Great Society

Ningen Manga Productions => Women's Studies => Topic started by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 09:49:06 AM

Title: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 09:49:06 AM
First up, (

Quote from:
Women's Studies (2008)

Written and Directed by Lonnie Martin
Co-Produced by Cindy Marie Martin
Featuring: Cindy Marie Martin, Judith O’Dea, Laura Bloechl, James Radack, Tara Garwood, Kelley Slagle, Tiffany James, Mundy Spears
2008, (

The long-anticipated “feminist” horror film Women’s Studies is finally finished. And we got to see it. The film about an all-female college (no, not Sarah Lawrence) that practices an extreme form of fanatical feminism from Ningen Manga Productions does break some new ground with concepts of female motivation and sexuality; but it also has some troubling logic, cliché sequences, and inconsistent production value that takes away from the originality of the plot.

The opening sequence, which consists of strippers who seduce and then murder their male victims, is seemingly unrelated to the rest of the plot and unconvincing. Not only do the strippers never take their clothes off, but they also do not have a pole in their strip club. Two strikes. The “killer strippers” concept is also a little old – I can’t count how many films in which I have seen women killing me who first use their evil seductiveness to entrap and snare men into lascivious sexual deeds.

Switch to Mary, who works as an intern for Senator Gayle Hamlin (played by Judith O’Dea). Dissatisfied with the uncaring female youth of today who ignore her flyers and don’t care about the various pro-women bills being passed/ignored in Congress, Mary expresses her distaste to the Senator. Since the semester is at an end, Mary and Gayle part ways over some wise words of womanly wisdom from Gayle.  Mary, her best friend Beth, their awkward shy friend Iris, and Mary’s boyfriend Zack are taking a road trip to Chicago because college is out for the summer and they’re heading home. Unfortunately, their car is stolen at a diner along the way and some helpful young women, if a bit bohemian, are eager to help them by offering them a place to stay at their local women’s college Ross-Prentice Academy while the police search for their car. Though Beth is wary, Mary, Zack, and Iris agree that this is the best idea, and take the girls up on their hospitality.

Judith, the leader of the girls, and her cohorts Diane, Melissa, and the pregnant Sharon, all espouse an ultra-feminist point of view that is encouraged by their academy. Though they find it odd, Mary, Zack and Iris aren’t bothered by it. Beth, on the other hand, smells something fishy, and when she mysteriously “disappears”, you know something is very wrong. Things escalate, Sharon decides to have a nervous breakdown and ask Mary and Zack to help her save her unborn baby, Iris joins up with the feminists and is brainwashed beyond recognition, and multiple murders with awkward-looking machetes take place before a final, and ultimate, showdown between Judith and Mary over women’s place in the world.

Cue strange Wicker Man-esque pagan ceremonies (the remake, not the original) and a badly executed and blocked scene of confrontation between Iris and her estranged and unloving father. Cue a few plot holes – for instance, why does Mary not care when Beth has disappeared? Why do the women who live at Ross-Prentice keep a graveyard of the dead men (and women) they have gotten rid of over the years, but have never been investigated by the local police in any missing persons cases? Why are the girls eager to kill Beth, and the rest of Mary’s crew if need be, even though they were seen with them in public at the diner? Why was there no stripping pole in the strip club? So few girls attending the school? I have a lot of questions like these, and more.

On the other hand, I didn’t get any answers, so there is no use asking. While some of the cinematography is bad, and some of the choreography is awful, there is an intensely awesome fight sequence between Mary and Judith that is not only shot well, its acted well and blocked out amazingly. This was a great climaxpoint of the movie, despite an evilly cheesy one-liner from Mary that belonged in a bad Batman sequel from the 90’s. There are also some really beautifully shot scenes that are edited immaculately. It’s hard to tell if it was the same editor or DP throughout the film because of how uneven the shifts in production quality are. It seems like everything shot outdoors is ultra professional and gorgeously lit, while the indoor scenes are somewhat awkward and stumbling. It’s a good thing there are a lot of outdoor scenes.

