Anniversary Week—Part II (2014)

December 17th was the two-year anniversary when Jack Flacco: The Official Site went live. In celebration of this milestone, I will be presenting the Top 5 Most Popular Women Who Wow Wednesday posts of 2014.

First, I would like to thank all the folks who took the opportunity to visit my site this year. I have to say, you’ve flattered me by all the attention you’ve shown me. If you’re interested to see how much attention this site received, check out this week’s Monday Mayhem post for the 2014 stats of views and visitors.

Moving along. When choosing the Top 5 Most Popular Women Who Wow Wednesday posts, I first wanted to present them based on amount of views. The more I thought of it though, more it didn’t make sense. For instance, a visitor may pop into the site and hit the same post several times within the day. I didn’t think it fair, considering there could have only been two visitors for that day and a hundred views.

Next, I thought I’d use comments as the benchmark. You know, the more comments a post has, the more popular it is. Again, I didn’t think it represented a good way to measure popularity given I can comment on my own post a dozen times and push it ahead on the popularity scale.

No, what I used is the number of “likes” a post has garnered throughout the year. It will not only present a fair representation of popularity for a post but also prevents users from gaming the system with multiple “likes”.

Okay, let’s get to list.

The Top 5 Most Popular Women Who Wow Wednesday posts of 2014 (including the three-way tie for second):

  1. Allison & Claire

    Allison & Claire

    The Breakfast Chicks“Saturday, March 24, 1984, Shermer High School—It begins at 7:00 A.M. with five students serving detention. Each one coming from a different background. Each one has a reason for being there. ‘… And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what…” ~48 likes

  2. The Wicked Witch of the West

    The Wicked Witch of the West

    The Wicked Witch of the West“No one can deny after seeing The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West is a frightening gal. The first time I saw her on TV was when I was four. If you want to cite childhood memories that may have traumatized a growing young lad, this was it. What would the end of…” ~44 likes

    Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster

    Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster

    Clarice Starling“Nailed to a tree as five separate signs, the message to everyone who dares venture into the FBI training ground is clear: Hurt. Agony. Pain. Love—it. Pride. With those words, the chilling movie The Silence of the Lambs begins. As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began…” ~44 likes

    Amy Adams is Giselle in Enchanted

    Amy Adams is Giselle in Enchanted

    Giselle“Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom known as Andalasia, lived a maiden with whom the prince would share true love’s kiss. Her name was Giselle, and she dreamed of holding hands and dancing with her one true love. How many of you think this is Sleeping Beauty? Show of hands, c’mon. How about…” ~44 likes

  3. The Book of Eli's Solara

    The Book of Eli’s Solara

    Solara“When is it right to kill. When is it right to eat of the earth that which it provides as food? The death of an animal may prove fatal for the animal, but for a human it becomes food. So begins the film The Book of Eli, in ash-filled woods with a cat chewing on…” ~43 likes

  4. Kate Winslet as Clementine

    Kate Winslet as Clementine

    Clementine“Few women in life are memorable. Fewer women in film are so. Joel (Jim Carrey) doesn’t remember ripping the pages from his journal. Apparently, it’s been two years since his last entry. Taking a day off work in February, walking the beach in Montauk seems to ease his preoccupation with the guy who had hit…” ~40 likes

  5. Frozen's Anna and Elsa

    Frozen’s Anna and Elsa

    Anna and Elsa“If you haven’t seen the movie Frozen and want to see it, don’t read this post. I will spoil it for you. Jump to the last paragraph. If you have seen it, then you will know why I chose both Anna and Elsa as this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday feature. I couldn’t choose one…” ~37 likes

Come back Friday when I reveal the Top 5 Most Popular Freedom Friday posts of 2014. Don’t miss it!

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Do you have a favorite Women Who Wow Wednesday post you’d recommend to your friends?

Kate McCallister

I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t seen Home Alone. That is no slight exaggeration. In its short twenty-four year history, the film has gone on to become a holiday favorite for many families, including ours. Once a year, we dim the lights, set the fire and curl up to the sights and sounds of “Kevin!”

Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister

Catherine O’Hara as Kate McCallister

Today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday is all about wide-eyed Kevin’s mom Kate McCallister—the parent who left her son home alone for the holidays.

It’s Christmas and the McCallister family has plans to vacation in France. The night before their trip, amid the chaos of the kids fighting, the ruined pizza and everyone ganging up on Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) for being a nuisance—read: kid with high IQ who no one appreciates—a wish passes through the nuisance’s lips and suddenly the next day the family disappears.

Among the family members who go missing is Kevin’s mom Kate McCallister (Catherine O’Hara) who finds herself on a plane with her husband and family heading to France. Nothing wrong with that, it was the plan after all, until she realizes she’s forgotten her eight-year-old son home alone.

