Childhood reflection is merely a collection of moments. It’s the brain’s way of scrap booking. As you get older, you’re more likely to sustain a long-term memory of both joyful experiences and the embarrassingly painful ones; hitting every, minute detail branch on the way down. I think it’s rare that little eyes in a big world hold that kind of memory overload.


The mid to late 1980s moving into the 90s: I was a tyke of seven years when I noticed a significant shift in my media consumption. Somewhere in between my every Friday night anticipation of Philly 57’s feature movie being A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, I played special attention to the stark images playing on my mother’s television as she watched the likes of Hellraiser and Child’s Playwithout any consideration to possible anxiety or trauma from my end. And I will never forget the sea of dubbed VHS tapes and why I ONLY remember the handwritten Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood. Okay, I do remember Eddie Murphy Raw and Krush Groove but I’m working with a theme here. What brought this shift home was a theatre outing to the much tamer 1988 culty classic Beetlejuice. Genre film (including science-fiction, fantasy, and action) was so accessible and I enjoyed many titles, but it was horror and the impact The Dream Master would have on my life that played an important role in who I am today.

You may or may not remember the lovely Lisa Wilcox who played Alice in A Nightmare on Elm Street film’s 4 and 5, but she was my first cinematic she-ro.

The Dream Master made me believe women and girls had societal value; it helped me make the connections to what some of us now know as the horror film trope, the final girl. In short, it branded my feminist tendencies. The intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality I found to be challenged, negotiated, and repackaged in these films. In college, I re-imagined the these films in theoretical work. The hundreds of pages I drank just for a degree in the humanities helped me understand the value media texts had on our personhood and society. I nerded this stuff up so much, I went on to get another degree because I couldn’t stop talking about horror in academia inside of a classroom. I watched many, many horror titles and wanted to continue to give horror films the validity they deserved discussing them with peers and superiors that remained apprehensive at best. With some success, one of my more open-minded film studies professors lauded my efforts (she was sick of reading papers on Family Guy and The Simpsons) and a letter of recommendation noting how I helped her re-consider horror films through my writing assignments from  a professorial convert who was my Captain Doreen Lewis.

No need to get into the general positivity in finding a community of good acquaintances and friends that the benefits of technology and the internet has afforded. Horror films have certainly given me that. It’s a song we can all sing proudly and at times, off key.

My favorite kind of cosplayer.


So when I think back on a question I am commonly asked, ‘How did you get into horror?’ some historical pieces I can frame into a clear explanation, others are long-winded, wordy exuberant symphonies even as I struggled, and in a dormant sense continue to struggle to fully embrace the Black/female/horror film fan dynamic that has been relentlessly inescapable to ignore when I’m around others. Because I don’t look like the “typical horror fan,” which I’m reminded of often when I venture out to spaces where the folks take this horror stuff as seriously as I do. Although it’s never easy being ‘the only one’ or one of the few flies in the buttermilk, what horror fandom has afforded me, in spite of any trepidation, is an opportunity to be confident, bold.

I will never forget Ken Sagoes and his verbal wink-wink, nudge-nudge to me at Rock and Shock 2011 in Worchester, Massachusetts:

You don’t see a lot of Black people here.

Me & Ken Sagoes (Kincaid, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 and 4)


The genuine extension of camaraderie was overwhelming. What I took from that brief exchange was a proposal of a cultural shift I wanted to see happen. There is no doubt that Black folks love some horror movies, but I became deeply curious about the Black women who were treading the terrain of horror filmmaking, critical writing, journalism, cosplaying, blogging, and fan convention hopping. The geeks or nerds if you will; the Black women who go beyond casually seeing the mainstream theatrical released thriller on opening night.


The Black Girl (Horror) Nerds series that will transpire on this site throughout the month of October, a highlight of a few of the underrepresented Black women who have made a space for themselves in the horror community, is my first widely paraded baby. And my clarion call. For the sisters and brothers who walk the carpets of Monster Mania’s, Horrorhound’s, and Days of the Dead’s, it’s inevitable I quote MJ:


You are not alone…


The following are some horror blogs authored by Black women to kick things off!

Pixie’s Horror Galore: http://pixieshorrorgalore.blogspot.com/ 













Zena, The Real Queen of Horror: http://www.realqueenofhorror.com/











Ashlee is currently the Sponsorship Director for Women in Horror Month and the administrative badass behind the Viscera Organization. She’s also the “horror academic nerd” co-host for the Women in Horror Month podcast and runs an annual horror film screening event in her native land of Philadelphia. She also digs vegan desserts and the idea of teaching a class about horror movies. More of her musings can be found at www.quirksandsplatters.com 

Liked it? Take a second to support Ashlee on Patreon!

BGN encourages civil, engaged conversation.
We reserve the right to remove comments and ban users who engage in disrespectful behavior to the writers as well as the BGN Community.

SHARE
Previous articleThe Ghosts of Boyfriends Past/ Lessons in Forgiveness
Next articleThe Exorcist: A Sleepover Celebration
Ashlee consumes media and popular culture through a critical lens and an academic background in Liberal Arts. Her particular love for horror films has translated into panels and presentations at conferences throughout the US, curating film screenings, work with the Viscera Film Festival, Women in Horror Month, and published work in Paracinema magazine. Saddened by the lack of visible representation and celebration of women of color in her beloved genre, she created Graveyard Shift Sisters, a community blog/website that highlights Black women horror fans, filmmakers, writers, artists, and the actresses in these macabre cinema staples that often go unsung.