“Werewolves are rapists; vampires are seducers.”
–Maitland McDonagh

This Canadian-made documentary on women in horror debuted on Space last week. In order to review this interview-and-clip-based production, we’re trying out a variant format, and would welcome comments on it as well as the film.

Title: Pretty Bloody: The Women of Horror

Cast and Crew

Director: Donna Davies

Appearing as themselves:

Cerina Vincent
Vampira (Maila Nurmi) (archival footage)
Heidi Martinuzzi
Tanya Huff
Jovanka Vuckovic
Brinke Stevens
Maitland McDonagh
Karen Walton
Isabel Pinedo
Debbie Rochon

Full credits may be found at the imdb

Premise

This documentary profiles several women who enjoy and work in the world of horror, where members of their sex often appear as victims.

High Point

The documentary affords an interesting glimpse into the lives of women who have immersed themselves in horror, including Jovanka Vuckovic, editor-in-chief who guides us through Rue Morgue magazine’s offices in a converted funeral home, Debbie Rochon, scream queen and Fangoria Radio hostess who discusses the grisly ways she has died on camera, Heidi Martinuzzi, horror actress who writes for female-friendly horror-site Pretty Scary, and Isabel Pinedo, feminist academic who discusses her past discomfort at liking a genre so often condemned as misogynistic. The film also provides a fascinating, brief look at the late Vampira, the proto-Goth 50s horror host and star of Plan Nine from Outer Space. Her life has already been the subject of a documentary; one hopes a biopic is forthcoming.

Low Point

The film tries to cover too much ground and as a result shortchanges many topics. Tanya Huff almost single-handedly represents female writers of horror books (a few others appear). She’s bright and articulate, but her segment feels out of place in a documentary largely devoted to cinema.

The desire to remain pro-horror results in an inadequate handling of the ideological implications of the genre. Odette Springer’s 1998 look at low budget films, The Dark Side of Hollywood, turns a more critical eye to that topic, despite its broader focus. Dark Side also more closely examines the line that connects certain kinds of horror and pornography– a connection which crops up frequently in this film.1

The Review

Originality: 3/6. I don’t know of a documentary that has specifically addressed this topic before, but horror itself has been covered many times, and many have commented on the growing presence of females in the once male-dominated worlds of SF, fantasy, horror, and comic books. The approach is not original at all.

Editing 4/6. This film attempt to do too much, so that some excellent segments seem off-topic and incomplete.

Content 4/6. The content will interest many viewers of both sexes, but you may find it merely whets the appetite.

Performance and Presentation: 4/6. I’m not certain what should take the place of “Acting” in the documentary film. We see excerpts from films that demonstrate varying degrees of ability, and strong presentation by most of those interviewed.

Production 5/6.

Emotional Response 4/6. I found some of these people compelling. It’s also fascinating to be reminded there was a Golden Age of Straight-to-Video, and to see the impact Buffy had on fandom.

Overall 4/6. This is worth a view if you enjoy horror movies, but someone will make a better film on this topic.

In total, Pretty Bloody receives 28/42.

Notes

1. Neither documentary helps explain why my Amazon search of horror films mentioned in this documentary recommended that I “also consider” several Three Stooges compilations.