The WORN Fashion Journal’s Stylish Scary Movie Marathon -The Toast

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Previous installments of our WORN Fashion Journal series can be found here. Most recently: Anna’s Parents Review Paris Fashion Week.


A tall brunette (ANNA) and her significantly less tall blonde friend (HALEY) are in deep concentration, furiously browsing through the horror movie section. ANNA is already in her pajamas, eagerly anticipating the shenanigans of the night that will follow. Her pajamas are from the clearance section from some outlet store, but she is totally rocking them. Seriously. She should work in magazines.

Suddenly, there is an ominous creak as the door opens, which is weird because the door to Eyesore is usually just propped open. HALEY and ANNA both jerk their heads around, expressions of sheer terror upon their faces. A sinister looking man stands before them (HALEY’S BOYFRIEND). He holds a bag of peanut M&M’s. HALEY, ANNA, and HALEY’S BOYFRIEND exchange solemn nods, their mission clear. As the camera pans back, the following words flash upon the screen:


The Eyes of Laura Mars


Don’t Look Now

Disturbing Behavior

The Red Shoes

The Eyes of Laura Mars
1978, Dir. Irvin Kirshner

Anna: Let’s start with a recap. Oh, and there will be spoilers. The movie stars Faye Dunaway as Laura Mars, a Helmut Newton-style photographer. Her shoots involve very provocative images of women in their underwear, skivvies if you will…

Haley: And also really glossy, violent images…

Anna: And then it comes out that her photos mimic recent crime scene photos and as she produces violent images copycat murders keep happening. Somehow Laura Mars is psychically linked to the murderer and can “see” the murders as they happen from the perspective of the killer. It turns out her boo, the police officer on the case, played by a really young Tommy Lee Jones or really old Josh Hartnett (depending on which way you want to go), is behind all the murders.

Haley: Yes. So stylistically this is an American – I don’t know how to pronounce the word properly…

Anna: Giallo?

Haley: Giallo film, yeah.

Anna: We’re transcribing this, so no one will ever know we don’t know how to pronounce it properly.

Haley: Yeah, I get to keep my ugly North American-ness to myself. One of the hallmarks of Giallo films is really stylish, really sexy deaths. And everyone is very beautiful and has great hair and the killers are always a twist, where the killer is a mild-mannered person you never expected, or sometimes even the hero of the film turns out to be the murder.

Anna: But this killer became super obvious once every single other suspect got murdered along the way, sooo….

Haley: Yeah, they were just knocking them off.

Anna: I remember when we were watching this, you started by saying you really didn’t know how it was lampooning the fashion industry, because it did show the angry feminists at the beginning protesting Laura’s art show. The irony is, of course, Tommy Lee Jones’ character, was not into the violent fashion photos but – PLOT TWIST – he’s the murderer all along.

Haley: I couldn’t tell if it was making fun of this mentality in the fashion industry, and in the film industry as well, that using violence and sexual violence as a jumping off point for creativity is a healthy way of expressing natural human urges. Faye Dunaway makes a joke about using murder to sell deodorant, so that people get bored with murder. They’re saying that repression is what actually turns you into a murderer. Tommy Lee Jones is so repressed he uses his split personality to murder people, and Faye Dunaway is just a nice woman who happens to make these really glossy violent images. So I do think it is ultimately a defense of the fashion industry. Helmut Newton actually did the prop photographs for this movie so he must have loved the thesis – they’re saying that it’s better to have someone like Helmut Newton out there in the world, producing these sorts of images, than a nice police officer who is secretly a murderer.

Anna: The fact that she was sharing the eyes of the killer meant she was turning actual dead bodies and murder victims into art. But that is a unique situation. It’s not like every single image of violence and fashion is the result of someone trying to process horrific psychic visions. I mean, to the extent of my knowledge.

Haley: She’s a photographer, she creates images, “seeing” is her business. There are certain points in the movie that are really surreal and play with that idea of sight versus vision, like before she knows who the killer is and she’s being chased by the murderer she can see herself being chased. There’s a lot of things with mirrors and reflected images and doubles…

Anna: …and the projection of the image. And how the goal with fashion photography to not document exactly but…

Haley: …yeah, it’s not bound by the rules of photojournalism. Faye Dunaway is sort of being accused of using her camera the way a killer would use a weapon.

Anna: Okay also, can we talk about the major fashion sequence, which is the one with the cars on fire?

Haley: The photoshoot with the cars on fire!! Omgggggggggggg.

Anna: I mean, we all love a good photoshoot montage.

Haley: Oh it was just the best. And Faye Dunaway is such a boss bitch.

Anna: *whispers* And her clothes were so good.

Haley: Yeah, her coats and silk blouses and big hair.

Anna: So 70s. But that montage also showed all the manipulation that goes into a shoot. In Helmut Newton photographs, even when he doesn’t have elaborate sets, theres always a surreal kind of glossy edge.

Haley: But even though I have to applaud this movie for their CONTROVERSIAL OPINION that being a fashion photography who produces violent images is not as bad as being a nice guy who is a fashionable murderer, the movie has a lot of shots of disembodied legs, close-ups of eyes…a lot of visual manifestations of the belief, I think, that fashion separates women from their bodies. That fashion with a capital “F” reduces women to mannequins.

Anna: Well, lets talk about THE MALE GAZE. Laura Mars is a female photographer, so the context is different. It’s sort of like when people compare Ellen von Unwerth and Terry Richardson, these soft porn images, but her context is a little different. And I know those are the two most obvious trendy photographers, like, circa 2009.

Haley: But I do think those are the most – well, I don’t know if fashion photography is less sexual today than it once was, but I do think Terry Richardson is quite different from the sexualized fashion photographs of the 70s.

Anna: Would you also say that horror movies are markedly different from their 70s versions, like how the Brian de Palma Carrie compares to, say, the Kimberly Pierce Carrie…do you have any opinions on that?

Haley: I have millions of opinions on the new Carrie. But yeah, there’s always so much hand-wringing over how fashion is bad for women, how it reduces them to props, to sexual objects. And most commentary focuses on how terrousing the photos are – terrousing being my hybrid word for “terrifying” and “arousing.” You have my permission to steal it. It comes in handy way more than you would expect – but not about the actual imagery and what the images are trying to express to us, how a Terry Richardson photograph of a girl licking a melting ice cream cone is completely different from a Petra Collins illustration of a vagina, yet her stuff is met with its own share of hand wringing.

Anna: And her photos are so autobiographical. Again, like Laura Mars, Petra Collins is a woman and she is documenting so much of her own experience.

Haley: And it’s so annoying when Tommy Lee Jones’ character is looking at some of the really violent images and makes some joke like, “Whatever happened to beautiful?” Without realizing that he just wants to see what his idea of beautiful is, which is probably all soft gaze and pastel sunsets or whatever.

Anna: Yes, it’s never an either/or situation. Our options are not just super violent imagery or very palatable pleasant non-offensive non-challenging ladies in dresses. Fashion doesn’t exist in a binary. Nothing exists in a binary. Fuck the binary. Okay, next movie.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.08.01 PM

1958, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Anna: We decided that if we were going to pick ONE obvious movie for all this, it would have to be Vertigo. So! Plot: Jimmy Stewart is a San Francisco detective whose partner fell to his death, he’s having lots of horrible flashbacks, there’s some cool spirally special effects. And he has to follow a lady, Madeleine, for his…friend? Ugh, I’m bad at recapping things from memory. Anyway, he falls in love and she falls off a building. Later, he runs across her double, dresses her up, tries to recreate the past, and…

Haley: …and then finds out HER TERRIBLE SECRET.

Anna: And then the fake Madeleine falls to her death, through no fault of his own, because she sees a nun. And that was the plot of Vertigo!

Haley: Yes, that’s Vertigo all right. So this is actually my first time seeing this movie, and one of the only Hitchcock movies I’ve seen as an adult, and it never fails to shock me to see that Hitchock is actually the least subtle film director of all time. He is so heavy handed! Which is funny to watch in a film like Vertigo, because it’s all about deception and not knowing who you can trust, and Hitchcock is not going to just lie back and let you figure it out by yourself. My favourite example was at the very beginning, when Jimmy Stewart visits his platonic lady friend right after his accident, and she’s a fashion designer working on a brassiere, and he’s like “The heights of a woman’s bosom just keep growing!” And it was like YES. BOOBS. BOOBS ARE AS TERRIFYING AS THE HEIGHTS OF A VERY TALL BUILDING TO THIS HERO. Too much female independence makes his head spin!

