When I first learned about Women In Horror Recognition Month about a year and a half ago, one of the first names that I saw all over just about everything that had to do with WiHM was one Heidi Honeycutt. Synanomous with the cause, Heidi is arguably one of the busiest women in the business.
She’s created several websites (be sure to check ‘em all out after the interview!) and has seen her words published in more magazines and websites than you can count. She’s as honest a journalist as you’ll find.
While she’s currently working on a non-fiction book that celebrates female horror directors, her biggest contribution to Women In Horror Recognition Month has been her co-directing the annual Viscera Film Festival in Los Angeles. It’s the first women’s-only horror film festival in the world. If that isn’t enough, she’s also the director of the Etheria Film Festival, dedicated to science fiction and fantasy films directed by women.
For all these reasons and more, Heidi Honeycutt’s wonderful face is rightfully chiseled into theMountGushmore (see what I did there? That’s a gore reference, folks) of Horror. The way I see it, Heidi is as important a player in the horror industry as anyone working today.
I was fortunate to chat with Heidi a bit recently. I must say, if ever there was a woman on a mission, you’re about to meet her.
1. ‘Viscera Film Festival’ is such an amazing feat. How awesome has it been to see the female community come together to celebrate one another?
Justin, Viscera is one of the best things of which I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part. I know it sounds cheesy to other people who aren’t involved: a bunch of women yelling “You go girl!” and bleeding in the audience, while having hormonal issues. But it’s not. It’s just amazing. I now know over 500 individual women personally who are directing horror, sci-fi, or fantasy and it’s extremely exciting!
2. You and Shannon Lark are rightfully on the front line of representing Women In Horror. How did you two meet?
In 2004, or 2005, we both attended the same horror convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania one autumn. I was already interested in what women were up to and had started the site www.pretty-scary.net (no longer in existence) which was all about women in horror. She was making her own films, and we just sort of recognized that we had similar interests. Shannon and I are very different, but we have one very important thing in common: we’re both really driven to accomplish something in this world. We both have ambitious goals when it comes to making our mark and we’re willing to sacrifice white picket fences and tradition in order to accomplish those goals. I think we have a lot of respect for each other.
3. Why do you think it’s STILL such an uneven playing field when it comes to women and men, particularly in the horror industry?
The truth that most people don’t want to face is that women, like African-Americans, have been genuinely oppressed throughout the history of Western Civilization (100 years ago, women still did not have the right to vote in the United States and not until 1945 in France). That oppression has been dealt an amazing blow in the 20th Century, but like racism, the repercussions are still there in various forms of our society and it will take more time and more hard work to completely eliminate them. Sexism still has a foothold in various industries like politics, economics, and of course, the film industry. Because of that, women are perceived in a certain way in horror films by horror fans. Women filmmakers are also largely seen through a sexist lens. Viscera is one of the small festivals that is trying to change the way people perceive women in horror films and as horror filmmakers; by showing the innovative and awesome new ways in which women are creating horror and are creating visions of their own identity and sexuality through horrifying imagery.
4. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say you are one of the busiest women I’ve ever met. One particular project you are working on that has me very intrigued is the tentatively titled ‘Brides of Horror’. Who are some of your favorite horror couples?
“Brides of Horror,” unfortunately, has been put on hold. Frankly, we were having trouble getting the access we wanted to the private lives we needed. We needed more dirt; everyone we interviewed was either closed or genuinely simple. (Well, except a few). We’re still working on it.
It’s easy to be busy when you don’t have a real job or children. I hear those take up a lot of free time; I try to not tie myself down.
5. What is your favorite horror franchise?
Phantasm, Hellraiser, and Puppet Master are all pretty fun; I like a franchise that doesn’t make any sense and in which every sequel is subsequently lower and lower-budgeted. Ghoulies and Critters are also up there; small, furry, mean things. Like cats! I can’t say that the original Halloween or F13 series are really my favorites. I guess The Evil Dead reigns in terms of franchises, for me, when I genuinely want to enjoy the film and not just make fun of it.
6. Who were your horror role models growing up?
Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira)! She was the first woman I ever saw who was allowed to be funny AND sexy at the same time. Before that, every woman on TV and in movies that I’d ever seen was one or the other. If you were funny, people had to pretend you weren’t hot (Lucille Ball) and if you were hot, people had to pretend you weren’t funny (Marilyn Monroe). But Cassandra created a character that was both. She was in charge of the jokes; she was the one who decided who to make fun of and who to laugh at but at the same time was unabashedly hot. I love her and love Cassandra for creating her.
