Women in Horror Spotlight: Izzy Lee
All throughout October, I will be highlighting the work of women in horror and introducing some new people to their work. I will be writing about authors, filmmakers, podcasters and other aspects of horror-related creative endeavors; I ask each of them several questions and share their answers with you in this series of articles. Today’s article is about horror director/filmmaker Izzy Lee. I had the opportunity to meet with Izzy at a live podcast event and she struck me as focused, intense, and brilliant.
She is an incredibly talented writer and director, knowing how to concurrently seduce and horrify her audience, especially in her short film Innsmouth. It’s only about ten minutes long, but it leaves a lasting impression. Let me paraphrase her by saying that it “is an eye-poppingly good time”. Believe me when I say this, whatever image that phrase conjures up in your mind – the film is something drastically different. Seek out Izzy Lee and her work, you will not be disappointed!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Lee: I often write and direct stories that have a strong feminist element or push back against society. I relate to the outsiders because I am one. My work often has socio-political themes or undertones, whether that’s in a short film, or in one of the short stories that I’ve published.
Currently, you can find my work here:
Innsmouth on Shudder
Postpartum on Short Ends/Project Alpha (The Nerdist)
Tilberian Holiday in “Wicked Witches,” a New England Horror Writers Anthology
The Lake Children in “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: A Charity Anthology Benefiting The Jimmy Fund” (Book also includes Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore)
Some other online and social sources for Izzy Lee are:
What’s your earliest memory of horror influencing you?
Lee: When I was in either kindergarten or first grade, I wrote a short story based on the original The Blob movie.
What drove you to the horror genre?
Lee: A need to escape, and a need to be comforted within that escape.
As you started delving deeper into the horror genre, how did your influences change? What I mean is, there was something that drew you in, and eventually you branched out and started becoming interested in other aspects. What drove you to the other branches of horror maybe from slasher flicks to zombies, or to psychological horror?
Lee: I fell in love with the Vincent Price, Roger Corman, AIP, Edgar Allan Poe films very early on. From there, it was Hammer Horror and then Tim Burton, who has very similar sensibilities and the same influences. I traveled on to David Lynch and John Carpenter, then Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci, and then to more psychological terrors and fantastic works, such as those from Guillermo del Toro, an absolute master. What drove me to explore was/is the constant need for something new or more “comfort food.” Horror fans are addicted to new content, and I’m no different.
When you settle in to write something, what do you watch or listen to in order to help get your creative juices flowing?
Lee: Trent Reznor’s music, particularly his soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. The Gone Girl soundtrack is fantastic. Queens of the Stone Age and David Bowie. I love ‘80s pop and rock, as well as 90’s industrial and alt-rock music.
As a woman in the horror genre, what are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in the pursuit of your art?
Lee: Getting a producer to want to work with me — or even read a script. I’d also say getting funding, but that’s moot because that comes after getting a producer attached, in most cases.
What other things influence you, aside from horror?
Lee: At times, abstract art. Great writing, whether that’s in novel, story, or script form. Current events. Anger fuels my work. I wish it didn’t, but it does.
Is there a specific person in horror that you try to emulate?
Lee: No. If you do that, you fall into a trap of non-authenticity. That said, your influences can’t help but seep into your work on some level. Everyone has a voice. Find yours and use it.
Who is your favorite horror villain?
Lee: There are so many. Anyone Vincent Price played, plus Maleficent; both are pretty high on that list.
Tell us about another woman in horror whose work you think the folks reading this should check out.
Lee: I’m going to name a ton of them: Jennifer Lynch, Jovanka Vuckovic, Rose McGowan, Gigi Saul Guerro, Prano Bailey-Bond, Heidi Lee Douglas, Jill Sixx Gevargizian, Axelle Carolyn, Tristan Risk. Look them all up if you don’t know them. They’re all producing phenomenal work and should be FAR more known than they are.
Finally, what’s the one Halloween-specific movie that makes its way into your regular rotation throughout the year?
Lee: Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Tom Atkins, murderous druid androids, masks, candy, Samhain, SILVER SHAMROCK!
Innsmouth on Shudder
For A Good Time, Call… at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on Sunday, Oct. 15th at 12 pm in the Nightmare Fuel block.
Patrick Rahall covers entertainment for MFST. Follow on Twitter @patrickrahall
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