You recently started contributing reviews of horror movies to this zine. How long has the horror genre held your interest and what are some of the horror movies did you grow up with? In what ways do those movies speak to your personal tastes?
I would admit that the horror genre is first and foremost my favorite genre. I started watching horror from the earliest point in my life, first with Dark Shadows. The first actual movie I watched was Grizzly (1976) followed by Dogs (1976). I recall playing board games that had gothic or horror themes: Dark Shadows, The Green Ghost, and later on Hangman with Vincent Price on the box art. I remember early on viewing Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, or the Mummy and so on. Later to books; first, I viewed the pictures and this gave me the passion to dive and dig into the genre. I feel that it was at a Waldenbooks store (that is going far back in time) finding a magazine called Fangoria and discovering a completely new world. As I grew up with not many friends and a loner existence, the horror magazines and comics developed escapism into the world of horror. Including visiting a used bookstore and discovering Poe, Lovecraft, King and Barker helped create for a lifestyle, black clothing, and heavy metal leading to death and black metal, the love of discovering macabre items at antique stores. Then as Halloween was a year round event and passion for me, while some people have a home office I worked in a room called The Chamber. The taste speaks volumes; many consider me a Horror Historian, one who understands the roots of horror from gothic novels to the religious, social, and psychological aspects of the genre and how that influences fans and foes of the genre.
I’m not too familiar with the movies you mentioned, Grizzly and Dogs. What were those movies about and who was involved in their making? What other movies did you see around the time you saw those two?
Grizzly, basically as the tagline states, is “The most dangerous jaws on land!!!” A fifteen foot bear wakes from hibernation, isn’t too pleased, gets a taste for human flesh and goes on a feeding frenzy of killing campers, park rangers, and others. The film came from director William Girdler and starred Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel. Then Burt Brinckerhoff director of Dogs (1976) also known as Slaughter, has an environmental angle of where something in the air perhaps linked to nuclear plants causes them, various dog breeds, to attack everyone, on a college campus. These films classify into the environmental horror sub-genre with Girdler’s Day of the Animals (1977) which starred Leslie Nielsen and Christopher George. The genre vanished for a while, almost to reinvent itself to bring itself back with films like Neil Meschino’s Mold and even Contagion. One must realize these subgenre feature films track back to the black & white classic Them (1954) and even to Godzilla, with the influences of radiation on creatures, to films such as The Food Of The Gods (1976) and Kingdom Of The Spiders (1977).
I digress; it is a fantastic genre with so many subgenres to carve out for hours of discussion and viewing. After these films, and I think it was the early eighties, the TV became my best friend, as many my age were not around nor shared this passion of films and filmmaking. It was not that the horror genre was my only interest, however I kept finding myself returning to it repeatedly. I saw films like Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and the Roger Corman gothic films and of course films from Karloff, Lugosi, Lorre, Cushing, Lee, and Vincent Price, I feel I started the entry into the genre in the past, rather than in the mainstream, learning a respect for legends. After all, an individual regardless of their love of a genre must start there to understand the effects of the horror genre on the audience, whether they are speaking about it, writing, or filming. By the 1980’s I was watching late night shows, Saturday Night Dead, with hostess Stella (Karen Scioli) that ran for six years before a sudden cancellation if I recall correctly in 1990.
I recall a Saturday, unsure exactly when, likely in 1984 or later, I saw the edited versions, of Friday The 13th parts I and II and truly started the path into the gore-hounds and splatter-punks. Even now, after the cannibal and zombie films, I still long for the character development and storytelling, though a bloodbath massacre mixture of T&A always feels good too. I must state that the VHS really carried me into the genre, faster than anything else, and perhaps it was a sinister plan of corrupting my tendencies.
I remember Kingdom Of The Spiders from first hearing of it in the late 70s. I remember hearing that Godzilla before it was an allegory on the age of nuclear power. Are those movies still relevant today?
