Terror Trax: Sarah Black of Valentine Wolfe

Valentine Wolfe is an accomplished and talented band. The self-described Victorian Chamber Metal Duo, consisting of Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew, resides in Greenville, South Carolina. They are married, have been making music since 2006, and have accomplished much during the past eleven years. Valentine Wolfe has produced albums, played conventions, and scored Shakespeare plays. They were HorrorAddicts.net’s Official Theme Band for seasons 10-12 and won Season 11’s Best Band contest. This honor was awarded during the finale of Season 12.

Recently, I discussed the award and various points of interest with Sarah Black. She is a gracious lady and provided many insights into the world of Valentine Wolfe.

NTK: Hello, Sarah! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

SB: Sure thing!

NTK: Valentine Wolfe was the winner of Best Band for Season 11. How do you feel about this award?

SB: I am very excited and honored by it.

NTK: Did you and your husband expect this win?

SB: I did not expect it at all! But, we do both love horror. I love reading horror fiction, and I love horror movies, and my favorite TV show is Hannibal. So, maybe, this love of horror comes through in some of our music.

NTK: What kind of horror fiction influences you? Do you have a favorite author?

SB: Right now, I am really liking Neal Stephenson, although he may not be considered horror. I also really like Stephen King. I also really love Mary Shelley and I am looking forward to reading Frankenstein again soon.

NTK: Which of King’s book or stories is your favorite?

SB: I really enjoyed Salem’s Lot and also, Mr. Mercedes.

NTK: Did you enjoy the film adaptations of his books? What horror movies are your favorites?

SB: I have not seen any film adaptations of his movies but I am excited to try some. I do love the Frankenstein movies! I also love Crimson Peak. That one has great music and great costumes, and it just looks so good.

NTK: Do those films inspire your music when you compose?

SB: Absolutely! And, since next year will be the 20th Anniversary of Frankenstein, we are going to try to do something with it. We’ve done programs at schools in the past for our Edgar Allan Poe music and had great success with that, so for this year, I think we’ll try to work up a program about Mary Shelley.

Sterling School, in Greenville, has been super receptive to us coming out and playing our Poe songs for the kids during the month of October, when they study him. So, we want to have some meetings with the teachers and coordinate something about Mary Shelley.

NTK: Will you make a new album in the vein of Once Upon a Midnight, your Poe-themed CD?

SB: We want to meet with the teachers first and let them help guide the focus of the project to see what will be the best fit. But, yes, we probably will have an album similar to Once Upon a Midnight.

NTK: Do the kids show a lot of interest in your programs? Do you get a lot of questions after your performances for them?

SB: Yes! The kids love it! They are encouraged to sit still and be very polite but then Braxton will tell them that since we are playing Metal that they can get a little crazy. It’s so cute to watch!

The teachers have tried to keep the question and answer section after our performance more related to Poe questions but the kids are interested in us as musicians as well. It is so nice for us to show kids that making their own stories and playing music that they like is a viable lifestyle choice.

We performed for Sterling School’s month of “Poetober” in previous years. The school wanted to have their own little convention and we played at that as well. The kids all did their own panels and it was pretty impressive.

NTK: Speaking of conventions, have you played any lately?

SB: The last one we played was the Atlanta Steampunk Expo. It just started up this year. We had such a great time there. We performed a live and improvised score of the film Nosferatu. The next one will be Marscon.

NTK: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’d like to score a silent film. How was the scoring of Nosferatu received?

SB: Everyone said they really enjoyed it! And, we were so happy to get such a great opportunity.

We scored The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari earlier this year at a convention called Monsterama and then we also did Nosferatu at the Main Library here in Greenville, SC.

NTK: How is scoring a film different from composing an original song?

SB: It is very different for me! I have been used to writing songs out and then practicing them and then performing them. Improvising live is a bit exhilarating and terrifying! I love both experiences and I hope to be able to continue to do both in the future.

NTK: Valentine Wolfe has provided the theme song for the last three seasons of HorrorAddicts.net’s podcast. How did it feel to hear your song, “Broken Pieces,” as their theme song?

SB: That was so cool! I am very excited about that!

NTK: Now that your time as the main theme song is up, will you submit a new song to the Band Contest?

SB: We just might! I love that the theme is, “This Place is Cursed.” It has inspired me to start writing a song with those lyrics and if I finish the song in time, I will certainly submit it! I don’t want to take up space that could go to a different group and I wouldn’t want anyone to get sick of us, but I do love this theme so I was inspired to get writing. We’ll see what comes out of it.

NTK: Do you have any other future projects to share with our readers?

SB: We are still in the planning stages, but hopefully we will have some kind of Mary Shelley project for next year. I’m not sure yet if it will be an EP or a full-length album yet. We did an album in 2015 called “The Ghosts of Christmas Past.” I have been super excited about the idea of playing a Haunted Dickens Christmas Show or maybe doing something similar to that. So, I would also like to get more holiday music together for next year.

NTK: Sarah, I could talk to you all day. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Good luck on your future endeavors and congratulations on your Best Band of Season 11 win.

SB: Thank you so much.


Valentine (2001)

Roses are red, violets are blue, I had loved you, but now I must kill you.  This is not something you’d want to find in a Valentine’s Day card, but several unlucky girls do in the movie Valentine.  The film tells the story of several women that in their youth spurned a young classmate.  We are treated to the event in the opening sequence of the movie and I’m sure we can all relate to the situation.  After all, who didn’t have a geek, nerd, or outcast in grade school that the class picked on and most likely tormented to the mental breaking point.

Valentine stars an almost who’s who of young Hollywood for 2001 when the film was made.  The cast is led by Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Mary Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel and Katherine Heigl.  Many of this cast has been seen in both Television and movies and I’m sure it will be easy for fans to find a cast member they have come to love.

The film moves forward from the grade school incident to our introduction to one of the girls from the gym.  We are meeting Shelley Fisher (Heigl) who is out on a date with quite an idiot of a date.  The man is so charming that Fisher, upon leaving, goes back to medical school and prepares to work on a cadaver.  Here she is startled by a fellow student and finds the first of several Valentine’s Day cards that will be seen in the film.  This card shows a woman getting stabbed in the neck which is also a case of foreshadowing as each card will show.  Fisher meets her death shortly after finding the card and if you wish to see how, watch the movie.  The death of their old classmate reaches the other friends and not long after Fisher’s funeral the other girls get their share of cards as well.

Valentine does a good job of introducing us to a traumatic event in a young man’s life that has caused him to seek revenge on those he blames for public embarrassment.  The film is an attempt at taking us back to the slasher films of the 1980’s using some modern twists.  Each of the old classmates have people in their life and some even boyfriends.

What makes Valentine a good Horror film is that not only does it pay some homage to the slasher films of the 1980’s, it uses the lessons learned from more recent Horror films.  The look and feel of the film matches that of the 1990’s films like Scream.  The film also does a good job in showing eerie elements and surprise that can keep some viewers jumping.  Then of course there is the unique inventiveness of the way in which the murders take place.  There is one such kill that comes as a complete surprise and well the poor victim got the “point”.

Valentine is one of those movies that did not meet great box office success.  However, it is worth a viewing as I for one count it as one of my guilty pleasures.  The film does such a great job in combining a good back story with more recent events that it is worth watching.  The murderer in the films use of a cherub mask to hide the identity is so fitting for the Valentine motive of the film.  Lastly the fact we are kept guessing on who the murderer is till the end of the film is also well done.  There, of course, is a twist at the ending as there is in so many films, and hopefully those who watch the film enjoy it as much as I did.