A lust letter to The Love Witch: Why we are under the spell of Anna Biller’s pretty potion of cinematic magic

You’ll want to dig out your lava lamp, buy a deck of Thoth and simultaneously burn your bra when you’ve been seduced by The Love Witch’s wickedly lavish cinematic sorcery. *Spoilers*


Being utterly obsessed with the 60’s and of course, witches, when I first heard of Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, a film packed to the brim with retro fashion and witch craft, I was immediately both enamored and intrigued. Luckily it didn’t disappoint.

It’s refreshing to see more horror with women at the helm, and it’s even more so when the film overtly challenges and comments on gender bias and universal sexism. The Love Witch covers all bases, proving to be more than just a pretty piece of cinema. It’s a stunning watch, yes, but it isn’t without depth – much like is protagonist.

Anna Biller has created the illusion of a genuine 60’s exploitation horror through her use of a 35mm, shying away from digital shooting, and her incredible eye for detail. She designed all the costumes and sets herself, and they are stunning. You needn’t look far on social media to see the vivid hues of the incredible Thoth-inspired apartment, complete with esoteric pentacle rug and her protagonist’s flamboyantly vintage wardrobe. While the aesthetics appear so authentic you’d be convinced the flick is set in 1969, there are traces of modernity than set it firmly in the present.


The Technicolored palette and OTT acting are more than just homage to the psychedelic decade, you feel as though you are caught in a time warp between now and then. It’s a clever con too, seducing you into a false sense of security, a spell that lasts the whole movie.You are roped, and seemingly sent you straight back to the 60’s only to be confused when a BMW people carrier and the odd out of place contemporarily dressed extra appears. Elaine, The Love Witch herself, is spinning her web of retro shaped deception and even the viewer is under her influence.

Elaine is no doubt a product of patriarchy. She is both a victim and a villain, a love-obsessed narcissist who is never satisfied when she gets what she wants. It becomes clear that the system has brainwashed her from the start – she equates happiness with romance, believing that having a man and being attractive are the most important pursuits in life.

She is completely engulfed by the idea of a happy ending being marriage and life long love, but the men she encounters never seem to live up to her fantasy of what is “masculine”; and when they do, she doesn’t fit their fantasy of “femininity” either (not to mention the fact they appear to be even more narcissistic than her).


Her magic isn’t just a glamour made for men, however, as she can’t seem to brush the chromatic crochet-knit wool from her own eyes.

Her upbringing seems to have shaped her outlook, putting importance on her image and how she appears to men. She puts on a false image, becoming a woman she thinks men will respond to and using magic to lure them like a siren. However, it is made clear to the viewer that she is not happy to keep up the pretense to maintain the relationships she dives into and her infatuation becomes irritation. Elaine is constantly left wondering why her flings don’t love her “for her”.

Elaine equally doesn’t appear to want her male victims dead, she naively concocts her spells with perhaps less knowledge than she lets on! She’s smart, sassy but dewy-eyed, indoctrinated by a world filled with too many hapless Disney princesses, searching for a love that doesn’t exist. You can’t help but see her situation as a commentary on how our society breeds narcissism, arrogance and yet an ignorance of knowledge – one that leads to death and destruction for both sexes.

There is no shying away from the feminism either, and even by today’s standards it is somewhat radical. With the backdrop of early 70’s social justice it isn’t out of place for the characters to be asserting their new found civil rights, and witchcraft, in the film, is seen as an outlet for this powerful female freedom.


Elaine states she uses sex magic to create love magic, and while she obviously makes the age old clichéd mistake, often attributed to women, of being unable to separate sex from love, she isn’t completed blindsided. She doesn’t fall in love during sex, her victims do – a gender reversal as far as societies standards are concerned. She also is particularly promiscuous, yet never branded a slut (except by another female in a jealous, grief-striken rage).

According to Barbara, Elaine’s coven friend, women’s intuitions are seen as illnesses by society and witchcraft allows them to retain their power in a distinctly feminine way. While this is an empowering little speech, it is also problematic. Elaine is doing just this with her own magic, but she isn’t ultimately taking control of men and it’s not the most productive path to take – perhaps suggesting that the film’s commentary is advocating a more equal look at the sexes rather than the early 70’s feminist view of separate but equal?