First the creature Godzilla came from 1954, and the birth of the nuclear age, from the drop of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 and then again on August 9. The movie came eleven years later, but alludes to the larger part that makes it relevant today with reference to Man’s influence on nature. As for the relevance that comes from man playing god, creating and mixing genetics form various creatures to the damage on eco systems. For example, bugs pouring out of the ground from deforestation or the Earth cracking open the ocean floor unleashing log forgotten sea beasts. The melting of ice caps rebirthing monsters; check out the vast assortment of CGI films from SyFy. However films from Frankenstein to the bio-chemical weapons (viruses) of Resident Evil, spreading wild infecting and mutilating science in general. But the horror and sci-fi genres crossing into each other makes for fantastic aspects for fans to enjoy.
How many issues of Fangoria did you collect after you began reading it? What were some of your favorite interviews?
The first issue of Fangoria, I believe was issue #80, since then I have collected likely two hundred issues, and have returned to buy earlier editions. In addition, I must note that I have also collected and purchased issues of GoreZone (US), Toxic Horror (a short lived magazine) as well as Slaughterhouse, Shivers, Scarlet Street, Scary Monsters, and that has continue to now with HorrorHound, and many others. Ah, the favorite interviews, so many to narrow it down, but in issue #80, the final interview of Duane Jones, of Night Of The Living Dead (1968), who passed away in 1988 and issue #328 with Roger Corman. I must admit the worst I believe is issue #114 with the Penguin (of Batman Returns) images on the cover – WHY!
How informative did you find the interview with Duane Jones in issue #80 of Fangoria? Are there interviews you find equally informative in issues of the other magazines you are collecting?
At the time of when I first read that issue, the information overwhelmed and made want to view Night of the Living Dead again and again, prompting to view liking over 100 times in life, but at that moment I was tops 15… likely younger, and read to learn more about a genre where bizarre storylines found normalcy. The entire point of the interview is to learn more about the person or subject that not revealed earlier, the issues of all of them lead off with a general question and then goes into the subject material. I as a horror journalist, have read numerous interviews and my style which conveys in my articles, reviews and interviews with the in depth understanding and dissecting to the point of decapitation of the genre turning the material inside out for fans.
What about the Friday The 13th movies interested you in the splatter genre? Did you see the first two Halloween movies, the series that pioneered splatter cinema in the US, around the same time?
The term splatter genre blurs the lines with slasher. Many would state Sir Alfred J. Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Peeping Tom are the pioneers of the slasher genre. The Friday the 13th movies, I found first, and then Halloween (1978), likely that at time with TV only as a source. Fridays were the staple day for those while Halloween centered in on October. Now, in my opinion FT13 (for short) and Halloween are in the slasher genre, and only FT13 leans to splatter with a vast array of weapons. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) predates Halloween, and that film combines both genres, yet still avoids all the splatter, with implied shots, and cutaways, similar to the drama Scarface. If you recall Brian de Palma (a student of Hitchcock’s techniques), in his chainsaw scene in the bathroom, everything is implied, but not shown; our minds and the sounds create the images of the disgust occurring, with tension added into the mix. I am a huge Hitchcock fan, and constantly viewing the “Master Of Suspense” films, learning the dramatic elements, which incorporate humor, romance, action, and horror. Which is what a horror movie typically contains, the tension (suspense) broken with a comedic character or line, to lull the audience back into their chair before unleashing terror unto them again, the action forms itself as the chases to get from the killer (or monster), the romance both in the form of T&A and rescuing another. As I am often quoting “Horror is Everything, Everything is Horror”. As for the splatter, which in today’s horror genre comes as ‘Torture Porn’ starting in about 2000, each film needs to, out-do the previous creation. I use this statement “The Extreme Has A Lasting Impression” requiring more outrageous motivating stories. Though today the subgenres tend to lean to human psychopath killers (with a foot into splatter and the other in slasher), found footage, paranormal, and zombies galore with a hint to comedy in some form for each of the genres.
What do you generally think of the cannibal and zombie genres? I was likewise a fan of those in the 80s and saw the messages Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) and the original Day Of The Dead were presenting about society and human nature.
The genre really has developed in some great ways, while overlooking many rotting corpses of films that just leave one shaking heads, as a reviewer, author, and screenwriter; I tend to enjoy the horror aspects of this genre that give more of the societal and human nature exploration and exploitation. The cannibal films have slipped off the path, from the 70s, the topic normally now combines with serial killers or occult films, though primarily the psycho killers.