Judith O’Dea is strikingly good in her part as the Senator with a secret. She’s obviously having a lot of fun yukking it up in another horror film, and she shines. Cindy Marie Martin is also very good. Her Mary is complex, interesting, and emotionally believable mostly due to Cindy Marie’s talent and sophisticated performance. Judith (Tara Garwood) and Iris (Laura Bloechl) add loads of subtle black humor and eeriness, while the French-speaking Diane (Kelly Slage) is a character not only out of place, but irritating. Is she supposed to be irritating? If so, she was great. What’s best about all the women in the film (and the only main character who is male is Zack (James Radack)) is that they all have a back story, and they are all distinctly different from one another and played by mostly talented actresses with a lot of energy. This is incredibly different from most slasher films, where you get girls with personalities so similar it’s often hard to tell one from the other.

The fact that the film is about feminists doesn’t actually make it a feminist film. The killers have a fanatically psychotic anti-male philosophy that can hardly be called “feminism”, but the film does take the time to address why some of these women feel the way they do, and their reasons relate to social woes women experience at the hands of men, like rape. Lesbianism does play apart (of course). These women seek a perfect society, in which they can live without men completely (Sharon makes a good point in saying that they’re going to have to find a way to reproduce on their own if they really want to live that way) but since they can’t, they’ll settle for killing men and using their sperm for reproduction.

The Ross-Prentice philosophy and way of life is convoluted and shaky at best. It isn’t a well thought out system (kill men, get women to join us, leave a trail of bodies) and can hardly be supposed to have existed in secret for a long time. In truth, it’s a different spin on the “strangers from out of town meet murderous locals who have strange ideas” that’s used as s staple in horror films from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Motel Hell, American Gothic, 2000 Maniacs, The Wicker Man, to dozens more. But it's a really fun setting for this genre not specifically used with this twist ever before.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 17, 2008, 10:53:51 AM
So in the book world, we call that a good review!
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 11:10:29 AM
In the movie world, we call that a "meh" one.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 17, 2008, 11:17:47 AM
All those meh parts?  I just see ellipses. 
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 11:19:08 AM
Denial will get you everything.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 17, 2008, 11:21:00 AM
Thank god nobody reads in the book business!
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 11:22:07 AM
The ultimate irony is that everybody reads in the movie business . . . at least review length pieces.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 17, 2008, 11:37:01 AM
Strange that Pretty-Scary defected, really.  They've been pretty loyal to you.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 11:40:31 AM
Well, I wouldn't call it a defection. It's an honest, fair review from her point-of-view. The more I read it, the more I key in to the good things she has to say about rather than the "meh."

And it's just one review. When I have nothing but "meh" ones, then I'll start drinking heavily.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 17, 2008, 12:04:33 PM
What's the review schedule look like?  Who's up next?
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 17, 2008, 12:10:09 PM
I have eight more that are out there in this batch of review submissions. No idea who's next or when, but they could pop up anytime.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 27, 2008, 02:03:30 PM
So far, the ladies universally hate us . . . (

Quote from: Fatally Yours
Women’s Studies (2008)

Review by Fatally Yours

Women’s Studies has long titillated with promises of a “feminist” horror film. I remember hearing about the indie production a year or so ago and eagerly anticipated its release. As a female horror fan who also wrote my college thesis examining The Texas Chain Saw Massacre through the feminist lens, sometimes I find it hard to find decent horror flicks that don’t malign their female characters. I want strong female characters that can take care of themselves in my horror films, but that is usually a rarity.

So, you can understand my excitement when I heard about the film Women’s Studies. When I finally received a screener, I was very hopeful that the film would present a witty and intelligent story told from a feminist perspective. What I wanted and what I received, though, are two very different things.

Instead of an insightful, woman-centric horror film I got a stereotypical, cliché-driven and dull horror movie with some pretty awful production values.

After months of interning for Senator Gayle Hamlin (Judith O’Dea in a pleasing cameo), Mary (Cindy Marie Martin) is driving back to college with her doctor-in-training boyfriend, Zack (James A. Radack), awkward friend Iris (Laura Bloechl) and best friend Beth (Melisa Breiner-Sanders). On the trip, Mary’s car is stolen from a roadside café. Luckily, a young woman named Judith (Tara Garwood) offers to put them up at her all-girls college, Ross-Prentiss Academy. Mary gladly accepts, but Beth is a little creeped out by Judith and her strange classmates. There’s Diane (Kelly Slagle), who’s tall, gaunt and only speaks French, the bitter and pregnant Sharon (Mundy Spears) and the bohemian Melissa (Tiffany James), who takes an extra-special liking to Iris.

