To end our second week of Women in Horror Month, we spoke with the multi-talented actress, producer, and director, Jennifer Nangle, about what it means to be a woman in horror as well as her latest venture as horror host, Malvolia, the Queen of Screams!
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Jenn! Thanks so much for speaking with us today about Women in Horror Month! To start things off, what does being a woman in horror mean to you?
Jennifer Nangle: Strong. Resilient. Warrior. Passionate. Powerful. Vulnerable. It can be beautiful and then sad and then super messy and then uplifting. At the end of the day, all of this makes me feel something.
NC: One of the first films we saw you in was the horror short, DEMONIC ATTACHMENT. What was your experience like working on that film?
JN: Everything happens for a reason. And in this case, to the umpteenth degree. My first director and I separated amicably, which lead me to Matt Aaron Krinsky. Matt and I grew up a town away from each other in Massachusetts, but we met out here! When he showed interest in the film, I was pumped, because, what better person to help me tell a story about Danvers (Old Salem Village) and the haunted house I grew up in being connected to a Salem Witch child. He knew the area and the history really well, so we were able to collaborate on rewrites and go deeper into the story. We challenged each other. Speaking from an actor's point of view, I loved him in every way. His notes were clear and in-depth. I was able to get where I needed to be and stay truthful to the situation.
Also, I knew I wanted an all female cast and I was supported with that by everyone involved 100%! Everyone who worked on the project was dedicated and extremely supportive, wanting to help me tell this story. I'm also amazed and grateful at how well we did in the film festival circuit. There is so much competition out there and people were really able to see and understand what I was trying to do and say. It was refreshing and a learning experience for better things to come.
NC: It seems that women predominately play the primary roles in "paranormal" type films and I always find them play the stronger roles. What is your take on that?
JN: To me, an entity is a mass of energy. It's not a living, breathing thing. Therefore, what better way than to have a strong, smart female to defeat it?! Some of the time in film, and I'm not saying all the time, men tend to physically take down the evil being. Women out-smart it. It's the way history, society, life has just made it.
Me, personally, I like that. It's made me think so creatively. In my next short film THE DEAL, my 5'4 girly-girl character is up against a 6'3" muscle man. It's fascinating what you can come up with!
NC: You are a multi-talented woman with producing, writing, directing and acting under your belt. What is your preference and why?
JN: Thank you! Honestly, being a filmmaker was never in the plan. My passion is and always has been acting. It's all I've ever wanted to do. There is something about creating and embodying a character with storytelling that I just crave. However, when I started to realize that I was losing parts to other actresses who had more Twitter followers than me, I knew I needed to do something differently. So, I started to write. I got a camera. I surrounded myself with people who wanted it as much as I did. I will say that having to wear so many hats during a production has made me a better actor from writing the script to editing the film. I don't blame Ben Affleck for dropping out as director and just wanting to concentrate on being the "Batman"...It's chaotic. It's beyond exhausting. It's stressful and there's pressure. Organization and being prepared is essential, and sometimes what was envision doesn't always happen on set, so you always have to be on your toes. It's made me less controlling, because sometimes mistakes can be masterpieces.
NC: Throughout horror history, women in slasher roles were usually cast as a character that essentially needed to "show some skin" and then die which has always set a limited expectation. In more recent years women are playing much stronger and longer lasting roles throughout horror films. What do you think about the growing strengths of women in the "slasher genre" from past to present?
JN: I love what is happening now. Women can be badass and if you anger us or threaten to kill us, you better watch out! We are survivors. I think if we didn't have that past, we wouldn't be where we are today. In everything, change is hard and uncomfortable. But slowly and surely we will get there. And I'm sure the classic slasher girls will always be around. Variety is the slice of life. But... You never know what will come about soon...
NC: When it comes to women in horror, who is your favorite female lead in a horror film and why?
JN: I hate to be cliche, but I adore Alfred Hitchcock's later works and Marion Crane from PSYCHO has always been my favorite. The complexity of her character, to me, is so intriguing. She isn't exclusive with her man, meeting him secretly on lunch breaks, the good girl who steals from her boss and runs off... I mean the list goes on and on for her. What actress wouldn't love to have this complexity and be able to have so many different strong choices to make. Such a tug of war role. I grew up with "The Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" with a family that is really into horror. I mean, when your grandmother recommends you watch ROPE because it is one of her favorites, you listen!
NC: You just announced your new character Malvolia. Can you tell us a little bit about her and what inspired you to want to create such a character?
JN: Originally, I had written a treatment for a found footage film series that politely got rejected, but was encouraged by one of the producers and a fellow writer to keep going with the idea. I sat with it for months because, even though I wasn't under the specificities of the film series, I didn't know what I wanted to say with it. I knew I wanted a strong female villain who was not only alluring and seductive, but also enjoyable to watch and someone that people would want more of. For some reason "Horror Host" popped into my brain and I started to research. I had always admired Morticia Addams and then Vampira came about. Research got my brain running and I thought, "Why not a YouTube series where I can also support indie horror?" Hence ill-willed Malvolia was born. I was completely shocked by the support I received when I released the first teaser picture. I'm extremely thankful for the support around me and I cannot wait to get started and entertain!
NC: Last, but certainly not least, what can fans of yours expect from you in the future?
JN: Besides having a full season of "Malvolia: the Queen of Screams" to look forward to, I have two short films in post, THE DEAL and HE SAID TO that will be released in February. I'm also acting in 2 pilots this season (hopefully more), and a feature film that will soon be in pre-production so I'll be around!
For more information on Jennifer Nangle and to stay up to date on her projects, visit her site at www.jennifernangle.com, and follow her on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jennifernanglepage and Twitter @jennifer_nangle.