Novel Review: Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood (2011)

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 by

I put off reading Anna Dressed in Blood for at least a year simply because it kept getting advertised as a paranormal romance. Which, it is, but barely. It was constantly popping up on my recommendations (Twilight was a drunken one night stand years ago,, let it go.) and finally I decided to look over the reviews. I’m glad I made that choice because Anna Dressed in Blood is now one of my favorite finds of 2015. 

Author Kendare Blake is a female horror writer who was adopted from South Korea by U.S. parents. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York and received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Middlesex University in London, England. This woman deserves a fist bump.

“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.” Cas is a ghost hunter and he is the ghost hunter we all want to be, badass. He hunts down ghosts and uses a magic dagger to send them to wherever ghosts go when they die. This is how Cas Lowood’s life works. He listens out for ghost stories or receives tips from others in the occult world. Cas then moves with his mother and they create a new life for however long it takes to take down the ghost and then they repeat the process. Only this time the ghost he is set to kill, Anna Korlov, is a bit different because she isn’t trapped in a normal ghost mode. She knows she is dead and she isn’t trapped in a repeated sequence. Anna is aware of her surrounds and can speak with Cas. He must learn as much about her as possible and the events surrounding her death in order to figure out what it will take to kill her. This is where the romance starts to fall in.

What I like about Cas Lowood is that though he is a teenager, he is written as a realistic teenager. He is more mature than the average teen, but I would say losing your father to an unknown evil and the constant moving that comes with killing ghosts earns you a few pearls of wisdom. I can also say this about the rest of the characters, especially his Mom who is a witch. She isn’t overdone or out there dancing with green hair, she is as close to a real world Wiccan as you can find in a fictional novel. 

Anna Dressed in Blood is geared towards teens, but there are a few graphic descriptions of gory deaths and as with many horror themed stories involving women: a sexual assault story line. It’s minor and isn’t graphic by any means, but it is there. 

Blake’s telling of different ghosts and their stories and why they are trapped is beautifully told. Cas mentions several times he hasn’t wondered where ghosts go once he kills them, but I am hoping this is foreshadowing future novels. Anna Dressed in Blood is now a book series with a sequel titled Girl of Nightmares. I will eventually read Girl of Nightmares, but I am enjoying the surprise excitement I found in Anna Dressed in Blood. 

Review: Boom Boom Girls of Wrestling (2015)

Posted on Friday, October 23, 2015 by

The vision of two German women filmmakers, Carolin Von Petzholdt and Ursel Walldorf, The Boom Boom Girls of Wrestling is a low budget independent film that is listed on IMDB as drama, horror, mystery, and thriller. The film focuses on a small group of women actresses trying to make it to the big time by auditioning to be female ‘superhero’ themed wrestlers. On the way to their first show in Las Vegas, the girls find themselves stranded in a ghost town with a chicken masked killer on the loose. 

Carolin Von Petzholdt wrote, directed, and produced the movie, starred in it, and based this movie off of her real life experiences in the female wrestling industry, and it shows. I was so excited to watch this film! A mostly female cast portraying female wrestlers and somehow horror is incorporated into it?! Count me in because there is not enough ‘sports-horror’ in the genre, especially focused around female athletes, written and made by female filmmakers. In fact, this is the only movie that I know of that encompasses all of those elements, and I can see it becoming a cult classic because of its original plotline and uniqueness within the genre. All of that in and of itself is what makes this movie already a gem, but let me continue adding on to the reasons why I think this movie rocks.

The budget for this movie was five thousand dollars, and that becomes especially mind-blowing when you watch the film. The camera work, costumes, and set does not let on to this being a low budget film. The only telltale sign of the low budget, in my opinion, is some of the acting. The standout performances, by far, are that of Melissa Stubs and Crystal Santos, both of whom are badass stuntwomen and both of whom play the trainers for the Boom Boom Girls. Andrew Hamrick also does a great job as Richard Black, the sleazy, misogynistic assclown who is running the show.

The main reason I am impressed with this film is the absolute girl power and feminist undertones represented in all aspects of the film. There is dialogue around being a woman who enjoys sex and female sexuality, there are scenes that capture the unfairness and shallowness of the primarily male-led Hollywood industry, and there are representations of the passive and active female voices around changing the dynamics of patriarchy and oppression that often runs so rampant in society. The first hour of this movie captivates your attention in building the story and developing the characters.

However, it is the last half an hour of this movie that leaves me a little confused, and unfortunately the last half hour of the movie is when almost all of the horror bits happen. This movie either needed to omit the horror altogether or it needed to go way, way harder on the horror. The way it is now is almost like two different movies are playing and when the switch occurs from sports-drama to horror-thriller, it’s a little jolting and not entirely a smooth transition. However, I still really enjoyed this film and I really think it will be received well upon its release, although maybe not necessarily entirely as a horror movie. Look for its debut on October 30th, 2015!