Zombie films hold the ranking domination, in most of them, the defenses, weapons (blunt and guns), security, scientists fighting the cause for the cure giving various angles, storylines to create panic, fantasy filled scenarios to exploit everyone’s fear of dying. The genre of zombie movies extends now to doomsday preppers, gun enthusiasts, mud-runs, zombie homes and cars, it all is extreme, yet that brings even more passion to the genre, and in a way creates a new legion of horror fans.
If one recalls White Zombie (1932), mixed voodoo (religious tones) and the more recent film from Wes Craven The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) that tends to become lost in today’s films, the gore and gut-munching become the focus. The religious and morals have found themselves muddle, the killing of a zombie children, less impact then the first time shown, does that mean society’s shock is deaden, the survival instincts overcome sympathy – a word that tends to finds itself as weak minded. The religious aspects, make one wonder about the soul, does exists, does god, these topics generally overlooked or avoid not to offend viewers, but the genre calls and begs for offensives. My favorite zombie movie is Zombie (1980), which has it all exposure gore, and great angles, tensions, just a wonderful gore-hound film. Though I recalled when I saw a special engagement of Cannibal Holocaust, from Exhumed Films, at a Pitman theater, the fans remain happy and sharing loves of horror while police officers stood off in the background trying to understand, hordes of friendly people wearing t-shirts of horror movies. That night had a special meaning, acceptance of my passion for horror and able to share my views with others and not receive a negative look or scolding that it this genre instills devil worship or violence.
As a side, the zombie genre contains a crossover within itself, vampires… creatures of the night (and sometimes day) rise from the grave and stalk their victims, the corpses of zombies, rise from the grave and attack constantly.
What are some of your most memorable tales by the authors you cited, and what spoke to you about them?
Poe’s work spoke volumes of storytelling, the essence of character and visual development. The styles of Lovecraft gave way to understanding that another world could exist, on another plane so believable and filled of wonderment. King and Barker introduced me to complexities and twisted social conflicts, and instilling the understanding that monsters really do exist – in men, women, and children. To choose one tale out of them all would be impossible, though to choose of each comes easier. Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, Lovecraft is very difficult to choose from; so many find The Call Of Cthulhu to be the reference, however I feel The Rats In The Walls as a better choice. King’s story Carrie is near the top for me, that later led me to the movie too. I think many people wish they had Carrie’s power, and could exact revenge on their peers. As for Clive Barker, his story The Hellbound Heart became a favorite for me after watching the film Hellraiser. There are many in the literary world I enjoy, Rice, Brite, Bradbury, an endless list of talent.
Do you remember the weekly cable feature Up All Night with Rhonda Shear in the late eighties and the weekly WPIX program Chiller in the sixties and seventies? If so, how much did those inspire your love of horror movies?
I do recall Up All Night, barely. The films I think were mostly b-movies and that was fine, as I was just a novice to the genre, and yet it still compelled me to discover more. However, I say if it inspires my love of horror movies, I am unsure, I feel the genre itself just captured my passion. I would root for the killer in the film, and perhaps on a Freudian level I thought of exorcising the demons of bullying and loneliness in my childhood, while completely understanding it was fantasy. The dream world of movies and the creation of them express the desire within myself to explore this genre, and embrace it fully, watching, reading, collecting it 97% of the time.
Are there any movies you remember watching aired on Chiller? One that stands out to me was Queen Of Blood, about an alien vampires who launches an invasion of Earth.
I enjoy Chiller now for the throwback Thursdays where they show films from the 70s, 80s, 90s, really a wonderful aspect that they choose, for the horror fans, of recent memory Re-Animator, Stitches, and Peeping Tom from director Michael Powell. There are films I wish they have but for community standards and limitations I know they cannot broadcast those films such as The Wicker Man, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit on Your Grave (1978) or my favorite living dead film Zombie. I can’t be more accurate as I watch on average 15 to 20 Horror Films, categorizing them in my personal database learning the uniqueness of the films, and deciding to review them, and when to do them.
