The first time I listened to this episode after Luke, our amazing Technical Editor, sent it to me, I knew we had something great.  (I also realized that I need to stop saying “like” and “um” so much). This has been one of my favorite horror films to watch for the simple fact that it holds a lot of nostalgic value as one of the very first horror films I ever watched. The very reason why I am so terrified of the sound of chainsaws, empty little towns, hollow old houses, and serial killers like Ed Gein.  I was SO excited to talk about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I notice something different every time I watch it. I think it is easy to get caught up in the atrocity and grittiness of the movie and miss the little things, like the names of the teenagers who are mercilessly slaughtered by this family of cannibals, or the reason why these poor kids are on a journey through the heat of Texas in a janky old van in the first place. I love the discussion that recording this episode brought out in both Gracie and I, because I think it can give some new material to fans of Texas Chainsaw.

I absolutely love Sally, the final girl in Texas Chainsaw. She fights so hard to get out of the hell-hole she’s in and make it to safety. She even jumps through a glass window….TWICE. There have been many moments in my life where I have wanted to give up and stay under the covers, but then there’s Sally, who fights again and again to get away from the ever present threat. She succeeds when she is able to finally jump in the back of a passing truck and escape the clutches of Leatherface, laughing all the way. 

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Sally (Marilyn Burns) finally escapes the Sawyer clan! (www.splatterjunkie.com)

I’m glad that this was my first scary flick because it showed me that most women in this genre can be fierce and their will to survive trumps any monstrous thirst for blood. As a young girl, it made me think, “If Sally can survive Leatherface and the Sawyer family, I can handle puberty, middle school, high school, and whatever else life is going to throw my way.” I know I have been like Sally ever since. In fact, Gracie and I have both been like Sally working on this podcast. There have been many moments of frustration and doubt but we just kept jumping through the glass windows that stood between us and success!

We can relate our podcast to this film in many ways because the success that this film yielded was totally unexpected. It was made on a low budget with fresh actors and actresses who had little to no experience, but were willing to fight tooth and nail to make it as great as it could possibly be. And here we are almost 40 years later, still talking about it. It seemed fitting that we should talk about this in our first episode for that reason. Gracie and I have had to learn as we go, but it’s not stopping us from making something great. Plus, the obstacles and learning experiences we’ve had to face make great behind-the-scenes bonus material, much like that of Texas Chainsaw.

It is still so crazy to me that we’re releasing our first podcast episode this week. When Gracie asked me to embark on this journey with her, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I trusted that it’d be a great time, as all of my adventures with Gracie and her family have been. It blossomed into so much more than just a podcast, and I knew that after recording our first episode together. As the weeks go on and we become more comfortable behind the mic, our episodes continue to get better and better. I mean, our audience grew before we even had content released! (Thanks, Social Media!) As you can imagine, we’ve started to feel the pressure that I’m sure MANY podcasters feel, we’ve experienced some hiccups, we set up our homemade studio diligently every Tuesday, send frequent text and Facebook messages throughout the week but now here we are… Welcome to our first episode, “Head Cheese.” Enjoy!

  • Abbegail Brown
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Leatherface (Gunner Hansen) madly swings his chainsaw in his final scene. (www.blumhouse.com)

Good Mourning, Nancy came to me like most creative adventures; it was born out of discouragement. The end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 was rough on so many levels. I needed something new and positive. I had always wanted to learn how to record a podcast after listening to such successful personal favorites like Serial and The Last Podcast on the Left, but the problem was “What do I even talk about?” and “Who would want to hear me talk about anything in the first place?” The topic would have to be something I actually liked and was willing to spend some time on.

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Abbey and I trying to look spooky in April 2017. Photo by Dalton Dobson.

I can place the birth of Good Mourning, Nancy sometime in February 2017 when I started asking various friends if they wanted to just “sit in front of a mic and talk about our favorite horror movies.” That was the only thing I could think of that I absolutely loved talking about all day, every day, with anyone who was interested enough. All of the friends I asked replied right away and were supportive and willing to be potential guests on the show! The fact that there were already so many people interested made me hopeful about the topic. However, I knew that it would be too much to have a different guest every week, especially since most of the friends I asked were out of town. I wanted to keep the podcast female, at least at first, so I approached my friend, Abbey Brown, about being my permanent co-host. I was so pleased when she enthusiastically accepted!

