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Against the Tropes: Five Black Women in Horror Discuss Racism, Sexism, and More

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Black Women in Horror

Some of you may have recently read about Rachel True and her blatant omission from convention reunions for The Craft. The singular black actress in the film has been excluded from events since the film’s release, including an MTV awards show in which her three white co-stars were asked to present an award while she sat, watching from the audience.

Public response was immediate and divided. While some lauded True for speaking up, others called her out implying that maybe she just didn’t have the drawing power the other three had for conventions and other appearances.

Black Women in Horror
Rachel True came forward to tell her own story of omission and erasure from The Craft reunions at conventions.

Anyone who knows my work will realize that this immediately sounded alarm bells in my head, and I wanted to write about the actress’s exclusion, and the presence of racism in the horror business both in front of and behind the camera.

There was only one problem, really. I’m a white guy, and while I am also gay and understand marginalization on that front, I’m also aware that the “white” part of my description comes with certain privileges that others do not share.

In order to write about the realities of racism and sexism in the film industry, I needed those who had experienced it for themselves first hand.

As it happens, February is both Black History Month in the States and Women in Horror Month, and I saw this as an opportunity to combine both of these celebrations to discuss this serious matter.

I sent messages to three indie filmmakers I knew in particular who quickly added two more names to the list and last Sunday, the five of them sat down with me via phone to discuss issues that, despite what some may tell you, have not improved nearly enough in the U.S. especially.

Over the following hour I sat in awe as these phenomenal women took me into their confidence and related stories to me and each other, comparing experiences within the business of horror film-making.

We began our discussion with Rachel True’s situation, and it quickly became clear not only what the actress meant to these women, but also how her treatment echoed their own experiences.

“What has been going on with Rachel has really resonated with me,” Dallas-based writer/director/actress Tiffany Warren began. “I’ve struggled so much with finding roles that I finally broke down and asked a casting director here in Texas why. Is it something I’ve done wrong? And I’ve actually gotten feedback that they just don’t know what to do with me because I either don’t look ‘black enough’ or I’m too ethnically ambiguous.”

Not black enough? What does that even mean? I immediately thought of the Ruby Rose/Batwoman situation where toxic fans implied she wasn’t lesbian enough to play the role, and made a mental note to return to the subject.

“I think what she [Rachel True] has experienced is valid, but I don’t know if it’s intentional racism,” Warren continued. “One of the things I have noticed is that when she talks about her story, people will say things like, ‘There’s just not a demand for black people in horror’ or ‘There’s just not a lot of fans who are black in horror.'”

“Okay, that’s a straight lie,” interjected award-winning screenwriter and director Lucy Cruell. “I’m going to say that right quick. That’s an absolute lie.”

Black Women in Horror Rachel True
Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, and Rachel True in The Craft. True was told by conventions that she didn’t have the drawing power of the rest of the cast.

“It’s just racism,” San Francisco based writer and director Comika Hartford continued. “It’s more than just individual people making racist decisions. It’s because we live in a racist nation built on genocide, slavery, and murder. What I’ve found is that things are not getting better, and I’ve found that these people have set themselves up as the gatekeepers of ‘blackness.’ It’s about dividing who is ‘acceptable black’ from who is not.”

“We’ve seen the backlash she’s received from promoters and convention planners who want to spin her response,” added Drexel University alum and award-winning screenwriter Chris Courtney Martin. “They say, ‘Oh we were going to call you, but you just screwed up.'”

“That’s gaslighting because she called them out.” Hartford said.

Gaslighting refers to manipulation by sewing seeds of doubt in a person’s sanity or reliability. The terms comes from the 1944 George Cukor film, Gaslight, in which Charles Boyer attempt to drive Ingrid Berman insane.

“Her representation had already reached out and were told they weren’t interested,” Warren pointed out.

“So now, they sit and spin the ‘angry black woman’ narrative and make it seem like she was being aggressive and belligerent,” Martin continued, “and they don’t want to work with her when we already know it came down to racism.”

“If you make a peep, you get that angry black woman stereotype,” Cruell said. “If you complain or question even in the nicest possible terms, that stereotype pops up faster than you can get to the question mark.”

Cruell went on to relay her own experiences growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone, and how it created a sort of “racial unawareness” of what was going on in the world around her.

When, after attending Harvard Law School, she decided to pursue screenwriting instead, the systemic racism and sexism she met was almost baffling, but that people like True speaking up offers validation to her own experiences.

“It took me a while to figure out when I was first starting out,” she explained. “I kept getting awards and winning fellowships and then I’d meet some guy who won third place in one contest and he already had an agent and a manager. It just kept happening and you get to the point where you’re just confused and you don’t know where to turn and you need to know if this is happening to other people.”

She went on to describe the situation as something akin to the old Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” saying that they’re all looking for the door but only the [white] men in charge can present it, and it doesn’t appear that they’re ready.

For those who think these women might be exaggerating, I would point out to you that while the number of men of color directing big screen releases has increased over the last couple of years, the number for women of color is still abysmally low.

In fact, according to Variety, when reporting on the top 100 films for each of the last 12 years, they pointed out that out of 1200 titles, there were only five black women directors at the helm and only three Asian women and one Latina.

It’s downright maddening when one considers the perspectives we’re missing by not including these voices.

But let’s get back to that question of what it means to “not be black enough.”

“My question for that is always ‘What’s your interpretation of black?'” Georgia-based filmmaker and actress Melissa Kunnap said. “Their answer is usually something very stereotypical and I’m going to say, ‘So are you the benchmark for a white person?’ When they say that, no, white people come with all kinds of backgrounds and education levels I tell them so do we. Your idea of what a black person is, that’s just a stereotype and that is not who we are in the world.”