The guilt tears her up so much that she wonders what kind of mother she is for having forgotten her son during a family trip. And like any good mother, when the family arrives in France, the first thing on her agenda is fulfilling her desire to get home to see her boy.

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister

It sounds like an easy task, hop on a plane and she’s good to go. But it’s Christmas time and all the flights are bustling with folks with the same idea—get home for the Holidays. Determined to get back to her son, Kate presses for an early flight that would get her close to home, but not close enough.

When Kate arrives on U.S. soil, she hits another obstacle. She can’t get transportation anywhere. Rentals and flights are gone and her only hope is that someone would be gracious enough to help her get home to see her son. But not before she let’s go on one of the airport attendants venting her plight, reminding them of the common decency of the season. To no avail she gets nowhere.

It isn’t until a bandleader (John Candy) and his buddies offer Kate a ride that things start to make sense again for the exhausted mom. In the back of an old dingy van, she and a gang of old-time polka musicians jet cross-country through the winter Illinois landscape.

Once she arrives home and sees Kevin for the first time since abandoning him, she doesn’t know what to day. Well, actually, she does know what to say, but I’m not going to spoil it for you. You can watch it on your own and relive the excitement of Home Alone.

A mother’s love for a child is a wonderful thing, and Kate shows us what that love is all about.

[Stay tuned next week when the new feature Wednesday Warriors debuts here on JackFlacco.com.]

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What do you like about Kate McCallister? What makes Home Alone so gratifying to watch year after year?

Jovie

When a stranger dressed in an elf suite shows up at a department store, everyone is convinced he’s there for the part-time Christmas job. But after he decorates the entire floor with custom-made decorations, Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) begins to believe there’s more to this odd character than one might think.

Zooey Deschanel is Jovie

Zooey Deschanel is Jovie

Women Who Wow Wednesday today celebrates the jovial Jovie from the movie Elf.

Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the title character to Elf. He can toss snowballs at lightening speed, create Christmas ornaments out of plain paper, and build a LEGO city from leftover boxes of toy bricks. He has a penchant for drinking an entire bottle of cola in one gulp, mixing chocolate syrup with all his meals, and drowning the rest of his food groups with a pound of sugar. And why not? He is, after all, a real Santa elf who is trying to find his real father (played by James Caan) in the big city.

Jovie on the other hand leads a simple life. She lives in a humble apartment, has a job at a department store as an elf—not a real elf like Buddy but playing the part of one—and is all decked out in elf regalia, including the awesome hat with the little fluffy ball at the end of it. Jovie is the least likely person to catch Buddy’s attention.

Yet, the first time he sees Jovie, Buddy can’t resist staring. The clichéd lightening bolt strikes him and her beauty dumbfounds him.

Zooey Deschanel as Jovie

Zooey Deschanel as Jovie

For other girls, what would pose as a cause for concern—Buddy’s childlike behavior—Jovie instead enjoys. She relishes his simple quest for fun, even if it means trapping themselves in a rotating door without knowing when the ride would stop.

But the budding romance doesn’t come without its price. In a strange sequence of events, Jovie finds herself singing in the department store shower before its opening with Buddy joining in on her private crooning.

An innocent mistake.

Regardless of what may have happened between them, Jovie shows what makes her who she is by her belief of which others have lost faith. While others scoff at the notion Santa exists, Jovie stands up in the crowd and declares her belief loud and clear:

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

With those words, Jovie saves Christmas and the world once again believes in the things that make children stay up at night to wish upon a star.

Jovie of Elf—a true believer of Christmas magic.

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What did you think of the movie Elf? What do you think about Zooey Deschanel’s character Jovie?

Skyler White

Every TV show has their haters. Every TV show has characters viewers love to hate. Skyler White of Breaking Bad is no exception. If there ever was a character a fan base poured their vitriol on, Skyler White is it. Even with the show’s final episodes of the series, fans didn’t surrender their rage over this woman.

Anna Gunn as Skyler White

Anna Gunn as Skyler White

And what better character to pick for this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday than the complicated Skyler White?

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad and would like to, suffice it to say this post will contain spoilers. Be warned.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) just found out he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s aggressive. Apparently it’s Stage IV, but hasn’t metastasized to any other part of his body. The news of his pending demise is the catalyst for his journey into the dark world of drugs. He wants to secure his family’s future with the proceeds from the sale of methamphetamines. Joining him is former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) who takes care of the business end—sometimes with unexpected results.

What first starts out as a small-scale operation on the streets of New Mexico, expands to include cross-border and overseas sales. Additionally, like all fledgling drug empires, any business conducted will include coercion, blackmail and murder.