As they wait for word from the police about their car, the foursome kick back at Ross-Prentiss. Mary starts hanging out with Judith, Zack finds one of the students to be overly friendly and Iris quickly falls in with the academy girls. Beth goes poking around where she shouldn’t and mouths off to Judith, a big no-no on this particular campus. She conveniently “disappears,” but Mary still insists on waiting around for word on her car. Things take a decidedly darker turn as Judith and the rest of the academy girls try to recruit Mary to make a stand against the patriarchal society…at whatever cost necessary.

You know, to call yourself a “feminist” film you first have to actually celebrate women. Instead, Women’s Studies decides to skewer women and represent all feminists as murderous, man-hating, goddess-worshiping lesbians. The heroine, Mary, wasn’t much better and came off a bit bland and thick-headed, though she did manage to kick some major ass towards the end. I will applaud the filmmakers for actually having a female-driven cast and not copiously featuring gratuitous female nudity, but the characters were as clichéd and stereotypical (perhaps even more so, because this film actually passes itself off as “feminist”) than any other horror movie.

Just as clichéd as the characters was the story, written by Lonnie Martin (who also directed), which was basically the same ho-hum plot of a group of people trapped in an isolated location with no cell phone service and no way out who are trying to survive some killer. I was hoping for more background on the school, like a visit into a classroom to see just what the women were being taught. Except, the entire campus was empty…what’s the school’s enrollment anyway…five students?? And the opening scene in the strip club really had no bearing on the rest of the story, either. There were lots of little niggling details like this that just drove me mad, on top of the fact that it wasn’t a feminist movie at all. The motivations of Judith and her followers were never explored as in-depth as I would have liked, especially their purpose for killing people, especially other women. Couldn’t they just let them go on their merry way? The story also dragged and had terrible pacing…there were scenes that should have been edited much more.

Along with the editing, there was some horrible direction and cinematography. In some of the shots, the framing was all off, so the camera was pointed at a wall for a few minutes while characters talked on the periphery of the shot. This was absolutely atrocious and amateur-looking. I will say that the outdoor cinematography was much better than any interior shots, which suffered from poor lighting as well as poor framing. The one scene that was shot with talent was the fight between Judith and Mary in the middle of the woods. It was pretty much the only exciting thing in the entire film!

What should have been more exciting were the kill scenes…but these too were pretty disappointing and unmemorable. The women used huge knives, which were pretty cool to look at but didn’t get much action.

As for the acting…well, it is a low-budget picture, so it wasn’t all bad. I think the main problem was that all the dialogue was dubbed in post-production, creating stale and fake-sounding emotions/reactions. The problem was probably the dialogue in the first place, but the actors tried to work around that. I thought Cindy Marie Martin as Mary and Tara Garwood as Judith were both excellent, but the other actors didn’t really get to do much. We never really got to know much about the Academy Girl’s characters, which is maybe because the writer doesn’t really understand women enough to write them as anything more than shallow, clichéd characters.

The last time I was so pissed off at a so-called “feminist” film was the misogynistic Teeth. I wouldn’t call Women’s Studies misogynistic, but it does misrepresent women and feminists. Even forgetting the whole “feminism” aspect of the film doesn’t change the fact that Women’s Studies is a chore to sit through. Its plodding story, ho-hum acting and bad production values make Women’s Studies one to skip!

Check out the Women’s Studies’ Official Site; it’s actually very cool.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Tatertots on June 27, 2008, 02:54:16 PM
Feminists are fickle creatures. You really can't please them all short of driving a butterknife through Rush Limbaugh's skull on Lifetime.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 27, 2008, 04:12:04 PM
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 27, 2008, 04:15:58 PM
What can you do really?
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 27, 2008, 04:32:32 PM
What I did.  That came up on my Google alerts a few hours ago and...I deleted it.

After briefly wondering if you once turned down the author for a role.

It's even hard to "book review" it.  Though, of course:

"Cindy Marie Martin as Mary and Tara Garwood as Judith were both excellent!"

