Interview With Horror Journalist Extraordinaire, Anya Stanley

Anya Stanley is a horror journalist wunderkind of sorts. In a short amount of time, she’s made her mark in almost every major horror publication. She’s even been featured within the exquisite pages of the newly resurrected Fangoria. I had the very great pleasure of speaking to her about writing, family, and the mysterious Druid magic of Halloween 6.

PopHorror: First of all, hello and thanks so much for setting aside the time to talk to us! I found you when I stumbled upon one of your brilliant articles about the comparison between the two older Laurie Strodes depicted in Halloween H2O (1998) and the recent Halloween (2018). I thought it was an incredibly interesting and uncharted angle to take on a series that has multiple timelines.

Anya Stanley: Oh yes, I think that was in Collider. That article just came from me being a giant nerd and watching the Halloween films way, way too much.

PopHorror: How did you get started in film and horror journalism?

Anya Stanley: It really began in 2016. I was freshly divorced and a mother of two. I was really just trying to find my way at that point. While looking for day jobs, I got froggy and decided I was gonna do what I always wanted to do, which was write. I also hoped maybe I could pay some bills while doing it. I didn’t think it would become as big a part of my life as it is now. I had no clips or film school degree, but I sent some pitches anyway to a couple of horror blogs. was one. It isn’t around anymore. And Daily Grindhouse, which is still around.

Miraculously, both editors gave me a chance. I think my first piece was for Daily Grindhouse, and it was about Lovecraftian elements in Godzilla. It was a really weird little niche article, but people seemed to like it, and that led to writing for more publications. I also took to Twitter and started rambling about horror there, and that led to getting on the radar of editors for other sites. Now, four years later, writing and audio transcription make up the bulk of my income. I’m also writing a book about cult cinema. I did not think I would be where I was today, but I’m certainly glad I took a chance.

PopHorror: Social media plays a huge part in horror journalism. How do you feel about how accessible it’s made some legendary people in the industry.

Anya Stanley: As someone who didn’t and doesn’t like social media, I’m on it a lot. My job requires me to be online all the time. Most of the writing gigs I get are through Twitter directly. I’ve never gotten a writing job from LinkedIn, not one. I’ve never gotten a job through Facebook. I’ve met a few editors through Instagram, but not jobs. The bulk of my writing opportunities comes from me rambling about random movies on Twitter, and an editor will show up in my messages saying, “Hey, maybe you should pitch about that.” Then suddenly I do, and I’m getting paid to write about it.

Also, like you said, social media has afforded me opportunities to meet extraordinary people and go to film festivals. I’ve totally fallen for the film festival hype. I think the first one I went to was Fantastic Fest in 2017. I’m still a baby when it comes to the film festival circuit. I’ve been to four so far. I try to do more, but being a single parent, sometimes it’s difficult to get it all together.

Anya Stanley
Anya Stanley

PopHorror: I think your writing is on a whole other level. Your perspective and the dissection of key structure elements is very unique. The rape/revenge subgenre is a hot button that either screams female empowerment or is one of the last hold outs for chauvinism. It all depends on whose interpreting it. You’ve handled the articles you’ve written about it in precise and objective manner.

Anya Stanley: When I write about them, it’s almost like a teenage rebellion thing. Whether it’s Ms. 45 or I Spit on Your Grave, I feel like I’m not supposed to like them because I’m a woman. I like writing about these films and unpacking them to reveal something that might resonate with women, or reveal a positive message whether the filmmaker intended it or not. It’s my way of giving the middle finger to anyone that says I can’t like them.

PopHorror: I recently watched Revenge, and then read an article that you wrote that proposes the Nice Girl rule for rape/revenge films. It was a great read that meticulously deconstructed a known trope down to Final Girl-specific rules and conditions.

Anya Stanley: The Nice Girl archetype is the foundation of the notion that, in some way, the woman asked for the violence and/or sexual assault that she endures. That violation occurs when she puts her body on display or suggestively dances, giving the slightest air of promiscuity. Jen in Revenge is having an affair with a married man. That alone violates any perceived protection or immunity to any unwanted advances from the men around her. It essentially dooms her from the beginning. The curious thing about abiding by the Nice Girl rule is that compliance is always in jeopardy. The least little thing a woman does that could be perceived as suggestive voids that Final Girl-ish safety.

PopHorror: What do you think the future of rape/revenge films are? Are they still viable or even appropriate?

Anya Stanley: They’ll always be the black sheep of cult cinema. It’s the taboo of each generation. Years ago, it may have been castration as an act of revenge. Today, it may be an unflinching depiction of rape like in Irreversible. There’s another film called Holiday. It’s rape scene impacted me so much, I couldn’t even write a review about it. It wasn’t because it was a bad film. It was very well made. I just couldn’t separate myself enough from it to write an unbiased review. I still would recommend the movie.