Married to the wannabe drug kingpin is the oftentimes-confused Skyler White (Anna Gunn). She drifts from being a mother, an accountant, a mistress and a cashier, to Walter’s conscience. She is the proverbial voice of reason to Walter’s manic appetite for money and power.

Breaking Bad's Skyler White

Breaking Bad’s Skyler White

Without giving any details to the online stories of disgust directed toward this character, it’s safe to say fans of the show could do without this woman. Despite her ability to maintain a household, cook the books for a multi-million dollar enterprise, and standing up for what she believes is right, fans still despise her.

Her sin? She has more than a professional relationship with her boss, lies about it to her husband, and kicks him out for being a drug dealer.

What could possibly redeem this woman of her sin with the audience after having sunk so low as to betray her husband with her lies?

She has one quality no one can deny. How does that saying go? Oh, yes. Of course. “It takes one to know one.” Skyler has the uncanny ability to spot when Walter lies. Call it a sixth sense, but no matter what it is, she knows perfectly well when her husband lies to her. That makes someone like her extremely dangerous. Even though she may appear fragile, vulnerable, and at times, weak, she can spot a liar. She knows what the truth sounds like. That ability is enough to make her a larger-than-life hero.

Now, if only the show’s fan base could see that. Then, instead of hating, they’d admire her.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen Breaking Bad? What are your thoughts about Skyler White?

Alice Dainard

If the name Elle Fanning sounds familiar then you wouldn’t be the only one wondering the same thing. Yes, Dakota Fanning is her big sister. And, yes, much like her big sister, Elle is landing huge roles in top box office titles. You might recognize her as the girl who plays Sleeping Beauty in the movie Maleficent. In 2011, however, a movie hit the big screen that somewhat came and went without much fanfare. That movie was Super 8.

Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard

Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard

For today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday, I would like to talk about Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning), the love interest to a young makeup artist Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney). In the movie Super 8, directed by J.J. Abrams, Alice becomes an actress in an amateur zombie movie shot by a group of friends from school.

More as an homage to the Steven Spielberg movies of the Seventies and early Eighties, J.J. Abrams captures the essence of the era by propelling the audience to a small Ohio town where a group of teenagers want to find out the truth behind the eerie events taking place all around them.

The tough, levelheaded Alice is one of those teenagers. With a dark past casting a large shadow over her friendship with Joe, she manages to befriend him, even if their families’ history together contains a tragic event to overcome.

Elle Fanning in Super 8

Elle Fanning in Super 8

The friendship eventually comes in handy when one evening a train derailment nearly kills the kids at the station they were using to film their latest scene for their new zombie movie. The event sparks the kids to pull together, as the event entails more than simply running away. In Alice’s case, since she’s the catalyst to the group’s curiosity, drive and action, she leads them to question the origin of the crash.

After the film’s first fifteen minutes unfolds, Alice displays the kind of courage only a true hero could possess. She presses everyone to think through the problems at hand and not jump to any conclusions before coming up with a solution. The train derailment was just the beginning.

But there’s also that soft, delicate side to Alice. In a scene reminiscent of many contemporary young adult romances of today, Joe preps Alice with zombie makeup, then watches her come to life as she lurches forward toward him with a blank stare and sullen eyes. Of course, Joe doesn’t move, but instead stands there with the curiosity of a squirrel wondering what will happen next.

In the end, there’s more to the movie Super 8 than anyone can imagine. Upon multiple viewings, countless Spielberg references surface to keep the viewer busy for a long time. In Alice’s case, she’s the perfect amalgam of a female hero and a vulnerable victim. Make no mistake, though, the vulnerable victim role doesn’t last long.

She’s too busy saving the world.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen Super 8? What did you like about Alice Dainard?

Meadow Soprano

If you’ve ever seen The Sopranos then you’ll know Meadow Soprano (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) is Tony Soprano’s daughter. Some may think she’s an unlikely candidate for a Women Who Wow Wednesday tribute. I beg to differ. As you’ll see, Meadow is a lot smarter than the average young woman and a heck of a verbal fighter. There’s nothing in her vocabulary that would compel anyone to call her a doormat.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano

Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano

[Author’s note: For those who have been following my Women Who Wow Wednesday series since its inception in December of 2012, I write these posts in honor of female fictional characters who show more than an interest in being good role models for women everywhere. Yes, I write about darker characters, too (i.e. The Wicked Witch of the West, Kathryn Merteuil from the movie Cruel Intentions, etc.), but only in the context of them possessing the ability to lead. Other than that, I do not enjoy watching female characters in film act as doormats when I know they could do better. The same goes for real life.]

In Meadow’s case, she’s a mob boss’ daughter, an honor student and will eventually end up working in law under the auspices of social reform and aid for the less fortunate. If anyone deserves a U.N. honorary role for human rights, it’s Meadow Soprano. She never agrees with government policy that works against poverty. Not only is she a social issues maverick but also a leader.