There you go.  Back cover that and that's suddenly the only part of the review that every existed.  You can even drive a stake in their heart by having that appear on Amazon.

But, as you pointed out, movie reviews are a different ball of wax...
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 27, 2008, 04:49:09 PM
It's a case of high expectations, I think. Both this reviewer and Pretty-Scary said that they'd had high hopes for it. I don't know what they were expecting, but obviously they didn't get it.

All I know is that while the film deals with feminism, it's not necessarily means to be feminist or anti-feminist. The "message" is one that has nothing to do with feminism. I'm just a little disappointed that so far, no one has seemed to get it.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 27, 2008, 05:01:02 PM
Oh, wait... RC, people are idiots.  When my boss hosted a "house reading" for Alan, there was a guy who showed up second guessing the vocabulary words that Alan had used.  Instead of using X, why not use synonym Y? 

Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 27, 2008, 06:05:49 PM
Does this count as a review?  Because it's more name dropping than anything.  Also, I want to kill this guy.  But it's a mention, nonetheless.

Also, I don't see Wicker Man in WS.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 27, 2008, 07:48:04 PM
I mean, he didn't say, "It sucks."  I guess that's something.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 28, 2008, 12:17:49 AM
I think he was too busy listing names alphabetically.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 28, 2008, 06:17:21 PM
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 28, 2008, 07:04:55 PM
Well, shit. That's the most positive thing that's been said about it.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on June 28, 2008, 07:59:22 PM
A follow-up post today is a bit more positive:

Thursday was the Women's Studies movie premier. Full review being queued up for next week (you know, when people will actually read it, since they'll all be slacking off at work). In a nutshell, it was good and should be checked out when it hits the streets (at film festivals and, eventually, on DVD... if not in theaters).

So I'll keep an eye out for the main review.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on June 28, 2008, 09:05:57 PM
Let me know. Troop morale is a wee bit low. We could use a good review.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 09, 2008, 12:40:07 AM
Review from Bella Online, a women's website in the UK. Review is [sic]. (

Women's Studies Movie Review
Steven Casey Murray
BellaOnline's Horror Movies Editor

‘Women’s Studies’ is a horror film about two feminist women who believe the same fundamental ideals about human equality. Mary, an idealist, lobbies for change in a peaceful manner, while Judith, a revolutionary and the leader of a feminist cult believes change can only occur through violence.

It’s great to see an original horror movie these days; with Hollywood throwing out re-make after re-make of classic horrors, led mostly by Michael Bay of ‘Platinum Dunes’ production company.

This is an indie horror movie, with the concept for a great comment on women in the horror genre. It slants off in its own direction though, and that great chance is lost, with the women coming across mostly as strong, anti-female stereotypes; although there are exceptions.

The cast is mostly made up of women, the problem is, the best actresses either disappear or get killed off. Melisa Breiner-Sanders gives a stand out performance as Beth, and delivers her lines with believability and conviction. Also, Mundy Spears as Sharon delivers a strong performance while trying to protect her baby from the cult after giving birth to a boy; who of course must be killed. The problem is that neither actress is used to her full potential. Melisa Breiner-Sanders in particular, instead of playing the best friend of the lead character could have made a very good lead in the character of Mary.

James A. Radack plays the only male character who suffers the archetypal man’s worst fear. His acting like that of Cindy Marie Martin (Mary) is up to standard for the most part, but is let down when they are in the company of the better actors. The movie could have really turned the stereotype on its head and had some male gratuitous nudity, instead of the ‘slasher’ style usual women’s bodies being shown off.

There are obvious references to the Bible with the two main characters who are opposing each other, being called Mary and Judas, plus Judas wanting to kill male babies. These characters could have worked, without the introduction of lesbian love, which isn’t needed and takes away from the plot.

The mood of the movie changes throughout, from being racy to political, to dark and comedic. Obviously, a low budget halts a lot of things from happening, but the script should have been railed in and made a lot tighter.

The concept of women killing men or having them as zombie slaves to feel empowered is quite comedic, and completely, I feel, against the whole concept of feminism. A few scenes which were particularly misogynistic, were these cult members having sex with men just to kill them, and even owning a strip bar. The strip bar would have worked in concept, to draw the stereotypical sexist man in to be killed, but why have sex with them first?