Anna: Yeah, I would agree that Hitchcock is not into, like, plot twists. There’s never a big reveal. You find out as soon as she’s introduced that Judy Barton – the brunette Kim Novak character – and Madeleine are the same person. Hitchcock had that theory about suspense versus surprise, that it’s better to fill the audience right away on impending danger because it makes things tense. We know that the only difference between the two Kim Novaks is the clothes and the hair, and it adds this whole other dimension to our understanding of their interactions. At the beginning, as Madeleine, Kim Novak is dressed super glam. It’s Edith Head at her most Edith Head-ian. And then as Judy she’s dressed like more of an average person. And even though Jimmy Stewart’s character is technically the victim here, the way he treats her is suuuper creepy…

Haley: So creepy!!

Anna: He dyes her hair!!

Haley: I mean, it’s one of Hitchcock’s most famous quotations: blondes make the best victim. And his hero is like, “well, let’s get you some blonde hair dye.”

When we were watching this makeover montage of the damned, we talked about how if you have slightly different camera angles and creepy music, She’s All That is basically Vertigo. This movie really proves how creepy the trope of a man giving a woman a makeover can be. Like My Fair Lady is a horror movie. Super creepy. Well, in any case, we chose this movie because it uses clothing and makeup as a way for a character to work through a trauma…

Anna: …but also to use beauty, clothing, and another human being as a…

Haley: …a living doll, yeah. Like you know pet therapy? Where they bring in cute dogs and you cuddle them? Jimmy Stewart is like, “I just need to like stroke some cashmere and blonde hair to sort through this trauma.”

Anna: It’s a whole new kind of retail therapy. “Instead of buying a dress for myself I’ll buy an identity for this girl!” AND let’s not forget – Kim Novak was the manipulator, but she was also being manipulated by Madeleine’s husband in the first half. And she dies at the end. She does not get off easy in this movie.

Haley: No! When we were watching this, I was also thinking a lot about my work as a makeup artist, because I was always confronted by people who had these very misogynistic ideas about the practice of beauty. A lot of…I’m not going to say only men, but it was a LOT of men (all men are terrible). But ok, a lot of men and some women really believe that fashion and beauty is inherently deceptive, and that if you actively try to improve your appearance with either, you’re lying to someone. So I really did enjoy seeing a film where the construction of beauty and these so-called deceptive tricks are a way to reveal the truth about a character instead of conceal the truth.

Anna: Oooooooooh!

Haley: He’s, like, adding layers to strip away the layers!! You see? We’re through the looking glass here, people.

Anna: He was trying to dress her up as to recreate something that never even happened.

Haley: Just like constructed ideas of female beauty never really existed. Think about it.

Anna: Feminism.

Haley: Feminism.

Anna: We just broke the glass ceiling.

Haley: Every glass ceiling. We’re leaning in to feminist critiques of this movie. Okay, moving on.

Don’t Look Now
1973, Dir. Nicolas Roeg

Haley: True story! I only watched this movie because I kept seeing it on those lists of the best movie sex scenes of all time and was like, well, sign me up. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are these nice parents, their daughter drowns in an accident and they is obviously traumatized by the guilt. He takes a job in Venice – he works in art restoration – and his wife is visited by these two psychic sisters who her that they can see her daughter, and she (the daughter) is at peace. While Julie Christie is really comforted by this, Donald Sutherland is very disturbed. Meanwhile, there are all these murders happening in Venice, these young girls being murdered. Donald Sutherland keeps seeing a child running around Venice in a red raincoat, which is identical to the one his daughter was wearing when she drowned, and he can’t figure out what’s real and what’s not real. The big twist is that he’s psychic, but he doesn’t trust his own abilities, so he fall into this extremely strange situation where he ends up being murdered by a little person wearing a red rain coat. I have no idea why, it makes no sense whatsoever.

I think this movie is supposed to be about parenting as an identity, about how because he loses his identity as a parent after his daughter dies he stops being able to trust himself and trust what he sees, and that’s what really leads to his untimely demise. Less so a movie about a little person in a red rain coat with a knife being a serial killer in Venice.

Anna: I feel like we could take a bunch of theories about this movie, throw them in a blender, drink it down, throw it up, and they’d all be right.

Haley: Yeah, I should note that this is based on a Daphne du Maurier story, just to give it some real literary weirdness context.

Anna: Don’t Look Now also has a parallel to Vertigo, in that Jimmy Stewart had that visceral reaction to Kim Novak’s face and here Donald Sutherland has a visceral reaction to that coat, both which remind them of a dead woman they felt responsible for, and both which lead to untimely doom. But with Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart tried find the clothes to go with this person, Don’t Look Now has it the other way around: he’s got the clothes, he’s missing the person.

Haley: And just in case anyone is curious, it totally is one of the best sex scenes of all time. So that’s a plus. Julie Christie, no surprise, her entire look is so on point. But beyond that, there’s also this parallel to these red boots that Julie Christie wears and the red raincoat. Red shoes classically represent sexuality in women, which we’ll get back to when we talk about The Red Shoes, but you’ve got the red coat, which stands in for a childish innocence. So Donald Sutherland has these two competing ideas about the women in his life as seen through their clothes.

Anna: For him, the red coat means “victim,” and when he sees it wandering around Italy his thought is “I must save you!” But then, ha ha, the person wearing it is a murderer? Talk about playing on your assumptions.

Haley: And it’s another one where clothing is used to work through a recent trauma. But the male hero dies. Cartoonishly.

Anna: He’s also like Laura Mars in that he is very in tune to aesthetics. He works in a visual medium.

Haley: His eyesight is everything which is why it’s a tragic joke that when it comes to his psychic visions he doesn’t trust what he sees.

Anna: Just like Laura Mars’ visions. Full circle, bitches! Next movie!

Disturbing Behavior
1998, Dir. David Nutter

Anna: This is a late 1990’s teen slasher, slightly sci-fi film, starring a young James Marsden – wait though, did we ever determine how old James Marsden really was when he made this movie?

Haley: He looked AT LEAST thirty.

Anna: IMDB says he was twenty-five.


Anna: Fine, yes. Oldest high schooler in the world James Marsden’s brother dies in mysterious circumstances, and his family moves to get away from the tragedy. James Marsden kind of falls in with this burnout, goth, pseudo-punk-ish kids, who helpfully explain all the other archetypes hanging around the cafeteria. One clique is known as the “Blue Ribbons,” who are a very preppy, J. Crew-ish crowd. They’re all wearing blue sweaters and blue letter jackets and blue ribbons on their wrist. SYMBOLISM. And the twist is that they’re, like, robots? They get chips in their eyes?

Haley: Right, yeah, the school is part of some experiment by a mad scientist who wants to turn all the bad kids into “good” kids. Like into a parent’s dream child. So it’s very Clockwork Orange. But the chip they get implanted in their brain is malfunctioning, because every time the teen has an impure thought they get consumed with rage and become super violent. So it’s like a fight to make sure our heroes don’t get suck into this horrible cultish behaviour, they have to retain their sense of self.

Anna: We should start by talking about how the good guys include Katie Holmes without a bra.

Haley: Oh god, Katie Holmes without a bra in those crop tops, it’s too good.

Anna: And a lot of black eyeliner.

Haley: And a nose ring!

Anna: Yes, very 90’s movie studio idea of punk. And James Marsden has a more laidback wardrobe.

Haley: Yeah, this movie is VERY Pacific Northwest. It’s typical 90s fashion, a lot of denim overalls, a lot of plaid, late grunge. And here, when people get brainwashed with that chip, the first sign that something is wrong is that they come to school wearing preppy clothes. So when Nick Stahl comes in to the cafeteria wearing khakis and a button down shirt and a sweater vest with his hair all combed, THAT’S seen as scary.

Anna: Yes, and the same effect is used for this final twist, where the last shot of the movie is realizing that Nick Stahl escaped from that town and is now a teacher at an inner city school. And he’s smiling with this look in his eye, and you can see the chip glowing in his pupil, and you know he’s there to change them. So the film is about this 1950s idea of do-gooder-ism, where “good” is defined as very preppy, very upper middle class, clean cut white fashion, and that’s secretly evil.

Haley: It is definitely theorizing that this sort of uniform is a sign of inherently evil values, yeah. That those khakis hide something sinister. There’s also this whole thing where the Blue Ribbon kids hate body modification, one boy asks a girl with a tattoo why she would mutilate her body, there’s a scene where a Blue Ribbon jock gets so consumed with rage he rips the nose ring out of a burnout kid…it’s this very Dad-ish mentality, like your body is so pure and beautiful that it should only be covered by the crispest chinos and whitest button down shirts until your husband undresses you on your wedding night.

Anna: And it is a critique of the conservative upper class, but its a very easy critique. It’s not a smart enough movie to be anything more than “here are the bad guys, these are the good guys…”

Haley: Yeah, it’s this funny vicious cycle, where the evil program at the school tries to isolate kids who they can turn into Blue Ribbons, and they just look around to see who is dressed too goth, too rave-ey. But at the same time, when our heroes look at someone in a sweater vest, they’re automatically like “Oh, you’re evil.” Everyone is going back and forth in this infinite loop of judging people by their fashion.


Haley: We solved it.

Anna: Kay, next and last movie.

The Red Shoes
2005, Dir. Yong-gyun Kim

Anna: Not to be confused with the 1948 Red Shoes, this is a Korean horror film.

Haley: But they are both based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. And I thought it was good! I’m looking at some of the reviews online that say it was a really uninspiring twist, but I mostly liked it…

Anna: It was a little confusing.

Haley: But maybe it was trying to be confusing? I don’t know. Basic plot synopsis: there’s these pink suede shoes left on a subway platform, and two girls are fighting over them. One girl steals them and runs away, but then she’s mysteriously killed. Her legs get chopped off with the feet still in them. And then we cut to this nice recently divorced single mom, Sun-jae, who lives right by that subway station. She finds the shoes and takes them home, and then all these weird things start happening. Like she meets this cute guy, but she doesn’t trust him, her daughter becomes obsessed with the shoes, her best friend is obsessed with the shoes, her best friend is killed while wearing the shoes. And Sun-jae slowly pieces together that anyone who takes the shoes from the person that originally finds them gets murdered. She’s sucked into this whole ghost story of a famous ballet dancer who was murdered by her husband’s mistress, lots of scary things happen, and then BIG TWIST it turns out that she’s been dissociating from herself and she was the murderer all along. But the shoes still made her do it, I think? Shoes are def haunted. It’s like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but with murder shoes. They fit everyone perfectly, everyone who wears them is like “I feel younger, sexier, I can dance all night, I’m a better dancer, I’m a more beautiful woman”…there’s a lot of explicitly feminine ideals of beauty connected to the shoes. There’s a lot of anxiety and insecurity about aging, too.

Anna: Let’s talk about some of the female anxieties here. First, the colours in this movie are all really muted and tinted blue, and pink and red are the only colours really shown. The little girl wants to wear them, but her mom wants to keep them for herself, and there’s all this subtext about maturity and womanhood…

Haley: Yes, because before Sun-jae got divorced her husband would always say things to her like, “You’re too old to wear that”, or something. So when her daughter took the shoes I felt like she had such an extreme reaction because it was really about her own anxiety about her daughter becoming a sexual object of attraction while she was just going to fade away…there’s a lot about women fighting with each other over material objects.

Anna: It’s almost a parody of what women fight about. Like all the women here fight about shoes or men. I mean, women are the center of this story, which is way more interesting to me than something like Vertigo, where it’s just like a man being sad. I’m so over men and their feelings.

I’m seeing there’s some IMDB boards talking about how the reason it’s called The Red Shoes, even though they’re clearly pink, is because they’re red…WITH BLOOD!

Haley: Ha. And then the original fairy tale is about a woman who can’t stop dancing in her new red shoes, she is basically condemned to dance to death. It’s supposed to be a moral about putting vanity before anything else, how that warps your life, vanity ruins everything, it turns her into someone ugly…

Anna: I don’t know if this is just a Western cultural concept, but I do wonder about the fact that the film refers to red shoes and then the shoes are actually pink…they’re similar shades with such different connotations. Red is sex, passion, and there is a lot of red in the movie, like the red lipstick Sun-jae wears when she’s about to have sex with the cute guy, and then of course all the blood. Pink is more innocent and youthful.

It’s also interesting how for so long Sun-jae is like “No, guys, it’s totally the shoes that are the problem, the shoes are killing everyone, I gotta figure out this thing with the shoes,” but it’s like no, it’s just you.

Haley: Oh yeah, and this is another movie about eyesight. She’s an eye doctor building a new clinic and she hurts her eyes at the beginning of the movie. And when her friend dies after taking the shoes, her eye gets ripped out. There’s a lot about not being able to see properly, anxiety that her eyes are failing her with age, but also not being able to KNOW properly because she’s so lost in her own insecurities and jealousies that she can’t see the truth about herself.

Anna: Her insecurities come from a valid place. She walks in on her husband with another woman, with understandably jolts her. But of course, this is a horror movie, and so it goes to a BAD, DARK, NO NO place, like when you find out that she actually killed her hot boyfriend, which is such a shame…

Haley: Because he really was so hot. RIP.

Rest in peace, all of the dead guys from the aforementioned movies. Did we miss your favourite horror movie? Do you suggest another candied treat to pair with fashionable films? Tell us in the comments!

WORN Fashion Journal is a completely different kind of fashion magazine. An independent print publication based in Toronto, Canada, WORN discusses the histories, personal stories, cultures, and subcultures of fashion.

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