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this week ~ Halloween!
october 30, 2015

True horror is actually generated in an audiences' experience by what they imagine, not what they see.
new design
quoth the crow

Karyn Kusama has bravely gone where few female directors have gone before ~ horror. It’s a genre that’s infamous for having more women under the ax, knife or gun than behind the camera.

Karyn made her big-screen directing debut with the 2000 indie flick Girlfight. Since then, she’s served up a series of big-budget films with strong {+ seriously deadly} female leads, including Aeon Flux + Jennifer’s Body. This year, the Cannes prize-winner is getting rave reviews for her latest twist on the horror genre ~ The Invitation, a slow-burning ensemble thriller.

Tomorrow’s the big day to “eat, drink + be scary,” so we’re rolling out a few All-Hallows’-Eve specials for you. Here are women who’ve given the world some serious Halloween treats, perfect for passing along over pumpkin carving + costume parties.


Mary Shelley
the maker of the modern ghost story

Mary Shelley_newsletter

"I busied myself to think of a story—One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart."
source it! Mary Shelley

~ the only child of 2 famous British writers + radicals

~ a young runaway whose dramatic life abroad was 19th-century English tabloid fodder

~ a Gothic novelist, dramatist, travel writer + editor

Mary Shelley was the shy daughter in a famous family. Her mom was feminist icon Mary Wollstonecraft. Her dad, prominent political philosopher William Godwin. Her married-lover-turned-husband, renowned Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The young wife had no great literary ambitions herself, but her debut novel ~ Frankenstein ~ eventually made her more famous than her celebrity parents + spouse. Originally published anonymously in 1818, Mary put out a revised edition under her name in 1831. The author’s intro answered this FAQ ~ how did a young girl like you come to “dilate upon so very hideous an idea”?

The story behind how Mary became a pioneer of modern horror? In 1816 {aka The Year Without a Summer}, she + Percy went holidaying in Switzerland with Lord Byron. The weather was so awful, they decided to embrace the gloom with a ghost-story contest. Mary was short on inspiration until a firelit conversation about Erasmus Darwin’s physiology experiments left her with a powerful waking nightmare. Her bloodcurdling vision of a reanimated corpse has become a classic cautionary tale. Its gory message about the dangers of unchecked science + tech has haunted us for nearly 2 centuries.

p.s. Did you know that “Frankenstein” was actually the name of the scientist, not his monstrous lab-work? See some of Mary’s best father-monster moments...

Mary Shelley

Margaret Mead
the young mischief-maker

Margaret Mead_newsletter

"Halloween was the one night in the year when children were granted license to take mild revenge on adults."
source it! Margaret Mead

~ the Jersey daughter of a sociologist + a finance prof

~ a Barnard psych student who became the most famous anthropologist of her day

~ a longtime curator at the American Museum of Natural History + posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Margaret Mead made a name for herself as the mother of cultural anthropology. The research that made her famous was on Pacific Islander communities, but she also widely applied her expertise to cultural phenomena in her own neighborhood. Among them, Halloween.

Margaret’s take on All Hallows’ Eve? Present-day celebrations of it have upped the treats to the detriment of the tricks. When the young Margaret ~ nicknamed “Punk” ~ was growing up, mischief was the better part of the mix. And with good reason. On Halloween, society condoned kids acting out against adult authority figures.

Continuing the medieval folk belief that it was the only day when a body could plot with the devil without repercussions, masked kids banged bags of broken glass against walls, stole and hid gates, dumped garbage cans and scared motorists. These anonymous expressions of adolescent rebellion have become more dangerous outside the parameters of the rural farm town. Today, Halloween is a favorite holiday for adults as much as for children, more commercialized and sexualized, and, as Margaret lamented in a 1975 Redbook article...“all treats and no tricks.”

Hear more of Margaret’s anthropological observations about Halloween + her tips for safely tapping into the original spirit of the day...

Margaret Mead

Ellen DeGeneres
the all-out costumeer

Ellen DeGeneres_newsletter

"This might be the sexiest costume yet. Because what is sexier than a woman with a brain?"
source it! Ellen DeGeneres

~ a Louisiana girl who discovered her comedic gifts while helping her mom deal with a divorce

~ a stand-up + sitcom star who made history by coming out on-air {in 1997}

~ the host of her own Emmy-winning tv talk show

Ellen DeGeneres is one of the world’s best known comedians. And, she’s also one of the world’s biggest Halloween fans.

Since The Ellen Show debuted in 2003, its host has become famous for celebrity pranks and scares. Think: a Jason lookalike popping out from her coffee table during an interview, sending wary guests through haunted houses + equipping her backstage with motion-activated horror-film props.

Besides pulling off some extremely memorable scares, Ellen has rolled out many an elaborate + inspired costume over the years. For her first Halloween episode, she went as day-time rival Dr. Phil. When Jersey Shore premiered in 2009, Ellen dressed up as the petite Snooki’s impossibly tall hair. Last year, the comedian stepped straight off a cover of People Magazine dressed as Amal Clooney on her wedding day with a George doll in tow. As the host quipped to her guests, masquerading as a high-powered human rights lawyer is way sexier than as a French maid or scantily clad screen siren.

Still deciding on a costume? Discover some of Ellen’s virtuoso Halloween ensembles + enjoy a few signature one-liners...

Ellen DeGeneres

spooky stories
Sneak in a good Halloween story. Any order you make through Quotabelle lets us add to our archive of hauntingly wonderful women & girls.
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market place

Frankenstein Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
Harry Potter Prisoner Azkaban Rowling
Determined Heart Tale Shelley Frankenstein
Carrie Chloë Grace Moretz
Jennifers Body Blu ray Megan Fox

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"There is nothing that gives us more assurance than a mask." 
“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.” 
“I’m brave, I’m strong, I’m opinionated. I scare easily. I fight back.” 

from our #citeseers
This photographer helped her 5-year-old daughter go beyond the traditional make-believe options by dressing her up as inspirational real-life sheroes for a portrait series. Her costumes of choice? Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhart + Jane Goodall...

Through each woman's portrait, I would tell her about each incredible woman. Just the idea of her dressing like the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic thrilled her. Let’s set aside the Barbie Dolls and the Disney Princesses for just a moment, and let’s show our girls the REAL women they can be.

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