Anya Stanley
Anya Stanley

PopHorror: The Nice Girl article was nicely peppered with references from other written works, which leads me to the question: do you do a lot of research or is it mostly from the hip and primarily opinion?

Anya Stanley: It’s always a little bit of both. It always starts out as freeform. When I pitch an article, I want to make sure that I can have at least 1,200 words on the subject. From there is where the research comes in. I’ll re-watch films. I’ll fill in some blanks about the subgenre that I don’t know much about. I check books out from the library. I now have a very extensive library of horror reference books thanks to very thoughtful people on Twitter. Oddly enough, the openers, the leads, and the closing remarks don’t always have anything to do with horror. It could be another element of pop culture, like a song lyric that might be appropriate. So, the short answer would be it’s both rambling and research.

PopHorror: Every horror journalist struggles a little more writing about a particular type of film more than usual. What’s yours?

Anya Stanley: It has to be dystopian sci-fi horror because all the metaphors are clear. Like The Hunger Games, for instance. It’s really hard to elaborate on something that doesn’t have a lot of room for personal interpretation. I like trying to interpret the subtext about what the filmmakers were thinking about when they made the film. Dystopian film metaphors are so on the nose sometimes that it’s difficult to bring anything new to the table. I love those types of films. It’s mainly my problem of feeling like I haven’t added enough of a slant to the article that I should’ve.

PopHorror: I try to tread carefully when discussing politics in horror. It can be a very slippery slope and an exercise in futility, depending on who’s listening. Then again, horror has always reflected the climate of the time. What are your thoughts on politics in horror?

Anya Stanley: When the new Black Christmas came out, Joe Bob Briggs tweeted something to the effect that he hearkened to the day when horror didn’t put its politics front and center, and Twitter got so mad at him! I remember defending his statement to a degree in that there were still politics in the old films. You just might have to pull them from the film. You had engage with it and interpret it, and it wasn’t spoon fed to you. Some films today do just that.

I haven’t seen the new Black Christmas yet, so I can’t comment. I do think that he was right to a degree. Some filmmakers think that all subtlety is too subtle, and they prefer a more hard hitting message. I like both. I think They Live is pretty hard hitting. By comparison, I like films that are subtle about it. Like the things that rape/revenge films have to say about how women invite rape, and why they just can’t let it go. Either way, horror films are a product of the political climate of their time, and it’s always interesting to re-visit them later to see what resonates and what doesn’t, and what can be interpreted today and what can’t.

PopHorror: You are an ardent supporter of Halloween 6 and the Cult of Thorn plot line.

Anya Stanley: It’s so good! It’s getting a second look. I’d like to think it’s because of my ramblings on social media, but maybe not. I think that people are staring to look back more fondly on the horror of the ’90s and the early 2000s. I think Halloween 6 made a bold choice. They could’ve done the same old thing, but they took a chance. They still kept the classic formula of Michael Myers killing teenagers, but I really liked the cult angle. I wish the producer’s cut was more looked at, and that they had gone with that with the future installments. Instead, we got Resurrection and Busta Rhymes, and then H2O, which I liked. The new one just ret-conned all of it, and I’m satisfied. I loved it. I think the cult angle is so good. For the record, I love the plotline where something sinister is happening, and there’s a conspiracy and everyone is on it. Or when something isn’t right, and you just can’t put your finger on it. That’s my jam. It may be due to my own anxiety! One of my favorite films of all time is Rosemary’s Baby for that very reason.

Pumpkin Queen Anya Stanley
Pumpkin Queen Anya Stanley

PopHorror: One last question: You’ve written articles for the new print Fangoria. In the age of online publications, is it a different feeling to see your work in the physical media of print?

Anya Stanley: To me, it is more invigorating to see my name in print, but I’m happy to see my byline anywhere! My dad is very much a physical print-type person. The only time I can feel like I can brag about something I’ve done to him is when I can actually open up an issue of Fangoria, a magazine he knows, and say, “Look Dad, there’s my name!”

He’s proud of me regardless, but it seems more real to him in print. It is also nice to see it on my shelf and know there’s something in there that I wrote. I think we all got overwhelmed in the age of horror blogs and print, in some ways, print has gotten antiquated to next level. I still read a ton of horror blogs anyway. I read PopHorror!

PopHorror: Thank you so much on all counts! Very honored to speak with you.

Anya Stanley has written for Daily Grindhouse, Collider, Dread Central, Blumhouse, Birth Movies Death, Rue Morgue and Fangoria just to name a few. She can be found at, and on Twitter @BookishPlinko.

About Kevin Scott

Parents who were not film savvy and completely unprepared for choosing child appropriate viewing material were the catalyst that fueled my lifelong love affair with horror, exploitation, blaxploitation, low budget action, and pretty much anything that had to be turned off when my grandparents visited. I turned out okay for the most part, so how bad could all these films actually be?

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