Episode 34. The Assessment III: Season of the Faculty

Andrea and Alex dive back into the virtual mailbag to reassess everything covered in 2015, from the highs to the lows and everything in between.


Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity. Alex’s book is now available for pre-order!

The Neo-Gothic Horror of James Wan. Alex’s piece on horror impresario James Wan.

Split Lip. Sam Costello’s anthology of short horror comics – we recommend!

The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul. Many great essays on Canuck horror, including Andrea’s chapter on Pontypool.

The Whorer: Episode 81. The Whorer podcast had a slightly different reading of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films.

Based on True Case Files: Ed and Lorraine Warren in Film. Alex’s overview of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s life on film.

Remembering Notorious British TV Shocker, Ghostwatch. Alex’s article on the prolific BBC production.

The Witches: Salem, 1692. Stacy Schiff’s excellent book is a great companion to our witches episodes.

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. A recommendation from a listener for another perspective on Arthur Miller’s character from The Crucible.


 Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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24 thoughts on “Episode 34. The Assessment III: Season of the Faculty

  1. Blomma says:

    I just discovered your podcast last fall and I’ve listened to every episode twice. It was recommended in a swedish newspaper. It’s my absolute favorite ever. Don’t really have a question or anything, just wanted to gush a little 🙂

  2. Ophelia says:

    I love these assessment episode. I’m not sure weather there is an appropriate place for this or not; but I wondered if you guys have seen and / or have any plans to talk about Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. I know it didn’t please a lot of horror fans. On the other hand I can’t imagine a lot of fans of the romance genre enjoying the film either. As a fan of Gothic horror I adored it, and i’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Regardless I love this podcast and will continue to love listening to your future episodes, whatever the topic maybe.
    Thanks for all your work.

    • Alex West says:

      We’ve both seen it and enjoyed it quite a bit. It has been a while since we’ve seen a horror film that embraces its classical roots on an aesthetic and narrative level. It’s a grand horror that also functions as a Gothic romance. While we enjoyed it, we also know several people who weren’t sold on it.

      It definitely occupies a rarefied space and hopefully we’ll be able to talk about it soon.

  3. Lydia Peever says:

    As ridiculous as it is to do, I’ve been mulling over the good that a patriarchal society may have done. I have not watched Fury Road yet, so I offer no competition there. It may be dead, but chivalry would be one thing that comes to mind. Though best used these days in an egalitarian sense, it has roots within women being treated as the weaker sex. It was an exploration in kindness and manipulation maybe. It also gave us streamlined bureaucracy. The head of the household was default, and there would have been less checkboxes (and confusion over how many checkboxes to have) on, say, your stone tablet tax return. It may have been responsible for our cuisine and good housekeeping practices. With less warfare and barn razing to do, the sex with the apparently better fine motor functions and eyesight was left to create what we think of as ‘homes’.

    Would we have things like corsets and lipstick had humans been treated fairly all this time?

    We all like lipstick and corsets, no?

    • Andrea says:

      Interesting observations! There’s definitely an argument to be made that pre-ordained roles can be useful – the problem is when one role is considered superior than the other. There are certainly genetic differences between the sexes but why is the opposite of superior upper body strength considered overall weakness? And how/why does that inform our expectations regarding the display emotion? It’s all so weird and murky but interesting af.

  4. Chillerpop says:

    I would be so amazingly pumped for an episode on the Warren movies! You have a very rich intersection there of both fictional themes and real-life sociopolitical topics. Patriarchy, fundamentalist religion, Satanic panic, law and economics and fraud.

    I grew up in Connecticut in the 80s and the Warrens were ubiquitous in the spooky urban/ local lore.

    If you do this episode, would you please consider viewing the following two made-for-tv trash films? (They shld be on YouTube somewhere…)

    1. The Demon Murder Case. Based on the Warren’s book “The Devil in Connecticut”. (I grew up about 15 mins from the town where it took place). Also the very first (only?) U.S. murder trial where the defense argued not guilty by reason of demonic possession! Oh and Kevin Bacon is in it. I blogged about it ages ago.

