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Entries in Great Moments in Horror Actressing (5)

Monday
Aug192019

Horror Actressing: Joan Allen in "Manhunter"

by Jason Adams

When I first introduced this "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series a few weeks back I mentioned that my own definition of what makes a "horror" film is fairly loose -- so is Michael Mann's 1986 serial killer flick Manhunter a Horror Film? I think that book author Thomas Harris wrote all of his Hannibal Lecter tomes with enough Guignol to them to say that yes, his intention was to unsettle our fundamental trust in the form of the world -- to violate the borders of what's sane and insane with the explicit intention of horrifying. 

But Michael Mann as a director, he does bring Manhunter back down to earth a bit -- just look at how Bryan Fuller adapted the material of Red Dragon straight into outer space with his gloriously baroque show Hannibal to see how much Mann grounded his movie in contrast. All that genre back and forth aside though, I think it's impossible to argue that the character of Reba McClane -- played by Joan Allen, who's celebrating her birthday tomorrow, in the film -- isn't meant to play explicitly with a standard horror trope...

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Monday
Aug122019

Horror Actressing: Sigourney Weaver in "Copycat"

by Jason Adams

Something I look forward to every single year, Film at Lincoln Center's annual week-long "Scary Movies" series, is hitting here in New York this forthcoming weekend -- check out the entire stellar run of films at this link here. While I'm most excited for Ari Aster's "Director's Cut" of Midsommar, which runs half an hour longer than the one we saw in theaters, they're mixing up showings of brand new flicks and old under-screened classics in ways that really set my toes to tingle. 

In that vein I was tempted to use this week's edition of our "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series to talk about a performance not very many people have seen yet -- that of Maeve Higgins in Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman's horror-comedy Extra Ordinary, which I saw this past month thanks to the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal (here's my review) and which is screening this weekend at FLC. Maeve, in her first leading lady role, absolutely shines. 

But we'll save that for when the very funny movie gets a proper release. Especially since FLC is also screening Jon Amiel's terrifically under-valued 1995 serial killer flick Copycat, starring two of our great actresses, Holly Hunter and today's focus-of-post, Sigourney effing Weaver...

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Monday
Aug052019

Great Moments in Horror Actressing

by Jason Adams

It's hard not to walk out of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood without Sharon Tate on your mind. Whether it's because you thought the film needed more of what Margot Robbie was serving or if like me it's because you thought what Robbie did serve was A+ First Class stuff, the specter of that real woman, rightfully, lords over the entire experience. Sharon Tate only got to make six films before she was murdered, and two of them were horror films -- not an unlikely statistic for any young beautiful actress, but one that's linked itself arm in arm with Tate's fate nonetheless. 

I've never seen her 1967 British occult flick Eye of the Devil, which had her playing a witch opposite David Niven and Deborah Kerr. But I've seen her other horror flick of that same year, Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers, more times than I can count, and it's Tate's under-valued performance that I always think of when I think of the film. She's barely in it but she walks away with it -- a pale fire piled in soap bubbles and snow...

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Monday
Jul292019

Great Moments in Horror Actressing

by Jason Adams

We had intended to use this week's edition of our new "Great Moments in Horror Actressing" series to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stuart Rosenberg's The Amityville Horror with an ode to Margot Kidder's performance... but then we re-watched The Amityville Horror, and it is so very much worse than we remembered. Not scary, tedious, with cardboard performances; a mere shadow of that decade's many better horror films. I have no idea how it became a hit, and I felt actively bad for Margot while re-watching it.

So in order to make it up to the actress, let's take a look instead at the crown jewel in her horror crown (give or take a Sisters), her hilarious work five years earlier as the deliciously crusty co-ed Barb in Bob Clark's slasher Black Christmas...

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Monday
Jul222019

Great Moments in Horror Actressing

by Jason Adams

Howdy folks and say howdy-do to my brand new series here at TFE, "Great Moments in Horror Actressing". I'll be smashing together my favorite things (horror movies) with your favorite things (actresses). We'll focus in on great women giving the scary movies that little oomph of something extra. I'm just going to be lasering in on little moments, scenes, flourishes that I find especially special -- the pieces that make the big scary whole all the sweeter. Or sourer, as the case will probably more often be, given the genre. 

First up, Vera Farmiga in Orphan (2009). Jaume Collet-Serra's horror film about an orphan (Isabelle Furhman) just looking for a home, no matter the cost, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. It's a truly astounding box of shocks that's managed to retain its ability to jaw-drop a full decade later. But for all its third act reveals that I still can't believe they got away with, and the titular mind-blowing performance, the film packs such a visceral punch as its bottom drops out because of the sound emotional foundation Vera Farmiga set up in its opening scenes...

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