Women in Horror: Prevenge (2016) directed by Alice Lowe

Prevenge

Near the movie’s opening, a very pregnant Ruth enters a reptile shop and discusses the kinds of available animals with the creepy owner. The owner’s behavior is unsettling — his passion for the creepy crawlies in his store a little too enthusiastic, even when he sees the woman in front of him is uncomfortable. Without context, the viewer is left with the uncomfortable feeling that something awful is about to happen to this flinching woman — then bam, the scene turns in another direction entirely.

Prevenge

It’s a wonderful entry into the film, as we quickly learn that Ruth is hearing the voice of her unborn daughter — and that voice is the voice of rage, demanding blood and violence. Prevenge is an excellent black comedy, in which our heroine deftly deals out a series of brutal deaths. Everything is well shot and edited to deliver excellent punchlines without loosing the emotional thread of this woman, who is lost and disconnected from the people around her. I was entirely delighted by this movie.

Prevenge

Prevenge is one of those movies in which the journey of how it was made is almost as great as the film itself. Lowe — who wrote, directed, and starred in the film — was six months pregnant when she received an opportunity to direct a low budget film. She poured all her frustrations about her career  into the movie, putting together bloody revenge thriller. “Suddenly, you’re a mother and people think different about you and you don’t have control over your job anymore,” said Lowe. “All of this stuff, I was feeling fairly grim and dark about, and I just put it in this film.”

The film was scripted and shot on an expedited schedule (with only 11 days of filming) — and all while Lowe was still pregnant. So, the baby belly we see in the movie is Lowe’s real baby belly. Considering that it’s a miracle any movie gets made at all — especially one as fantastically fun as Prevenge — thrilling to know that Lowe let nothing stop her in moving forward with her passion for making films.


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New Story Up at Luna Station!

Luna Station Quarterly 035I’m stoked to have “A Dream of This Life,” my short story about insomnia and dream selling, has been published in issue 035 of Luna Station Quarterly.

This story started its life during The Brainery’s Science Fiction Fairy Tales workshop — ten weeks of writing stories in which fairy tales and science were mashed together. “A Dream of This Life” is a mash up of sleeping beauty and dream science, with the final result bearing little resemblance to the original fair tale.

Some stories come out nearly whole in one go. This was one of those stories. The first draft was very similar to the one that was finally published. Although I went through a process of writing additional scenes, thinking the story needed more, the workshop group reigned me in and guided me back toward the more concise version. Without the help of the group, I might have been lost down a story rabbit hole. But something that writing those extra scenes taught me is that there is more to this story — and I may just get around to writing it someday.


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The Undead Poetry Anthology is available for preorder!

Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More

Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More, edited by Bianca Lynne Spriggs and Katerina Stoykova, is now available for preorder from Apex Book Company!

The anthology offers up more than 70 poems exploring the realms of life after death, from the ghosts of loved ones to vampires, zombies, and more. It includes a reprint of my poem, “Beware of Attics.”

I’m stoked to be a part of this collection, which has some fantastic poets, including: Tony Barnstone, Erinn Batykefer, Melissa Bell, Shaindel Beers, K.T. Billey, Rob Boley, Andrew Bourelle, David Bowles, Suzanne Burns, Cathleen Calbert, Lauren Camp, Lucia Cherciu, May Chong, Jackie Chou, Chloe N. Clark, Wanda Morrow Clevenger, Curtis Crisler, John Paul Davies, Carol V. Davis, Ann DeVilbiss, Joan M. DiMartino, Donelle Dreese, Nettie Farris, Ruth Foley, Joshua Gage, Martha Gehringer, Kim Goldberg, Amelia Gorman, Lea Graham, Yalonda Green, John Grey, Jennifer Hernandez, John Hoppenthaler, Leonard Kress, John James, Tausha Johnson, Mary Soon Lee, Sandi Leibowitz, Alexander Lumans, Jeffrey H. MacLachlan, Amy MacLennan, J.G. McClure, C. McDaniel-Reed, Jeremy Megargee, Tiffany Midge, Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Lenard D. Moore, Annie Neugebauer, Kurt Newton, Valerie Nieman, Jeremy Paden, Tina Parker, Zachary Riddle, Jamieson Ridenhour, Gina Roitman, Nicole Rollender, Margaret Rozga, Eva Schlesinger, Salik Shah, Christina Sng, Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Ashlie Stevens Margo Stever, Karah Stokes, Katerina Stoykova, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Mark Teats, Allison Thorpe, Megan Tilley, Jonathan Travelstead, Holly Lyn Walrath, Emily Paige Wilson, Keith S. Wilson, Hermine Pinson, and Katie Riley.

