In Dracula (1931), the count manages to slip seamlessly into British high society without missing a beat, even though his thick Transylvanian accent, odd beliefs and suave mannerisms seem a little bit out of place. He mercilessly takes victims that he is enamored with and destroys the young lives that surround him. I’m sure we’d all like to think that we would be privy to someone’s harmful behaviors and tendencies- but sometimes our judgement can be clouded by the aura of someone’s personality and social status. In Dracula, we see that dignity and money can get you incredibly far, even if you are a bit of an outsider.

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Dracula could represent a lot of different things and in episode 51 we talk about a few. However, I want to mention a couple of different routes that we didn’t have time to discuss in the episode. Firstly, Count Dracula could be a metaphor for large corporations who will stop at nothing to grow (even if it means putting lives at risk) and greedy people who prey upon the weakest members of society for their own personal gain. With this in mind, Dracula could be interrupted as an insidious force that comes for you when you least expect it and slowly drains you, leaving you weak, dying, or worse- one of his pawns. It’s no wonder, in my opinion, that Dracula’s first victim in England is a poor flower girl.

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We see this in our daily lives constantly- we don’t want refugees or people of a lower class coming into our country or being supported- but because of money and social status, we are blinded by the true intentions of big corporations who we seem to trust more- The 1% tends to blame the lower class and foreign citizens and refugees for our maladies and economic woes. So, as long as you are white and rich (aka Dracula), you have a place here in our country. It won’t be long before the wealthy vampires of the world begin to destroy the very people who invited them inside in the first place.

 

According to C.D. Calderon in their article titled In Retrospect: Dracula (1931):

The horror comes from two interrelated aspects of the film. None of these chills have anything to do with the fast-paced graphic, in your face gore that people have come to associate with the genre. The first element is so well hidden that it often goes over the heads of most viewers. It is the underlying sense of racial class hypocrisy that allows Dracula easy access to parlors and drawing rooms of England’s upper-class system. It is doubtful the Count would have survived for long if he didn’t depend on his status as a member of the nobility. The rigid and unforgiving social strictures of Victorian Britain wouldn’t have permitted much fraternization with any foreigner deemed as “The Other”. At the same time, money and titles go a lot farther than any effort at diplomacy. The irony is that it is this very same class-system that is responsible for putting all of Britain in peril. The Ruling Class is willing to discriminate against working class foreigners who want nothing than to just build a life for themselves, while being more than willing to court their own destruction, as long as it involves “the right sort of people”, international or otherwise.

While we were discussing our research for the episode, Gracie made a great point, and brought up this quote from Jason Marzini in his article Traversing the Darkness: Representations of Dracula through Two Films Film Studies:

In Browning’s telling of the tale, Dracula’s foreignness is tied to his country of origin. The choice of Bela Lugosi for the role functioned well to enforce the stereotypes associated with immigrants in the 1930s. Lugosi’s strong Hungarian accent and dark features distinguish him from the English actors in the film. His eccentric behavior and strange mannerisms serve as a reminder that he doesn’t fit in with the white aristocracy of London…Another plot device [to show the vampire’s otherness], is the vampire’s inability to cast a reflection…It was once believed that mirrors had the power to capture a person’s soul at their time of death. The injection of this belief into the vampire mythology helps to reinforce the fact that Dracula is of the undead. He is soulless, and yet alive at the same time. His uncanny physical presence conjoined with his inability to cast a reflection places him in a realm that not entirely of this world.

The really ironic thing about all of this is that Dracula has no reflection, because he is soulless, so he has learned to mimic the body language, expressions and mannerisms of his victims. If he doesn’t learn how to blend, he’ll be discovered- and he becomes so good at it that it signals the end of those who surround him.

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Secondly, to give Count Dracula a little more credit, he represents a foreigner living in a xenophobic west that’s afraid of the handsome “other” out to “take away the women.” While Professor Van Helsing is the happy, helpful foreigner who has successfully assimilated into western British society, Dracula is too strange and too… well, sexy. Van Helsing poses no threat to the women in Dracula (1931). He’s an older gentleman whose accent isn’t as strong. Dracula (who is logically older than Van Helsing) appears younger, tells spooky tales of his homeland, dresses nicely, and just oozes sex appeal. I don’t feel that it’s any coincidence that the character Lucy Western was given that name in particular. “Lucy” is an English and French feminine given name derived from Latin masculine given name Lucius with the meaning of light (born at dawn or daylight, maybe also shiny, or of light complexion). Western is almost too on the nose to explain. Her name literally means “light of the west” and her light is smothered by Dracula (or so its interpreted). Dracula then tries to woo Mina whose name means small rose or daisy. She’s a delicate flower who can’t look after herself and needs the protection of the assimilated doctor, the boring white boyfriend, and her wealthy white father. Gag me.

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Overall, when we strip away the identity of foreigners, much like the way Dracula’s identity is nonexistent as a reflection in the mirror, outsiders have no choice but to take what we give them. What exactly are we handing them, though? What makes us believe that our whiteness, our aggression, our very American characteristics, are superior in ANY way to those that have been around centuries longer than we have? These are questions that I’m sure many of us have pondered in our current climate when it comes to immigration. And it all boils down to fear of being victimized, or of someone taking something from you indirectly. But perhaps we are so busy being afraid of this that the REAL threats among us have blended in with society in ways that don’t even make you blink- the fear of “others” becomes a distraction for what we should actually be afraid of, and that is our willingness to overlook the predatory appetites of outsiders as long as they assimilate and become familiar- because at that point, they become the reflection of us and our country’s ideals.  

