I’ve had a lot of trouble concentrating today. I’ll take this moment to be grateful I’ve not attempted sexual relations with myself or partner yet, because if I did I think I’d just be a little zoned out. Rather than hurt my reputation as a champion fucker, I’d much rather touch on WHY it is I’m so distracted. So, you may recall me mentioning, multiple times, that I’m part of an incredible film called American Mary. This is truly The Little Film That Could.
Hmm. No, that’s not accurate. Scratch that.
It’s The Little Female Directed Horror Film That Could, Did, And Fucked Your Mom.
Yeah, that’s more like it.
Writers/directors Sylvia and Jen Soska had an uphill battle on their hands with Mary. After making Dead Hooker In A Truck with virtually nothing and still producing a kick-ass grindhouse-style flick at the end of the day, the film world had proof that the girls could spin gold out of thin air. Despite their successes there, Mary proved to be challenging. Maybe it was the audacious, horrific, original script and that was the REAL horror for Hollywood (good lord, something that no one’s DONE before? No formula? The terror!) and I’m going to pull out the ol’ soapbox on this one, maybe the fear was something else… maybe it was because we had two female directors who had fresh ideas, are fearless, and aren’t about to take the Ol’ Boy’s Club shit. Because, let’s face it, Hollywood has long been a place that fears the female who’s in charge. Ladies are allowed in the club, as long as they are front of the camera, which is fine but the moment they want to drive, the men start tugging their forelocks in fear.
And so they should.
It’s no secret that there is a pretty large unrest about the absence of female-directed films at Cannes, and this year is no different. While Mary wasn’t finished in time to make the submission date for the competition, she sure was ruffling feathers in the Marketplace last night, which may be a good wake up. But this isn’t anything new: discrimination against female directors and writers is old as film itself.
As well as an actress, singer, dancer Mae West was writing plays, many of which she adapted from stage to screen. Many of her themes involved racy jokes and sex, and indeed one of her shows was even called SEX. It was a winner, even if it did bring down the morality police on her and she was labelled “Box Office Poison”. Never one to let The Man get her down (but more likely to get him to go down – on her) West nevertheless fired back with her autobio in ’59 titled Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It in which she pulled no punches about her experiences in Hollywood. Better yet, she made no apologies.
Dorothy Arzner had it tough: coming in the Hays era when there were massive restrictions on what could and couldn’t be shown by the morality police meant one fiscal failure could ruin your career. For a female filmmaker, that meant even less of a margin for error. Yet, from ’22 to ’43 she still snuck in feminist thematic elements to her films.
American Mary isn’t just an important film because it’s a great platform for the sisters Soska, but because it represents women in horror as being things of substance, and not content to just poke the scab of our fears, but grab either side and rip the wound wide open. Possibly poke it then with a salt-flecked finger. Because as women, we need a strong voice for ourselves. American Mary is showing us that not only are we our male counterparts their equal, we may even surpass them in terms of derangement.
Remember Halloween horror costume selections? I do. Boys had choices of Michael Meyers, Leatherface, Freddy, Jason, ad nauseum. What did girls have? Bride Of Frankestein or else Sexy (insert witch, bat, spider here). You see my problem? The weird girls that WANTED to be scary? We didn’t have as many role models. Sure, we could be zombies but our unrest has grown like a violated corpse. However, that’s about to change. There is a whole generation of little girls who can grow up and know that we can scare them with the best of them. Cannes knows it now.
Because we are the women who run with werewolves.
(Katherine Isabelle as Mary Mason)
Hugs and hisses, from with witch with the most hex appeal,
Little Miss Risk