Plus, all preorders are 20% off.

Culture Consumption: January 2018

Planning to hopefully be more on top of sharing these in a timely manner this year (haha). So, here’s my month in books, movies, and television.

Books

I did not finish reading a single book in the month of January — although I’m almost done with Wizard and Glass, the fourth book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s a been a fun reread of this rather long book and I’m looking forward to putting together my thoughts on it (and returning the book to the library, because it’s quite a bit overdue at this point.

The other book I’ve been working on is Falling in Love with Hominids, a short story collection by Nalo Hopkinson. I love her work and am enjoying the stories I’ve read so far.

I also have several poetry books that I’m in the middle of, books in which I’ve read a poem here and a poem there, but haven’t read through completely.

Books Finished Last Month: 0

Total Books for the Year: 0

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King and Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

Movies

The Shape of Water (2017)
The Shape of Water (2017)

Guillermo del Toro is my favorite director and The Shape of Water is a gorgeous addition to his filmography — a stunning and strange dark fairytale about a mute women who falls in love with a creature from the deep, who has been captured by a government organization for testing. Del Toro and his team have the ability to conceive such beautiful monstrous creatures for the screen, the design stunning, the personality showing through. I loved this movie. However, I want to point to “I Belong Where the People Are,” an essay by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, in which she examines how the movie portrays disability. It’s a beautiful, well thought out essay on an important subject.

Continue reading “Culture Consumption: January 2018”

Book Love: Tender, stories by Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar’s collection of stories reveals human (or not-so-human) tenderness as the aching of a wound, or the gentle kindness from another, or the vulnerability of the young. It’s a stunning collection of powerful stories with beautiful writing and many with creative ways of expressing the tale (essay format, journal entries, letters) that provides a unique depth and texture.

I love “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” a story in which a young woman comes to terms with her anger at the loss of her mother, sharing the stories with the reader, she keeps hidden within herself. The phrases “I don’t tell” and “I won’t tell” are repeated throughout, highlighting the need for new stories free of the pain and mistakes of the past.

On the flip-side of the relationship between mother and daughter is “Honey Bear,” an affecting story of a woman and her husband driving to the ocean with their daughter. The story sings with love and compassion. The woman is ill, the husband frustrated and over protective. She holds to her daughter with such affection in a world that is slipping away, dying. The ending of this story — which I will not spoil — shattered me. Love is so powerful. So is hope, however small.

Another deeply moving story is “Walkdog,” which is presented as an class essay about knowing one’s environment. The author chooses to write about walkdogs, creatures said to steal people away, forcing them to walk behind them for years and years. The use of footnotes here are critical to the way the story unfolds, gaps of the personal slipping under the seemingly academic, building into a story about a bullied boy and the girl who loved him, but not enough to protect him — all culminating in a heartbreaking conclusion.

Power structures are often explored in these stories. “Ogres of East Africa” — which I’ve read three times now and the story grows with each readingfor — shares the story of Alibhai a servant to a white hunter looking to track and hunt an ogre. As he records stories of ogres for hig master, he records his own history in the margins, his story slowly moving to the forefront of the text.

In a similar fashion, “An Account of the Land of Witches”  presents the story of a slave finding freedom in a strange land in which boundaries are meaningless. Later a woman in our modern world goes looking for the history of this land, basing her dissertation on the slave’s letter and her master’s refutation, only to have her efforts stopped when the borders are closed by war.

There are so many more lovely stories in this collection — both “Dawn and the Maiden” and “Cities of Emerald, Deserts of Gold” stand out for me in terms of their beauty of language. Take for example, this passage”

My love is a river. My love is a brink. My love is the bring of an underground river. My love’s arms ripple like rivers in the moonlight when he unlocks the garden gate. — from “Dawn and the Maiden”

One could go one-by-one in an attempt to honor each story in its turn. But I’m afraid I don’t have time, so I’ll just say this is a gorgeous book, worth every penny in the cost of acquiring it.