    2. The Haunted. 1991 made for TV dramatization of the Smurl family haunting (perhaps the same case as The Haunting in Connecticut?). Notable for its unfortunately comic depiction of a male being raped by a demon/evil spirit – which you don’t see much of).

    Thanks for all you do!

  5. Revenant says:

    Something struck me with the theory of haunted houses being plebeian because the victims are normally working class – and by suggestion undereducated and superstitious – while the rich, with their Skull and Bones connections, get respectable flesh and blood home invaders. At first I thought there was something to it, but then I was reminded of Stephen King’s assessment of The Amityville Horror in Danse Macabre, where he comments that though the movie was largely unimpressive to him, he was struck by the financial horror of seeing a family whose income is swirling down the drain. I think that the working class tends to get the haunted houses because it can’t pack up and leave when things get freaky. Their lives and finances are confined in the building’s structure, not only trapping them in the situation and forcing them to resolve the issue, but also adding another layer of helplessness to their circumstances. The rich can just buy a new house, so their attacks must come quickly, generally in one night, cutting them off from the outside world from help. They must be physically isolated for the horror to work; the working class need only be socially and economically adrift.

  6. Beyla says:

    Wow, I did not know there was that much feedback (though not from FDBK) about Cabin In The Woods or that it was so divisive. I refrained from commenting for fear of being petty in my lack of admiration for Whedon. It was good to see that others much less hesitant than me chimed in with a lot of the same misgivings I had for the work.

    Other than that, I was ecstatic to see you give mention to Sam Costello’s Split Lip. I’ve adored his work for years for having some of the most evocative horror in comics that still feels very grounded. It’s really great that he’s finally getting his propers for it.

  7. Christine says:

    I got really excited when you started talking about a Valentine’s Day episode, and thought, “Are they going to discuss David Boreanaz’s first and only feature film to hit the big screen Valentine?” Alas, I guess it’s not meant to be. The movie is easily overlooked and, frankly, not very spectacular, but nosebleeds play a pivotal role. Perhaps you could one day compare it to Carrie since both films deal with school outcasts seeking revenge who also bleed from a bodily orifice. Too much of a stretch? Plus, one character has a very creative death scene in a hot tub.

    And certainly I’m not the first to suggest Sleepaway Camp for a review. I still don’t believe a curling iron in the vagina can kill someone, but that movie made me believe.

  8. Sam Costello says:

    Andrea and Alex – Thanks for discussing my comments on this episode. That was a cool surprise! Even more, thank you so much for the kind words about Split Lip. That was really awesome and much appreciated.

    Congratulations on the completion of Year 3. I’m looking forward to you have in store for us in 2016 and hopefully many more years to come. Maybe you’ll do something on recent French horror to dovetail with Alex’s book? Or Martyrs, given that the remake is coming soon (whether we want it or not).

    Beyla – Your comment about Split Lip totally made my day. Thank you!

  9. Eric says:

    Thanks for mentioning my comment on The Exorcist. I will have to check out The Black Tapes podcast. And I look forward to your shows for 2016!