Are there other similarities between zombies and vampires you have noticed from the movies you have seen?
From the standpoint of movies there are not much other similarities, except to state that they are both creatures, and while in certain movies of vampires a cure to reverse their nature arises similarly in zombies films, only to come crashing down, often occurs. Perhaps it is a reference to Man’s nature to discover and act as God as a creator, to learn that the creation is a monster in another manner. If takes the topic from a literary standpoint or even a historical aspect then we venture into religious and folklore paradigm that becomes even more wondrous and has jumped into films.
Going back to movies about man tampering with nature, the Toxic Avenger film series that started in the eighties and continued to this day are more of a modern allegory of the nuclear age and its effects on society. Do you find them relevant?
I think everyone in the horror realm has taken in a Troma film. Discovering the insanity of Lloyd Kaufman and the series has continued. The movie is similar to Class Of Nuke ‘Em High, and they have a link to the nuclear age effects on society, indirectly. As man is likely the murderer of his own species, creating methods and devices with great destructive forces, and that has connections to sociology and theology, two areas filled with great horror films. As many individuals in daily life see themselves as personal creators, vying for sheer dominance over others. The science angle in horror exists recalling from Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll to Re-Animator and then Toxic Avenger: the taking a sinister path over all. The common theme in horror is that a pathogen invades the host and causes harm to them, altering their natural state and bringing forth murderous rage, disastrous consequences, and a downfall of society. This is what I love about the genre, the ability to apply little pieces of real life and explore avenues within the horror genre. The Toxic Avenger series allows the comedy to take the film to take an action hero status, while leaving a light-hearted gross out in place, enjoyable to splatter-punks and gore-hounds alike. Of course, though, a solid slasher film, with a serial killer always works as thinning out the herd in society and has a lasting position in the scope of the horror genre, although to suggest a chemical effect from nuclear age induces them to kill, becomes quite a stretch even in horror films.
Is making The Toxic Avenger an action hero of sorts a way of taking the ideas expressed in Frankenstein to the next level? Does this make the idea that creation is a monster of another kind become clearer?
Maybe to extend, however The Toxic Avenger is man of many combinations, a bullied kid, and then through tragedy becomes the avenger and then into a super hero, the concepts of Frankenstein, is man’s illusion to be a God, if one takes the standpoint that God or forces create life. In creation I would say that many become monsters, take a Virus, it develops sometimes in nature and other times in a lab, use to combat another disease, or to be a weapon. Now in the horror genre, we have seen many times the virus angle and even to the extent of mold as a monster, and then with Frankenstein, a great parallel in horror, the monster never truly accept, aside from Young Frankenstein (1974). He’s bullied, intimidate, his creator, instills that notion by pain, a fate that he transitions through, similar to The Toxic Avenger, but the in the end Toxic has acceptance, the same cannot be said for The Monster.
How did the revenge themes of Cannibal Holocaust and I Spit On Your Grave resonate with you as a reviewer?
First, I have yet to review the films, I will be doing that in 2015 in extensive reviews, but from the viewpoint as a horror fan and then as a Horror Historian, in both films the actions the victims to me resonates in the eye for an eye mentality. The film Cannibal Holocaust (1980), the film crew first acts in a cocky manner, with no respect for the hidden away tribes, those that seek no contact with the modern world, the understanding of it is both alarmingly scary and downright mistrusting, our own past proves that clearly and often, broken treaties and laws. This documentary crew then views barbaric acts and lacks the deeper understanding of the actions and takes on numbing exploitation mannerism, of rape and that is translating to three groupings, rape of the woman, rape of the culture and a reinforcement of superiority to those believe to beneath them. This last manner, finds itself repeated in many films, from the horror genre and spreading to all other genres, and extending too many subtexts in films.
