Scary movies & social change with fearless local podcasters.
Gabe and Kat are The Ghouls Next Door – their smart, weird podcast explores cultural, historic, and psychological themes in our favorite horror movies. Instead of showing gory clips, they dress up in costumes to reflect the spirit of each episode, and share chilling observations that are hard to forget. In witty companion blog posts, the Ghouls share data, links, and helpful instructions, like how to spot gaslighting or summon a succubus (see below).
From West Philly and Manayunk respectively, Gabe and Kat recently won a national award from the Alliance for Community Media, recognizing their impact as Under-served Voices of Community Radio. They’ve won numerous other accolades in the 6+ years they’ve been doing their podcast, which is shared on YouTube and also airs on public access PhillyCAM.org/106.5 FM (Fridays 10pm).
When we asked them to pick an introductory episode for the paper this October, they were delighted to revisit a 14-year-old dark comedy they reviewed in 2019 but “failed to appreciate” key elements at the time. “We have more life context now,” Kat told us, “I think we can go deeper.” There’s a lot to unpack with our Ghoulish guides…
JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)
After Jennifer, a popular girl at her high school, is possessed by a demonic entity, she’s off on a murderous rampage, feeding on her male classmates to maintain her strength and beauty. Her best friend Needy races to stop her, in a freaky gore-fest that speaks to female relationships, jealousy, sex, and power. Starring Megan Fox & Amanda Seyfried. (YouTube, Amazon, Apple, etc)
This summary is excerpted & edited from Gabe Castro’s review posted March 9, 2022 on theghoulsnextdoor.com 👈 (follow link to original blogpost)
Justice for Jennifer! I know people love this film, so I wanted to give it a rewatch to see what I have been missing. And I think I’ve found it.
So Jennifer and Needy are two sandbox best friends: Jennifer’s “the hot one” and Needy is the nerd. One night, Jennifer takes Needy out to see this super-cool underground band that’s doing a special show in their small town’s only bar. Turns out, the band is there to find a virgin to sacrifice for fame. At some point in the evening, Jennifer winds up trying to talk her way out of an assault by telling them she’s a virgin. Big mistake.
Later that night, Jennifer shows up at Needy’s house – she’s a total mess, clearly something terrible has happened. But then the next day at school, she’s back to normal and somehow even hotter than before. Needy quickly realizes this new, “improved” Jennifer is also evil. Seems the band’s demonic ritual backfired because Jennifer had been lying about being a virgin. So instead of being a sacrifice, she turns into a boy-devouring succubus.
The first time I watched this movie, its implicit queerness went right over my head. But viewed through this lens now, it’s impossible to ignore the emotional sparks and tension between Jennifer and Needy.
Could it be that Needy aches to impress and satisfy Jennifer not to be popular but because she loves her? That look on her face when she watches how Jennifer lights up the whole gym – the same look when she’s watching Jennifer enjoy the band. In each instance, Jennifer playfully acknowledges the attention: this isn’t a one-sided attraction.
For all the power and confidence Jennifer had in controlling high school boys, she’s unsure when it comes to Needy. This fraught pressure builds to an unsustainable fervor that quickly falls into mortal combat. At one point, Needy says, “I thought you only murder boys!” to which Jennifer replies, “I go both ways.” Yay, bi representation!
The ending features my favorite “girl fight” ever, with the characters trading bitchy barbs that are all too personal, and can only come from a life-long friendship. It’s both biting and charming, a satisfying conclusion with some of my all-time favorite movie lines.
Jennifer’s Body was billed as a sex romp for teenage boys, and failed at the box office when audiences discovered a queer coming-of-age film instead. In the years since, it’s found a loyal audience who feel seen. Megan Fox’s hot succubus reflects society’s demonization of sexual women, and speaks to feminine rage against shame, abuse, and exploitation.
A SUCCUBUS AMONG US:
Kat Kushin has the scoop on society’s soul-sucking seductresses!
The story of the succubus begins with the biblical Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who was formed from the same soil and proved too full of herself to obey him. She left him for Satan, and became the mother of all succubi. Lilithgallery.com recounts many vivid – even lurid – tales from ancient history, and Kat thoughtfully connects how such folklore reflects (and influences) feminist perspectives today. “There is a lot to unpack,” she writes, “surrounding the ways in which these stories were altered over time, to act as a point of influence over populations, be it to fuel societal norms, war, or genocide.”
In addition to her historical/anthropological breakdown, Kat also includes a handy guide for conjuring your own she-devil because why not?
😈 How to Summon a Succubus in 10 Easy Steps 😈
Step #1: Make a circle on the floor with a white cord (or draw with white chalk). Make sure it’s solid: even a speck of dust across the line could ruin the spell.
Step #2: Sprinkle crushed protective herbs to make an outer circle around this.
Step #3: Light 3 black candles placed at equal distances inside the circle.
Step #4: Place 3 protective talismans outside the circle, around it.
Step #5: Center yourself and relax.
Step #6: Visualize a circle of light around you.
Step #7: Lie down in the circle, face up, with your arms out straight and your legs apart to make a pentagram with your body.
Step # 8: Summon the succubus! Invite her into your circle, and feel her power.
Step #9: Allow her to coalesce into a physical form you can interact with.
Step #10: Use a banishment spell to remove her before she gets aggressive.
For best results, perform during the New Moon. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited. Do not try this at home.
🎃Happy Halloween from The Local and The Ghouls Next Door 🧟♀️🧟♀️
Questions? Comments? Leave them below or click here to send the The Ghouls a message about their unique takes on horror and pop culture.
The Ghouls Next Door is an award-winning media literacy show that seeks to educate and highlight the unique way society and culture influence the horror genre. As a media professional, Gabe provides insights into history, impact and theories in film. While Kat adds historical and psychological perspectives from her background in anthropology. Watch/Listen Fridays at 10pm: PhillyCAM.org/106.5 FM. Follow them on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify (where you can support the show for $4.99/month) 🙏