diversity and opportunities for Black women, as well as other minorities, but the progress is too slow. We have to do our part with support and recognition, and I for one am more than happy to do so. Watching these films over the past few years and weeks was a blast for me. They are strong pieces. They evoked so much emotion, made me laugh, and filled me in places I didn’t know were empty. I hope you all enjoy this list as much as I did!
The murder of George Floyd indeed started a conversation- or rather it magnified the conversation already being had. It ignited a movement, and it unearthed so many other people who were buried beneath the system of silence and oppression. Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Kendrick Johnson, and so many more stories were brought forward to light, reopened, and given the proper recognition for push for justice. With the increase of recognition, calls for abolition, and catalysts of action, there has also been an influx in pandering and performative activism to the point that the deaths of Black people have been twisted into a meme-procuring, internet fad for some.
Starring Nicole Beharie, Alexis Chikaeze, and Kendrick Sampson, Miss Juneteenth is a generational story of Black motherhood and womanhood. It is also a film about liberation in one of its most intimate forms. Turquoise “Turq” Jones (played by Beharie) is a dedicated mother who is preparing her daughter, Kai (Chikaeze), for the Miss Juneteenth pageant- a pageant that she won back in her own time. The film follows them through this journey, but it is also follows Turq through her own.
It took some time, but it worked. I found small consistencies throughout my day that made me feel purpose. I was Facetiming my family, organizing my closet, finding different recipes to try, NOT checking the new every hour, reorganizing, and listening to a lot- A LOT- of music. Music is therapeutic. We all know this. It makes you smile when you want to and cry when you need to. I took a shower every morning to music, listened to it during breakfast, during a home workout, and even when I was just sitting on the couch. Music moved me through this entire process, so here are five of my favorite songs during my home isolation. The link for the whole playlist will be tagged at the bottom as well!
I want to take my website and use it to further amplify mine and the voices of my people. I love to educate and learn, but I also love my culture. Going forward, I will be doing a quarterly issue/theme on my blog that centers around loving my culture and others loving their own. This theme will be for amplifying Black voices, but in the future, I hope that I can help amplify the voices of so many more. I hope you guys enjoy!
Now, if you’ve been cooking for awhile, you know you’ve got your own favorite meals on rotation. Spaghetti, tacos, salad, and others all happen at least twice a month. I mean, you know you’re good at it, so why try making something new? I already had my favorite meals on rotation, but this quarantine definitely threw a wrench in it. Since I was home 25/8, My rotation started becoming shorter and I was eating the same meals 2x a week! So, I decided it was definitely time for some change. Here are some of my favorite meals from my quarantine cooking experimentation. Here is cooking while quarantining- where anything goes, and you probably won’t ever have time to make these extravagant meals again!