Listen up!: A WiH Interview with Char Hardin.

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As a film review maven and woman with a deep affinity for horror, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more committed to the world of weird than Char Hardin.

Currently writing for a handful of websites while also maintaining her own blog and keeping her Facebook updated with posts, reviews and anecdotes, Char epitomizes the age old saying “hard work pays off”.

Char is one of the nicest, most exuberant women I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with on my quest to interview as many amazing women in horror as humanly possible.

When she isn’t dissecting other’s films, she’s carving a niche for herself as an author while also roaming the sound waves as a podcast host.

Did I mention Char’s high energy and non-stop motor?

Char Hardin is an amazing voice in the world of indie horror and we are lucky to have her! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, one of us, one of us!

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1. Hey Char! Tell us a little about yourself and your roots in horror.

Hello Justin! Thank you for this wonderful and unexpected opportunity. To be included with this prestigious list of ladies for Women in Horror 2012 is quite an honor for this horror fan/reviewer.

In 2011 I came to the “Dark Side” of Facebook and joined the men of the horror website Horrorphilia.com. Jason Lloyd invited me to contribute reviews to Horrorphilia and from there a special invite from Killingboxx.com, to become a “Donor” contributor, which meant another site to share reviews with further exposure for the films I was reviewing.

While writing for Horrorphilia, the Women in Horror month was in its second year, and I wanted to find some way to contribute to it, not just once a year, but throughout the year. My contribution to Women in Horror was a once in a blue moon podcast at Horrorphilia called GIRLS NIGHT OUT. I chose up to 5 women active in the Horror Community and invited them to join me, for a relaxed interview. A fun way to get to know these ladies and their roles in horror and a time for them to meet and network with the other guests and just let their hair down and have good time. The first show was a hit with The Twisted Twins of ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’ Jen and Sylvia Soska, Writer/Director from Montreal Canada Maude Michaud (RED) and the lady behind Women in Horror month Hannah Neurotica.

My popularity took off when I started reviewing short films and have earned the title “Queen of Short-Films”. I have viewed over 2000 (2011 officially 1645) short films and have been amazed at the quality and talent of the filmmakers, cast and crews of the majority of the films. 2012 is four months old and the shorts keep coming based on referrals from previous year as well as from film festivals I reviewed for last year. The new films are amazing workmanship by some very talented and upcoming filmmakers both men and women.

I have since left Horrorphilia and have been working largely on my own blog, charhardin.blogspot.com, while still contributing to WickedChannel.com, InfernalDreams.net, and Stephanie Wolfe’s E-Zine Paw Cinematic and soon to rejoin Killingboxx.com. It has been a rewarding transition from the old site and I learning more and more about our Horror Community while working at my own pace.

At the End of 2011, I started another blog/show with two other ladies, who have since left and started their own blog/show, and I have added a new co-hostess Joie Dunham Parent to the original show called THE MAVENS OF HORROR. As with the original, the show is based on promoting the Indie Horror Community, whether it’s film, novels or music or models…we are covering them all. Thomas Berdinski summed it up best, “Who wouldn’t want to be on a show with women talking about Horror.” Podcasts in general have certain appeal to their followers and Joie and I just want to have fun with our guests. With have two shows for 2012 but are adding more as our schedules allow. She is a model/actress and recently accepted a lead role in a film. Life with Joie is a party and always a good time!

You would think that would be all I could handle with writing reviews and my interviews and podcast…nope…I added another podcast with my fellow reviewer on WickedChannel.com, James DePaolo. Our show is simply called Wicked Channel. And we are going strong and having a good time interviewing the men and women of Indie Horror. James brings fun to our interviews and being childhood friends, we have good chemistry, knowing how to play off the other is important when doing podcasts. Bad chemistry leads to no shows. The man knows horror movies, and music like no other. He is my Howard Stern and I am his Robin…we just click.

All of the shows are simple…Get to know and promote who’s who in the world of Horror especially Indie Horror. They are the hardest working people with the something to give a horror fan…a good story, action, and all the blood and gore a true Horror Hound can take. This is a dream come true to be able to talk and write about the people who live in my TV! Awesome!

2. When did the ‘horror bug’ bite you?

 I owe my love of horror to my father’s mother, as she was a big horror film fan. Weekends spent with her watching old Universal Monster movies, Edgar Allen Poe movies with Vincent Price, going ‘Psycho’ with Alfred Hitchcock gave me my first look into the world of the macabre. As a child I was allergic to most everything and spent a great deal of time inside, reading and watching television. At 11, VHS and HBO were the keys that unlocked many doors for me into modern horror cinema and I have not stopped.

3. Did you always write or have you always had a passion for writing, or did that come when the horror fascination began?

From the moment I learned to write my name in kindergarten, I have been writing stories. Being sickly most of my childhood, I adapted to inside fun. I was an only child for 8 years and a loner, who quickly learned how to entertain myself through my imagination. I have hundreds of spiral bound notebooks filled with stories dating back over 30 years. I was a voracious reader and my favorite horror author is John Saul. I accredit him with my love for writing horror/suspense stories. My parents encouraged reading and naturally I was drawn to horror and at the tender age of 12, I discovered a horror story about a women who locked her children in the attic to win back the affections of her RICH dying father, the book was Flowers in the Attic and I loved it and the author VC Andrews. But my favorite horror male author is and will always be…JOHN SAUL, “Saul, kills them all, men, women, young old, no matter the race or religion…Saul kills them all!” After I started reading Saul…he and Andrews inspired me to keep writing my tales in the hopes that one day another impressionable person would see my work and say, “If she can, I can.”

4. As an avid horror film critic, what are some horror films that have gone under the radar over the last few years that you really love?

 Oh wow, that’s a tough question. 2011 brought me into the wonderful world of Indie Horror films and I have viewed some really good movies, I might not have ever seen if I hadn’t the opportunity to screen them for the filmmaker. Even harder when, some of them I see before they are released. The only one that comes to mind is ‘The Loved Ones’ an Aussie film. Had it not been for another reviewer, I would have missed it. And I am thankful that I did not. ‘Martyrs’, another but these are foreign and unless you are a fan of foreign films, you may otherwise never hear the titles. I would definitely recommend looking up ‘The Loved Ones’ & ‘Martyrs’ both blood soaked chillers! I’ve heard rumors Martyrs will be remade, but see the original first and when the new one comes out compare…the original will be tough to beat!

5. As a horror film aficionado, why do you feel women are still perceived and typecast as the weaker sex in horror?

I don’t know why they have to be perceived as the weaker sex. They are masters at manipulations, deception, organization, intelligent at problem solving…everything that male characters can do, so why must there be a differentiation of the sexes? Is it because the majority of filmmakers are of the Caveman way of thinking that they are the more qualified to make films, because they are men?

What I think, (just my opinion and does not include every male filmmaker) women in horror are cash cows. How could I say that? It’s like those who represent the men who perceive women to be the weaker sex in horror, only look for pretty girls with big assets. They entice women with the title and prestige of being the next Scream Queen. Those male filmmakers will continue to typecast women and place them in the same cookie cutter horror slasher films filled with TNA and call it horror, because they know there are men out there, who will pay top dollar to look at beautiful women getting screwed and slaughtered. And that would be sad and unfair statement. IF all men thought like this…there wouldn’t be any strong female roles.

I think the latest movement by women filmmakers emerging with strong female roles, will show horror audiences everywhere, a woman doesn’t just have to be a piece of meat, she can play other parts just as well as a man. The only problem I have with what I have just said, is when a woman filmmaker, doesn’t think outside the box and uses the same concept by having a weak female with big assets and nothing different to offer the audience, than if it were made by a man. By not breaking the cycle, it only sets us back. SO LADIES think outside the box! Pay it forward for the female filmmakers of tomorrow!

6. Isn’t it time for a female serial killer franchise?!?!

I totally agree. Past time for a kick-ass female serial killer franchise! I have a great idea for one…call me filmmakers! Ha-ha. We need a female killer who is pure evil and kills because she freaking likes it. Someone who has little or no respect for a living being human or other life forms…someone like Michael Myers…who just kills. She doesn’t need a back-story, don’t explain why she is the way she is…just let her be free to do whatever she wants…the hard part is keeping her alive and out of prison and likeable to the fans. We SOOOO need a female serial killer…who lives to kill another day. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX…come on ladies…you can do it!

7. Who are some of your favorite women in horror and why?

Going old school! Linda Blair, because as a youngster, she portrayed the single most frightening character in the history of horror to me. I watched her innocence lost and transformed into a demon which literally scared me, so that I slept with a night light for weeks after seeing that movie. To this day, I cannot watch Exorcist at night, because I have nightmares. I can watch it during the day and give me hours to forget by bedtime.

Sissy Spacek for her role as the shy misunderstood Carrie White in Stephen King’s blood soaked ‘CARRIE’. I love most of King’s earlier movies and CARRIE is my favorite. I have a fond memory staying up late and watching this movie with my mother, while my father was working as a fireman and gone most nights. We watched ‘CARRIE’ to see John Travolta and by the time of the Prom…I was enthralled with the special effects, my mother was disgusted, and went to bed.

Dee Wallace is another favorite from the VHS years. Her role in ‘The Howling’ was huge with me. I had been raised on the Universal Monsters and the Wolf Man of old was not like the werewolves of ‘The Howling’…they were gory and scary and little Char loved them! HBO had been brought into our home, the same year my dad bought our first VCR and unless it was edited for television, I was technically not allowed to watch it…thank goodness for babysitters. You catch one kissing on the couch when, they were supposed to be minding us kids…I was allowed to watch any horror movie, when that babysitter came to our house.

8. If you could meet and interview one horror icon, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Wow, this is a tough question. Seriously, there are many I would love to interview, but my first choice would be Vincent Price. I loved his movies! He had a way of making me believe, he was whoever he was portraying and making me forget my surroundings, while I watched him. Whether it was the old black/white or color, his presence was creepy and deep and his facial expressions intense and mesmerizing. I have been under his spell, since I was a small child watching horror movies with my grandmother.
The other icon is very much alive and obvious choice for me…LINDA BLAIR! Her movie, ‘The Exorcist’ is my favorite horror movie and the only horror movie I ever watched that scared me. I have said The Shining is another favorite, but ‘The Exorcist’ is my number one. I would ask her general questions about the movie and then her life after the movie.

Mine would be Vincent Price, too. No doubt about it. He is the coolest dude in the history of horror, in my opinion… It’s very cool to see almost everyone who has answered this question has answered Mr. Price!

9. What is your favorite kind of monster- vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc??

I LOVE supernatural and occult themes! Ghosts, possessions, haunted houses, witchcraft are my favorites. I enjoy the vampires…even the shiny ones and werewolves in general but the supernatural and occult are the ones I am most drawn to. For example, ‘House on Haunted Hill’ (l love the Vincent Price version best!), ‘Insidious’, ‘Poltergeis’t, ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Witch board’, ‘Warlock’, ‘The Craft’, ‘Night of the Demons’, ‘Ghost Story’, ‘Thirteen Ghosts’, ‘The Others’ and so many others.

10. What is a subgenre you think has been over-used in cinema as of late? (I would suggest the ‘found footage’ genre has to be put on the shelf for a decade or two.)

I see a lot of films that go straight to DVD, so for me really, I would have to say zombies. Normally I am not a fan of this popular sub-genre, but one Zombie movie in 2011 changed my mind on Zombies…’Dead Genesis’ directed by Reese Eveneshen. I connected to this story and film on many levels and have to thank Reese for allowing me to screen it, because it did open my eyes for more Zombie films. I have seen good ones and some not so good ones, so I cannot truly say Zombies, but I can do agree the lost footage is getting to be a little old and redundant.

Another is Exploitation/Torture films- ‘I Spit on Your Grave’, ‘A Serbian Film’ spring to mind. I am just not a viewer that enjoys watching women, children sexually abused and tortured to the point of revulsion or tears. I find that neither fun or entertaining and I do not promote those types of films, nor do I recommend others to skip these films if that is there preference. I just do not enjoy this type of film. I have issues with movies where women are raped and those movies are called entertainment and are heavily hyped.

11. Are you a big fan or regular attendee of horror conventions?

I attended my first film festival 2011 at the New Orleans Horror Film Festival at the Inn on Bourbon. And in 2012, I will be attending my first Comic Con with Joie Dunham Parent for Mavens of Horror, also in New Orleans. So no, I am not a regular attendee, but I so enjoyed the NOHFF and am looking forward to the Wizards Comic Con, that there may be future Horror conventions, I would consider attending. One in particular is the Texas Fright mare Weekend…I will not make the 2012…but come Hell or High Water…I will be there in 2013. Why 2013? Something Wicked this way comes and by 2013 it will have arrived and I want to shake the hand of the filmmaker that brought it!

