Monday, 14 February 2011

Women Horror Month: Old Girls Gone Wild

As Women in Horror Month rolls on I continue to be ludicrously excited, even more excited than the time I was in a café tucking into an all-day breakfast and The Chuckle Brothers and seven dwarfs came in for teacakes. Excited? I nearly wet myself. For this week’s contemplation of the awesomeness of womankind I thought we’d cast a little joy onto one of the less fun parts of being a girl; the ageing process. So, come on ladies, let’s chuck away the Oil of Olay (or whatever it’s calling itself these days) and revel in the bits of us that aren’t as perky as once they might have been.


As I’m knocking on a bit (or, as it feels to me, galloping towards menopause with a speed and momentum that is quite frankly terrifying, and also patently ridiculous as I didn’t agree to anything past 30 and certainly didn’t sign anything so somebody somewhere has clearly got the wrong memo) I find myself increasingly required to imagine what style of old lady I’m going to be. While I’m reluctantly aware (though currently choosing to ignore) that as you get older certain allowances ought to be made; maybe less garish hair dye, subtler make up, possibly outfits that are more grown up in nature, I still wonder how us Gen-Xers are going adapt to becoming the punk rock elderly. Ideally I’m dimly hoping that I’ll just remain the same, I’ll keep stuffing myself into leather pants, wear all the old band shirts, swathe myself in leopard print and burst through fishnet like a hellish Play Doh factory experiment. But will the inevitable pressures of society’s expectations force me to look for an alternative model of acceptable elderly? And if so who will I be? Just in case, I decided, as any sane person would, to look to some of the magnificent mature ladies of horror cinema for inspiration.

Pamela Voorhees : Friday the 13th


My husband and I recently rewatched Friday the 13th, strangely for the first time together, and he commented that the film it meant more to him now knowing my family because he knew if anything happened to Kurt (my brother) and he became a crazy freaky loser and someone hurt him I’d go all Ma Voorhees on someone’s ass. I took offence at this and pointed out that I don’t pick favourites and if anything happened to Jay (my sister) I go just as psychotic killer crazy, thank you very much indeed, matey skip. He said, no, Jay was too sensible and well balanced to ever be a crazy freaky loser. I don’t know who this says more about, my husband, my brother or me. Anyway, point is I can relate to Ma V; you hurt one of mine now this is happening to you, bitch! I’m also partial to knitwear so I reckon that Mama Voorhees could be a pretty good option for me in my twilight years.

Mrs Ganush: Drag Me To Hell


I admire Mrs. G. for the sheer force of will and complete vicious bloody-mindedness that it takes to not only continue to make someone’s life an absolute hellish misery but also to damn well ensure that they are, in fact, dragged to hell after her own death. This deserves some god damn respect.

Shrivelled, toothless, half blind, perpetually oozing and so old it’s ridiculous, Mrs Ganush’s exterior my not necessarily be the first choice of model to follow as old age creeps up, but bloody hell she’s got some pretty darn tempting crazy ole Romanian cursing powers. Also, I think there’s something liberating and admirable, not to mention decidedly punk rock and antiestablishment, about popping your teeth out on a banker’s desk. Mrs. Ganush isn’t going to be walked upon, she’s defying the system really, really old school and she so vengefully obstinate that even death isn’t going stop her. She also comes with her own free Lamia demon for the personal cursing of your enemies so that’s a pretty good deal. Yes, there are a lot of upsides to ageing the Ganush way.

Baby Jane Hudson: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?


Now this is probably my level of crazy. Deluded, drunk, daddy fixated, inappropriately dressed, tantrum throwing, stuck in a self mythologised past, filled with misguided self importance and with a fantastically alarming inability to accept the natural order of things and face the mirror’s ugly truth. Yup, I can work with that, (as discussed before I’d never hurt my sister, if I did then I’d be forced to go all psychotic killer crazy on myself and that would just be a mess).

Baby Jane can never be accused of letting herself go when it comes to the ageing process, she’s still working the make up and the outfits and still planning her big comeback. When it comes to domestic crazy and growing old disgracefully Baby Jane Hudson shows us kids how it’s done.

Mother of Sighs (Mater Suspiriorum): Suspira


Mater Suspiriorum is formidable force of dark power and malevolence (I’m thinking of having that printed onto business cards) who has walked the earth for centuries amassing untold power and wealth. Clearly already onto a winner here. Despite being on form to rule the world in 1895 this mother decides to become Helena Markos and for some reason settles in Germany and founds a dance academy. This all goes swimmingly until the fear she inspires in the locals (again, winner!) forces her to fake her death and to continue her evil deeds and bloody murders in secret apparently largely from a nice comfy bed. Really not seeing anything wrong this.