The film poses many questions, but one thing is sure – witchcraft saved Elaine’s life (okay, it also resulted in the end of many men’s) and I interpret it as a metaphor for feminism, attracting much controversy and misunderstanding. Women’s pathway to taking physical control back over their own lives has been a bit of a bumpy ride, dragging with it various opposing views, the damage and memories of the past (resulting in chips on shoulders), many misunderstandings and plenty of mistakes (not to mention collateral damage). But one things for sure, it’s a bloody great thing.


Forget Die Hard, Night of the Comet is the Xmas feminist flick you should be watching

There is the same BS debate every single year: is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Do we really care?

No. And FYI, the answer is yes, it is a goddamn Christmas movie. However, there is a far superior action-packed 80’s flick you should be watching instead.

If you are like me, not only would you have noticed the distinct lack of estrogen in Die Hard, but asked yourself: where are the goddamn zombies?


I’ve got you covered, sis. Night of the Comet is undeniably the underrated 80’s Christmas action-packed disaster flick you’ve been searching for and probably narrowly missed out on all this time.

Why, you ask? Here’s the 411.

Night of the Comet doesn’t rely on a unrealistic macho hero and a wealth of phallic symbols just to re-enforce the idea that women need to be saved and one man can somehow cut down an entire terrorist organization in one night.

In fact, it centers around a sisterly relationship.

The film starts with Earth passing through a comet, an event the whole world is excited for and conveniently forgotten about the fact that the last time it happened, the dinosaurs were wiped out.

Predictably, this event again wipes out majority of the Earth’s population. Unless, you were sleeping in a steel encased room, or perhaps ran away from your bitch of a stepmom and spent the night in a metal shed.


Protagonist, Reggie, who avoided this comet fallout, is a competitive, independent 18 year old who is badass at computer games. She knows how to wield a gun (her dad taught her) and is having a casual fling with a guy she works with in the movie theatre (her “promiscuity” actually saved her life.

Reggie’s pretty forward thinking for an 80’s female teen character. She instantly realises there is something up after leaving the movie theatre, and fights off a zombie to boot!



Sam, Reggie’s little sister, is more of a cliché silly teen, but she has some redeeming qualities, such as her spunky attitude and ability to bounce back from the constant crap thrown at the gang of survivors.

The film has everything you want from an 80’s genre flick – guns, action, violence, comedy, awesomely 80’s prosthetic make-up and special effects. And the night of the comet happens to fall at Christmas!

If I haven’t sold you, Bloody Disgusting named Night of the Comet in their Top 10 Doomsday Horror films back in 2009.

The flick is currently on Netflix so check it out if you’ve had enough of the same old Christmas films re-hashed from year to year.





5 Reasons you should be watching Scream Queens


About a year or so ago I seem to briefly remember mentioning a twinkle in the eye of FOX – a female driven anthology horror-comedy series called Scream Queens. The series, produced by American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy and starring Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis is on its 4th episode, and I felt it was far enough in to finally decide to say: YES SCREAM QUEENS IS AWESOME.

Here’s why…

01. Sorority House Rules


If you aren’t a fan of sororities, well, what’s better than seeing them all killed? I for one love a good sorority slasher, from House on Sorority Row to Black Christmas – it’s one of those classic horror movie settings, much like the summer camp, haunted house or cabin in the woods. However, with a sorority house, you are forced to change the dynamic – the typical male stereotypes don’t exist because it’s all ladies…

02. The Ultimate Scream Queen


The college dean is played by none other than Jamie Lee Curtis, yes, the original Scream Queen herself. Just in case you have lived in a shed for the whole of your life (or perhaps underdeveloped and living in a sorority house attic…) Jamie made a name for herself back in the 1970’s for her role as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s seminal slasher flick, Halloween and went on to star in many more horror films throughout the 1980’s (as well as stripping for Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1994)

03. Tributes and Homage Galore


From the girls burying themselves in soil up to their necks on a croquet pitch and top bitches referring to themselves as the same name plus a number (Heathers, anyone?) to the 80’s horror flick styled opening sequence and *SPOILER* the up-and-coming Psycho re-enactment – the series is overflowing with homage to the horror genre. If that’s not enough, the constant pop-culture references and slick, quick-witted script will keep you on your toes.