  • Abbey

Ep. 51: Dracula (1931) – Watch Old Horror Movies is available here!

Resources:

In Retrospect: Dracula (1931) by C.D. Calderon: https://hccegalitarian.com/5481/commentary/in-retrospect-dracula-1931/

Traversing the Darkness: Representations of Dracula through Two Films Film Studies 352: Monster Movies by Jason Marzini: https://www.academia.edu/9553708/Traversing_the_Darkness_Representations_of_Dracula_through_Two_Films_Film_Studies_352_Monster_Movies

The Children of the Night: Dracula (1931): http://thefineartdiner.blogspot.com/2011/10/children-of-night-dracula-1931.html?m=1

Hello listeners, family, and friends!

WOW. What else can I say, really? Listen, a word of advice… if you have the opportunity to move… DON’T. Just kidding! But seriously… moving isn’t easy especially when you have a podcast.

For those who are unaware, my husband and I left our little apartment in Syracuse, NY and moved out west to a gorgeous new apartment in Buffalo, NY (which is about 3 hours away). This move was absolutely necessary. Not just for my husband (who got a sick new job) but also for the podcast. You know why? Because it’s been a fucking struggle trying to get our audio figured out and it’s seriously the best thing to ever happen to the show.

I’m not going to lie, I have had some pretty terrible sleepless nights over trying to figure out our audio for remote recording. Abbey and I have ZERO background in audio arts. Everything we know we learned from my husband (who has a background in radio) and “How-To-Podcast” videos on YouTube. We don’t pretend to be master podcasters. As many of you know, Abbey and I started Good Mourning, Nancy as just a fun project for when we weren’t working our soul-crushing barista and office jobs. When the show started gaining momentum we proudly  jumped into the deep end, head first, without lifejackets. Just when we were getting the hand of recording together… we had to scrap all of that and start learning how to record remotely.

This whole process has been trial and error, guys. There are many websites that have advice and techniques on how to remote record but when we tried them we noticed our sound was NOT what we wanted… we’ve re-recorded multiple episodes this season because of it. It’s been frustrating and stressful… but it’s only making us stronger.

Have any of you heard of the folk tale Two Frogs in Trouble? If you haven’t, let me paraphrase the story for you:

Two frogs are hopping along together near a farm. Suddenly, they both accidentally jump into a bucket of cow milk. They begin swimming in circles, trying to find a way out of the bucket. They even try climbing out but the milk makes them too slippery to climb out. The first frog begins to cry. “This is the end of us, friend!” he says to the second frog. “There is no way out!” The second frog tries to encourage the first frog to not give up but it’s to no avail. The first frog stops swimming and drowns. The second frog, determined to live, keeps swimming. After swimming for hours and hours, the second frog felt his legs and lungs begin to burn. Still, he kept on swimming; and just when he felt like he couldn’t swim any longer, he noticed that the milk had been churned into butter. All of his swimming had paid off! The frog was able to leap out of the bucket and live happily the rest of his days.

My favorite saying might be cliche, but it fits perfectly here: When it comes to sink or swim…ALWAYS SWIM.

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So, yeah… that’s how this has been! We’ve both felt like the frog swimming and swimming trying to turn the milk into butter so we don’t drown. It’s been tough and it’s been hard and we’ve had to sacrifice our sound so that we could keep up with this season. The sound is listenable for sure but it’s most certainly NOT what we consider quality for Good Mourning, Nancy.

We want to give you all the best and I want to let you know that we’ve finally arrived at a solution that should be awesome! The next few episodes will have some noticeable jankiness but we hope that doesn’t scare you away because starting in season 6 we are going to have an amazing sounding show again! Thank you all for being patient with us while we ride the struggle bus. We CANNOT WAIT to get back to a sound that we love and we CANNOT WAIT to start recording Coffee Breaks (mini episodes) again! It’s seriously been too long since we’ve gathered ’round the coffee pot and talked about horror news!

You are all so awesome and special to us! Thank you for your continued support! We love you all to death! Have a good “mourning” <3

  • Gracie

Latest Episode:

Ep. 46: An American Werewolf in London (1981) – 2nd Place Schmuck 

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified.” -Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Life is not easy, and the atmosphere in our country lately has been tumultuous to say the least. Between the political climate and all of the social issues that pop up on our television screens, phones, computers and everywhere in between, it’s easy to feel that weight on a personal level. Many, if not all of us have experienced some of those things ourselves. It’s a struggle sometimes. When it all gets to be too much, I try to take a step back, to drown out the noise.

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford being sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

This is what Mia, the final girl of the 2013 Evil Dead tries to do in order to kick her drug habit. In an isolated cabin in the woods, she plans to detox with a group of her closest friends, including her brother. Mia ends up doing battle with more than her drug addiction, though- she becomes possessed and is sexually assaulted by deadites that lurk in the woods surrounding the cabin. (These demons were summoned by her friend who read a passage aloud from the Necronomicon after the book was found in the basement of the dilapidated cabin.) She pleads with her friends to take her back home, that something terrible happened to her and she was in danger. Thinking that this was just a symptom of her withdrawal or a ploy to get her hands on some more drugs, her friends elect to keep her there at the cabin. Mia knows what happened to her- she knew that there was something out there coming for her and she’s plagued with demonic visions.

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In early September of this year, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward to tell of her sexual assault experience, facilitated by the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh 36 years ago at a small gathering at a friend’s home. If you aren’t sure of what happened or haven’t watched the news lately, Dr. Ford was allegedly held down and groped by Kavanaugh as her friends were gathered downstairs. When she freed herself, she ran from the home without explanation. She kept the experience from those that had been there that night, from her parents, and from her husband until she opened up about it in a couples therapy session decades later. When she learned of Kavanaugh’s nomination, she decided to come forward; she felt it is her civic duty. She was met not only with disbelief, but death threats, threats against her family and accusations of lying as an effort to thwart Kavanaugh’s nomination. As a society, we tend not to believe the victim if there isn’t tangible proof.

 

“…I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details…I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened. “ – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

 

Mia’s friends doubted her claims- and then they all began to see that maybe she wasn’t lying. But by then, it was too late. The group of youngsters is picked off by the forces  of evil until Mia is the only survivor, in more ways than one. So this raises a really poignant question- when someone comes forward to talk about their assault and we choose not to believe them- what kind of consequences will we experience? What will that teach generations to come about how we react to accusations of rape, and even more importantly, what will this teach young men about perpetrating sexual assault on others?

 

“Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward…At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized—and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core.” -Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

 

Humans are faulty by nature. We want the evidence, we need the facts, and when we don’t have it, we tend to shrug it off when people can’t prove their guilt or innocence. However, you have to sit back and really ask yourself- what is being gained by someone coming forward to share their trauma, knowing that they most likely won’t be believed- but saying it anyway. In Evil Dead, Mia tries to tell her brother David that there’s something wrong and that the force that came after her in the woods is in the house. He doesn’t believe her, but the deadite is there, waiting for Mia, in the corner of her room. David tells Mia, “You know it’s all in your head. Try to get it together. You’ll feel better tomorrow. Be glad we were such assholes.”

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I think that it’s time we hang up the idea that women tell of their assault because they’re trying to gain attention or shirk the responsibility of their actions. Much like Mia is tired and afraid of the deadites hurting her and her friends, women are tired of knowing that their rapists are walking around, possibly harming others, and holding positions of power.

 

  • Abbey

 

Episode 33: Evil Dead (2013) – Cross Your Lung is available now on your favorite podcast app!

I think we all have memories of swimming in a pool or lake at some point and replaying that menacing Jaws theme over in our heads. For a quick second, you probably swam a little faster towards the safety of shore, back to your parents, away from that humongous, toothy fish from the deep… and then you remembered (if you grew up near freshwater like we did) that of course there are no sharks here….right?

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I think the older we get, the more those things fade into our memories, but they’re replaced with other feelings like- “Will I be able to pay my bills on time? Will I find the love of my life? Will I be successful?” We become adults and suddenly, we wish that imaginary sharks swimming in the local pool were our biggest worry.

There has been a lot of speculation about what the shark in Jaws symbolizes and how it connects to our world and society in general. There are a few interesting theories that Gracie and I tackle in this episode, but I have a particular mindset about what I think the monster represents and why this film remains so relevant and frightening to this day.

The magic of Jaws is that we don’t see the monster until the very last few scenes in the film. That anxiety builds and builds until a gigantic man eating great white destroys a small fishing boat and then dies in a fiery shark explosion, thanks to the local sheriff’s impeccable aim. You understand throughout the film that this shark is destroying the lives of those that live in Amity, and your mind runs amok with possibilities of what the shark looks like until it’s time for the big reveal, and it does not disappoint. The shark is massive, angry and it’s destruction knows no bounds. And that’s kind of how adulthood is, right? It sneaks up on you when you least expect it, when you think you’re safe and you’ve got all of your proverbial ducks in a row- and then before you know it, you’re caught between the gnashing teeth of responsibility.

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You come across so many things in life that make you question your sanity, if you’re doing the right things, trusting the right people- maybe you’re like Sheriff Brody. There are smart people, like Matt Hooper (our too-smart-for-his-own-good scientist), who will help guide you through your intellectual speed bumps. Tough, strong and streetwise people like Quint (our dependable local fisherman) who are there to provide you with some muscle and grit when you need it. And of course, greedy politicians like Amity’s Mayor Vaughn who will try to talk you into believing that you’re safe when it feels like the world is falling to pieces.

This film lasts for generations because this is what life is made of- figuring out who you are amongst the chaos and how you’ll overcome it. The shark itself is that chaos, that fear and anxiety, circling you in the deep blue waters, waiting for it’s chance to strike. Will you be the helpless teenage girl in the beginning of the film who succumbs to it, completely blindsided? Will you rally with your fellow humans to end the feeding frenzy of anger, madness, stress and anxiety that seems to plague our generation? Or will you strike out on your own like Sheriff Brody, with the help of faith and science to improve your life and the life of those who are closest to you, protecting them at all costs? You see, this shark is more than just a monster fish- it’s the very essence of death and destruction. And it may seem like it’s “too much of a threat” or “too much for one person to take on”- but someone’s got to, right? The world may seem like a big, vast, scary ocean and there are giant sharks everywhere. But all you need is some self assurance, strength and bravery…

And also maybe a canister of C02 and a sniper rifle, and you can blow all that scary stuff out of the water.

  • Abbey

Ep. 28: JAWS – Dangerous Reef Street is available on your favorite podcast app now!

Hey there everyone!

If you’re new to the show and you’re wondering where this new test came from out of nowhere, check out this website and read below!

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Okay, so there’s no accounting for the privileged white cisgender female. We’ve got problems, yeah… but we can’t deny that we’re still highly privileged, especially in the horror genre

Listen, Abbey and I want to become better people and to become more aware. For two seasons of GMN, we focused mostly on the Bechdel Test because at the time of GMN’s birth, we legitimately thought that this test was all that mattered for feminism in films. Oh how wrong we were….

Yes, this test is still important. Women with names should be able to talk to each other in everyday (and fantastical) situations about something other than a man. For some unknown, lazy reason, women are hard to write and it’s important to call out films when they can’t seem to pass this seemingly simple test. We’re not giving up on the Bechdel Test, we’re simply improving it.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors premiered in 1987 

That’s where Nancy’s Dream Team Test comes into play for the podcast. Much like Nancy’s army of Dream Warriors from Nightmare on Elm Street 3, this test is a way to improve ourselves as well fight against oppression and poor representation in horror. We’ll be asking four extra questions about the film in addition to the Bechdel Test:

1. Was the supporting cast at least 50% women?

2. Did a woman write, direct or produce the film?

3. Was the final girl a person of color?

 4. Were there any openly LGBTQ characters in the film?

This test is still far from perfect and the horror genre is far from perfect. But if horror has proven anything, it’s that it’s capable of adjusting to the times; horror movies are the mirrors that reflect our current fears and anxieties. With the release of such successful horror films as Get Out (2017), we can begin to hope for more positive representation in the near future.

As always, thanks for listening and for reading!

  • Gracie

Episode 25: What We Do In The Shadows – I Can’t Spell Vacuum will be available to listen to here starting Tuesday, June 5th 2018 (EST) and on your favorite podcast app!

*NOTE: ALL OF OUR BLOG POSTS AND EPISODES CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS*

I was really, really excited to talk about You’re Next on the podcast for a multitude of reasons: it’s one of my favorite movies (not just horror, but in general), visually it’s remarkable, and there are a few really great cameos throughout. But most importantly, what did it for me was our final girl Erin (played by Sharni Vinson); she’s a force to be reckoned with who will stop at nothing to survive and protect a group of strangers that she barely knows while keeping herself out of the fray. Erin’s survival instinct is off the charts, and when the family in You’re Next is attacked by outsiders dressed all in black, donning animal masks to hide their identity, she kicks it into high gear, telling the family what to do, setting booby traps for the invaders all over the house and doling out basic first aid while trying to comfort the victims of this insane home invasion. We see early on that Erin is an observer; she’s unafraid of challenges and uncomfortable situations. And she does it without machismo- all of her violent reactions are just that- reactions driven by the pure need to survive, not to fall victim to a seemingly unmotivated attack.

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The first time I saw this film, I was in college and I remember saying to myself during finals week, “If Erin can fend off military trained assassins, jump out of a second story window and escape from the masked assailants by running through the woods with glass shards in her leg- you can pass your finals.” I’ve used Erin as inspiration for my fitness training, thinking to myself, “You never know when you’ll be in an Erin situation and have to kick some mercenary ass in order to save your own skin.”

Let’s take a second to appreciate her character: she’s a highly educated woman, she’s kind to her boyfriend’s family even when she feels out of place, she knows how to survive sticky situations thanks to her upbringing in a survivalist compound and she doesn’t settle in her relationships- in fact, she kills her boyfriend who is in part responsible for all of her troubles in the first place. (Disclaimer- Good Mourning, Nancy does not endorse the killing of your significant other if they’ve wronged you. We’re not about that life. Just dump ‘em and move on.)

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There are a few people I’ve encountered who ask me why I love this film so much, and they treat it like another slasher that’s fun to watch on a first date or a night in with your dog, eating a pint of ice cream. (I totally haven’t done this before, I don’t know what you’re talking about.) It’s so much more than that to me, because Erin is not a waif. She totally blasts through all of the toxic masculinity and misogyny that comes with the saying “fight like a girl” and rips through that veil of final girls throwing a weak punch at the behest of the film’s director and running the opposite direction of her attacker. But, as I mentioned before, she doesn’t do it to feed her ego or the ego of the audience. She’s a dynamic character who doesn’t revel in taking human life, but she knows what’s necessary in order to keep living. That’s what sets this film apart from so many other horror and home invasion films. The killing really isn’t needless or senseless- yes, the film is VERY bloody, but it’s not over saturated. It’s pretty believable for the most part.