The script is trying to make a point about feminism but comes across as anti-men, while still being misogynistic; it’s all a bit of a contradiction, especially with the movie being written and directed by a man – Lonnie Martin. I think you have to watch the movie with tongue stuck firmly in cheek; however the subject matter is a bold and fresh idea.

If the movie hadn’t been sold as a horror film dealing with sexual politics it would have succeeded in simply telling a story, instead of trying to say something it doesn’t, with the audience expecting something they don’t get. After all, there’s nothing empowering about a woman stripping or rolling around in mud fighting with another woman in a short skirt.

There is some very nice cinematography used throughout the film, and the exterior shots are impressive; with the architecture of several of the buildings being memorable and impressive.

Judith O’ Dea (Barbara in George A. Romero’s ‘Night of The Living Dead’) puts in a good performance as Senator Gayle Hamlin, a woman suffering from breast cancer and a victim of male violence, as many of the characters who belong to the cult seem to have suffered from. This was another issue that wasn’t needed though. Why can’t a woman simply feel superior to men? Why does she have to have a reason of vengeance? This would have made the delivery of the message stronger.

This was a good effort with amazing possibilities for challenging some of the female stereotypes that can be seen in the 'slasher genre' in particular, unfortunately, it doesn’t take advantage of this, and turns itself into the negativities it’s commenting on.

There is a brilliant use of a Fraud and Cyndi Lauper quote contrasting in the opening scene, which earns a well deserved laugh.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on July 09, 2008, 07:26:37 AM
See, I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around taking reviews seriously.  So this is a good review, right?  Because there's plenty in there I would splash all over the back of a book cover.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 09, 2008, 09:15:54 AM
It's the best one we've got so far, but no, it's not really a good review.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on July 13, 2008, 01:16:43 PM

I'll not post the text, because it's another ouchie.

Though Tyson gets an uncredited shout-out.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Tatertots on July 13, 2008, 02:23:05 PM
The concept for the logo was all RCs. The website wasn't me, either. So it's only a kind of tangental shout-out.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 15, 2008, 12:20:25 AM
So I'm the worst film director ever now, right?
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on July 15, 2008, 07:23:32 AM
You'll have to box Uwe Boll if you want that title.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 22, 2008, 12:44:00 AM
New Review - Film Arcade/Reviews From The Horror Chamber (

Women’s Studies
Year: 2008
Directors: Lonnie Martin
Stars: Cindy Marie Martin, Tara Greenwood, Judith O’ Dea
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Ningen Manga Productions
Running Time: 103 Mins
Review Rating: 2 Stars
Official Website (

Women Studies is about a pregnant woman named Mary who is heading back to school with a couple of her friends. Along the way, their car gets stolen. Soon, they meet a group of female students, who offer them to take them back to their dorm, until they can find their car. Mary and her friends discover that the dorm that they were taken to, is part of a girl’s only school. Soon the woman starts to find that the school is hiding a dark secret, as the girls in the school are part of a cult that’s obsessed in killing men. Now, Mary must make a choice, Join them or fight them.

This is one of those films that looked good on paper, as I was looking forward to seeing this film, since seeing the film’s trailer. This had all the making of a good horror film. Good characters, good actors but the major problem with this film was the fact that it had no identity.

Women’s Studies is a film that could have been an effective horror film but it had an identity crises, along the way. Director, Lonnie Martin’s direction was not bad considering the script he written. The only thing that makes this film watchable is the performances here. Lonnie Martin does a good job directing his mostly female cast. He made sure that the chemistry between each of the actors was lively. He also gets good performances from his female leads, as they were entertaining and kept me interested, even though the film’s screenplay wasn’t that great.

Lonnie Martin’s screenplay was one that was not that great. It had a lot of holes. First, all the characters and some of the plot lines felt clichéd. I was going into this film thinking that somehow the characters would be strong; instead they felt like they came out of your average horror film. Some of the scenes in the film also, felt like scenes that you see in your typical horror film, as they were predictable. Finally, the premise of the film had an identity crises in which type of horror, it wanted to be. I didn’t know if this film was supposed to a weird horror film, a slasher film, an occult film or a grindhouse film. It was confusing, as their was no central theme to what the film was trying to a accomplish. It was very distracting as it took away whatever goodwill this film had.

