T.V a.k.a My Stories

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Crazyhead’s Raquel: Susan Wokoma, Women in Horror and the Next Generation of Slayers

Published February 20, 2017 by rmpixie

crazyhead

Crazyhead (Netflix, 2016)

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) was a phenomenon that continues to live on. A TV series spawned from the 1992 cult film, the fandom for a spunky high school student and her crew of friends as they battled vampires, demons and other supernatural fare while dealing with real issues knew no bounds, and new fans of her quest to save the world from creepy crawlies spring up even to this day.

Enter a new generation of shows that have found a home on Netflix. Here, writers and directors have the free reign to offer more than your local cable provider with shows like smash hits Stranger Things (2016), Luke Cage (2016), and Daredevil (2015). There’s also room and the desire for many international contributions as well, including the 2016 comedy horror from E4, Crazyhead.

Crazyhead is the story of Amy (Cara Theobold) and Raquel (Susan Wokoma), two young women who suffer from what doctors think is a mental illness. They see things – people with demonic faces – and are continually told that it’s all in their heads. When they meet one night after a frightening attack and realize they both see the same thing, they join forces to destroy these demons on earth. Raquel also has a special lineage that makes her of interest to the devilish clan, and along with Amy’s perverse puppy-dog of a friend Jake (Lewis Reeves), they go through some crazy hijinks to find answers and not get killed.

With this being Women in Horror and Black History Month, I must focus on British-Nigerian Susan Wokoma, the woman behind the off-the-hook Raquel. I first noticed her in hysterically funny and outrageous Chewing Gum (2015-2017) as the main character’s religious and fearful sister Cynthia. Her performance kept me laughing and cringing, and I was thrilled when I saw her in Crazyhead. Here, she once again kills with one liners and holds her own as the sharp-tongued and zero-filtered but vulnerable Raquel, who just wants to kick some demon ass and figure out life as a young woman with this unbelievable vocation. Wokoma breathes a vibrancy into the character that allows her to take up space and be present, even declaring at one point that she deserves better from Amy since she is a “strong, powerful black woman.” Even though Raquel has issues connecting with people and making friends, she has a great relationship with her patient brother Tyler (Arinzé Kene), full of playful jabs, sibling rivalry and lots of love. I also applaud the writer Howard Overman for making her confident in the way she looks and her space as an attractive black woman. Raquel gets “hers”, she is sexual, she is attractive and doesn’t look to others for validation, even though she may be looking for love. It is refreshing to see a black female character in a leading role own her sexuality in a healthy, non-stereotypical way like it was meant to be treated; like it always had a place at the table. North America should take note of this representation of female sexuality in general.

 

Her counterpart Amy is the perfect foil for her zany observations and plans with Amy’s voice of reason as a helpful, if ignored, counter argument for Raquel’s actions. Together they are a believable representation of young women in today’s world trying to carve out a space for themselves while dealing with the trials of being “normal”. This brings to light a couple of things: it shows how as a woman, your mental health is sometimes glossed over with medications and misunderstanding, and how once they found each other, Amy and Raquel’s bond strengthened their courage and belief in themselves. Although they have some rocky moments in their relationship, it is a real sisterhood.  In terms of mental illness, the title is a touch misleading as they are not actually mentally ill but battling supernatural forces.  They are however, at the mercy of either indifferent mental health professionals or ones that have an agenda.  Either way, this brings out how those living with mental illness may go mismanaged or pushed out of the medical system without much thought to their situation.

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Crazyhead is a comparable British counterpart to Buffy. It holds it’s own as a show, but it wouldn’t be here if Buffy hadn’t blazed a trail, and that’s ok. Joss Whedon paved the way for shows to push the envelope and have fun doing it.  Like Whedon, Crazyhead’s  writer and producer Howard Overman ensures that the dialogue is sharp and funny with a good amount of raunch, and thanks to the cast members, the delivery is on point.  He’s worn the same hats and worked his magic for The Adventures of Merlin (2008-2012), as well as being the creator for The Misfits (2009-2013), Atlantis (2013-2015), and the UK Dirk Gently (2010-2012). Each of these series has come in with a bang, created a huge following and left before they overstayed their welcome. I have complete confidence that Crazyhead will do the same and make a lasting memory in the world of #BlackGirlMagic as well as in the minds of horror comedy fans for years to come.