I Spit On Your Grave (1978) ultimate revenge theme, a woman, independent of her own self, sexuality and work ethic, taken advantage thereof, brutalized repeatedly, in many manners, including humiliations and forcible sodomy. The actions of a group of four low-grade individuals, in the rural country yet scenic landscape and never stopping taking her as a prize, to fulfill carnal lusts, as portrayed as animals, similar to Deliverance (1972). Her own brave (Camille Keaton as Jennifer) mentality she becomes the warrior, using her sexuality as an invitation to lead them into her web of violence, and seeking ghastly measures against them. This movie, finds itself swirling in vast criticism for the film, dividing both film critics who played the significance of horror films and the fans themselves. One must note that in the film the woman is cited as the cause of the violence, when the men were victims due to own sexuality, which nothing can be further from the truth, and thinking of this tends to reach absurd levels. However, recently in society, politicians and certain universities tend to blame the woman for causing the incidents. This nature of rape been used in many films, and television dramas, the causes resulting in vast array of implied conclusions. Society finds itself in many different dilemmas when discussing the film.
The revenge films often found themselves diving into more exploitation concepts and avenues and in some cases running more away from the revenge genre. Blue Ruin (2013) from director Jeremy Saulnier recently showed and wisely the return to the genre with a wonderful crafted film that avoids the exploitation of female body and remains of the point for the character driven storytelling.
As for feeling for these films and the revenge genre, a solid contribution to the horror genre, in fiction only, to exact a price for wrongdoing dates back to biblical times, and even to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice for the pound of flesh. The actions of the characters wronged relied on the believability of their actions to those individuals, and conveyed to the audience, the psychotic rage, no time for courts and dismissive claims from defense attorneys or pleas of mercy while theirs went unheard. The revengeful actions of the characters from parents to children translating through seventies, with such films as in The Last House on the Left (1972) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977) both from horror genre legend Wes Craven.
What are some of the episodes of The Twilight Zone that you remember most clearly? Perchance To Dream is one that sticks in my memory for its unearthly nightmare imagery and almost existential point of view. How did Rod Serling come across as the regular host of that program?
Narrowing it down is a tad difficult, but not in certain order I would start with “To Serve Man” the plot of the alien race promising peace and sharing technologies and only delivering an advance menu of other interests, similar to the V – the series of the 80s. Then “Time Enough at Last” with the ramifications of isolationism and a post-apocalyptic, minus zombies and mutant civilization devoid of civil actions and social skills, rather the cruel fate of oneself alone with the only thing they actually crave. The vanity obsessed world that many strive, sacrifice, and in some cases died to have in the beauty, such is the twisted “Eye of the Beholder”, I really enjoy Serling’s monologue, and the creative storytelling.
I felt Rod hosting qualities really penetrating the fourth wall, and led one to a questioning of society from civil matters to religious consequence, and probing for self-awareness discovering while maintaining a blurring of normalcy to uniqueness never straying to absurd levels.
How much cultural significance do you believe The X-Files has had in the realm of science fiction and the world of TV programming, as far as raising questions about the existence of extraterrestrials and whatnot?
The X-Files, in the beginning, really gave many quality shows from government conspiracies and existence of aliens, and alluding to the point, that if the powers that hold the answers gave into public demand, anarchy would definitely occur, from price gouging to questioning religious leaders and worse actions. Some of the elements occurred in the series from cults, to cockroaches attacking, crossbreeding of genetics, and then returning to serial killers with power mind altering skills i.e. reference to Firestarter (1984). Then including many folk and urban legends, witchcraft, Satanism, and lingering to discoveries of ancient creatures, all bringing a wonderful advancement to the genre. Many networks cable and regular, likely would not have permitted these creative avenues to advance themselves further and hence slowing perhaps the genre of science fiction, which has, does, and continues to cross over into the horror genre.
I have gathered some reviews about how the first Godzilla movies were a reflection of the nuclear age post-World War II. The monster is said to reflect the effects of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Do you have any views on this subject?
As I stated previously, I held the belief that that the Godzilla movies were based from the nuclear age, as was the film Them! (1954), the scientific reference of fallout and post-WW II break themselves down for to convince of the storytelling and to audience. This played out many times and with great success, such as with It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), with the premise of radiation from H-Bomb (early form of the nuclear bombs) testing. This concept advance to mutants in The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and then into the containments in water supplies for the Wrong Turn series and recently advancing to Chernobyl Diaries (2012).