Another thing that I really love about You’re Next is that the heroine isn’t over sexualized. There are times of course, when that can really work in films, but I feel as though this film, along with many other modern films helped move women in horror out of that phase. She’s not “conveniently” dressed in a sheer top, her clothing isn’t ripped off by her attackers, the film doesn’t show unnecessary scenes of sexual intimacy between her and Crispian, her boyfriend. Let’s face it, that’s been a trope in horror for a long time and while it’s great that it shows the sexual side of women, it typically ends with them being “punished” for their sexuality.

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Another noteworthy mention: This film doesn’t use sexual assault as a weapon or to scare the audience. With home invasion films, I feel as though that’s the “easy” route to take because it’s one of the most frightening and damaging things that can happen to women (or anyone, for that matter). And unfortunately, it’s used by filmmakers to get a reaction out of the audience, as if home invasion won’t scare the daylights out of you as it is. It’s almost as if film writers and directors have limited horror for women or said to themselves “What weakens women the most, degrades them, and truly traumatizes audiences and gets them to react? Oh, yes- sexual assault.” This movie transcends that by elevating it’s villains and the hero to intelligent humans with valid reasoning for the violence. That seems to do the trick when it comes to frightening the audience- anyone can write a film that allows the characters to be mindless destructive machines who rape, torture, and kill their victims. It’s a common plot line in many splatter films- we fear what we don’t understand. But with this, the killers are so determined because they have a purpose, and we’re left on the edge of our seats wondering what exactly that purpose is until it’s revealed that it’s all driven by money- killing this entire family means an inheritance for the remaining survivors and a big fat paycheck for the killers, hired to take out the parents and any siblings who have a cut in the sum of the inheritance.

*Queue huge sigh of relief when it’s discovered that the killers are not sexually motivated.*

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But back to our girl Erin- while many final girls might have listened to their boyfriend’s BS story about why he hired-a-team-of-assassins-to-kill-their-parents-for-inheritance money-and-almost-got-you-killed-in-the-process (oops, sorry honey!)-and-please-understand-I-had-a-good-reason-and-oh-we’re-rich-now… Erin doesn’t fall for it. She’s not wooed back into her boyfriends arms because “they have a lot of great memories and she loves him completely and unconditionally”- no, terms and conditions most definitely apply when it comes to Erin. She doesn’t allow herself to weaken because of her love for her boyfriend- in fact, that is completely thrown out the window when she learns what a piece of garbage he is. THAT is the kind of empowerment that I love to see when it comes to females in horror. You don’t have to settle for a garbage boyfriend (again, please see disclaimer above, DON’T KILL YOUR GARBAGE BOYFRIEND) or listen to his whiny stories about why he was motivated to do a trashy (illegal) thing. She realizes that this goes above and beyond what is morally acceptable and isn’t tempted by money, or the easier life that Crispian promises her once the inheritance comes through from his deceased family. She knows that (1) He’s never going to get away with it and (2) she’ll probably be implicated anyway so (3) why not just end this right here, right now? And that’s exactly what she does. Talk about really carpe-ing that diem, am I right? We need more characters in horror like Erin. We need strong females who are willing to stand up to their dumb boyfriends, fight for the lives of others and most importantly- stand up for themselves. You’re Next deserves to be heralded for providing that kind of character while simultaneously scaring the pants off of it’s audience.

So with that being said, I think we’re ready for what’s next when it comes to more badass females in horror.

  • Abbey

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Episode 23: You’re Next – Home Alone for Adults” premieres Tuesday, May 8th 2018

When I was a preteen, I used to have a little black portable radio that I would take to bed with me every night and every night I would listen to either

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What I probably would have looked like if I had been alive during the Golden Age of Radio.

classical music or Rabbit Ears Radio. RER was a local program that played old timey radio shows from the golden years and beyond. My favorite shows were the dramas, especially the ones with a pinch of horror: Radio Mystery Theater, The Shadow (a serial drama), Lights Out, and SUSPENSE! 

Although Radio Mystery Theater was my favorite then (the creaking door and E.G. Marshall’s voice inviting me to “Come in…” used to creep me out) my favorite now is Suspense! The episodes are shorter and more condensed which, in my opinion, does more justice to the creepy plots. You’ll hear more about the background and aesthetics of Suspense! when you listen to our latest coffee break (Coffee Break Ep. 18 – Suspense!) but here, you’ll be able to check out my favorite episodes below. If you’re new to old time radio dramas like Suspense! I hope this list is a great introduction for you! I haven’t listened to all 946 episodes but I’ve listened to quite a few to know which ones are my jam! Pleasant nightmares!

1. Episode 346: GHOST HUNT

This was the first episode of Suspense! that I had ever listened to and it’s WEIRD. We all know the classic trope: publicity stunt/prank goes horribly wrong, right? Well, Ghost Hunt plays into this trope perfectly when a light hearted radio personality named Smiley Smith (played by real-life radio personality and TV host, Ralph Edwards) decides to check out a haunted house in Malibu, California with a local paranormal investigator. What happens when they get to the house? Well, you’ll just have to listen and find out! I get the shivers just thinking about it!

Side-note: This episode was based on a short story written by renowned ghost story writer H. Russell Wakefield. Wakefield contributed to many famous pulp magazines in his day most notably Weird Tales.

Best time/place to listen: Right before bed when the electricity unsuspectingly goes out.

2. Episode 403: ON A COUNTRY ROAD

I discovered this episode of Suspense! quite recently and I can’t believe it flew under my radar for so long. A whiney, middle aged couple (played with perfect chemistry by Cary Grant and Cathy Lewis) try to avoid the horrible Long Island traffic by taking a lonely country road home. While taking the road, a terrible storm hits and a they hear on the radio that an elderly couple was just killed by a madwoman who escaped from the local mental hospital. Wouldn’t you know it, after hearing this news, their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and every little noise begins to freak them out and you, the listener, can’t help but freak out with them…

Side-note: This episode of Suspense! also stars Jeanette Nolan whose voice you might recognize from a little film by Alfred Hitchcock called PSYCHO. She’s the uncredited voice of Norma Bates!

Best time/place to listen: In your car driving through the seemingly unending darkness.

3. Episode 94: FUGUE IN C-MINOR

Are victorian gothic romances and Daphne du Maurier-esque stories more your thing? Then honey, I’ve got just the Suspense! episode for you! Fugue in C-Minor stars one of my favorite actors of all time, Vincent Price, who plays Mr. Evans, a widower whose children unflinchingly believe he has killed their mother and stuffed her dead body into their pipe organ. WHOA! This episode plays out through the eyes of woman named Amanda (Ida Lupino, the first female to direct a film noir) who is interested in becoming the next Mrs. Evans…

Side-notes: As explained in our Coffee Break, the original broadcast of this episode has gone missing/has been destroyed. The only surviving recording is that of a rehearsal which is kind of hilarious because at one point, one of the child actors forgets their lines and struggles to recover. This episode was written by Lucille Fletcher, who wrote a number of Suspense! episodes including The Hitch-Hiker, which was turned into a Twilight Zone episode, Sorry, Wrong Number, which was turned into a film, and the Thing in the Window, which is next on this list!

Best time/place to listen: During a thunderstorm while drinking a strong cup of coffee or tea to help you feel safe.

4. Episode 224: THE THING IN THE WINDOW

Just the title alone is enough to make your skin crawl. This episode is about a man (played by Joseph Cotton) who is convinced he sees a body lying in a chair in the apartment building across the street from his own. When he tries to show his elderly landlady, she doesn’t see it and therefore, doesn’t believe him. Throughout the episode he tries to convince others of the body’s existence but to no avail and eventually his determination to prove it becomes an obsession.

Side-note: Surprisingly, there were two versions of this episode done for Suspense! The first was this one starring Cotton in 1946 and other one was broadcast just three years later in 1949 with Robert Montgomery in the starring role. Why CBS did this I have no idea. The script changes are minor at most. If you’d like to listen to the Montgomery version, click HERE and let me know which version is your favorite and why!

Best time/place to listen: When you’re just waking up from a nightmare and you can’t remember if it was real or not.

 

5. Episode 222: THE HOUSE IN CYPRESS CANYON

Because this is widely considered the scariest episode of Suspense! (and because it’s my personal favorite) we talk more in depth about it in our latest Coffee Break but here’s the gist: An east coast couple (played by Robert Taylor and Cathy Lewis) are desperately looking for a new house to buy in California. While driving through an area called Cypress Canyon, they find a small, newly built home for sale. What happens next is the most bizarre piece of fiction to ever hit my eardrums.

Side-note: *SPOILERS* I have heard many theories on what this episode could be about  (I have even heard that it was about werewolves!?) but no one seems to know exactly. The author, Robert L. Richards, never explained what inspired him to write such a twisting, time warping, and ghoulish story. That’s part of the freakish appeal of Cypress Canyon, I guess.

 
Best time/place to listen: When it’s past the witching hour and your nerves are heightened from reading creepypastas.  

  • Gracie

Coffee Break Ep. 18 – Suspense! premieres Tuesday, May 1st 2018

Whether or not you believe in the literal story of Adam & Eve, consider this for a moment: What if Eve rejected Adam as a mate?

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It’s difficult to separate James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein from it’s very obvious and sometimes laughable connections to the Bible. In episode 22, Abbey and I talk a bit about these connections but we also talk about the Bride’s (Elsa Lanchester) memorable scene of defiance towards becoming the Monster’s (Boris Karloff) friend and more importantly, his wife. The scene understandably, comes as a shock to the viewer. I certainly wasn’t expecting it when I first saw the film 20 years ago. In fact, I was pretty bummed. Not only is the Bride’s screen time less than 5 mins but she doesn’t really do anything with that time… or does she?

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On first viewing of Bride, I was left feeling disappointed. I hoped in my 10-year-old heart that she and the monster would get together and that she would kill Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) and run off into the sunset with her new hubby; wreaking havoc all over Europe until the end of time. But no. She doesn’t do anything particularly monstrous in the film. In fact, she doesn’t even look monstrous. Apart from a few hidden stitches on her neck and teased hair, she’s beautiful by society’s standards. It wasn’t until I grew up and recognized the patriarchal society I lived in that I started to appreciate her and begin to understand why the Bride is so important for all film genres; not just horror.

One of the key topics in this episode is the fact that the Bride rejects the Monster straight away. As he takes her hand and smiles at her, her face twists from shocked and confused to absolutely horrified. “She hates me…like others,” the Monster says as the Bride screams in his face.

