Author Archives: Tawanna

Tuesday Terror: The Legacy (1978)

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When I was a kid, I had a daydream that one day someone would show up with a letter declaring that I was the long lost relative of an insanely rich person who lived overseas. It would be the start of a great adventure that would end in me swimming through gold a la Scrooge McDuck.

Lucky for me, that did not happen. Horror movies prove that being called off to foreign lands to claim your rightful inheritance can be deadly.

In the Legacy, Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) is an architect hired to work on a castle/mansion in the countryside. When she arrives with boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliot) in tow, she discovers there is no job—just a weekend gathering of some of the wealthiest people in the world. Her would-be boss is on the brink of death.Those gathered are waiting to see which one of them will inherit his vast fortune.

When the assembled start to die off under strange circumstances, one has to wonder if there is a killer among them or if a supernatural hand is pulling the strings.

This is a fun movie. All of the prospective heirs have committed evil acts in the past. What’s (another) murder or two if it means coming into the ultimate fortune? Maggie and Pete are the only innocent guests in the batch but innocence is no protection against fate.

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Pete is a very interesting character. He wants to take care of and protect Maggie; the “we need to get out of here” instinct kicks in pretty quickly. Yet, he can’t make a great escape happen. He’s worried but manly. Circumstances that would scare others don’t bother Maggie too much.

The staff of the castle isn’t put off by the deaths at all. They’ve seen the process so many times before…

Tips:
1) Be careful when you make a deal. The devil is in the details.
2) When you inherit something, you get the history/horror/baggage that comes along with it.

Tuesday Terror: Death Bed – The Bed That Eats

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The Death Bed is about a demon possessed bed that kills people in dramatic, long drawn-out fashion. This is such a bad movie. I watched in disbelief. When you think the movie has hit rock bottom, lo and behold, there is another layer of schlock.

I imagine that it was a fun concept on paper that the filmmaker didn’t have the coins to pull off. And the story is just…

There are so many other angles the writer could have explored. For example: Laying all night in a nest of evil, what would that do to a person’s mind? But no, our bed has to physically demolish people with bad effects.

If you are looking for a so bad it’s good experience, this isn’t it. In the words of Queen Bey, don’t hurt yourself. You need a nap? Watch this snippet.

Tip: Set your alarm before watching.

Tuesday Terror: The Guardian (1990)

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A yuppie couple hires Camilla to look after their newborn. Little do they know, their new nanny is a Druid who kidnaps babies to fuse/sacrifice them to a special tree (the kids become wood carvings). There are wolves…and a killer tree. Yeah.

Unlike other family centered horror movies, it’s the father who knows something is wrong almost immediately. He’s having weird dreams, etc. However, he doesn’t act until evidence puts itself squarely in his ear. Though she is skeptical when first confronted by the truth, it doesn’t take long for mom to get on board.

There are also some nice horror moments (killer tree! wolves!) leading up to the “we have to get our kid away from her” scene. Just when you think the movie is going to whimper out with a weak ending, it turns into a weird 4-way battle royal for the soul of the child.

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This movie has an interesting class element that doesn’t really get fully explored. Because our villain is a nanny, her victims are the sons of upper middle class to rich folks who can afford her. I believe she is only after male children. There is something about the affluence of the parents that make those kids “the best” to offer-up.

You know what else is missing? The police. The tree is full of baby carvings; our nanny has been at this for a few years. It’s really hard to believe that a rash of newborns snatched from a well-to-do neighborhood doesn’t have a special police task force dedicated to solving the mystery.

It would be interesting to see this movie remade. Then again, the updated version would probably have Camilla (Cami, for short) be a teen eco-witch who has uncovered a ritual that, through time, would literally let her become one with nature. Nevermind.
Though a tinge slow in spots, It’s enjoyable overall.

Tip: If you are calling a woman’s name and she is ignoring you take the hint. Definitely don’t intrude on her tree time.

Stray thought: What if Camilla had been the nanny for Rosemary’s baby?

Tuesday Terror: Tintorera (1977)

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A killer tiger shark chomps on tourists and playboys off the coast of a Mexican island. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill Jaws rip off, right? Tintorera has something I didn’t expect—lots of (soft core) nudity.

You don’t see the sex, but there are plenty of “next morning” shots of naked bodies (ass cheeks up!) stretched out. Somehow, these folks will go skinny dipping at the drop of a hat, yet the sun has tanned everything but their bottoms.

Between the first and 2nd shark attacks, the movie transforms itself into an interesting love story. A business man, vacationing on a huge yacht, becomes friends with a buff playboy when the woman they had been “dating” seems to ditch both of them. Together, they meet and seduce other ladies – until they find a special woman that suggests the three of them form a triad. Then, there’s a lovely montage of their joyful threesome (outside of the bedroom).

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Andrés García / Susan George / Hugo Stiglitz

Eventually, the Tintorera gets jealous that he’s getting so little screen time and shows up to break up their happy home.

