Some stories introduce themselves with viral marketing campaigns and cryptic trailers announcing the coming of a terrifying new fright promising to boil your blood and make you scream. For most, however, you have to rely on word of mouth and write ups in ‘zines and websites. Some end up becoming cult classics that change the cultural landscape while others end up the fodder of late night Chiller Theaters on the local public access channel. This is where our story begins, with the tradition of the horror host. Fans are familiar with Elvira, the villainous vixen introducing a little laughter into our slaughter -not to mention sex appeal- and HBO’s Crypt Keeper (John Kassir) spewing noxious puns to open and close each installation of scary stories. From Alfred Hitchcock to Vampira to local legends like Dr. Gangrene, there’s a long and beautiful tradition of strange, horrifying, malevolent, and beautiful ghouls laying the foundation for the nightmares they’re helping to bring to life. Replete with off putting banter, sensual diversion, and more than a few terrible puns, the horror host is a trope that many of us have come to love, as integral a part of some experiences as the films they introduce. With the advent of streaming video services and websites like YouTube and Vimeo providing new outlets for filmmakers and artists, a new breed of host has been created to keep that tradition alive.
Boils and Ghouls, with Women in Horror Month in full swing I’m happy to introduce you to Jennifer Nangle or, as you’ll soon come to know her as, Malvolvia, the Queen of Screams. This wicked siren of the silver screen has one question on her mind as she scours the internet in search of horror films: Can you make Malvolia scream?
Dan- Not only are you an actress but you’re also a writer, director, editor, and producer? How did you start out and what are fans going to recognize you from?
Jennifer Nangle- I've been acting since I was 10 years old. I saw The Sound of Music and after the show I told my mom that that was what I wanted to do and I've been doing it ever since. I majored in theater in college and thought I was going to move to New York City and follow my dreams of Broadway, but a couple guys I graduated with moved out to LA and I followed shortly behind. I trained for a couple years and then I teamed up with Actress/Creator Jennifer Farac where I helped to produce and acted in GUIDES, a web series based on the ancient alien theory. I moved on to producing another dramatic short film that I also acted in, but my heart was always into horror. I didn't personally know any writers or other filmmakers who were working in horror, so, I knew I had to write it for myself. That’s when I then wrote Demonic Attachment. I never really wanted to be a filmmaker per say, but, to play the characters I want to play, I had to write them myself.
Dan- When was it that you decided that horror was something you were passionate about? Is there a particular film or person that inspired you to make a career on screen?
Jennifer Nangle- When I was 8 years old, I watched The Gate with my dad. I shouldn’t have been watching it. I should have been sleeping in the only air conditioned room in our house during the middle of a hot summer night. It petrified me. In our backyard we had a boxed garden that I was sure I saw the little creatures coming out of. It made me feel something. It got my heart racing and I was constantly on the lookout. I was hooked. Years later came Scream and The Blair Witch Project and, of course, The Ring. Those films always had people talking afterwards. "That ending was so fake! It's totally not real!" or "You have to see this movie! The ending is crazy!" They were experiences that people kept talking about even after they left the theater. They felt something. I've always been an extremely emotional person. If I can share stories that make people feel something and make an impact in some way that's what pushes me creatively.
Dan- Tell me about Malvolvia, The Queen of Screams. While there are some elements of Elvira and Vampira visible in the character, what other influences helped to bring her to life?
Jennifer Nangle- Ill-willed Malvolia came from a treatment I wrote for another found footage film series. The treatment was politely rejected, but one of the producers and a good writer friend of mine both encouraged me to keep going with it. Because I wasn't under the rules of the series any more, I really didn't know what I wanted to do with it or where to go with it. I don't know if you've realized this about me, but I am all about strong women. I wanted a strong, evil woman as my lead character, but I always wanted to play with her being enticing and alluring. I was raised on Nick at Nite and watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock, The Munsters, and of course, The Addams Family. Morticia Addams had all those aspects I was looking to showcase and the more research I did, the more Vampira would pop up.
Historical research fascinates me and that's how I came up with the idea of the Horror Host. I didn't really know of too many popular horror hosts at the time (though I’ve since have found out there is a data base of horror hosts across the nation) and I thought it might be something fun and creative to play around with while show casing other filmmakers and their short forms of work. I premiered Malvolia on January 1st, 2017 bracing myself of maybe those certain "comments" that were going to come my way. But it was all positive! And after launching the promo February 1st, again, it’s been a lot of positivity. I'm ecstatic and thankful that people are embracing my new journey!
Dan- What do you feel will set Malvolia apart from other horror hosts?
Jennifer Nangle- She is more evil. Darker. We have a couple tricks up our sleeves for Season 1, but, she's not really human, per say, and may have some special gifts... You're just going to have to watch the show!
Dan- Tell me about the films you’ll be hosting. Is there a specific niche in horror that you’re looking for or is it anything in the spectrum?
Jennifer Nangle- I am open to anything that is horror that does not contain nudity or any type of animal abuse or, um, erotic films. All of this is going on YouTube and I really want to develop a wide range audience. I have actually received a great number of films from a lot of my peers in the horror community, which seriously is such a beautiful gesture and I'm so thankful for their support. I have even received a couple of music videos as well. Some real incredible work, I've even been promised a feature film trailer debut by someone I really respect - it's going to be a wild ride!
Dan- So you’ve received quite a few submissions already?
Jennifer Nangle- A good amount, but I want to leave it open for anyone who is interested! The opportunity is there.
Dan- Where can filmmakers submit to the Queen of Screams?
Dan- As an actress and up and coming scream queen, what advice would you offer to other women wanting to get into the horror industry?
Jennifer Nangle- Just do it. Sit down and write it. Pick up a camera and film it. Don't listen to the people around you nor that inner critic in your head that's really telling you lies. It may not be perfect and it may not turn out 100% the way you want it, but you at least did it. That makes you way further along that a lot of other people. Don't be afraid - we need more women voices in this genre!
Malvolia is waiting for you, film makers and fright fans. Can you handle the horrors she has is store for you? Or, better yet, do you think you have what it takes to make her scream? Follow her online and on social media and be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel for all the latest updates and scares.