When reviewing Zombie, how did you view any reflection that movie could have had on man's tendency to play god with nature? Did you see the same in other films of the genre such as Romero's Living Dead series?
Lucio Fulci’s Zombie had no reflection on man’s tendency to play god, directly, rather man, in this case doctors of good nature battling a plague. There seemed two camps opened in the zombie sub-genre, in the first that the dead rise up due to a virus from nature, similar to that of small pox or the Black Death, which those diseases wiped out huge swaths of the populations. Zombie has the plot of Tropical Island and a ship of supposedly uninfected personnel escape only to result in fate that the vessel wanders into New York City, assisted by Mother Nature’s wind, a virus created Zombie. The movie has some of the most gruesome killings, and gut munching for the time, and perhaps one-of-the-tension filled moments of eye gouging, making it one of my favorites. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – George A. Romero, again plays on the hinted suggestion that a satellite returning to earth, contains an advance radiation mixes with Earth’s natural chemicals and causes the plague of the dead, a scenario that played out once in a MacGyver episode “Kill Zone” except without the zombies only replaced with rapid advancing aging. Then one must include Last Man on Earth (1964) starring the legendary Vincent Price, about a plague sweeping the globe and killing everyone, and giving a rising force to the dead.
The second the virus comes from biological-weaponries divisions of the pharmaceutical and military that leads to even more sub-genres such as most commonly in Germany WW II soldier raising from the grave, i.e. Dead Walkers (2013) and Zombie Isle (2014). These films have manmade viruses directly pitting man into becoming his own God, such as in Resident Evil (2002) in which the infamous Umbrella corporation developed the virus. I refer to only the movie I have never played the video game version. This also recently showed itself in the television series Z-Nation as a doctor, creating the virus for his own profit at the risk of millions. Finally the film 28 Days Later, though in that film the animal right activists actually release the plague on the world, than the doctors, however without their chemicals nothing would have occurred.
Were there similarities between Frankenstein and Re-Animator that you noticed from watching the latter?
The similarities I noticed, extend from the author’s influence, Mary Shelley’s gothic tale of Frankenstein, references numerous unholy and unclean experimentations involving nature itself, even in the rudimentary time of then, to creation of life, equaling God. Next, as for the movie, noting the censor boards of then (differ from MPAA of now), evil must lose, and goodness to prevail, and that occurs with Dr. Frankenstein woefully feeling remorse and submission to the Lord and learn the lessons of limitations of medicine in the realm of spiritual heavens – or does he? However in later Frankenstein films the good doctor never learns from his errors and goes on to recreate them almost similar to that in Jurassic Park, where in a doctor stumbles into creating his park of monsters. Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) echoes a loneliness in all manners, and hence the characters driven the story into avenues for the audience. As for Re-Animator, first the gore galore, splatters itself in every direction possible and Lovecraft’s tale suggests a murder and the movie hints perhaps suicide, and Dr. West (Jeffrey Combs) spirals convincingly into madness, intentionally causing problems and issues to break into a new dimension of discoveries. The animalistic and almost brutal carnality involving Megan (Barbara Crampton) running amok for evil to conquer the goodness in man’s heart occurring throughout the film and advancing into sequels.
Where does The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 fit with the exploitation/revenge-themed movies of the 70s?
First, I would not consider Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) a revenge-themed movie, the third act of the movie the survivor, Sally (Marilyn Burns) is trying to escape, not seeking vengeance against the film. It leans to the exploitation, and heading into the slasher genre; although the violence for most finds itself as implied, the chainsaw truly never shows to penetrate the body and the meat hook another, a page from Alfred Hitchcock “The Master of Suspense” who taught with film and interviews the difference of Suspense and Surprise. Both elements used in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, effectively well, and accompanied by great direction and equally supportive casting.
Where do you see science fiction and horror merging in today’s cinema?
