Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
LITTLE ROCK — February marks the ninth anniversary, and the beginning of year 10 for Women in Horror Month. The purpose of WiHM is to salute the fantastic contributions of women in all realms of horror whose work still finds itself marginalized. Such an example of belittlement happened all too recently when Blumhouse's CEO, founder and producer Jason Blum made the following statement last October.
"There are not a lot of female directors period," Blum said. "And even less who are inclined to do horror."
It is hard to believe such an attitude still exists, but unfortunately a bias toward female artisans of scary movies still haunts modern times. Surely, enough is enough. WiHM is well-known for its tireless efforts spotlighting women in horror, and this 28-day celebration will focus on film and television. As such, each day this month will celebrate a different woman whose contributions have left an irrevocable mark on the horror genre.
She is the mother of macabre movie hosts and the Glamour Ghoul.
Finnish-born Maila Elizabeth Syrjaniemi was raised in Oregon and is known better to genre fans as Maila Nurmi, or as the television horror host Vampira. Originally discovered by Howard Hawks himself, Nurmi was being groomed to become the Silver Screen's next Lauren Bacall. Unhappy with the way her career was progressing, Nurmi walked away from her Hollywood contract.
For a masquerade contest, Nurmi came up with a costume derivative of the nameless matriarch appearing in the The New Yorker cartoons (1938 - 1988) by Charles Addams. Addams' inventive mother later became Morticia with the advent of the television series known as "The Addams Family"(1964-1966), and Nurmi transformed professionally into Vampira.
Nurmi's dark guise caught the attention of Channel 7 KABC-TV in Los Angeles where she was hired in 1954 to host late-night horror films. Nurmi's countess character was a success, and the actress was even nominated for an Emmy (Most Outstanding Female Personality).
Sadly, Nurmi and KABC producer Hunt Stromburg battled over the rights to the character of Vampira. Nurmi refused to give up the rights to her character and as a result left Channel 7. Rival television station KHJ-TV Channel 9 gladly offered Nurmi a new platform in the form of their series "Vampira Returns" (1956).
"The Vampira Show" (1954-1955) may have only lasted one season, and 50 episodes, but its impact along with the subsequent "Vampira Returns"were far more reaching. In effect, Nurmi became the very first horror movie host which led to generations of scary cinema curators including John Zacherle, Elvira the Mistress of the Dark, Svengoolie and Joe Bob Briggs among scores of others.
Nurmi even appeared in Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space"(1959) which is often referred to as the worst movie ever made, just ask Jerry Seinfeld. But the acting opportunity afforded Nurmi the opportunity to meet and work with legendary movie icon Bela Lugosi.