Horror Fans Beware, the Real Monsters May be Behind the Camera

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Illuminaughtii’s YouTube channel is one that I frequent for hot goss on the latest MLM failures and other news of fraud, scandals, and just all around bad behavior that pervades the landscape. Her scathing yet fair reviews can always be counted on to let her viewers know which brands and companies they may want to avoid for their pure sketchiness factor. Usually these are things that I already try to avoid. As a woman in my 30’s , I’ve been roped into many “parties” and “get togethers” that are a front for hawking some shady MLM products and I’ve been guilt tripped into buying something to support my friends. Blair (Illuminaughtii’s easier to spell real name) always does a great job of exposing these companies for what they are and giving me the confidence to politely turn down these invitations. However, recently Blaire shed light on a company that hit close to my heart. Cinestate, a film company that often produces horror such as 2015’s Horror Western Bone Tomahawk, is rife with controversy including, but not limited to making Ben Shapiro’s film-writing dreams come true by releasing his 2nd Amendment school shooting manifesto Run, Hide, Fight instead of throwing it in the same reject pile as Joss Whedon’s failed Wonder Woman script.

My heart was broken when I found out that this abomination of a film company was partnered with Fangoria, the collectible horror magazine that revels in all things bloody. I was glad to find out that in 2020, Fangoria severed ties with the problematic studio after allegations and the arrest of producer Adam Donaghey for the rape of a 16 year old girl.

I can’t speak much for the writer/ director of three out of four released Cinestate films S. Craig Zahler and his personal beliefs. Admittedly, I’ve only seen one of the films he’s written and directed, the aforementioned Bone Tomahawk. I thought that it had some good performances and interesting characters. It was, as other critics of Zahler’s work have stated, too long. It’s a classic story of cowboys and evil, primitive brown people. The antagonists don’t get any character development besides being evil cannibals who fashion tools out of bones. They’re not humans, they’re monsters. Looking at the rest of his works, brown people being the antagonists to a white knight protagonist seems to be par for the course. Racist superstar Mel Gibson was cast with fellow gun enthusiast conservative Vince Vaughn in the film Dragged Across Concrete, which though I haven’t seen it, reviews peg it as a racist cop Robin Hood story in which poor, oppressed middle aged white men fight against a system that just won’t let them be racist enough and get away with it. Vaughn’s character wisecracks that he can’t be racist because he “buys dark roast coffee on MLK day” and dates a black woman who supports him stomping a man of color’s face into a fire escape grate.

Despite my breath of relief that Fangoria has since cut ties with the problematic Cinestate, my heart breaks to find out that pedophile Adam Donaghey has produced some horror greats that I have absolutely loved and not just MAGA- friendly racism apology films. Donaghey produced horror darling A24’s A Ghost Story. He also was the executive producer on each of 2019’s Fangoria Films Trilogy: Satanic Panic, VFW, and Porno. All of which I have seen and enjoyed on horror streaming service Shudder and all of which involve young women who are at least portraying teenagers if not being teens themselves. Finding out that these films (that I supported because I enjoy the magazine associated with them) were not only made by a pedophile, but in the pocket of right- wing zealots makes me question every horror film I see now. Are they in the business of making films where final girls reign supreme and the message is one of survival? Or are they subliminally pushing pro-gun anti feminist messages on a horror loving crowd while getting off on putting women in scary situations for the sake of entertainment?

The latest Cinestate abomination is distributed by excitable transphobe and real-world King Joffrey clone Ben Shapiro on his right-wing circle jerk website The Daily Wire. Run Hide Fight is a take on the strategy taught in schools in the case of an active shooter. This second amendment fuck fest is about a girl who saves the day in hostage (has this ever happened?) school shooting situation by using only her superior wits granted to her by being an avid hunter. Yep, kids, slaughtering Bambi means you have the ability to be a hero in a life or death situations. All the other students are drooling idiots who live stream the shooters (has there been a school shooting situation since Columbine that wasn’t a lone gunman?) because they’re told to by their captors. The film includes such quotable quips as a shooter wryly proclaiming “trigger warning” after killing students by shooting them and offering a teen’s parents “thoughts and prayers” when he confiscates a hostage’s phone while he is desperately calling his parents. The film is problematic not only for portraying school shootings as glorious action-packed scenarios rather than heavy tragedies that are all too prevalent in our society today, but for allowing pedophile Donaghey to be present on a set that was crawling with teenaged extras when his past sexual assault was a known factor. So a man that is probably not allowed near the campus of a real school is welcomed to the set of a film High School. Makes complete fucking sense, right?

Although it seems like Cinestate’s days are hopefully drawing to a close and at least cutting ties with child rapists, there is no denial that the MAGA crowd is a cash cow for film industries. So the next time you watch a horror film, ask yourself if the scares are confined to onscreen screams, or if there are monsters behind the scenes too.

Sources: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2508774/, https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-ugly-backstory-of-ben-shapiros-first-movie-run-hide-fight, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPPmPS1CL24,https://www.indiewire.com/2020/06/cinestate-sexual-misconduct-allegations-birth-movies-death-fangoria-1202236181/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinestate#:~:text=Cinestate%20is%20a%20Dallas%2Dbased,in%202016%20by%20Dallas%20Sonnier.&text=In%202020%2C%20following%20the%20arrest,media%20and%20websites%20went%20dormant, https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/03/dragged-across-concrete-review

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