I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing. What got me into writing, and then what brought me back to it. The ways in which the internet has largely democratized writing—for good and bad—and how several of my writing inspirations over the last two decades have been online, at both “establishment” hubs and small, one-person blogs alike. The written word, on the page, is what got me into writing, what made me want to be a writer, but the shift to digital around the turn of the century was, in many ways, a godsend. Suddenly, there felt like a community of writers that were spilling forth their feelings and opinions and criticisms with reckless abandon. Things felt wide open, like internet writers were colonizing the moon. They certainly made me want to hop in a rocket ship and zoom out to meet them in this brave new world.
At the time, the internet seemed to allow for more voices, different voices. This was always very appealing. And look, I know that with this came a flood of terrible writers—either technically insufficient in their skill sets or spewing idiotic and at times harmful hot takes—but I’m not interested in that today. Instead, I just want to celebrate a few of the blogs, sites, and writers through the years that helped me feel like, “Hey, I can do this too!” They’ve all been around for a long time, with several nearing twenty years of blogging now.
I discovered Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies six or seven years ago now and, as you might imagine, it was an instant favorite. I quickly became friends with Paul, bonding over our shared obsession/love for Michelle Pfeiffer and our constant need to write about it. Paul also adores Meg Ryan because he has impeccable taste. I love Ryan and her films too, and have learned a great deal from reading Paul’s loving takes on what makes peak-career Meg so special. Paul’s an imaginative writer, and some of my favorite posts are the ones where he takes us to an alternate universe, seamlessly blending together a Pfeiffer pfilm with a Meg movie to create something original and inspiring. Paul’s writing is, ultimately, full of love and respect. It’s impossible to read his site without smiling broadly and walking away feeling better than you did when you got there. And he’s been so supportive of my writing over the years, even reblogging several of my Pfeiffer posts. We’ve also collaborated on some posts over the years, in which we engage in conversation about Pfeiffer pfilms. It’s been too long since we did one, so just writing this is giving me the itch to do it again. Paul, if you’re reading, let’s make it happen!
The venerable, long-running horror movie site Kindertrauma, with its irreverent mix of sincere love for horror and the ability to poke fun at it, is so in line with my own sensibilities that it’s uncanny. So when I discovered the site ages ago, I knew I’d found kindred spirits. Lance and his contributors seem to have special affection for my favorite era in horror—the 1970s through the 1980s. Their enthusiasm for slashers always makes my heart sing, as those are my ultimate horror movie comfort films (I’m a sick individual, I know). Some of my friends have written for Kindertrauma over the years and now I have too! I had several articles published there last year, after finally getting my act together and sending them some pitches. I’m beaming now, being a part of the Kindertrauma family.
Before I move on, how about some shameless self promotion? Here are the four articles I’ve done so far at Kindertrauma.
Brian De Palma’s misunderstood lost classic, The Fury.
One of the best horror movies ever made and a favorite of mine, Carnival of Souls.
The absolutely wild and unforgettable 1970s West German possession flick, Magdalena: Possessed by the Devil.
Quite possibly the most damning holiday film ever made, Christmas Evil.
When it comes to the seedier side of cinema, House of Self-Indulgence was my go-to resource for a while. Yum-Yum’s reviews of grindhouse cult classics are like little novellas, and perfect companion pieces to the trashy films they’re summarizing. Even though I was already a veteran of cult movies for decades, Yum-Yum introduced me to even more movies that made me laugh, cringe, and want to write about them. Yum-Yum’s fun and cheeky voice shines through loud and clear, making it feel like you’re in conversation with the writer, instead of just reading a review. It’s also a perfect marriage between the films and the reviewer’s writing style. Yum-Yum’s plot summarizes are just as hilarious and entertaining as the movies, sometimes even more so. They also celebrate many of the leggy, lingerie-clad female stars of these movies, so you can usually count on a poetic ode to shapely legs and sexy lingerie. Here’s a screenshot of a typical review:
Perfection. After all, these movies aren’t about plot. They’re about eye candy, and shock and awe tactics. Blood, breasts, and beasts, as Joe Bob Briggs would say. You really need a sense of humor to enjoy exploitation cinema. Not only does Yum-Yum have one, but they also have impeccable taste when it comes to trash cinema. Sadly, it looks like the site hasn’t had any new posts this year, and l only a few in 2021. But the archive of reviews is massive—and if you look closely you’ll also find the occasional mainstream film, like Body Double, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Pretty in Pink. So there are plenty of goodies there for anyone looking to self-indulge.
For almost two decades, comic book critic Tegan O’Neil has run The Hurting blog, a fascinating collection of the best kind of pop culture writing: the kind with a personal slant that winds up feeling universal to readers. O’Neil, who has written for The Comics Journal, specializes and focuses largely on comics, but also weaves other pop elements into the writing as well, from movies to books to television and more. But oftentimes, it’s all deeply personal. No one else could write these posts. They belong entirely to O’Neil and their experiences, both with comics and with life itself. Years ago, there were some truly epic, emotionally raw posts about O’Neil’s very personal transition. It takes bravery to write that honestly about feelings, to let yourself be that emotionally exposed to readers. It’s the hardest part about writing, that fear you’ll be judged for speaking your truth. Alongside these moments of interior exploration, O’Neil engages in insightful comic book analysis that is non-jargony and totally engaging. Come for the great comics scholarship, stick around for the aching (hurting) humanity and soul-baring writing.
I’ll close with a serious oldie but goodie, Dinosaur Dracula. Site runner Matt—Dino Drac himself—describes it as, “An online magazine that blah blah blah blah.” He’s underselling himself, clearly. Dinosaur Dracula is an online blog behemoth, one of the oldest I know. Matt loves Halloween, horror, junk food, and soft drinks, and his fun, nostalgic posts and videos are what makes the site so popular. We follow Matt from post to post (and to his podcast, YouTube channel, and social media accounts too) for an unabashed trip down memory lane. Dinosaur Dracula let’s us relive the horror movie broadcasts of our youth—he and I both grew up within range to watch WPIX channel 11 out of New York City when it was the bomb, thanks to their amazing lineup of movies—or relish Matt’s pursuit of rare, holiday-themed junk food, followed by his insightfully descriptive taste tests of them. Every visit to Matt’s page is pure, unadulterated nostalgic bliss. It just makes me happy. Amazingly, after nearly twenty years, Dinosaur Dracula is as fresh and fun as ever. I can’t imagine life without it.
Okay, I lied, I’m not done yet. How about a bonus entry?
This is a relatively new find for me, just in the last couple of months, and already I’m an eager follower of every post by the Cranky Lesbian. Her writing is additively readable, filled with self-depricating humor and personal stories that are touching and inspiring. She manages all of this while writing about stuff that I love: The Golden Girls, Charlie’s Angels, and a cavalcade of made-for-TV movies from the golden age of TV movies. Our intersecting interests also extend to movies like Poison Ivy (1992). One of my favorites from the deliciously trashy ‘90s erotic thriller boom, this one stars a seventeen year old Drew Barrymore in one of a string of scandalously sexy roles she played during her late teens. The Cranky Lesbian’s review is delightful, exploring the film’s “cheap lesbian thrills in (mostly) straight packaging” and capturing what makes Barrymore so electrifying as Ivy. Makes me want to rewatch the movie and write about it myself. I love when writers inspire other writers, don’t you?