First, one needs to define the science fiction aspect, meaning referring to alien life forms or lab-create genetics and viruses. If one takes the viewpoint of alien creatures, this is an endless list consisting of many worthy films that have horror impacts and extends to social implications too. The second aspect leads to zombie films in the majority and then harkens back the environmental horrors, and even to The Food of the Gods (1976), and over medical horrors found in Body Parts and Human Centipede. This must take into account that films such as Leviathan (1989) and Firestarter (1984) use chemicals to combine the creations that cause horror onto the screen. Although of recent films merging, I would state Species (1995), Splice (2009) and Bloodwork (2012) definitely as the crossbreeding occurring. An important follow-up science fiction now, in the realm of technology, came from the wonderful films such as The Fly (1958) and later Videodrome (1983), and Event Horizon (1997).
Of the movies offering allegories on the issue of nuclear bombs and nuclear testing, which does the most convincing job?
The Terminator films, and while they come the closest, the machines taking over, and elimination of the errors in society – humans, the devastation of mass bombings, all controlled by computers the images produce Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) brought ashen bodies vaporized to horrid conclusions. Even today’s technology has inventors creating machines, eliminating people in the workforce, with dire situations created in society. Then one must reference Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and even extending to the remakes, a nuclear family crazed with passions, hunger and violence, exposure the weapons and the aftermath. This of course, eliminates the discussion of many post-apocalyptic films, which take on the survival situations in post nuclear world. Now if one sought to view a more dramatic piece of cinema, involving the horror of nuclear bombs and the early after effects, then in my opinion no other matches The Day After (1983), providing a resounding lasting silence for many viewers.
1978’s Dawn of the Dead has been said to be an allegory on consumerism and greed. What do you see in that regard?
Yes, I would tend to agree, most of George A. Romero films of the Dead theme have social impact statements, and with Dawn of the Dead (1978) that is very true. The takeover of the mall, first by the small group seeking protection, a place to hold up, and starting with firearms, first choosing the most powerful and what is needed and then taking the more expensive rifles and pistols. Then the group switches over to robbing the bank, in case of future clue and having some cash flow and then the adding into vanity, with first justified fitness equipment later dressing in luxurious threads, rings, jewelry. The bikers enter, their greed advances to overwhelming reckless, with snatching of jewelry off the dead, and smash & grab methods, to the comical scene of one stealing a television set only to drop it after one states what are you going to watch. This repeated itself in Land of the Dead with the high rise of power, luxury and wealth, completing the haves versus the have-nots, and then again in Diary of the Dead near the end sequence of the luxurious home, complete with fine wines, brandy, and first edition novels, and lastly a panic room.
What are your views toward the remakes of the movies we discussed above, such as Night Of The Living Dead and I Spit On Your Grave et cetera? Do you think remakes lose something the original had or retell the stories for a new generation of fans?
Ah, the dreaded remake question, I feel that concerning these two films, the misses have great mishaps, some films translate well with a remake, and others tend not to, and especially with classics. Take Night of the Living Dead the film, fits a certain time film, communication is limited, and not instant, with gratification immediately, everything has time of growth, to evolve, raising the suspense levels. There then the subtle aspects of shock to the woman, Barbara, not shown as weakness but rather a natural state of being, her brother attacked brutally. In the 1990 remake she presents herself more stoic, no offense but in the Walking Dead series and other films, the men lose it emotionally as panic and shock set in, the role reversal I think swung too greatly. As for I Spit On Your Grave, most lies with the generational aspects, with elements less upsetting rape sequence, affecting the body as a piece of meat and damage to the mind, yet builds a little suspense. However, the original reigns in the exploitation market, and with crude nasty style, that continues to battle with censors, and many that call for it outright banning, the remakes seem to elude that time of press fanfare of lately. In addition, the movie poster artwork tends to find more and more tame, compare to original except though with I Spit on Your Grave, the artwork finds a solid footing, and remains rated R, then again that film could never aim for a hated PG-13.
The remakes knowingly continue, however those films that have achieved greatness of 4 or 5 stars depending on the top rating on a site, should not be recreated, regardless of the genre, but with respect to horror and the fans, originality still counts for something. I do wish that studios and producer stop remaking Hitchcock films, as one likely can tell I enjoy his films, and style, and wish that his classics such as Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960).