Once this becomes a full out “kill the shark” movie, the fire dies out of it. The actors were having great fun partying on the beach and running around the yacht in the buff. When it’s time to hunt the killer shark, dude sounds like he’s looking into the dead lights.

This is a romance/free-love tale forced into a lackluster shark attack film. I liked it though.

Tip: Don’t take the love(s) of your life shark hunting for kicks.

WILTW: Grim Fairy Tales Can Come True

(Warning: mutilation/murder of children)

Oh, Granny, your teeth are tremendous in size!
“Oh, Granny, your teeth are tremendous in size!’/’They’re to eat you!’ — and he ate her!”

Growing up, my mother would tell me a gruesome story. When she was a teenager, it was discovered that the son of one of the neighbors killed children. He put the bodies in the woods but he kept their private parts in jars hidden in the basement.

On one hand, because my mom was telling this story, it had a little bit of weight to it. I don’t remember how old I was when she first told me, but I processed it like a fairy tale. And don’t forget – fairy tales themselves are gruesome, full evil step mothers and witches who eat children.

What was true in my elementary school mind was that the school janitor was a witch who lived in the woods. All of my classmates knew someone who knew someone who had found her house deep in the woods and been chased away.

Plus, I saw this woman with my own eyes and knew that she had long stringy hair like the witch in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Did I ever hear her cackle? No. Did she ever try to snatch me up in the hallway? No. But I stayed arms length away from her anyway.

The witch story had to be true because everybody knew.

My mother is the only one who remembered the killer across the street. My grandparents didn’t know anything about it. My friends hadn’t heard the story from their parents. If you are quiet and pretend to be concentrating on something else, you can overhear a lot of “grown folks business.” I never heard other adults mention it at all.

Also, the story was lean on specifics – neither the killer nor the victims had names. So, I thought my mother was mistaken.

Over the years, when I saw a horror or sci-fi movie that had ominous jars with flesh/limbs in the background of a scene, I remembered the story. When the Internet came along, I tried looking up the case but with few facts I always came up empty.

Everything changed with the Serial podcast. I listened to the first season interested in the mystery like everyone else. I could envision the Baltimore City and Baltimore County locations. In one episode, a guest mentioned a website that listed all of the bodies found in Leakin Park over the years.

It was easy to find. Near the beginning where the names and ages of children. The page also mentioned the name of the murderer. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so scared. Could this be the story fragmented in my mom’s memory?

With the additional info, I found an article from the Washington African American about the capture of the killer – an 18-year-old unemployed janitor. The front page story delved into the gruesome details of case. It included his address. This was the killer across the street.

Going further, I looked him up on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website to figure out the outcome of the trial. He was found criminally insane and locked away in a state mental facility. Every once in a while he tries to get released…

I’ve known about this for a while and tried to write about it a couple of times, but I just couldn’t. I don’t want to forget or try to bury it away, but it feels “wrong” to just throw out the names of children I don’t know. Could they have siblings—parents even—that are still alive? Whatever terror I felt about learning the truth behind the urban legend is nothing compared to the hell and horror they experienced firsthand.

Also, since this killer is alive, I don’t want him or anyone connected with him to see his name mentioned anywhere in the universe. But you can the read the article here.

Reviews: The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

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Available at Amazon | Kobo

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

From Omnivore Bibliosaur:

Sexy, suspenseful, and full of surprises, The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales features an array of previously published short stories starring women of color. Tawanna Sullivan serves up a sampler platter of genres: erotica, horror, suspense, thriller, fantasy, and romance. This slender volume is the perfect companion for any spare moment or a leisurely morning.

-read the full review

From Black Lesbian Literary Collective

Overall, I enjoyed this collection, and would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a short, fun, Black lesbian read. Sullivan is good, and while the erotica is probably her best work, I’d love to see her do more with speculative fiction and horror.

-read the full review

Pranks For The Memories…

This is my first birthday without Tamara, so I’ve been a little bleh. We always did something to celebrate our day. Nothing big-dinner, exchanging gifts-just happy that we made it another year.

I think about what we would have been doing now. I would have convinced her to see Get Out; we’d talk about all of the Rose types that we’ve met (and whisper about people we think are in the sunken place). And, she’d be laughing at me because-just this week-I fully got a trick that she played on me last year.

Let me explain. I tend to carry a small notepad to jot down ideas. Tamara has given me some very nice ones as gifts – metallic ones, art deco ones, etc. Last year, she got me two Dora the Explorer notebooks as a joke. At least, I thought it was just two. When I fully opened the package a few days ago, I discovered that it was actually ten notebooks with just a few sheets in each one.

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I definitely needed the laugh that day.

Get Out

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(Slightly spoilerish…but you’ve seen this already, right?)

After I saw the first trailer for Get Out, I had no intention of seeing it in the theater. I thought, “I’m not going to spend two hours watching a black guy being terrorized.” Then, it came out and the reviews made it clear that I had the wrong impression of the flick. It’s a horror satire with a few laughs here and there.

So, I finally made it out to the movies and it’s as great as all of the reviews made it out to be. For me, it was great to identify with the main character; that’s rare for me with horror movies. Having someone to root for is awesome.

Anywho, some thoughts:
1) I bet Chris didn’t bring Rose around any of his friends. She wouldn’t want that anyway–so no one could point a finger at her when she went missing. I wondered if he tried though.
2) Perhaps because Georgina-Grandma keeps admiring her new body, the real Georgina inside still catches glimpses of herself (even though she is in the sunken place). Maybe this is why real Georgina struggles to come to the surface even without the benefit of a camera flash. Real Georgina first tries to emerge when she spills the iced tea. She next struggles to come out when the tears stream down her face.
3) A think piece on class in Get Out could be interesting. (Working Class Rod and Creative Class Chris.)
4) The Armitages are the type of people who would be offended if you called them racist while they are violating you. (I imagine Rose all over twitter, alternating between anger and crying over the insult.)

And some lessons:
1) Don’t mistake desperation for love, forgive yourself/see about healing childhood trauma and always have your own ride. Always.
2) All of your skin folk definitely ain’t your kin folk.
3) Listen to your ancestors. (If you can’t hear them, that’s a whole different problem.)

Pod Party 2 (aka Pods: The Revenge)  

Like I said in Part 1, I listen to a lot of podcasts during the week. As you may have gleaned from the title, this batch is mostly about movies.

girlswillbeghoulsGirls Will Be Ghouls features Zena (The Real Queen Of Horror) and Ashlee (the wizard behind Graveyard Shift Sisters).

Why I Listen: Two black women talking about various aspects of the horror genre, what’s not to love? Movie reviews get 2 ratings – 1 for the overall movie; 1 for character diversity.

Fav Episodes: Any of Them

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screamsquadThe Scream Squad is a bi-weekly horror podcast hosted by Jamie Righetti and Chico Leo which digs into the deeper issues at play in our favorite scary movies.

Why I Listen: Because I sometimes wonder how gentrification impacts the plot of a haunted house movie.

Fav Episodes: Women Gone Wild | Monstrous Moms

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micheauxmissionLen Webb and Vince Williams are on The Micheaux Mission – to watch and review every Black feature film ever released.Frequently include guests.

Why I Listen: Because I like black movies. (Be warned – one of these fellas does not acknowledge the glory of The Last Dragon.)

Fav Episodes: Definition of A Black Film | Love Jones | Eve’s Bayou

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cinemosityCinemosity – Sharon, Kamille and Martin bring you a potent blend of celebrity gossip and rumor and reviews of b-movies, bad movies, and genre film. Your weekly dose of Starlets, Slashers and Cyborgs!

Why I Listen: To keep up with movie news and lively discussion of (mostly bad) movies.

Fav Episodes: The Fog (horrible remake)

More podcasts to come…

Update – Even though it’s not a podcast, one of my favorite weekly sources for horror/sci fi entertainment news is Collider Nightmares:

Pod Party – Part 1

Once upon a time (about a decade or so ago), I used to listen to radio while in the office. Online streaming meant I could slip on my headphones and have NPR in the background all day. Over time, I got tired of listening to the same voices and, when I finally got an iPhone, found myself navigating to podcasts.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorites. (In no particular order.)

helgaHelga Davis is a probing conversation podcast which explores the provocative issues surrounding what it means to be an artist and a citizen in the 21st Century.

Why I Listen: The conversations are insightful and Helga’s voice is a relaxing combo of warmth, comfort and love.

Fav Episodes: Sarah Jones | Solange

girlonguyGirl On Guy with Aisha Tyler is a show about art, culture, booze, comedy, family, physical injuries, psychological bruises, action movies, rock music, ninjas, zombies, failure, success, sacrifice, video games, and blowing shit up.

Why I Listen: Great conversations, get to know the “person” behind the star/persona

Fav Episodes: Viola Davis | Sheryl Underwood I II
(The show is on hiatus, but there are over 200 episodes.)

thespin1Hosted by award winning international journalist Esther Armah, The Spin is a weekly hour long podcast featuring women of color talking policy, social justice, race, sex, power.

Why I Listen: activists, artists, journalist and organizers talking about problems and solutions.

Fav Episodes: The Consent Convo series

getitrightHosted by Jamie Broadnax, the founder of  Black Girl Nerds, Get It Right analyzes pop culture through the lenses of justice, and particularly reproductive justice.

Why I Listen: Thought provoking discussions of pop culture. I hope they do a season 2.

Fav Episodes: Hip Hop’s History of Reproductive Justice

mkuaMisty Knight’s Uninformed Afro is a brand new podcast series that will explore the origin stories, character development, and story arcs of our favorite Black superheroines in comics.

Why I Listen: This is a brand new podcast, I’m looking forward to learning more about these characters.

Done with these? Move on to Pod Party 2.

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