“White people think they are in charge of policing blackness,” Hartford added. “There’s also the issue of enforced colorism in the U.S. That’s a big part of the problem and its definitely a European disease that affects other cultures. When you’re dealing with colorism, you’re dealing with the after-effects of colonialism.”

For those unaware, “colorism” refers to a stratification based on skin-tone where certain qualities, characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, are ascribed to the varying shades of lightness and darkness of a person’s skin color.

“I don’t think they realize how dehumanizing it is,” Cruell said. “It’s almost like they’re separating and deciding what it is to be human. They can be anything from a country and western singer to a headbanger, but you’re only allowed to be this one thing. We’re limited by the boundaries that one race has laid out for another. It’s annoying and limiting.”

“Every black person everywhere has to represent every black person everywhere,” Hartford added “but white people are ‘normal’ and get to be individuals.”

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Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey – Extended Clip

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Brace yourselves, Disney fans! The sweet and lovable Winnie the Pooh takes a dark turn in the latest extended scene of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.

Pooh, with his mouth drooling with sticky honey, transforms into a ruthless tormentor, the sounds of whipping and screaming fill this just released clip.

Send the kiddos to another room, this one is going to be a wild ride! Watch the clip below:

The much-anticipated Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is hitting theaters on February 15th, and it’s shaping up to be one wild ride.

With word of mouth spreading faster than a stampede of heffalumps, the film’s 1-day theatrical run has been extended to a nine-day theater release, set to be shown in over 1,500 theaters nationwide.

The buzz is so strong that the studio behind the project is already planning a sequel, greenlighting it before any box office numbers even come in. The film’s official Twitter page made the announcement with the tantalizing caption “More blood. More honey”.

They also released a teaser poster featuring Winnie-The-Pooh 2, front and center, with a tagline that reads “Friends will gather… to take revenge”. Get ready to be lured into the world of Winnie the Pooh like never before.

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Keanu Reeves Will Return As ‘Constantine’ in Sequel Directed by Francis Lawrence

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Keanu Reeves will finally return as John Constantine in a film directed by Francis Lawrence once again. Deadline reports that the new film has been given the greenlight. The first film came out back in 2005 and introduced a very different version of DC’s Hellblazer John Constantine.

Keanu Reeves offered his first public comments regarding Constantine 2 going into development under Warner Bros since its announcement last year.

Reeves explained just how much he loved playing the role in the first movie, joking that he was similar to the titular character from Oliver Twist in asking the studio “Can I please have some more?”

“I don’t know if it was unfinished business but it was definitely a role that I loved. And I thought that Francis Lawrence, the director, did such amazing work. I loved playing that character, and I really enjoyed the film. I was like, [adopts Oliver Twist voice] ‘Can I please have some more?'”

Constantine 2 by diamonddead-Art

This apparently became a regular conversation between Reeves and Warner Bros., with the studio regularly saying no to his requests:

“I kept asking almost every year. I’d be like, ‘Can I please?’ [and] they’d be like, ‘No, no!'”

Once the studio finally said “sure” and greenlit the sequel, Reeves and his team quickly got to work and are now “just starting to try and put a story together.”

Reeves was unable to contain his excitement, making it clear that he’s going to “try [his] darndest to try and realize that dream” of making this movie even with all the obstacles in the way:

“So it’s exciting. It’s almost like an open playground that we can hopefully cook something up and play in, and I guess get out of the playground and prepare a meal. But I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully it can happen. You don’t know how these things go. But I’m definitely going to try my darndest to try and realize that dream.”

The Constantine sequel will be directed by Lawrence and produced by Bad Robot with JJ Abrams and Hannah Minghella. Plus, Akiva Goldsmith is set to write.

Over the years since the release of 2005’s Constantine, Matt Ryan played a very authentic version of the blonde, British demonologist for a shortlived NBC series. Ryan has also given the character voice in animated films as well as portrayed the character in spinoffs to other DC worlds such as Legends of Tomorrow.

The synopsis for Constantine went like this:

As a suicide survivor, demon hunter John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) has literally been to hell and back — and he knows that when he dies, he’s got a one-way ticket to Satan’s realm unless he can earn enough goodwill to climb God’s stairway to heaven. While helping policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) investigate her identical twin’s apparent suicide, Constantine becomes caught up in a supernatural plot involving both demonic and angelic forces. Based on the DC/Vertigo “Hellblazer” comics.

Over the years we have heard buzz about a possible Constantine sequel several times, with no actual flame behind the sparks. So, it is definitely exciting to see the film actually moving forward.

Stay tuned for more Keanu Constantine details.

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Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy’s Has Begun Filming

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Filming for the highly anticipated Blumhouse production of Five Nights at Freddy’s has officially begun! A sneak peek photo posted by Blum himself reveals that the flick is being shot under the oh-so-delicious faux title of Bad Cupcake. Yum!

We’re ready for a horror-filled romp with Matthew Lillard (Thir13en Ghosts, Scream). He’s one of our favorite people to watch, and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the film!

Joining him is none other than Josh Hutcherson (Tragedy Girls) and Mary Stuart Masterson (Skin). Emma Tammi (The Wind) is directing this horror-themed video game adaptation, with the team from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop conjuring up the evil animatronics. We can’t wait to see the nightmare fuel this team brews up!

The new film will follow a troubled security guard as he begins working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While spending his first night on the job, he realizes the night shift at Freddy’s won’t be so easy to make it through.

We’re happy to see production underway and look forward to seeing some BTS clips soon!

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