There’s a lot to aspire to in Mater Suspiriorum, if you’re going to get old and grey and impossibly withered you might as well do it in style with all the wealth and all the power and the irrepressible desire to commit acts of pure, unadulterated evil, these are the things that keep you young.

Minnie Castevet: Rosemary’s Baby


There’s a lot that’s enviable about the life of Minnie Casevet; she’s happily married, has led an interesting and exotic life, lives in a fabulous apartment in glamourous New York, has many friends and is well connected amongst the rich and powerful. Of course there’s the small matter of being part of a satanic cult hellbent on delivering the Anti-Christ into the world to lead us into a new age, but nobody’s perfect.

Interfering, devil worshipping, mousse spiking busybody Minnie is irrepressible, single-minded and completely unhindered by the subtle niceties of polite society. She’s a woman without boundaries, the advancing years have given her the enviable freedom to ask the questions that need asking and say precisely what’s on her mind irrespective of how intrusive or rude these things might be.

Between bouts of herb peddling and devil pimping, the manipulative, overbearing Minnie also has a penchant for snazzy hats and rouge that can be seen from space. With her make up that could only have been applied in the dark and outfits fabulous in a way only the late 60s could ever have fathomed, Mrs C. is a glorious vision of unabashed eccentricity that I can wholeheartedly aspire to.

Honourable Non-Horror Mention

Mrs. Slocambe, Are You Being Served?


Mad about hair dye, a slave to her pussy (can’t believe I just wrote that), spends her days rummaging amongst ladies’ lingerie, Mrs. S. is unquestionably one of my style icons.


Yes, this has definitely given me a lot to think about, and something to look forward to as my ovaries shrivel and my face begins to resemble a relief map of Tibet. The horror ladies growing old disgracefully show us that we don’t have to pull up a rocking chair and start knitting after 40 and that bad behaviour isn’t just the privilege of the young. Depraved, deranged, murderous and downright mental as they may be, I love the old girls gone wild and salute them.

10 comments:

  1. Hi Jinx, and thanks so much for visiting my blog :-) This is a FANTASTIC list and I'm glad to see that women in horror are starting to get more respect. I especially loved your reference to Mrs. Slocambe on "Are You Being Served?" who I always thought to be a very eclectic character ;-) Great choices, and I look forward to stopping by here again soon :-)

    Darkeva

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  2. Hmmmm, I never thought I'd ever see a list and say "you know, Mrs. Voorhees is actually pretty with it by comparison!", but it's true! Sure, she's nuttier than squirrel poo, but her motivation is really pretty honorable by comparison! Hey, the knit sweater really isn't that bad when you put her up against Mrs. Ganush, Ms.Casevet or Baby Jane!

    As for Mrs. Slocambe, well...hair dye aside, she really is a pretty durned stylish, isn't she?

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  3. Hello, I love thrilling movies such as these..
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    ReplyDelete
  4. Love love love this!! Baby Jane Hudson and Minnie Castevet are my favorites, but as I am a master grudge holder, I'm probably most like Mrs. Ganush. Loved the reference to "Are You Being Served?" as well. Don't know if you consider A Clockwork Orange a horror movie, but Alex's mom had a pretty rad look as well.

    http://polaroidcupcake.blogspot.com/2010/04/movie-interiors-clockwork-orange.html

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  5. This = awesome.

    Mrs Ganush actually scared the living daylights out of me, usually I don't get too freaked out when a horror movie's finished, but I kept my eyes tight shut after Drag Me To Hell, in case I opened them and saw her face...

    And Mrs. S is rocking the awesome hair. Much jealousy.

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  6. Baby Jane Hudson and Minnie Castevet have both been favorites of mine since childhood (which was an awfully long time ago). Now that I'm getting up there in years, I'm seeing more and more of them both creeping into my personality. I especially like being able to get away with saying whatever the hell comes into your head. It almost makes up for the loud creak I now hear whenever I go from a sitting position to a standing one. Brilliant job, Jinx!

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  7. One omission for whom you could definitely make a case is Susan Tyrrell (of Cry Baby fame) as the totally batshit insane Aunt Cheryl in 83's Night Warning. Definitely a flick worth tracking down if you like your horror served with incestuous overtones (or if you just want to see a really early Bill Paxton role.)

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  8. Another excellent post....
    Some scary broads here...especially the lady from Are You Being Served.

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  9. Absolutely love this post.

    Someone needs to a do a horror version of The Golden Girls right now.

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  10. Mrs Ganush is way to long down the list. Pam Vorhees is a bit overrated. That Franchise took of when Jason got the hockey mask.

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