Crazyhead is streaming on Netflix now, so do yourself a favour and watch!

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Face Off Season 11 Episode 4: “Snow Queens”

Published February 16, 2017 by rmpixie

With all the snow burying the Eastern U.S. and Canada in the past week, it was only fair that the all-stars got a taste of the white stuff too this episode!

McKenzie brought winter to L.A. with real snow waiting for the artists as she introduced this week’s Elimination Challenge. Like the Snow Queens from The Chronicles of Narnia and Once Upon a Time, they had to create their own powerful, unique and beautiful queens inspired by a snowflake. The catch was they had two days instead of three to create their looks and they had to find their snowflakes that were buried in the snow surrounding them. Since some of the artists had never seen snow before, they had an impromptu snowball fight after the search, and then got to work.

Logan and Adam loved the shape of their snowflake and decided to bring a Warrior Queen to life. Logan worked on the cowl while Adam fabricated her armour. It was their turn to find a crack in their mold. They wanted to use silicone for their look and decided to still use it despite the crack and instead of the safer polyfoam to keep the integrity of their concept. Logan used a stencil to convey cracked ice, and they presented  a complete look for the reveal stage. Their Snow Queen was beautiful and fierce. The judges loved the tonal differences with the colours and Glen thought it was the best use of stencilling that he had ever seen on the show. Ve loved the profile and the dark lips which brought out her eyes. They were in top looks with Kiva the Amazon Mountain Queen.

George and Cig wanted to paint a frostbitten look directly on the model’s skin and layer silicone on top for an icy effect. Mr. Westmore thought it was an interesting concept, but cautioned them against using dark makeup underneath as it could be distracting, especially on the tip of her nose. George vaccuformed the lab skeleton to create a really cool sceptre with half a skull and spine. They painted the model with blues, purples and greens to create that frostbitten look and it showed up well through the silicone. I thought the face was too much with the icicle effect. The judges felt the jaw was too masculine and didn’t really fit the challenge, however, they were safe.
Niko and Cat were inspired by their snowflake and the Statue of Liberty. They created an Ice Sculpture Queen. Cat would sculpt the hair and Niko would do the brow piece. Mr. Westmore felt the hair would be too heavy unless it was made out of foam latex. They fabricated an ice torch and collar, but the collar proved to be an issue as it bumped up against the sculpted hair and they scrapped it. The look was simple but the judges didn’t like it. They though sculpting hair was a waste of their time, and it was uninspired and too literal with the Statue of Liberty reference. It also didn’t really look like the snowflake they chose. They were in bottom looks.

Tyler and Emily created an Evergreen Ice Queen. Emily sculpted a wooden chest similar to a corset. She paints landscapes for a living so this was familiar territory for her and understood textures. Mr. Westmore suggested doing a wash of paint to pull out the tree bark look in the sculpt. She also created a headband of branches to add to the hair. Their Evergreen Snow Queen in the midst of a thaw wowed the judges. The loved melting effect and Glenn thought the frozen tree aspect was brilliant. Ve loved the colours they used and thought it was movie set ready. Their complex thinking got them into top looks.

Ben and Evan also went with an Evergreen Snow Queen. They struggled with their concept but finally decided on a crystallized look. They also wanted to make her dark, like black ice. Mr. Westmore told them to keep beauty makeup light. They were really behind and had to apply a prosthetic during last looks which is really risky, plus finish their paint job. I liked the headpiece, but the judges thought the look was a misstep. Even thought Neville got the black ice concept, they still thought it was too dark and the chin piece looked like a beard. As luck would have it, they were safe.

Rachel and Gage found a snowflake that looked regal, so they created an Elemental Queen with ice spires. They vaccuformed the spiny pieces and sculpted prosthetics around them. Rachel also incorporated LED lights into the hair. They had to fix the facial prosthetic to even it out, but they created an acceptable look. The judges liked the concept more than the execution, and the beauty makeup could have been better on the character’s eyes, but they were safe.

Keaghlan and Melissa liked the idea of shards of crystals on their queen. They also made icicles but they had to make sure they didn’t look like horns as Mr. Westmore pointed out. They had to paint them silver to match the eyes. In last looks, Keaghlan felt the queen was too androgynous. On the reveal stage, the judges thought the queen’s brow bone was too low. The proportions were too masculine as well. Neville didn’t like the crystals as he felt you couldn’t tell what they were. They were in the bottom looks.

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The winners were Emily and Tyler for their great choices, execution and exquisite character.

The team going home was unfortunately Niko and Cat! They were the cutest, but the judges felt that at this point, one misstep would eliminate you. Ve was quite emotional and told them it was a very difficult decision. The artists were also really upset, but the tiny couple that could weren’t fazed and were determined to carry on with their business and love for their craft.

Face Off Season 11 Episode 3: Monster High Comes to Life!

Published February 9, 2017 by rmpixie

 

Even though I’m literally 900 years old and had only a vague idea of the subject matter for this week, the artists seemed really jazzed and it was a fun challenge.

The gang headed to Mattel Headquarters where they met McKenzie and V.P. of Design, Natasha Berling to find out their next Immunity Challenge. The popular characters of Monster High were up for interpretation this week. The artists had to create realistic versions of these kids of iconic monsters and they would have to be ready for the big screen. Natalie told them the characters were all about individuality, kindness and acceptance. Her advice to them was to focus on the doll’s uniqueness and push their styles. The teams also got help with their concepts with two of the lead designers at Mattel, Natalie Villegas and Rebecca Shipman. Oh and another catch: Instead of the regular judges, a focus group of Monster High “superfans” would help pick the winner along with Natasha.

Tyler and Emily got Draculaura. Natalie told them to go with a frilly look. Tyler made some bat wings that were morphing out of her collarbone and Emily created a wig for her pink and black hair. Things went smoothly for them, and the focus group loved her. One fan thought she was a cross between a Disney princess and Dracula, and the others like that they hit all the marks with the character with the organic bat collar and skin tone. Only one person thought she wasn’t casual enough, but the play on Draculaura celebrating her sweet 1600 got them into top looks.

Rachel and Gage brought Venus McFlytrap to life. They wanted to integrate vines with her look as well as a pet flytrap plant. Mr. Westmore helped them with an idea to tack hair and the appliance to the model but the face piece ripped in a few places so they had to repair it and scramble to put on a beauty makeup. I wasn’t a fan of this look. I thought the mouth was a bit harsh. The group liked it better up close, but some felt the paint was too flat (I agree). She did look like the doll to them so they were pleased with that.

Niko and Cat had Clawdeen Wolf. The wanted to create a fashionista with a wolf nose and beauty makeup. Mr. Westmore told them not to bury the wolf ears under hair and to go subtle with the face. Niko tried to lay fur pieces on the model but it looked weird, so they opted out for hair that he curled on the model’s limbs. I didn’t like the paint on the face as it looked muddy, and the group didn’t like the fur, but the nose worked for them.

Logan and Adam were lucky this was an Immunity Challenge week. They got Abbey Bominable. They didn’t have a full concept except that she was a snowboarder. Natalie loved that idea and told them to go towards a Yeti look. Mr. Westmore told them they had to work on the nose since she was a teen and it had to be pretty. They had to scrap the whole face piece in the end and start over again. They also worked on a pet mammoth in a carry case. I didn’t like the nose on the character. The group felt it looked too much like Harry Potter’s Voldemort.

Keaghlan and Melissa had Cleo De Nile. She was part mummy. They didn’t want to emphasize bandages, and wanted to create a full face piece. Mr. Westmore told them they had to have great edges for the face piece to work. When they put it on the model, it ended looking like a “bad drag queen makeup”, so during last looks, they took it off and did a beauty makeup. I didn’t like the paint as it also looked muddy. The group liked the subtle bandage details and the hieroglyphics.

Ben and Evan worked on Skelita Calaveras. They sculpted flat bone details to glue to the models’ arms and legs. She turned out beautifully with Natasha loving all the details. The group thought she stayed true to the character and they would definitely see a live action movie with her in it. They also loved how glam she looked and the shading done on the bones.

Cig and George got Lagoona Blue. The wanted to go all out and create gills, scales and fins on her. The guys hadn’t done a beauty make up in years if at all, but they had nothing to fear. After practicing on each other, they knocked it out of the park with metallic accents and a beautiful face sculpt. Natasha felt they captured the essence of the character and pushed her to another level. The fans loved the metallic touches and the overall fresh version of the doll.

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The team that won immunity was Cig and George!! Everyone loved that they had fun with the character and pushed her to a new level. The was a bonus prize as well: they would get a prize pack from Mattel, Monster High products and highlighted on Mattel’s social media network. I’m glad they won!

Face Off Season 11 Episode 2: The Good and Bad of It

Published February 9, 2017 by rmpixie

The second episode of season 11 took us to church where the gang had to work on their good and bad sides. McKenzie wanted them to create an angel and devil but it had to be on the same model. The artists had to use their own good and bad traits to inspire the makeups., and the judges had to see an angel and devil clearly in the makeup.

Gage and Rachel used selfishness and emotionally giving as their inspiration. They created an angel with a parasitic demon emerging from her back. During the walkthrough, they were advised to create separate devil and angel wings since the makeup was too devilish looking. They decided on a laced finger look on the angel’s back. They had to revise the finger effect when they realized they lacked definition. Overall the look was good, but I thought the paint on the face was too flat and missing definition. The judges liked the back but though the paint was muddy. They were safe.

Ben and Evan were determined to do better this time. Their concept was similar, with a selfless angel and a consuming devil. During his sculpt, Ben started to become doubtful and decided to start over. That was the right choice. Their makeup was more literal, and the guys were pleased with the outcome. The judges loved the makeup. Glenn thought the devil was classic looking in an old school way, and the angel was exquisite to them. This well thought out makeup put them in the top looks.

Keaghlan and Melissa created an angel consumed by a self-critical devil. Keaghlan sculpted the face and Melissa did the torso, each working in statue details. Melissa had to redo their halo, but their concept was great. I thought it was beautiful makeup and they were safe this week.

Jasmine and Stella had trouble getting their concept together. Mr. Westmore told them they needed to work on the look since it was 90% devil. They were worried but then focused on their own shared trait: stubbornness. Their concept would be a bullish devil with an open heart. The broken wings Stella wanted didn’t set properly in the mold, so she had to start over again. The makeup didn’t really come together. The judges felt it didn’t make sense and it was an incomplete concept. Their forms and concept put them in the bottom looks.

Logan and Adam focused on lust and protection. Their archangel would struggle with a lustful demon coming out of him. Mr. Westmore told them to put more expression on the face emerging from the angel’s chest. Adam was worried about their paint job since there was a lot of detail. It did end up taking them a long time to finish, and the judges also though this concept didn’t make sense. It lacked proper proportions and the colours were muddy. They too were in the bottom looks.

Cig and George created an angel who was weighed down with self-doubt in the way of a heavy stone she carved out. She had a stained glass halo that Cig made from L200 and vaccumform. Their abstract look struck Glenn as slightly Native American with the halo. They were safe.

Niko and Cat worked on jealousy and loyalty. They went with a bride who was rotting from the inside. Mr. Westmore told Niko to be careful with the dark makeup they wanted to put on half the model’s face. He would lose definition if it was too dark. Niko also created wings with armature wire which took a lot of time. The final look really worked and impressed the judges, especially with the wings which were anatomically correct. The beauty makeup also made them happy, and the veining on the other half of the face was done well as well. They were in the top.

Tyler and Emily created an angel who was corroding from guilt. They wanted to create a bronze statue and layered their paint job for the effect. Glenn loved the head-piece and the work on the look of corrosion. The head really was beautiful. This put them in top looks, and it was a great birthday present for Tyler, who was celebrating it with his Face Off family. The judges thought it was gorgeous even though it didn’t convey the challenge.

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The winner was Cat and Niko!! They made smart choices and captured the spirit of the challenge.

The team going home was Jasmine and Stella. They were in the bottom two times already, and this week’s character was confused. They were proud to make it this far, and the judges loved their work.

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