How did she get this way? Having Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as a father helps, since just when he thinks he has the upper hand, she knows how to play him perfectly. For instance, one evening she uses her grandmother’s house for a late-night party, but gets off with minimal punishment from her parents. This is after her friends had trashed the place, leaving behind broken windows, soiled walls, and vomit on the floor. The next morning, she apologizes and, as a preemptive strike, suggests her parents take away her Discovery card for three weeks. They cede thinking it’s a great idea. She walks away with a smile on her face.

Robert Iler & Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Robert Iler & Jamie-Lynn Sigler

The other instance where she shows her metal is when she is dating Jackie Aprile Jr., the son of the late mob boss of the Soprano family. She suspects him cheating on her, but it isn’t until she chases after him that she discovers the truth. In the throes of a massive head cold, she catches him with another woman and dumps him right on the spot that evening. She never returns, which shows her resolve as someone who thinks better of herself than stay with someone who lies and is an abusive mate.

Meadow Soprano is more than a young woman on the road to discovery. She grows to become an advocate for the poor, a loving daughter, and a close friend to those who need a friend. She’s a wonderful role model for women looking for an alternative lifestyle without all the drama associated with personal relationships.

In other words, Meadow is someone who would make a good friend for life.

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Have you seen The Sopranos? What are your feelings toward the character Meadow Soprano?

Julia Maddon

Imogen Poots—how’s that for a cool name? Exotic, yet refined. Full of mystery. Imogen Poots is the British actress who plays the female lead in the road-blazing film Need for Speed. Her character? Julia Maddon, the money behind the movie’s most notable acquisition.

Imogen Poots as Julia Maddon

Imogen Poots as Julia Maddon

Welcome to Women Who Wow Wednesday, the series dedicated to strong women in entertainment.

If you haven’t seen the film, take note, I may have some spoilers. Jump to the last paragraph if you don’t want to know anything about this incredible character. She is worth every penny one would pay to see her on the big screen.

I’ll start with the film’s premise. Fresh from his stint on Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic whose business is floundering in a sea of debt. His only chance for redemption is for him and his crew to rebuild a very rare car and sell it to the highest bidder. The cash would clear his debt and would give his shop a brand new lifeline to carry on his late father’s legacy.

Eventually, the car he and his crew restores becomes the desire of the wanton eyes of the beautiful Julia Maddon, fast car auction purveyor who will stop at nothing to purchase the mint-condition vehicle. As the events of the film unfold however, Tobey sells the car to her without the knowledge of Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), the one who approached him to commission the rebuild in the first place. A wager ensues and Tobey loses more than the money on the table.

Imogen Poots

Imogen Poots

Two years later, Julia receives a call from Tobey for help. She hears of his desperate willingness to do anything in order to settle things with Dino, and readily offers the car he had completed for her employer as collateral. Her end? He is to promise to win a big race featuring Dino himself as one of the participants. What’s so enticing though is the winner gets to take home all the cars from the race—including a high-performance Lamborghini.

What makes Need for Speed so powerful is the portrayal of Julia Maddon as the all-you-can-be go-getter. She dishes the sarcastic jabs as much as she takes them, but more importantly, she can play with the boys without the need to feel they’re out of her league. If anything, she’s out of their league.

The best part of Julia’s character is that one scene where she’s the one driving and taking control of the situation under Tobey’s guidance. The scene features her as the leader while everyone else, including the audience, is trying to catch up with her fast and aggressive style. She’s a powerhouse of a woman, and there’s no denying she can give it as much as she can take it.

If you haven’t seen the character Julia Maddon in the film Need for Speed, I suggest you do. The film is definitely one of the best empowering stories I’ve seen in a long time. And I watch a lot of movies.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

If you’ve seen Need for Speed, what do you like most of Julia Maddon?

The Wicked Witch of the West

No one can deny after seeing The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West is a frightening gal. The first time I saw her on TV was when I was four. If you want to cite childhood memories that may have traumatized a growing young lad, this was it.

The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West

What would the end of Women Who Wow Wednesday‘s Horror month be without The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West? I dare you to count the number of w’s in that sentence.

The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West

There’s a whole history behind the green-skinned lady, but this post won’t contain any of that. In fact, I’m not even going to include how her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, died. Well, we know a house fell on her. That’s about it. Has anyone else ever asked what that woman was doing there in the first place? Was she just standing around waiting for it or was she flying on her broomstick when the house slammed into her? Okay, so maybe I have included a little history with this post.