04. Kick ass Femme Fatales


Unlike many slasher flicks, where ladies are generally eye candy with their breasts on show, or that untouchable virgin golden girl whose purity means she lasts the duration. The ladies of Scream Queens are fairly well-rounded, if not a little caricatured and even the girls’ body guards are female. While they are indeed a parody of themselves, the girls in the series – bad AND good, are more than what they immediately present. Chanel #1 is a cold hearted bitch, but her character extends further than just being a villainess (she even calls out a sexist pervert and her gang of Chanels beat him to a pulp, much to on-lookers glee). These are some ladies who don’t go down without a fight.

05. There are THREE Halloween episodes


Yes 3, in one season. SOLD.

All images taken from tumblr

Film: The Babadook (2014) **SPOILERS!**

Okay, so I am a bit late on the bandwagon with this one, but let’s just say it takes a little time to digest! I had to review this female centric, female written/directed flick – yet in order to take a feminist POV I needed to get my thoughts in order and ask myself whether or not I found the film lady liberating.


First off, I thought I was in for a classic dark fairytale, a children’s nightmare come alive. Little did I know…
The Babadook could be taken as this, on the surface, but is it? Is it the monster under the bed or is it a documented psychological breakdown of a mother and her child? One thing is for certain though, this film is harrowing and nasty – in a good sense.

Amelia is a single mother, an ex-writer who is struggling to get by working in a nursing home and functioning with very little sleep. The latter issue is caused by her overly imaginative son, Samuel, who is suffering from constant nightmares involving monsters. What is distinctly haunting about his phobia, is his worry for his mothers’ well-being. While most children would see their parent as their protector (and her constant checking for the closet gremlin does show she is in many respects) he is also acutely aware of his mothers’ own vulnerability.
One night, Sam picks up a book for his mother to read in order to sooth him back to sleep. This book is entitled, The Babadook, and it becomes increasingly aware this isn’t a nice book.
Samuel becomes convinced that the nasty monster contained within the book is now haunting himself and his mother. Amelia is shaken up by the book, just as her son and tears it up and throws it in the trash. The book, however, reappears at her door in broad daylight and now contains an extended storyline: The Babadook, a nasty monster you can’t vanquish, has made it into their home, possesses Amelia and causes her to kill her dog and Sam. The Babadook then calls her house phone, eerily groaning his own name. Amelia is terrified and burns the book, hoping it will finally put an end to the terror. But the Babadook has other ideas.

Amelia is an interesting protagonist, it is difficult to place her as feminist, yet she isn’t irritatingly weak. She is an incredibly human and relatable character. She is not a typical devoted mother – she is clearly completely disheartened by her sons mischief (not only does he suffer night terrors but also creates havoc at school, ultimately being taken out of the environment). At times, it is clear, while Amelia loves her son, she equally can’t stand him. What makes this all the more understandable is her tragic labour – while on the way to the hospital to give birth to Sam, her husband is killed (visibly beheaded right in front of her eyes) in a car crash. The mix of pregnancy hormones, labour pains and grim sight of her husbands death makes Amelia a ticking time bomb of sanity that you can’t help but feel empathy for. Imagine losing your husband in such a horrific way while giving birth to your son. I can only imagine how lonely, difficult and full of pain the months following the accident must have been. Pregnancy and Post natal depression is known to be a trigger of many other psychological conditions.

However, it is unclear whether this storybook is a figment of the imagination, shrouding Amelia’s mental illness or if it is a real supernatural creature.

Another point I noted was a joke between Amelia and her co-worker (who is clearly interested in her!) where he approaches her laughing about her being in her “rightful place” – the kitchen. While it is obviously irony, the scene made an impression (and not just because I am a raving feminist), but because Amelia, in every sense does not fit the stereotype of housewife or mother. She is cold and awkward at the best of times when it comes to the relationship with her son, and any romantic suitor. Her attempts at cooking for herself and her son are basic, and at one point she finds glass in her soup – apparently put there by the babadook, according to Sam.

While Amelia’s character isn’t a feminist one, and neither is she particularly strong – if we take the film on it’s literal meaning, she ultimately takes control and subdues the monster, saving her son. If it is a metaphor for her breakdown, perhaps it isn’t quite so powerful – but in her own head, she has defeated the babadook and survived the terror, so even if she is the evil in her own story she is not ultimately the one punished (which is mildly refreshing when regarding evil/crazy women…)

In conclusion, Babadook is a disturbing and horrifically dark story. Either one of a psychological nature or a monster hidden under the bed. It is expertly crafted by Kent and appeals to a wide audience, whether young/old, female/male. The acting is nothing less than superb and it plays more on thought provoking horror than cheap thrills – a masterpiece that will play on your mind just like any good horror should.