Women’s Studies excels in the acting department while failing in the writing department.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 24, 2008, 01:11:22 AM
WS is going to be reviewed by Uncle Bill and the Creepy Kentuckian on the 7/25/08 edition of DeadPit Radio at ( I'm a big fan of these fellas and listen to their show every week. However, they are something of an acquired taste.

You can a little sample and a teaser for our review on their latest MySpace show . (

The new show usually goes live around 2:00pm EST on Fridays. I'll post with the exact part of the show our review is at once I hear it.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 25, 2008, 02:37:05 PM
DeadPit Review is live.

It's an audio interview: (

In case you don't want to listen to the whole show here are the key WS moments:

00:03:30: Intro with over a minute of me being referred to as the "Hands of Stone" for some reason (They're pro wrestling fans, so I guess that's my wrestling handle.) and talking about Judith O'Dea's accent.

02:09:35: The actual review starts.

You can also go to the homepage and save the audio clip if you want to: (
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on July 25, 2008, 03:42:19 PM
I hate these guys. 

I'm downloading lots of shit, so the live stream is fucking up.  So I'm downloading the file now...but it's slow from their side!  Jesus.  Anyway, I'll get it in me soon enough.  Is it a good review?  It better be, because I'm getting mad at the bad reviewers.  Jesus...we see Mrs. RC's ass, Garwood's a hot redhead, and Slagle is an Amazon queen.  Shut up haters.

Though, yes, there should have been more nudity.  I should do a GS review along the lines of:  "Not enough tits.  Otherwise, rent it today!"
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on July 25, 2008, 05:19:11 PM
You should do that review.

It's our first truly positive review. I'm a big fan of these guys, but as I said before, they're something of an acquired taste.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on July 25, 2008, 05:27:09 PM
Ugh, they suck. 

I'm still just at 94% on the download.  And that's after shutting down Azureus and opening up Comcast (newly post-court-ruling opening up their pipes). 

By the way, a quick aside:  I'm so glad Comcast lost their court case on strangling torrents.  Everything's insane now.  I'm downloading in seconds, and uploading a meg a minute.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on August 29, 2008, 08:01:09 PM
Finally . . . a little validation . . . (

Sam Harris has famously argued that by being accommodating towards moderate religious beliefs, we open the way for more extreme values to insist on the same acceptance. The target of Women’s Studies is a political rather than a religious ideology but fanaticism is fanaticism (and religious fundamentalism has much more to do with political power than with finding faith) and the film tries to explore the way in which the process of radicalisation works.

Mary (Cindy Marie Martin) is a feminist and graduate student in Women’s Studies with a bright political future ahead of her – until she realises that she’s pregnant. This leaves her torn between her political idealism, Catholic guilt and career aspirations and uncertain of what to do next when she, her boyfriend, Zack (James A. Radack) and two friends Beth (Melisa Breiner-Sanders) and Iris (Laura Bloechl) share a car back to college for the start of a new term.

Mary’s car is stolen while the four are en-route and a group of students offer to put them up in their nearby academy temporarily. And then things start to get strange.

The Ross-Prentiss Women’s Academy is a women only institution, and one that emphasises subjects such as women’s studies, business and politics – all of which are studied from an exclusively feminist perspective.

Mary finds herself drawn to the ideals of Judith (Tara Garwood), a senior student at the academy and the prime mover of much that happens here, who quickly ensures that the four friends are separated from each other. Iris, uncertain and more than a little naïve, finds herself under increasing pressure to not only buy into the student ethos, but also to become a student herself. With Zack isolated and, frankly, a bit useless it falls to Beth to see that something is wrong here. Unfortunately, the others aren’t listening…

Women’s Studies is an original take on the Isolated teenagers genre of slasher films and one that does make a serious stab at exploring the sort of exclusionary behaviour, peer pressure, groupthink and bonding rituals that typifies a cult and that can draw someone along the line from idealism to terrorism. It helps that the characters are consistently well rounded and given real depth by a consistently strong cast. These characters – both the protagonists and the academy students – manage to remain both consistent and believable and it is this that gives the film a lot of its strength and makes it such a shocking experience.