The other thing I remember about the Wicked Witch was her cackle. Oh, such a dastardly laugh it was. That line where she says, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” It still sends chills up my spine. Is it me or does she get meaner as the years go on? Maybe it’s just me. She certainly knows how to scare the pants off a grownup.

Since I’m quoting lines from the movie, here are a few more that make me want to run away and lock myself in my room with the covers over my head:

“Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents, too!”

“How about a little fire, Scarecrow?”

“Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Come back! I’ll give you Auntie Em, my pretty! Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh!”

“Going so soon? I wouldn’t hear of it. Why my little party’s just beginning.”

“What a nice little dog. And you, my dear, what an unexpected pleasure. It’s so kind of you to want to visit me in my loneliness.”

“The last to go will see the first three go before her. And her mangy little dog too.”

“You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oooooh, look out! I’m going! Oooooh! Ooooooh!”

Tell me you don’t hear her voice when you’re reading those lines to yourself. I still can hear it and I’m not even trying.

Yes, the Wicked Witch belongs in an asylum, but you can’t tell me she doesn’t wow. As bad as she is, she is a character everyone recognizes. For this reason, her image has remained with me since a child. Maybe one day, I can watch The Wizard of Oz without that scary feeling I get in the pit of my stomach reminding me of the first time.

Until then, I’ll watch her again and again covering my eyes as if I were on a roller coaster. It’s the only way to survive a scary ride.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What do you remember of the first time you saw The Wizard of Oz? Were you as frightened to see her the first time I was?

Heather Donahue

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their footage was found.”

This is how The Blair Witch Project begins.

Heather Donahue

Heather Donahue

I think enough time has passed for me to talk comfortably about this movie without feeling bad for dishing out spoilers. If you haven’t seen this movie, skip to the second-last paragraph because this Women Who Wow Wednesday post, which continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, will center on Heather Donahue, one of the three students who disappeared in the woods in Maryland that year.

If you’re still with me, then you’ll know the whole movie really wasn’t more than a perfectly timed viral campaign to garner attention and load the theater seats with curious moviegoers. Three student filmmakers didn’t really disappear. In addition, what happened in the film didn’t really happen, except it was all part of the planned filming schedule scripted to provide a documentary-style backdrop to what would occur twenty years later.

What I’m referring to is today’s entertainment industry’s absolute quest to fill our minds with reality show madness. I’m positive I said that correctly without offending, don’t you think? Mind you, I have nothing against reality shows—I’m an avid fan of Hell’s Kitchen. But does every channel now have to have reality TV?

It all started with The Blair Witch Project. Thank goodness for The Walking Dead.

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project

Nonetheless, when the movie came out, the producers made the film on a razor-thin budget of $60,000. That’s right, sixty grand. Peanuts. It went on to make $140 Million. Yes, you read that right. I’ll say it again—one-hundred-and-forty Million bucks. It was big. Some moviegoers had to leave the theater because they were getting sick from all the motion blur that was taking place.

Anyway, let’s get to the heart of this post, as you don’t need any more of my long-winded backstory.

Heather Donahue, along with Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams (their real names), travel to the woods to explore the legend of the Blair Witch. Leading the team with her straightforward attitude, Heather makes it clear she’s in charge, requesting of the makeshift crew not to produce a movie they’re shooting into a cheesy affair. As Josh fills in the first filming slate, he can’t help but ask if there should be an honorary opening of the veins to christen the first slate. Of course, he’s being facetious—little did he know what a foreshadowing his words would be.

There’s no simple way to say this. In the woods, they get lost. As time pushes forward to an inevitable conclusion, Heather attempts to keep the crew together by remaining positive in spite of the odd noises they hear each night just outside their tents.

The creepier things get, the more Heather tries to rally the guys to not lose faith. She holds on to the belief that things would eventually get better.

They don’t get better.

And as much as Heather tries to remain calm, she loses it, too, which isn’t much different than anyone else in that situation. However, she has the fortitude within herself to come back and lead the others—a trait all true great leaders possess, regardless if they win or lose in a battle.

That, in itself, is a perfect reason to study the character Heather in this film.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you watched The Blair Witch Project? What do you think of Heather?

Clarice Starling

Nailed to a tree as five separate signs, the message to everyone who dares venture into the FBI training ground is clear: Hurt. Agony. Pain. Love—it. Pride. With those words, the chilling movie The Silence of the Lambs begins.

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster

As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began with Maleficent, and continued last week with Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, today we’ll have a look at Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), the detective who uses one psychopath to catch another with horrifying results.

She’s in the top quarter of her class, double major in psychology, criminology, and graduated Magna. She was an intern at the Reitzinger Clinic, and more than anything wants to work for Mr. Crawford (Scott Glenn) in Behavioral Science.

From the moment Clarice steps into the Behavioral Science Services office, the images of serial killer Buffalo Bill’s victims sink into her eyes. When Mr. Crawford walks in and offers her a seat. He remembers her from his seminar at UVA where she grilled him about the bureau’s civil rights record during the Hoover years—he gave her an A. Not quite. She remembers an A minus.

He has a job for her. The FBI is interviewing serial killers in custody for a psycho-behavioral profile. They’re looking for help in unsolved cases. He asks, “Do you spook easily, Starling?”

“Not yet.” She answers.

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling

Crawford then asks Clarice to profile Hannibal Lecter—“Hannibal the Cannibal” as he is known. But he warns her to be very careful with Hannibal Lecter. She cannot deviate from the physical procedures she will take when interviewing him. Above all else, she cannot tell him anything personal. She cannot afford to have Hannibal Lecter inside her head.

Once Clarice realizes Hannibal the Cannibal is a monster, a pure psychopath and the asylum’s most prized asset, she takes precautions by heeding to the rules:

  • Do not touch or approach the glass.
  • Pass him nothing but soft paper.
  • No pencils or pens, no staples or paper clips in his paper.
  • Use the sliding food carrier, no exception.
  • If he passes anything, do not accept.

From there, Clarice takes it upon herself to play the game she needs to play with Lecter in order to get what she needs. She attempts different ways to get into his head, but he proves, with his genius ability to sense her next move, he isn’t a pushover. If anyone’s getting played, it’s her.

Throughout her interviews, she adapts and modifies her methodology to Lecter’s coy ways. With every play and counter-play, they raise the stakes until someone surrenders.

In the dark world Clarice inhabits, there are serial killers, murderers and psychos. However, that’s not to say she is weak when terrifying events knock her from her seat. She’s resilient, making it easy for anyone to choose her as the perfect example of a woman who stands up for her convictions against the evil in this world.

With Clarice in the room, darkness has nowhere to hide.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs, what did you find most frightening?

Claudia

They are flesh and blood, but not human. Probably haven’t been human for hundreds of years. Some might call it being born into darkness. For a little girl who has lost her parents to the plague in New Orleans, it certainly feels that way.

Kirsten Dunst as Claudia

Kirsten Dunst as Claudia

As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began last week with Maleficent, let’s examine the short life of Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) the vampire from the movie Interview with the Vampire, based on the book written by Anne Rice.

In 1791, Louis du Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is only twenty-four when Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) turns him into a vampire. Before then, as the master of a large plantation, just south of New Orleans, Louis’ riches meant nothing to him. He’d lost his wife and child months earlier, and he longed for death. Young, vibrant, full of life, Lestat cuts Louis’ life short in an act of pure selfishness. Some may say, though, Lestat imparted Louis the essence of eternal life. However, how eternal is a life if it rests in the throes of damnation?

Claudia’s parents die by the plague. With the desire of wanting to revive her mother, the five-year-old asks Louis for help. Instead of bringing her mother back from the dead, a power Louis does not possess, he feeds off Claudia short of taking her life. Leaving her for dead, and with Louis’ conscience tearing at him for having drained Claudia of her life, Lestat bestows upon her eternal life, thus making her a vampire just like them.

Unlike Louis, whose manner of killing involves butchering animals but not people, Claudia’s hunger for blood has no bounds. From the moment Lestat made her into a predator, Claudia shows no regard for human life. Housekeepers fall to her scheming, leading Lestat to scold her, “Now, who will we get to finish your dress? There’s a practicality here! Remember, never in our home!”

Interview with the Vampire's Claudia

Interview with the Vampire’s Claudia

In the early days, Claudia’s victims died quickly. As time passes, she learns how to play with them, delaying the moment until she takes what she wants. No one is safe. She uses her diminutive appearance to draw victims into her arms. Shopkeepers easily surrender their goods to the vicious killer. Even her piano teacher dies at her hands, prompting Lestat once again to ask, “Claudia, what have we told you?” Of course she remembers, “Never in the house.”

One day, Claudia sees a woman bathing, then realizes she will never grow older than the eternal child she is. She discovers the truth, provoking her to loathe both Louis for taking her life and Lestat for giving her another. However, she also realizes she and Louis are in the same predicament, locked together in hatred.

But she admits, she can’t hate Louis.

As the story goes, Claudia takes vengeance upon Lestat, breaking one of the everlasting laws among vampires—vampire shall not kill vampire. As opposed to physical strength, she uses stealth and cunning to do it. Those attributes make Claudia one of the most feared fictional characters in Horror. It’s also the reason she takes one of the top spots in Women Who Wow Wednesday. She proves someone doesn’t have to bulge with muscle in order to get things done.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen Interview with a Vampire, what did you think of Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Claudia?

Maleficent

Once upon a time, there was darkness throughout the land. The light did not comprehend it nor did it exist in the midst thereof. For within that darkness lived bitterness and anger, which swallowed goodness, and brought with it fear to those who desired peace. Out of true love’s kiss came the darkness.

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent

Angelina Jolie is Maleficent

As part of this month’s tribute to women who rock Horror, included in today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday is Angelina Jolie’s timeless Maleficent.

*** May contain spoilers. Skip to the last paragraph for the summary. ***

True love’s kiss can usher a new dawn or can destroy a land.

Protector of the Moors is Maleficent, one of the greatest fairies ever to live. She swoops and soars across her domain, giving aid to those in need during a time when the light ruled the Moors.

When she was a girl, she meets Stefan, a young farm boy who wanders on the Moors to steal treasure. An embarrassing confession later, Stefan and Maleficent grow in friendship. After a time, Stefan once again steals something belonging to Maleficent, but it happens with true love’s kiss.

As the years pass and as Stefan draws closer to greed, lust and envy, Maleficent protects the land from evil invaders who want to pillage it. She confronts the human king who wants the Moors all to himself, banishes him and hails victorious over the evil tyrant. However, it does not discourage the wicked king from enacting an edict to charge any member of his court to bring back Maleficent to the castle—dead. In exchange they will receive the kingdom as a reward.

Stefan appears again to Maleficent. All the years of loneliness that had passed between them seems as yesterday to the couple, as they share a tender moment. Once Maleficent rises from a deep sleep, Stefan is gone, as are her wings. Stefan becomes king.

Maleficent's Angelina Jolie

Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie

In the wake of her loss, Maleficent falls into darkness. Her power increases, and the seed of resentment captures her heart, left empty by the betrayal of her only love, Stefan. All the fairies bow to their new queen.

Then, King Stefan has a daughter. Maleficent, being cordial, invites herself to the christening where she bestows a gift to the princess—a curse. The little girl would grow to be sixteen at which time she will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep, deep sleep, forever to remain but for true love’s kiss.

Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is Maleficent. Beyond the incredible effects that renders her the awesome power she possesses, her subtle pose, smile and glint in her eyes conveys more than volumes of exposition. And in some respects, it makes us believe the darkness is good.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What did you think of Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent?

Anderson

Her name is Anderson, and in the cold future where the world lives in a state of overpopulation, she, along with her mentor take on the city’s most powerful gang. Her mentor? Judge Dredd.

Olivia Thirlby as Dredd's Anderson

Olivia Thirlby as Dredd’s Anderson

Today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series is proud to add Dredd’s Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to the list of powerful female characters worthy of example.

In the dystopian nightmare called the future, police have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner. Sentences are swift. Judgment is permanent. Among the officers, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) emerges as the de facto force of reckoning. With him, a young woman, top in her class, the youngest potential judge the Department of Justice has ever seen, accompanies Dredd for a training day of sorts.

The ultraviolent society is their playground. The insane-riddled criminals are their toys.

They move to collect a witness residing in a city block overrun by the neighborhood’s most ruthless overlord who will stop at nothing to protect her turf. Dredd and Anderson vs. Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

It should have been easy—walk in, grab the punk, and walk out. In the midst of their assault, Judge Dredd and Anderson meet with resistance. From then on, it becomes a game of survival and escape once Ma-Ma orders a lockdown of the whole block.

The wild card? Anderson. There’s more to the young trainee than the thugs had bargained for. She doesn’t need weapons or a rulebook. She’s lethal without the help of anyone other than her ability to make her will a reality.

Olivia Thirlby

Olivia Thirlby

Although the leather-suited Anderson may sport a tough exterior, she retains a soft heart. When confronted with the inevitable decision to take her first life, under the tutelage of Judge Dredd, she has to render judgment regardless of what she feels for those facing their potential execution. Adding to the young judge’s allure is her striking beauty. Golden locks, big doe eyes, a porcelain complexion, and the build that would make any reasonable guy perform a double take.

Despite the viciousness of her later attacks, and prior to unleashing her irrevocable judgment on criminals, she attempts to find a fair and equitable solution for everyone involved. Spare a life, spare a generation. The gangsters have other ideas. The only fair and equitable solution for them is seeing Dredd and Anderson’s bodies thrown off the side of their building after a lengthy torture session.

In the end, what will matter is the quelling of the criminals and their unavoidable destiny in the hands of Judge Anderson.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What did you think of Olivia Thirlby in her role as Dredd’s trainee, Anderson?

Marie Barone

In a middle-class suburb in Long Island lives Ray Barone (Ray Romano), sportswriter, with his beautiful wife Debra, and their three wonderful children. Across the street, live his parents.

Doris Roberts as Marie Barone

Doris Roberts as Marie Barone

Women Who Wow Wednesday once featured Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton) as the assertive, do-it-all homemaker who doesn’t take lip from anyone, including kids’ activity coordinators who’ve set themselves on a pedestal waiting for her to knock them off. Strong-willed, independent, Debra wears the loving mom moniker well. She also does it all.

Ray’s mom, Marie Barone (Doris Roberts), has the best job in the family. She spoils her kids rotten, except Ray’s brother Robert (Brad Garrett), but that’s another story. Perpetually caring for Frank (Peter Boyle), her husband of forty-five years, she’s learned a couple of things along the way. For instance, toenails don’t magically crawl into the garbage, nor does dirty underwear jump into the hamper all by itself.

A typical day in the life of the Barones goes something like this:

[Frank is eating lasagna from the platter]
Marie Barone: Frank! What are you doing? You can’t eat it from there! Your fork was in there! Now nobody can eat it!
Frank Barone: That’s all I have to do? In that case, the fork’s been in the ice cream, too!
Ray Barone: [comes in] Hey.
Marie Barone: Hi, Raymond. Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat? Only you can’t have lasagna… Or ice cream.
Frank Barone: [sticks his fork in cake] Or chocolate cake.
Marie Barone: Look at him! He’s like an animal, marking his territory!
[Frank sticks Marie with the fork]
Marie Barone: Hey!
Frank Barone: What? That’s a compliment.
Ray Barone: God, how I wish I could say this is the wrong house…

Marie Barone

Marie Barone

Her “Are you hungry?” line defines Marie as the selfless mom who is always willing to go out of her way to make life comfortable for Ray. Her relationship with Debra is a different matter. To Marie, Debra’s never been good enough for her son. In that respect, she has said less than flattering things about Debra’s cooking “Did another dinner get away from you, dear?” However, make no mistake; Marie loves Debra like her own daughter:

Marie Barone: I bought tickets for the whole family to go to Italy!
Debra Barone: Me too?
Marie Barone: Of course, dear. You’re family.
[Debra jumps with joy]
Robert Barone: Me too?

What makes Marie is not her intrusive, critical, overbearing attitude, although some may find that off-putting, but it is her unapologetic nature when defending her family. This is what makes her a formidable opponent, should anyone dare attack The Barones:

“I wanna tell ya something, there is nothing wrong with this family. We’re very close, we’re very open, we’re very loving, ‘cause I make sure of it.” ~Marie Barone

And it’s true. She may seem like someone you may not want to be with for long periods, but she certainly knows how to show her love. “Are you hungry, dear?”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you seen Everybody Loves Raymond? What do you think of Marie Barone?

Clara Murphy

Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is the cop who had it all, a loving wife, a beautiful son, and a job, even though dangerous, he enjoyed doing. When multiple injuries in the line of duty nearly kill him, science comes to the rescue. Rebuilt from scratch, he becomes a criminal’s worst nightmare. As cliché as that sounds, his life becomes worth living again as an organic robot bent on destroying crime without pity.

Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy

Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Clara Murphy (Abbie Cornish), RoboCop’s wife who stands by her man during his darkest days.

This 2014 film, a remake of the 1987 hit RoboCop featuring Peter Weller as crime’s mechanical nemesis, contrasts the original by delving into Alex’s relationship with his wife who ultimately makes the man inside the armor better. A better man. A better husband. A better cop.

Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish

Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish

After his injuries, all Alex has on his mind is the thought of his wife, and if she’d accept him for the new man he has become. Clara doesn’t have to think about it, he will always be her husband. Her willingness to overlook his appearance and go beyond the shell makes her responsible for Alex’s future actions as a powerful crime fighter.

Beyond being Alex’s wife, she’s also her son David’s inspiration, leading him to accept his father’s new life. Through her constant vigilance of David’s welfare, she manages to protect and guide the boy without her father’s presence in his life, always reminding that his father loves him, no matter what.

Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman

Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman

Clara’s role doesn’t end there. Her bravery surpasses all expectations when she stands in the middle of a street, stopping RoboCop’s motorcycle as it screams toward her. For months, she hadn’t had contact with her husband and she wanted to know where he had been hiding. The man in charge, Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman), kept Alex from her, but she couldn’t deal not having access to him. When she stands in the middle of traffic with her hand out, she does it knowing she could lose her life in the process.

The hardest thing Clara has to endure is not knowing. Not knowing what happens to her husband in the care of Dr. Norton. Not knowing if she’ll ever see him again. And not knowing if Alex would be the same person as he once was when they first met.

Clara’s strength comes from inside. Where others would have given up on their spouses, she stayed with him through it all without ever wafting from her center.

If there ever was a character with the resilience to fight back, Clara Murphy is that character.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think of the movie RoboCop? How does it compare to the older version?

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