The Strain Review (Spoilers!)

Original review: http://www.snatchzine.com/blog/2014/9/19/small-screen-the-strain-review

The New Breed of Vampire Is… A Worm?


The Strain is attempting to redefine vamps. After some rather unfortunate mishaps in the shape of Twilight, every single vampire-related form of entertainment media has been unfairly tarnished. The Strain, however, is taking more of an I Am Legend approach (not the Will Smith movie, people! The novel) and the premise is fairly interesting. Basically, you are infected due to some parasitic worms invading your body (anyone remember Animorphs?) and taking over your brain, essentially killing you and possessing you will some form of demon (like in Buffy, when they would be, like, demon, but still them, yah?).

The only thing is, well, the execution of this rather interesting re-invention of the vampire genre is pretty poor. With some sterling acts on board like Sean Austin (The Goonies) and of course, the legendary Guillermo del Toro, I must admit I had much higher hopes. Perhaps that is the problem? There is one thing for sure though, it is pretty addictive but no consolation for the end of True Blood.

The other major issue with this new series is the distinct lack of really interesting and powerful female characters. *yawn* No surprises there! The main female lead, Dr. Nora Martinez, may be a biologist and therefore highly educated P.H.D. holding woman but both lead men are still expressed as her superiors. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather is her boss, head of her CDC team and Abraham Setrakian is a professor (arguably to doing both in intellectual terms).
As well as this, she just continues to re-enforce gender stereotypes.
Unlike the men, she cannot bear the thought of killing one of these vampiric creatures, as she still sees them as human. The two men, Eph and Abraham, have a no mess, straight-forward attitude. They try to keep it together and realise the realities in which they face – they must kill these infected humans (many of which died prior to infection anyway). Nora becomes very upset by the idea of killing and temporarily refuses to help. While Nora isn’t presented as necessarily weak for this choice, she is no doubt the more emotional and irrational party.
Nora is also madly in love with her superior, Eph, and they previously had a sexual relationship when he separated from his wife. However, her love is very much unrequited. Eph is still in love with his ex-wife and is desperate to find her and insure her safety after discovering her new boyfriend is infected and attacks their son. He makes it pretty bleedingly obvious that all Nora is to him is a sexual comfort and colleague. Although he obviously harbours more affection for her than his other colleagues, it appears she is a close friend with benefits. Nora obviously maintains hope, however, and continues to be his lapdog and take second place to his wife.

Aside from Nora, the other female characters are very underdeveloped and similarly steeped in stereotype. They are all obviously intelligent (in fact, every single character appears to be highly educated) but in one way or another cut down to size. Jim Kent’s wife is portrayed as a strong and dominant personality yet she is completely reliant on her husband due to the fact that she is dying of cancer. Nora’s opinionated mother suffers from dementia and Dutch, the British computer hacker has a mess of a personal life. Dutch is presented as being very self assured, yet she had no idea why she was hired to close down computer systems in the area. She is also very cliched, as it is implied she had some form of sexual relationship with her house mate (who then stole from her), is British (therefore liberal) and well, a computer hacker (therefore weird, alternative and offbeat).

While the men are by no means un-flawed, there are many more male characters to pick from and they are the ones who ultimately have the power. The sexual fluidity of characters and no end to the number of strong females featured in True Blood obviously makes it the better show. Sorry Del Toro, maybe stick to the movies.

Verdict: 7/10

Hey Guys and Gals…

Being a one person army is pretty tricky when you are also studying for your Masters – hence, no updates for 6 months. Apologies to anyone who has emailed me, etc.
I have been setting up this site: Snatchzine.com
It is an online community zine dedicated to feminism, music, sex, and alternative culture – if you are so inclined, please check it out! We are always looking for contributors!
Hopefully, after these few months of intense slogging away, I will have time to get back to Chicks and Chainsaws!
Please don’t lose hope! Stop by and check us for updates – anyone who would like to do some reviews for this here blog, drop me a line at dontwarnthetadpoles@gmail.com



I am so sorry for the massive delay in any updates on this blog, I have been utterly swamped… But fear not fans! I will be back very soon with plenty of girls and gore! 😉