12. What are a few of your favorite ‘true history horror stories’??

 Amityville is one of mine, as it fits my criteria for supernatural movies. I read the book and watched the first movie at the theatre with my babysitter, ha-ha. I loved it. She and I were all about audience participation, laughing at their naivety and screaming at the screen when all hell broke loose. I saw the remake again, recently and wondered how that family, the Lutz’s’ were today. Horror to me means scare me, and demonic possession stemming all the way back to ‘The Exorcist’ scares me and when I find a movie based on real life, I go. ‘The Haunting in Connecticut’ is another cool and disturbing one.

I remember watching Elizabeth Montgomery in ‘Lizzie Borden’. Horror fans have learned you cannot judge a character by their looks of innocence, you may just end up with 40 whacks for misconception.

Jack the Ripper is another favorite. I recently read the screenplay for ‘Ripper’ by Joe Randazzo. Randazzo put a whole new spin on the Ripper legend and look forward to the day I can see this screenplay brought to life. I liked ‘Ripper’; it was well researched and read like a horror fans bloody wet dream.

13. Any last words?

 I think I pretty much covered it in number one. My links are:

www.charhardin.blogspot.com

www.Mavensofhorror.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/char.hardin

infernaldreams.net

http://www.wix.com/pawcinematic

http://wickedchannel.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Light-Paranormal-Fantasy-Anthology/dp/0615605923/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333815540&sr=8-1

PS.
I totally forgot to tell you the update on being published. I am used to promoting the Indies and not me, so allow me to share this with you. As of 2012, I am now a published author of ‘Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly’. Oh, my gosh, this is a lifelong dream to hold in my hands a book with my name on the cover, unless you have had a similar experience, it is hard to imagine how that feels. I took to heart that “Empty the Bones for you” was accepted and to be included in the anthology titled ‘Dark Light’, but it didn’t register until I held the book in my hands. Tears fell and accomplishment was mine.

The story is about the greed of a twin sister and the deal she makes with the Devil. She didn’t plan on the interference of a powerful Entity. The story has received good reviews and part two is already in the works. This has been a wonderful opportunity that is leading to some doors that otherwise may never have been open to me before.

Snippet from the story:

Twilight closed her curtains as the last of the suns
rays faded away. I found myself all alone, now that my
family’s last car had gone. While Death misted her
recently departed perfume throughout The Pearly Gates
Cemetery, the gravedigger’s task was handed over to the
funeral home attendees. Gently they lowered me down into
the Earth’s dark, damp, bug-infested womb. Clumps of dirt
filtered through the flowers blanketing my casket, in haste
to chase after me. The pelting against my coffin finally
ended with a loud thud. The dust clouds settled and I was
laid to rest. –Char Hardin

Shout out to Hannah Neurotica for her envisioning a goal and working it into fruition. Congratulations Hannah!

Thank You goes out to Brenda and Elisabeth Fies, Karen Lam, Roxy Vandiver, Rebekah Herzberg, Lianne Spiderbaby, April Monique Burril, Michelle Tomlinson, Jen and Sylvia Soska, Maude Michaud, Megan Sacco, Shannon Lark, Heidi Honeycutt, Jessica Cameron, Nurse Hatchet (Mary Madcox), Roxsy Tyler, Sue Dent and all the women in horror films, music, and novels…keep doing what you do and I will LOOK, LISTEN and READ and later we will get together and TALK about your work. Pay it Forward; never apologize for being the Women of Horror who are paving the way for the Women of tomorrow.

I sincerely appreciate all of Char’s support and awesome words of wisdom over the months that I’ve been collecting these interviews! Thanks very much, Char! You rock!

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About Justin Hamelin

I am a freelance writer, mostly of horror and everything macabre. As a die hard fan of the genre with a particularly deep affinity for Women In Horror, I write film reviews, short stories, screenplays and conduct as many interviews as I can with the fantastic people who make the horror genre my absolute favorite!
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