#Blessed

Abbey and I have known each other since we were very little. Our mothers were close friends in high school, we are both one of three girls, and at one point, Abbey dated a family member of mine. We’ve spent many a Christmas Eve party, birthday, and wedding together and I consider her and her family an extension of mine. Abbey is also reliable and cares just as much for this podcast as I do. During the course of recording season 1, Abbey always showed up on time to help set up the mics and blankets for the makeshift studio in my tiny one-bedroom apartment. She would bring coffee, food, and just all around good cheer to the project. She helped get in contact with Dave Love  and Steph Arnold the artists who designed our brilliant logo, and volunteered her awesome boyfriend, Dalton Dobson, to take our promo photos. Abbey has been a huge asset to Good Mourning, Nancy and I hope to keep her around for as long as humanly possible.

Of course, we both couldn’t have done it without my husband, Luke. Working in television and radio broadcasting for over 12 years, he is one of the most talented people I know. Not only does he edit the show, but he also does his best to set up the equipment to make us sound halfway decent. I know he cringes at the fact we are not recording in a studio, using high-tech mics, or even using the mics correctly, but that doesn’t stop him from supporting us 100% of the time. I can’t even believe I lucked out with such an amazing human.

Last but certainly not least, I absolutely cannot forget to thank my sister, Lily, who composed the theme song to Good Mourning, Nancy, Dani Benjamin, for helping me get this website up and running, and my parents for their endless support and encouragement.

What’s In A Name?

Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp, is the final girl in Wes Craven’s 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street, and is the inspiration for the title of this podcast.

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Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) beating up Freddy (Robert Englund) in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) www.screamhorrormag.com

 

What’s so interesting is that I was NEVER a huge fan of the NoES movies. I wasn’t allowed to watch them when I was younger and when I was old enough, I was too busy watching the Scream franchise (my favorite slasher flicks)! So, how in the world would I even consider adding the name of the final girl from a franchise I didn’t really care about? I remembered a quote from writer Diablo Cody, famous for writing the quirky indie film Juno and the horror flick Jennifer’s Body. In the New York Times article Taking Back the Knife: Girls Gone Gory, Cody said:

 

“When I watched movies like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘E.T.,’ it was boys having adventures,” she said. “When I watched ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ it was Nancy beating up Freddy. It was that simple.”

 

I LOVED that! I went back, re-watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, and finally realized just how much of an intelligent and capable badass Nancy is! Towards the end of the film, Nancy is able to wake-up and trick Freddy Krueger out of her dream and into the real world. Once in the real world, she lights him on fire and throws him into the basement. When the fire is put out, Freddy is gone, but Nancy knows he’ll be back for her. Moments later, Freddy attacks her once again but she realizes that fear is what keeps him ‘alive’ and so she calmly reduces him to nothing. At the end of the film, Nancy steps outside into the morning light and exclaims, “It’s bright!”  All of her friends are alive and well… or so she thinks. I think it is safe to say that Nancy won the battle but the war had obviously just begun. However, we now know how powerful Nancy can be; making us feel like we can be powerful in our own lives too!

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Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover (Princeton Classics).

I still have issues with the final girl trope, although it is slowly but surely starting to change now (yay!). Carol J. Clover created the term in her very informative book Men, Women, and Chainsaws. Normally the final girl is somewhat scrappy or shy, brown-haired, white, and/or a virgin. This is a problem for many reasons; not only does it show us that only certain kinds of women are allowed to survive a horror movie (real-life tragic event) but that everyone who dies does so because they are either sinful by birth (not white) or by their actions (sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll). Let’s all be honest: the virginal-white final girl is outdated.

 

Does this mean that some of the movies Abbey and I will be covering are full of these types of final girls? Yes. Yes it does. Horror films (especially slashers) from the 70s and 80s and even the early 90s are unfortunately all about this final girl. However, what we can positively take away from the final girl trope is that she is at the very least an intelligent and observant female fighter who will not give up. We could all use a survivor story occasionally and horror movies give us that opportunity.

In the wake of Good Mourning, Nancy’s official release, I hope you enjoy our ramblings about our favorites, old and new, and if you’re not already into horror films, maybe you’ll have a different perspective when we’re done.

  • Gracie Jarvis