7. You’ve said, “(Women) never kill for killing’s sake the way men do” in horror and “women always need a ‘reason to kill’..”. Isn’t it about time we have a maniacal female serial killer in horror?
I do! I mean, I want to make it clear that the last thing the world needs is a voiceless, motivation-less, dumb horror cliché serial killer, but fuck it. Yes, it’s about time. Women killers in horror films are always deranged because of a baby they lost, a man they lost, or because they were burned at the stake as a witch 400 years ago… they are never just “Crazy” the way Michael Meyers is. They always have a motive, and it is usually the same type of stereotypical gender-related motivation. Bo-ring.
8. I love your quote “most of the guys in charge are total nerds and don’t know any women, so they assume only men…are interested in horror” when you discussed the current horror scene. Who are some of your women in horror heroes?
Jovanka Vuckovic, who is the former editor of Rue-Morgue, was one of the first women I met who was respected by “the boys club” of horror film reviewers/writers because of her charisma and intelligence and knowledge about horror. Being the editor of a publication they respected didn’t hurt either. Mary Lambert, the director of Pet Semetary I and II, is also a hero of mine for breaking into mainstream theatrical horror movies in the 1980s when that field was dominated by men like Joe Dante, John Landis, Wes Craven, etc. She was definitely a rebel (her videos for Madonna were considered quite controversial) and she dances to the beat of her own drum. She’s not ashamed of being associated with “Horror” the way director like Kathryn Bigelow are, either, which to me is essential for a hero.
9. Let’s play a little word association….
“Horror Remakes”- “Brad Fuller”
“Gratuitous Nudity”- “Tits”
“Heidi Honeycutt’s Legacy In The Horror Industry“- “That Bitch Who Was Always Talking About Women or Something. God She Was Annoying. She Was Hot When She Was Like 25, Tho.”
10. What is the best newer horror film you’ve seen?
I really enjoy the foreign stuff right now, especially from Northern Europe, like “Troll Hunter” and “Dead Snow.” It’s great to get a new take on horror after so many slashers that suck, churned out year after year in the indie world.
11. You have expressed your love for inappropriate humor. Hannah Neuorotica has said that you can’t make art by trying to be PC. Are there any taboos or subjects you simply won’t touch?
I haven’t come across anything so crude that I can’t somehow find the humor in it, even if it’s fucked up and you hate me for it. But if something comes along, I’ll let you know. Maybe animal abuse?
12. What advice do you have for a young woman aspiring to join the Women In Horror ranks?
Don’t take your top off unless they are paying you 100 dollars or more. Per day! Have some fucking dignity.
13. What makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
A storyline that doesn’t have giant logic plot holes all over the place. I also like films that use music, imagery, sound, color as well as story to create an entire experience. “Suspiria” is one of my favorite films. It doesn’t really have a cohesive story, but it’s beautiful and terrifying.
14. Can you recommend an underappreciated horror flick to the masses?
Critters. Critters is an amazing little film. Very funny – there’s subtitled dialogue between the Critters, which are furry space aliens that eat people. It’s fucking brilliant.
15. What scares you?
Getting old, dying alone, and being broke. All three at once is the most terrifying.
16. Who is your favorite horror villain? Why?
My personal favorite horror villain is The Critters (see #14). SO CUTE. So deadly. Kind of like cats.
17. What are you currently working on?
I am working on my nonfiction book – a history of horror films directed by women from the beginning of film to the present. It’s, like, a real book with references, and crap, so it takes a long time. It’s not some bullshit piece of shit cut-and-paste-interview book, or anything. And this will surprise people: there are many many many films being covered, hopefully a few about which people need to know more.
The rest of my spare time is spent on my mainstream film site www.PlanetFury.com and on my site solely about women directors of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy called www.PlanetEtheria.com, and programming the new round of films for the Viscera Film Festival (www.viscerafilmfestival.com). This whole “thing” is kind of becoming a life-long obsession. I like it.
I can’t thank Heidi enough for her time, brutal honesty (it’s the only kind that really counts) and overall awesomeness.
Read up on all things Heidi, Women In Horror Month and the like at: