Horror’s Scream Queens and Rising Talent: Six Questions for Andrea Subissati
“Andrea Subissati (aka “Lady Hellbat”) is a sociologist, journalist and podcaster. Lady Hellbat earned her moniker playing roller derby for Toronto’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls. In 2010, her masters thesis on the social impact of zombie cinema was published under the title When There’s No More Room In Hell: The Sociology of the Living Dead. Since then, she has been published in The Undead and Theology (2012), The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (2015) and Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television. She became executive editor of Rue Morgue magazine in 2017. In addition to writing, Andrea has made guest appearances on the Rue Morgue Podcast and Pseudopod, and the TV horror documentary Why Horror? (2014). She is co-host and producer of The Faculty of Horror podcast with writer Alexandra West, as well as co-curator of the Toronto-based horror lecture series The Black Museum, which she founded with Paul Corupe. In 2015, she launched the horror YouTube channel THE BATCAVE. Lady Hellbat stalks the streets of Toronto, Ontario, and can be found in her natural habitat, hunched over her laptop, and plotting her next coup.“
1. How did you get into the industry?
I moved to Toronto because it had a thriving horror scene, and Rue Morgue Magazine was right at the hub of that. I invited Rue Morgue to co-sponsor my book launch party for When There’s No More Room in Hell and from there, I went from contributor to copy editor to marketing and operations manager to editor! Having a podcast and a YouTube channel also expanded my network to other creatives working in various avenues of media.
2. What Scream Queen/Woman in Horror inspired you the most?
I wish I had a good answer for this! The fact is that I’m not an actress, so I’m not terribly inspired by scream queens, and at the time when I was embarking on my career as a horror journalist, there weren’t many women working in horror the way I wanted to work in horror – as a film writer with a feminist/academic slant. That said, I’ve encountered some incredibly inspiring women throughout my journey over the years: fellow journalists Alexandra West, Alison Lang, Ashlee Blackwell, April Snellings and Monica S. Kuebler; filmmakers Monika Estrella Negra, Natalia Leite and Ashlea Wessel. The list goes on, and I’m grateful for that!
3. What horror film hooked you on the genre and why?
I’d have to say it was Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Not only is it a great movie and a terrifying one, it’s fertile ground for academic appreciation and I also have personal connections to the story that enabled me to find my critical voice as a journalist. I’ve never been interested in simple good/bad assessments of horror film – the real question is what makes a film meaningful, or important. That’s the mandate behind all my film writing.
4. When you are presented with a project, what are the things that draw you to certain projects and away from others?
I receive a lot of press releases claiming their new movie is a “new spin” on an existing trope, and it winds up being a direct rehash of whatever it was they’re referencing. I think a lot of amateur filmmakers are attracted to horror because it’s relatively cheap to do (at least it can be) and it’s easy to be inspired by the breakout success of indie movies like Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I’m drawn to projects that have a why factor as much as a what, by creatives with a demonstrated passion for the material. It can be tempting to be like, “Support my indie film on principle because it’s indie and I’m trying!” But the fact of the matter is I get at least 30 press releases a day, all singing that same tune.
The best way to set yourself apart from the fray is by being willing to take risks and put yourself out there. Narratives are easily imitated but passion is as unique as your fingerprint.
5. The evolution of women in the genre continues to change almost daily, so what are your thoughts on how things have changed and what do you see coming for the current and future women of horror?
I remember when Women in Horror Month first started, and I’m so pleased to see how far it’s come! More and more women are gaining the confidence to pursue their dreams in horror, which is a great thing. I still see an awful lot of backlash online so there’s still a ways to go, but it’s all moving in the right direction as far as I can tell.
6. What are the next couple projects you are working on?
On the front burner, there are always deadlines with the magazine and the monthly Faculty of Horror podcast episode. Those two tend to keep my dance card full, but I make time for The Black Museum lecture series to host cool events every now and then (we’ve got a doozy coming up in March, for you readers in the Toronto area) and I’d like to get my YouTube channel back up and running. If you know of a spell for adding more hours to the day, please let me know!
Andrea Subissati’s Links: