HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE MOTH DIARIES (2012)

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THE MOTH DIARIES (2012)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The Moth Diaries is a supernatural horror set at an all-girl boarding school where young Rebecca (Sarah Bolger from Emelie) is sent after the suicide of her writer father. She befriends the pretty Lucy (Sarah Gadon) and all seems well until the arrival of strange new student Ernessa (Lily Cole). Lucy is drawn to Ernessa and the more Rebecca tries to find out who this mysterious new girl really is, the more she begins to believe that she is faced with the very type of vampiric creature that she is reading about in her literature class. As the bodies pile up and everyone attributes Rebecca’s suspicions as a product of the troubled emotions left over from her father’s death, Rebecca decides she must deal with this monster herself. But is Ernessa truly a creature of darkness, or is Rebecca suffering delusions born of her grief over her father’s suicide?

Based on Rachel Klein’s novel, Moth Diaries is one of those movies that tries hard, but sometimes too hard for it’s own good. There is a very gothic mood to it and writer and director Mary Harron tries to give it the same period feel of a Dracula story despite being set in modern day. There are some nice visuals and effective scenes and the cast all perform well. But sometimes the film is a bit too obvious for it’s own good. Some of the scenes come across as a bit silly when maybe a bit more subtlety would have been better. Some of the voice narration by Rebecca comes across as forced, telling us things we already have figured out for ourselves. The film probably could have benefited from some of the sly humor that Harron used to perfection in the classic American Psycho, but here the tone comes across as a little too serious and it also can’t decide whether it wants to be a straight horror or something more along the lines of a Twilight movie with it’s melodramatics.

Moth Diaries is not a complete failure by any means and it has  entertainment value, but it could have been a lot better if the filmmakers weren’t trying too hard to create a goth classic in the same vein (sorry, had to) as Dracula, but with the melodramatics of the Bella and Edward saga. Maybe trying to appeal to both the Twilight crowd and the gothic horror crowd, but sometimes you can’t have it both ways. Certainly worth a look, just go in with moderate expectations. Also stars the Underworld saga’s Scott Speedman.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 fangs.

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FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

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FROM FINAL GIRLS TO FILMMAKERS: HOW ROGER CORMAN HELPED GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN HORROR!

(Just click on the movie titles to go to our full length reviews!)

Catching up with some Corman produced 80s horror, I came to realize just how ahead of his time legendary producer Roger Corman was in giving women a voice in horror as filmmakers and not just final girls!…

Roger Corman is legendary for his exploitation flicks and while some may debate the involvement of women in those films as objects of T&A elements and/or final girls in his horror flicks, they may not be aware that Corman was also boundary breaking in giving women opportunities as filmmakers behind the camera, which, especially in the horror genre and at the time…the 80s…was practically unheard of.

Today women have been showing their voice in the horror genre behind the cameras more than ever. With the starkly original works of the Soska Sisters and their American Mary or See No Evil 2, taking the horror world by storm…along with filmmakers like Jennifer (The Babadook) Kent and Leigh (Honeymoon) Janiak…that voice is louder than ever. The boundaries are starting to come down finally in a very male dominated genre and it’s a blessing to horror movie fans to be getting the works and perspectives of a whole new generation of female filmmakers, previously unheard from…but as these talents tear down the walls, is it possible there were already cracks there from an earlier time?

Three decades before this refreshing opening of doors, those doors were unlocked partially by a man that some may unfairly claim made his money exploiting women in movies, Roger Corman. During the 80s, women were just starting to make waves as filmmakers, let alone in the horror genre and Roger Corman not only produced numerous horror flicks with women writing and/or directing, but gave start to the careers of some renown producers too, like Gale Anne Hurd and his own wife, Julie Corman as well!

Corman, under his New World Pictures banner, produced Humanoids From The Deep with Barabara Peeters at the helm in 1981 and a year later gave the directing reigns to Amy Holden Jones on the slasher Slumber Party Massacre, which was also written by Rita Mae Brown. While the 1983 Suburbia, was not a horror flick, Corman gave new filmmaker Penelope (Wayne’s World) Spheeris a chance, producing her unflinching vision of a group of outcast punk rockers. It is now considered a cult classic and she a very successful filmmaker. After selling New World and starting Concorde Pictures, this trend continued. Sorority House Massacre was written and directed by Carol Frank and between 1987 and 1990 there were second and third installments of the Slumber Party Massacre series, helmed by Deborah Brock and Sally Mattison respectively. Corman even gave one of his regular actresses a chance behind the camera. Kat Shea (Barbarian Queen) co-wrote and directed Stripped To Kill for Corman in 1987 after starring in a few of his productions and doing some second unit work and writing for the legendary producer. She made a few more films for Concorde and Corman afterwards, including the immensely underrated vampire romance Dance Of The Damned in 1987. Shea…then Shea-Rubin…went on to a prolific career as a writer/director after striking out on her own. I personally find her to be a highly underrated filmmaker, whose most well-know film is probably the sexy thriller Poison Ivy with Drew Barrymore.

Corman was not the only one shaking the boundaries that are now finally coming down. John Carpenter stood by the late Debra Hill as his producer and she produced a number of his most classic films with him, including the horror masterpiece Halloween and that was only the beginning for this now legendary producer. Kathryn Bigelow burst on the scene with the vampire classic Near Dark in 1987 as did Mary Lambert in 1989 with the Stephen King adaptation, Pet Semetery. Rachel Talalay killed Freddy Krueger in Freddy’s Dead in 1991 and if not for the vision of Mary Harron, we wouldn’t have the modern classic American Psycho, which also showed us what a relatively unknown Christian Bale could do in front of the camera. Corman was not solely responsible, but certainly led the way during the 80s giving women a voice in horror behind the camera as well as in front of it…long before today’s generation of female horror filmmakers are making their presence known.

So, we are finally getting to see women make a strong mark as filmmakers in the horror genre. Their emergence was a long time coming, but there were pioneers that paved the way. While Roger Corman was not the only producer to give female filmmakers a chance on the creative end of the horror genre…and there were a handful of female directed horrors before the 80s, too…he did do it at a time where it was practically unheard of and he did it often. Do today’s filmmakers like Jen and Sylvia Soska have Roger Corman to thank for putting cracks in the barriers that they are now tearing down with their unique and talented visions as women in horror?…I’ll let you decide that for yourselves!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

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