In fact, I would have liked to have seen more of the characters – and they were certainly strong enough to have supported some deeper development – and less of the ending, which was longer than it needed to be and tended to over-labour some of the points.

That said, the film does have an excellent coda.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on August 29, 2008, 08:17:52 PM
Today's word is "consistent."
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on August 29, 2008, 08:23:05 PM
I'll take that over "shitty."
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on September 28, 2008, 09:41:22 PM
I somehow feel vinidicated. (

Women's Studies
Directed by Lonnie Martin
Ningen Manga Productions

"Feminism is not a dirty word."

True, but that may depend on who you're asking. In his latest film, writer/director Lonnie Martin examines the sometimes fine line between liberal and radical feminism and asks the age old question: When two groups of people are similar in their values, why is it common for one group to work towards positive change and another to spiral into terrorism?

On the surface, the answer is simple. People tend to be products of their environment, after all. Cindy Marie Martin's character Mary, the protagonist and liberal feminist of the film, has a solid education, a promising future in politics, and a loving relationship with her boyfriend Zack (James A. Radack), while the "radical" feminists of the Ross-Prentiss Academy appear to have all suffered at the hands of men. When you compare the drastically different experiences of these women, it becomes easier to understand why some people are drawn towards good and others are drawn towards evil. But we can't cast all women in the same light. Environment doesn't always dictate one's path and, as best summed up by Jerry Stiller's character in the 2007 film The Heartbreak Kid: "Some bitches be crazy." True enough.

Women's Studies is, in fact, full of crazy bitches – from the sex- and blood-crazed strippers in the film's opening, to the goddess/witch-like women of the forest. The film is a constant battle between good and evil, and as it progresses it becomes difficult to tell the two apart. At times, the acting appears to be stiff and the viewer may become bogged down with the film's feminist cliché quotes ("girls who go against the grain don't last long here"), and women-centered themes like pregnancy, Freudian vagina talk, and equality in the workplace, which seem to be shoved into the dialogue at times.

Women's Studies is a horror flick, but in a few instances it borders on camp - a nighttime exchange between Zack and Diane (Kelly Slagle) is reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the fight scene between Mary and Judith (Tara Garwood) appears to be more amusing than dramatic. A serious discussion about promiscuity ("Men can fuck whoever they want… but when a woman does it, she's called a whore.") appears to only scratch the surface, opting to simply regurgitate this all-too-familiar paradigm without offering any new insight or depth.

That being said, Women's Studies is not without its gems. Judith O'Dea shines as Senator Gayle Hamlin, and Melisa Brenier-Sanders is phenomenal in her portrayal of Beth. Slagle is brilliantly cast for the role of Diane, adding intrigue and edge to the film. Technically, Women's Studies has its strong points; there is interesting use of windows and mirrors, great back and forth montages, and excellent use of music to forward the story. On the whole, this film is a one-of-a-kind story that explores an old question in a new and interesting way and, stiffness aside, the cast is promising and talented.

Indie film enthusiasts will enjoy Women's Studies. It's bloody, it's sexy, and it is, on the whole, an entertaining flick.

Review by Cheryl Santa Maria
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on September 29, 2008, 02:47:15 PM

I guess you can't please everybody.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Reginald McGraw on September 29, 2008, 02:58:12 PM
Much less "reviewers" who don't edit their "reviews".
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Tatertots on September 29, 2008, 03:16:01 PM
"Constipated feminist serial killers"!
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on September 29, 2008, 03:30:17 PM
It seriously might be my favorite review yet.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on October 27, 2008, 07:16:15 PM
We got a really positive review in the latest issue of Sirens of Cinema. I don't think it's posted online, and I'm not retyping it.

Here's a link to the magazine's website though for next time you're in a book store.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on December 31, 2008, 02:06:11 PM
We made a "Worst of 2008" list.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Reginald McGraw on December 31, 2008, 02:08:17 PM
There's no such thing as bad publicity?
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on December 31, 2008, 02:11:43 PM
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on December 31, 2008, 02:14:56 PM
Damn, though.  They're pretty cunty about it.