  10. Alex says:

    I’ll step up to the patriarchy challenge. TWs: defense of patriarchy, violence, heteronormativity, anti-SJW rhetoric, and so on. First, violence. While reductionist, I think it’s fair to associate patriarchy with violence as a problem-solving solution as opposed to a non-violent feminine approach. See, e.g., Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, Sultana’s Dream (non-violent feminist utopia). But sometimes violence is the answer. Within neoliberal ideology, non-violent dissent will always be tolerable and acceptable because it does not fundamentally threaten the system. In short, successful revolutions require violence. See Slavoj Žižek, Revolution at the Gates. Second, so-called traditional masculinity. At the risk of offending, I’ll go out on a limb here and wager that Andrea and Alex are attracted to traditionally masculine men, as opposed to the post-millenial man who is in touch with his emotions, does not even lift, and rejects all gender norms to the point that he categorically does not make sexual advances because doing so would constitute patriarchal gender violence. Many, dare I say most, women desire men who, well, act like men to a certain degree. I believe that this results from a combination of biological and cultural factors that cannot be separated from each other. It is not a matter of cultural re-education, it is endemic to humanity and even language as such. See Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body. I know that this is anathema in many feminist groups, and to be clear I am not condoning violence against women, rape, or anything like that, but to the extent we categorically associate male sexual advances as patriarchal, some of that is defensibly good. Third, matriarchy. Forgive me for getting all Foucault up in here, but History of Sexuality 101, power creates its own resistance. To the extent that we find value in matriarchal or feminine concepts (one of my favorites from Cultural Anthro 302–instead of attacking a virus, what about seducing it out of the body?), they exist in opposition to patriarchy. This is why pure egalitarianism, I believe, is not the answer. Foucault and his colleagues have the right of it–what we need is constant criticism/problematization of power structures, and to rethink gender Truths as not absolute but rather perspectival and co-productive with knowledge and power, and to use truth as a weapon to fight for social justice (a patriarchal turn of phrase). So there’s that. P.S. I think Mad Max was super patriarchal and I cannot agree with those who call it a “feminist” movie. But more on that some other time perhaps.

  11. Ramen says:

    I have to say, I was hesitant when deciding to post comments and get involved until I heard these assessment episodes. The bloopers really make Andrea and Alex more relatable and less like I’m talking to my professor.
    I wasn’t really one to comment on sites but this podcast forced something in me to get active in a community I do care about…Internets right?

  12. Rachel says:

    Not sure if this has been answered yet, and for that matter I can’t remember if it was in the book or movie (it’s been years since I’ve been back to either, but I know the book was 1000x more thorough). In Battle Royale, some kids were vaguely aware of the program because Shinji’s uncle was this anti-government radical who influenced and informed Shinji a lot. They lived under an extremely repressive government, access to information was very limited, there were specific mentions of black market Joan Baez cassette tapes and Keds. There definitely wasn’t any kind of internet access. Shuya could only play guitar away from authority figures, rock music was banned. The adults were already side-eyeing Shuya because of his Bruce Springsteen-influenced style (don’t blame them there). It was an interesting portrayal of a totalitarian government trying it’s best to control its citizens entirely, but the realism of having limited access to outside goods and information despite the government’s efforts. I fucking love that book.

    • Rachel says:

      Like five minutes later I actually remembered the difference. In the movie the justification for the program was along the lines of “The kids are out of line,” and in the book the government actually let its citizens be aware of the program as a psychological manipulation – less likely to trust people to protect you and come together to fight back against oppression when you’re aware of 40 15 year olds brutally murdering each other three times a year just because they’re told to, similar to the 1984 “Tattle on your neighbors” programs. I don’t remember what their official justification was, but it wasn’t that.

  13. Ryan Hughes says:

    Catching up here, apologies if this is listed elsewhere in the show notes; I didn’t see it anywhere:

    What is the song played at the end of the episode? I loved it!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ryan! That track is called “Bury our Friends” by Sleater-Kinney. We’ve got a playlist on Spotify of all our closing songs; just look up “Faculty of Horror”.


  14. FictionIsntReal says:

    The Romero film more relevant to Pontypool might be The Crazies, a prototype of an infectious behavioral disease causing the apocalypse.

    My recollection is that Chekov wasn’t so much interested in tension as artistic parsimony. His argument was that you shouldn’t have the gun hung up in the first act if it doesn’t go off in the third, but tension is unlikely to last that long.

    The obvious thing to save in the world is other people. The characters in Cabin the Woods are college students, old enough to be eligible for the draft. Our society has in the past deemed such people to be appropriate sacrifices for the greater good.

    Neil LaBute was disfellowshipped from the LDS church as a result of his play “Medea Redux” and in a 2005 interview he said his membership had recently ended. So he was not quite so in love with Mormonism at the time of this episode.

    I recently read Max Brooks’ World War Z, and my review was full of complaints about it… but compared to the movie it’s much more interesting.

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