Monday, February 8, 2010
Interview with Journalist Staci Layne Wilson
Staci Layne Wilson is a reporter for Horror.com, Sci Fi Wire, and co-edits a magazine called Fantastique. She loves rock music, pinup style, giallo movies, highly caffeinated coffee and even higher heels.
Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre?
Staci Layne Wilson: Disembodied head over hobbled heels, of course! The first horror movie I remember seeing, on late night TV, is The Pit and the Pendulum starring Vincent Price and Barbara Steele. I had a nightmare about the ever-lowering blade shortly after going to sleep, and was hooked on horror from there on. I was only about five years old when I saw the movie, but later on I learned about those behind the camera and became an ardent fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s writing (The Telltale Heart, The Black Cat), and Roger Corman’s directing (Tomb of Ligeia, Frankenstein Unbound).
Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?
Staci Layne Wilson: Anything that’s scary.
Fatally Yours: How and when did you start writing about the horror genre?
Staci Layne Wilson: I began as a novelist. The old, “Critically acclaimed, but commercially unsuccessful.” My first book was an anthology entitled Horrors of the Holy, in which I explored some of my favorite themes: Faustian tales with a sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll flavor (tastes like voodoo chicken). Novels Ghost Writer and Dark Lullaby followed the short story collection. Ghost Writer is currently a film script (adapted by Terrence Kelsey) making the tinsel town rounds as In The Mind’s Eye, and Dark Lullaby has been left open for a sequel so I may someday revisit those characters.
Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?
Staci Layne Wilson: I sat through One M1ssed Call. All the way through. Aside from that, I’d have to say my continuing association with Horror.com (the longest-running all-horror website, established in 1994) brings me a great deal of pride, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
Fatally Yours: You’ve interviewed many horror celebrities. What has been your most memorable interview experience?
Staci Layne Wilson: I have a lot of funny (and crazy) stories, but some quick takes which spring to mind are: Wearing George A. Romero’s famous glasses at the Diary of the Dead junket; Getting to talk to Roger Corman at his very first Comic-Con in 2006; Speaking extensively with George Lutz, and getting to tell him how often I wake up at 3:15 a.m.; Meeting some of the icons whose work I grew up on, such as Brian De Palma, Linda Blair, Robert Englund, Anne Rice, Lamberto Bava, Tobe Hooper, all the Jason Voorhees’, Jamie Lee Curtis, and so many more. It’s really been gratifying.
Fatally Yours: How would you convince people who aren’t horror fans to give the genre a try?
Staci Layne Wilson: I would first tell them that if they don’t they may be relegated to a fate worse than death — i.e., nothing but the romantic comedies of Jennifer Aniston, or the films of Tyler Perry — then I’d remind them of the genre’s amazing range and multi-facets. If you could watch nothing but supernatural and scary movies for the rest of your life you’d never, ever be bored because they run the gamut from the silent era (Nosferatu), to screwball comedy (Topper), to moody drama (I Walked With A Zombie), to explorations of Madness (Psycho), to Satanic (Rosemary’s Baby), to slasher (Friday the 13th), to ghosts (The Sixth Sense), to torture (Saw), to dark fantasy (Pan’s Labyrinth), to science fiction (Sunshine), to all-out horror (Trick R Treat). And I am not even getting into the trends and subgenres (giallo, J-horror, zombies, vampires, etc.).
Fatally Yours: If you could interview any female horror figure, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Staci Layne Wilson: Even though she is dead, “She’s alive!” I’m talking about Elsa Lanchester, also known as The Bride of Frankenstein. Not only was she in such an iconic, enduring role that’s transcended the genre and her gender, but she lived through one of the most progressive and interesting times in history. She not only saw the advent of “talkies” in Hollywood, but she witnessed the downfall of the Nazi regime, man’s lunar landing, the polio cure, the advent of personal computers, and of course… the Pet Rock. Plus, she was married to Charles Laughton, one of the most fascinating and memorable actors who ever lived — and who himself embodied some everlastingly haunting characters (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Moreau) as well as directing one of the scariest thrillers of all time (Night of the Hunter). Elsa got to work with James Whale and Alfred Hitchcock, she was in Bell, Book & Candle, and starred alongside some of the greatest actors of all time. I am sure she would have some really amazing stories to tell!
Fatally Yours: Even though women seem to be getting more and more involved behind the scenes in horror, why do you think there are less female horror directors, writers, producers, etc. in the genre than males?
Staci Layne Wilson: The numbers are smaller for a couple of reasons, I think. One would be that it’s that way across the profession board; there are fewer female rock singers, fewer female stock brokers, and fewer female race car drivers. It’s just the way it is. Secondly, I believe that (generally speaking) women are more omnivorous in their interests and pursuits. Men tend to be more focused on one thing, and there therefore they are more likely to stay in one genre, stick around, and excel. Women are more like busy bees, flitting from flower to flower.
Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?
Staci Layne Wilson: What’s “proper”? If a woman produces work that stands out, she will get the recognition.
Fatally Yours: As a woman who writes about horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males?
Staci Layne Wilson: Not at all. Besides, the mainstream doesn’t tend to take horror itself “seriously”, so it’s more a genre stigma than a gender one in my opinion. Also, one must take into the context of my answer my own liberal upbringing, the metropolitan city in which I live, and being a part of the cyber-world — sexism doesn’t personally impact me very much.
Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera or women writers?
Staci Layne Wilson: I’ve only been writing horror on a professional level for about 10 years now, so that’s not a long enough time to really see discernable changes. But I have noticed a healthy increase in horror film festivals run by women (Denise Gossett’s Shriekfest, and Rachel Belofsky’s Screamfest here in Los Angeles), more genre actresses moving into directing films, and a few really intelligent cinematic websites by and for females (Fatally Yours, Pretty Scary, and Sunset Gun).
Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire?
Staci Layne Wilson: I don’t think many film directors qualify (unfortunately) yet, so I’m going to stick with the scribes — Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith, Poppy Z. Brite, Anne Rice, and Tanith Lee. Plus, let’s not forget that some our currently most popular films and television shows were spawned by women: Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) and True Blood (Charlaine Harris).
Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you to keep writing about horror?
Staci Layne Wilson: It’s the dimension of it — so many subgenres to explore, that I never tire of what it has to offer. From the visceral and bloody, to the cerebral and suspenseful, from the covert to the overt… horror can be applied in so many ways.
Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films and books?
Staci Layne Wilson: I can’t possibly answer in specifics, but emotional and visual beauty is a major factor when it comes to my enjoyment. I prefer the gothic romance of Dracula to the gory wet-work of Repairman Jack, and I’d rather see a lovely lady in a negligee being terrorized in a Dario Argento movie than I would watch a girl getting her eyeballs ripped out in a Hostel flick.
Fatally Yours: Outside of horror what do you enjoy doing?
Staci Layne Wilson: I cover Sci-Fi for The SyFy Channel as well, plus do the occasional non-genre movie for TV-Wire. I actually love all kinds of movies, particularly art films, French cinema, and the New Wave. And musicals! (Nine is one of the best movies, bar none, that I saw in 2009.) I also enjoy travel, photography, fashion, and learning about art, history, science, and psychology. And Pet Rocks.
Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?
Staci Layne Wilson: Stay alive (and to never, ever have to witness the advent of Stay Alive 2).
Fatally Yours: Where can people find your reviews/more info on you?
Staci Layne Wilson: Mainly at Horror.com, but also my personal website (StaciLayneWilson.com), and my daily ramblings can be followed at Twitter.com/StaciWilson and on my new blog, stacilaynewilson.wordpress.com!