And The Signal sucked. I couldn't even finish it... Total trash. 
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on December 31, 2008, 02:22:13 PM
What's funny is that she's friended me on every social networking site out there.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on December 31, 2008, 02:24:27 PM
That whole subculture of freelance/internet reviewers is deeply disturbed.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on December 31, 2008, 02:25:09 PM
It is. And I've learned my lesson.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on May 23, 2010, 09:46:32 PM
New WS review. Been a while since we've had one.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: RottingCorpse on December 03, 2010, 02:34:44 PM
Ain't It Cool News reviewed Women's Studies.  As a FB friend said, it's like getting a Nerd Oscar!

Directed by Lonnie Martin
Written by Lonnie Martin
Starring Cindy Marie Martin, James A. Radack, Laura Bloechl, Melisa Breiner-Sanders, Judith O’Dea, & Tara Garwood
Retro-review by Ambush Bug

WOMENS' STUDIES can be seen as the Bizzaro-World version of THE STEPFORD WIVES (one of the characters even says so in the film), though it tries to communicate a lot of the same messages. Instead of a bunch of male chauvinists trying to deprogram strong willed women, it's militant feminists trying to fight back against male oppression. In the end, it's got one of the sexes trying to dominate the other, so pairing them up in this column was a no brainer. Though WOMEN'S STUDIES is a low budget horror film, it definitely has enough good things to make it worth your while if you're into horror with a bit more of an intellectual slant.

I found the longer I sat with WOMENS' STUDIES the more I liked it. At times, the budgetary limitations are obvious with the lack of extras, some choppy sound here and there, and some fundamentally basic cinematography, but the ideas behind the film made the whole thing entertaining. A quartet of friends find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. The group consists of three women and one of their boyfriends. Stranded at a diner, the quartet meet a pair of Lilith Fair attendees whose conversations about the domination of the fairer sex grows more agitated as their night goes on. Contemplating breaking up with her boyfriend, Mary (Cindy Marie Martin) finds the conversation fascinating. Her boyfriend Zack (James A. Radack) obviously doesn't and neither does her best friend, Beth (Melisa Breiner-Sanders), while the innocent misfit Iris (Laura Bloechl) stares wide-eyed absorbing it all in. Soon the crew is invited back to a secluded women's college where there are no boys allowed and the student body tend to meet in the nearby woods for fun college stuff like rituals worshipping the Earth Goddess involving human sacrifice and the like. You know, girl stuff.

Of course, not all is pillow fights and painting toenails at this all girls’ school. Those who are interested in joining the order of feminists are welcomed with open arms, but if you don't or if you've got some junk betwixt your legs, you may just end up with the wrong end of a dagger sliding across your throat. WOMENS' STUDIES is most effective in the scenes where the women go wild and enact vengeance on men. There's a really effective scene where one of the feminists is giving birth to a boy, while a group of other feminists attack Iris' home where she was raped as a child. The cross cutting between these two locales was intense and well played. Although shot cheaply, the editing here is sharp, maximizing the tension.

Though some of the rhetoric these feminists are spouting may not be altogether original, it does adhere to the ultra-feminist philosophy. In the final reels, it gets really creepy as the mastermind behind the entire group is revealed. The dialog here is pretty strong as are the visuals of zombified man-servants serving hors d'oeuvres and licking up spilled wine. I found myself wishing they would have gotten to this point sooner, though, because these horrific scenes were definitely the horror highlight of the film. Seeing knife-toting she-warriors slice and dice men into ribbons is cool, but the blank stares of the man-servants are what really stuck with me when this one was over.

Though not superbly acted, the actors do a decent job in WOMENS' STUDIES and the ladies are definitely not your typical feminists I've seen. Most were very attractive which makes for some easy viewing. WOMENS' STUDIES true power is in the ingenuity of its ideas and its gentle tweaking of the feminist ideal. Writer/director Lonnie Martin did a good job of twisting the feminist idea ever so slightly to make the believers into true movie monsters.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: Tatertots on December 04, 2010, 02:04:51 AM
Hey! And a positive one! Nice score, dude.
Title: Re: WS Reviews
Post by: nacho on December 04, 2010, 08:44:07 AM's an awesome hit. Not just someone who gets it -- but the right one.  That should translate to some sales, no?