TALK TO THE INTERNET: Ashlee Blackwell (Graveyard Shift Sisters)

In ‘Talk To The Internet’, we take the same 10 questions and one internet sensation to find out their loves, hates and their dream casts in the world of film.

Ashlee Blackwell is the creator of Graveyard Shift Sisters, a blog celebrating and academically dissecting the presence of black women in horror and science fiction, across film, TV and literature. Championing little-known films, lost cult favourites and up and comers in the genre, she has created a hive of discovery and discussion. She has worked with the Viscera Film Festival and Women in Horror Month organisers and also contributes to Black Girl Nerds. You can follow her on Twitter at @GraveyardSister.

What’s your favourite film and why?

One of my favorites is Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986). In the 1980’s, comedian Whoopi Goldberg was grabbing prominent roles in wide release films that were raceless (and I think sometimes) genderless due to her immense talent and appeal because of it. Essentially roles that could be written for anyone and Terry was definitely one of those characters. She was a warm-hearted, dark skin woman who worked as a techie with computers for a bank who enjoyed accentuating her personality with little toys, gadgets, classic films, and certainly was up for defending herself from punks on the street, her boss, and international criminals trying to kill her because of what she stumbled upon trying to help an English spy. This was the kind of rare representation of black women in film that was so profound, even to this day with the right balance of serious and comedic. We get to know Terry’s full humanity, she gets an excellent arc and the guy in the end. I loved the human aspect of a black woman who takes care of others, co-workers included but also shows that we, as black women need the right people to fulfil our emotional needs as well.

Her personality and job reminded me so much of my mom.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen and why?

The Rich Man’s Wife. In some desperate attempt to assert their autonomy, I was out voted (I wanted to see The First Wives Club) at a sleepover years ago, all of us in our pre-teens. Additionally, and sadly, I don’t know why my friend’s mother thought this appropriate for impressionable 11, 12 year olds. My eyes were in a pregnant roll for the entire duration of that film. I don’t remember much of it, except this feel of discomfort and annoyance that I seemed to be the only one interested in lighter fare with older women taking back their identities from all the not so good things about marriage and divorce instead of Halle Berry once again, being some objectified tool. If I was old enough, I would’ve walked out.

If you could make up your own imaginary film genre what would it be called?

Black Feminist Lynchian Horror

If you were given the opportunity to direct, who would you cast in your dream movie?

Kerry Washington is the first person that comes to mind. She has the range that I don’t feel has really been tapped, and maybe she’s just drawn to specific projects but I would push her to see what she could do in genre, specifically horror and really shake things up in a supernatural anti-hero role.

Who is your favourite woman character from Film or TV?

The most consistent character on TV, in my opinion, has been Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files. Since the revival and season 11 is currently in full swing, it’s hard for me not to watch with the weight of such of a dense, long television series and how much Scully has been through and persists with intelligence, physical capabilities, and a multitude of emotions that make her one of the most well-rounded characters to ever exist on TV. And much of that is due to actress Gillian Anderson who plays her.

In your opinion, what is a seriously under-rated cinematic masterpiece?

Interestingly enough, I don’t think much has been written about, if all, about My Best Friend Is A Vampire. It’s more comedy than horror, but it’s one of those late eighties gems that gets into the supernatural with a mix of older, established actors and young up and coming’s, the lead Robert Sean Leonard still working today. It’s a great film about growing up, acceptance, and tolerance as well as super quotable.

Rank your top 3 films by your favourite director (if you have one!)

I’m gonna go a bit minor with Wes Craven and say The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under The Stairs, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and Shocker as a bonus.

What was the last film you watched?

April Fools Day (1986). I really trying to spend this year catching up on older films I’ve missed.

Favourite movie quote?

“Mind over matter.”

And finally, what film are you most looking forward to in the near future?

Maria Wilson is a fantastic filmmaker whose got this great terror-in-the-woods horror film coming out supposedly sometime this year with Zazie Beetz as one of the stars. I’m so excited to see what it’ll be!


by Chloe Leeson

Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screenqueens. She is 22 and from the north of England (the proper north). She believes Harmony Korine is the future and is pretty sure she coined the term ‘selfie central’. She doesn’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain but she does like Ezra Miller a whole lot. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, The Beach and Lords of Dogtown. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff.

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