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Why does she hate him though? What did he do? Well, nothing….

Some have argued with me that the Bride has only known handsome gentlemen up until the point she meets the ugly brutish monster. He’s not like Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Pretorius, who so lovingly dressed her and (I guess) slapped on her makeup beforehand. In the film, she seems to have a deep connection to Frankenstein in particular. She seems so transfixed by him that she can’t even stand properly. Less than 5 years ago I probably would have agreed with that but I don’t think so now. I think that she, like most newborns do, connected to the doctors like they were her parents rather than her lovers. We could get into how this theory illustrates the concept of “babying” women or the freakish convention of “born sexy yesterday” but I can’t get into that now. Just click this link HERE to watch an amazing video about it by Pop Culture Detective because it’s definitely relevant to Bride of Frankenstein.

What I do want to write about is how love and the title of “bride” cannot be manufactured by an outside source not even in fiction. This is something we talk about in the episode but I wanted to expand on it here. Technically the monster did nothing wrong to the Bride. He just existed in her company and took her hand which, now that I’m thinking about it, could be a “bad touch” moment. He doesn’t say anything to offend her or to scare her off, in fact, he calls her his friend rather than his wife when he meets her. She’s not having it though. She hates him and wants nothing to do with him and honestly, why would she? She doesn’t know him and even if she did who cares? The Bride was created for one purpose and one purpose only and that was to marry the monster and she freaking pulls a rug from under him and the doctors by saying NO. She doesn’t love him even though she’s a monster like him. That’s pretty good writing.

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This is so incredible for so many reasons. Abbey brings up an interesting point in the episode: maybe the Bride is a lesbian? Sure! She could totally be a lesbian! We all know that our sexual orientation is determined before birth. It’s not something we choose. Not only could the Bride not be interested in male genitalia but she could also not be interested in sex at all. She could be A-sexual for all we know! She could be a transgender man who is interested in women! Just because she was put into the body of a woman by the doctors doesn’t mean that she feels like a woman. The Bride could easily be a man! There are so many reasons why she rejects the Monster and all of them are great guesses. All we really know is that she doesn’t like him like that. She wants to be more than a bride and unfortunately she dies before we can ever find out what that is. Oh, and there’s no “GROOM OF THE MONSTER” horror movie is there!? Nope. Never the Monster, always the Bride. Aside from all that, not only does her rejection work thematically for the film but it also works in terms of female representation in film.

Let’s jump to 2013 with the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

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Yes. We’re about to jump on over to the fantasy film genre. Listen though, what I am about to talk about goes for all genres in film. I’m just using this one as an example.

I have a lot of issues with The Hobbit films but one of the franchise’s major flaws was putting Evangeline Lilly’s character into a love triangle. Lilly is no stranger to this outdated stereotype in media (I AM LOOKING AT YOU ABC’S LOST) and that’s a shame. In The Hobbit, Lilly plays a made up elven character named Tauriel. This character is not in the J.R.R. Tolkien book, The Hobbit but I guess I can see why they added her to the films: there are no women in The Hobbit. This brings up a question that I won’t answer here but that we can all think about collectively: is no representation better than bad representation? Think about it and let me know at goodmourningnancy@gmail.com.

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So, without getting into too much detail as to why The Hobbit films fell apart early in production, Lilly’s character Tauriel was just supposed to be Legolas’s (Orlando Bloom) badass girlfriend who would also be the token female representation the film “needed.” With that said, Tauriel is a completely flat and unremarkable character because she doesn’t fit into the story let alone the world that Tolkien created. After the films were completed, Lilly got called back to do some re-shoots. Normally re-shoots are no big deal… but these re-shoots were huge. The studios wanted to completely change her character arc as well as the character arcs of two others: Legolas and Kili (Aidan Turner). That’s right. The studio wanted a love triangle. *SMH*

It was bad enough Tauriel was created solely for the purpose of being a man’s love interest but TWO!? When you watch the films, the love triangle seems rushed and tacked on and that’s because it was! I would have loved to have seen Tauriel become self-aware and just scream into Legolas’s and Kili’s faces like the Bride and then just run in the opposite direction. If they were going to have a new female character in The Hobbit, I wish that they had written her to say NO like the Bride.

I want to finish by saying that there is NOTHING WRONG with being a wife  (I am) or someone’s girlfriend (Abbey is) and maybe bad representation IS better than no representation at all (again, it’s a touchy subject, so email us what you think). But very recently, the well-known feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (We Should All Be Feminists and Americanah) spoke to Hillary R. Clinton about her twitter biography which, at the time this essay was written, says:

 

“Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”

 

Adichie, who is a Clinton supporter, found the beginning of Clinton’s bio to be disappointing mostly because not many successful men (including Clinton’s husband, Bill) have the title “husband” starting off their own Twitter bios. Successful women are expected to include their domestic/personal lives with their professional ones and not just include them but put them first. Again, there is nothing wrong with this if it’s YOUR CHOICE to put “wife, mom, grandma” before your other successes. I think that’s great! I think the problem here is that women who have both domestic lives and professional ones are more likely to be condemned if they don’t mention their domestic lives first (whether it’s on social media or in a conversation). I can almost guarantee you that Clinton’s campaign team wrote that Twitter bio for her to help “humanize” her. Can you imagine if she started off with “hair icon” or “Senator” first? I wonder what people would say?

As someone who was raised by a stay-at-home-mom and someone who has a mother-in-law who worked three jobs to support her family, I have a huge respect for mothers of all kinds. Both of them have domestic lives but they also have dreams and goals outside of wifehood and motherhood too. What’s wonderful is that they both recognize that. They’re not one arc women and neither is the Bride.

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It makes total sense to me now why the Bride doesn’t want to marry the monster. Her realization is sort of meta in a way. To me, she’s trying to tell us something. She’s trying to say “I’m more than this.” We can’t force fictional female characters to be just brides and girlfriends. The audience isn’t going to buy it. We can tell when it’s fake and forced. By having female characters in films proving to be more than just token female reps, we can begin to tell truthful stories about ourselves in fantastical settings.

  • Gracie

Episode 22: The Bride of Frankenstein – Friend Zoned premieres Tuesday, April 24 *EST* on SoundCloud, StitcherTune InGoogle Play,  Podbean and iTunes/Apple Podcast

Hello Current Listeners and Newbs!

Wow… it’s been a long time since we’ve posted a blog post. Don’t worry… it’s not because we’ve forgotten! If you’ve been following our journey you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been very busy over here at Good Mourning, Nancy and we haven’t had the time (nor the energy) to update our blog posts! So far, GMN is run solely by Abbey and myself. We’ve come to the obvious conclusion that our episode content and quality trumps the blog posts! We want to make sure our episodes sound great but we also want to make sure we use all of our spare time to research the films we discuss. Of course, there have been many other amazing things happening to GMN that have been keeping us busy! All of which are helping us GROW!!

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  • We have a PATREON!

  • We’re busy making Patreon Rewards and bonus material!!

  • We are currently looking for episode sponsors!

  • We have MERCH!

We’ve also been going through some *day* job changes that have been taking up a lot of time (as they do…ugh!).

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Okay, enough excuses… we promise that blog posts will return at the end of Season 2 (beginning of April/May 2018).

Thank you as always for listening to the show. Your constant love and support is unbelievable and we wouldn’t be here without you all! Have a great mourning and we’ll see you next time!

  • Gracie

James Wan does it again.

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The Conjuring 2 manages to be just as scary as the first, and even if you don’t believe the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the film manages to deliver just as many tasteful scares as it’s predecessor. There are terrifying ghosts and demonic imagery that repeat on a terrifying reel in your mind long after the credits have rolled.

Like Gracie stated in her previous blog post about our season 2 premiere (with the first installment of The Conjuring), the film shows us the unshakable bond of love between Ed and Lorraine, who are sent to England to help a single housewife, Peggy Hodgeson (Francis O’Connor) and her children overcome the malevolent spirits plaguing their home and one of the children in particular, Janet (Madison Wolfe). The film paints us a portrait of what their life is like- they are poor and their spirits have been broken by the split of Peggy and her husband, living in a cramped house and surviving on bare minimum- the perfect dysfunctional setting for a haunting that shakes them to their core.

What I love about this film, or the franchise in general, is that it focuses on the strength within the female characters. Like the first Conjuring film, this one deals with adolescent girls, their mother and the ghosts that wreak havoc on their lives. Not to mention the badassery of Lorraine, who does everything she can to help them. While the cases themselves are incredibly different -along with the real-life, first hand accounts of Ed and Lorraine- there is an undeniable theme that James Wan sticks to in both films- the villains and the heroes are…. Female. Bathsheba and Valak, both malevolent, possessive (pun intended) and deadly are counterbalanced by Lorraine, Carolyn and Peggy. And I love that this is showcased in such a tasteful and empowering way, even if it was unintentional by Wan.

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It delves deep into the balance between good and evil in the female form and gives us room to play around with interpretation about what “girl power” means. It shows us that we can triumph over evil if we want to, but we can also run amok and haunt the hell out of someone’s life. It also shows how tumultuous life can be for a young girl. One minute you’re worrying about the growing pains of puberty, wondering if you’ll ever see your father again, and the next minute you’re being possessed by a creepy old guy who used to live in your house. It’s never easy- especially when you’re trying to communicate with those around you and you aren’t being heard. I’m talking about poor little Janet, who deals with the worst of the haunting. Lorraine takes the time to get to know Janet and listens to what she has to say (Bechdel test = passed). In the end, Lorraine is again the one who is standing up to demons and telling them to eff off. Ever protective and motherly, she’s a role model for us all. On the other hand, there’s Valak- the main demon who wants nothing more than to destroy the Hodgeson’s earthly peace and tranquility. Stuck in the middle of it all is Janet- who teeters between light and dark, but comes out the winner.

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The Conjuring 2 takes the idea that in many possession films, men do the rescuing- and turns it on it’s head. Lorraine is always stepping up to the plate and facing her fears in order to save the souls of the anyone in these predicaments. In films like The Exorcist, The Rite, The Vatican Tapes, Deliver Us From Evil and many others that follow in their stead, exorcisms are often performed by a male. Lorraine swoops in and completely steals the show. The Conjuring 2, along with The Conjuring, shows us that we can’t let men have all the fun when it comes to exorcising those demons.

  • Abbey Brown