Overall, I feel the remakes do lose something in the retelling of the stories, the audiences of today sometimes feel they lost out when they attend horror conventions, the colorful stories from filmmakers and actors and then the livid posters and other collector items, lost with the newer generations. The new fans to the genre live in a shockproof world, maturing faster, experimenting quicker, and expose to more aspects, therefore the story changes, but it seems often to lose part of the storyline. For example, 13 Ghosts (1960), William Castle, a man who later really strikes it big with Rosemary’s Baby (1968), the story simply a man inherits a house of ghosts, special glasses, with a bankroll of cash. The remake, a glass house, magic spells, ghastly ghosts in vivid color and one cool scene of a lawyer separating himself from the cast and it just feels incomplete. Or the remake of The Haunting (1963) the ultimate film to view at night on Halloween, the pounding on the walls and the spooky suspense from the location, sets, the cast, all driving the terror, but the key timing, not hurried, no instinct gratifications. The remake, huge sets, CGI running amok, a very rushed story evolving to a serial child murderer. I won’t venture into the spectrum of remakes of the slasher genre, I rather enjoy a sequel.
Do you think that directors of horror movies can invent new ideas in this day and age?
I definitely do believe they can, and will invent new ideas and concepts. Right now the found footage films battle for attention with zombie films, likely due to the cheapness of costs, for sets, actors, crew and especially equipment; however, that too is changing with some short films using the GoCamera and even the iPhone to create some stunning work, that ideal fits the small screen. Nevertheless, many influences help directors and writers in general, and it seems as if the genre shifts in the direction of real-life horrific crimes for new avenues of horror. In addition, the crypto-zoology remains true to true with stories of Bigfoot, Yeti, Krampus and even Jersey Devil, the countless films on the subject never end, just as the creature features continue terrorizing the audiences. Filmmakers do have a wealth of sources especially with virus, rogue governments, conspiracies, and with over vast more deplorable crimes against humanity occurring with the blame directed to social primordial portion of the mind, occultism, and just simple sickness of culture, their works continue onward amazement, fascinate, and entertain horror for many more generations.
What is your opinion of Japanese horror and the influence it has had on American horror since the 2000s?
First, a slight step backwards, the rise of the Japanese horror came in late 1990s, a time when the American horror genre slipped from the ranks of creativity, and began another downward trend similar to the rise and fall of the slasher genre. The cinematic landscape needed change, Japanese Horror, brought folklore, some that remains obscure, and only a few campfire tellers use it, as the craft never truly caught with storytellers and listeners. Then add in visual plot lines and revenge from the grave themes and twisting ends of the movie, generating positive feedback and suspense to the audience. In addition, the Japanese style used psychological horror tactics, representing a return to exquisite films such as The Haunting (1963) and The Shining (1980) for the inspiration to convey a story with more impact, than relying on CGI, as opposed to the craft of exceptional skills found in practical effects. Most American horror retells the stories at a faster pace showing the ghost, or monster sooner, than later, thereby eliminating the restlessness the American audiences tend to have wading through silence, empty rooms, and rising doom. A lesson lost in translation, terror comes from the waiting game, Hitchcock proved it thoroughly well, in fact The Uninvited (1944) American cut differs from the British version with the ghost visible shown in the U.S. version, while the UK understood the absence of the ghost as impending gloom. Only a few horror movies in America use the lesson well and quite effective, such as Jaws (1975) and even Piranha (1978) keep the audience guessing and fearful of the essence of evil, stalking the victims on the screen and conversely in the audience.
As for my opinion on the influence, a positive spin, the pool of thoughts were draining, mainly from the Hollywood producers standing, the formulas of horror grew weary and sadly the atmosphere is sure thing on new horrors from unknown directors and writers. I always felt that many novels written by upcoming genre authors deserve a shot for their book to be adapted into a movie, sadly that seems less likely unless one is a known written putting up millions of books sold figure. I wish the tension would find itself proper place, but the standard rules apply to the horror market a 90-minute movie with credits, and T&A, treating the characters and audience with contempt with them all doing stupid things (we all know the rules). Many fans wish for granting intelligent pieces of storytelling for the audience to develop interest and build the tension, suspense to the surprise scares. I can’t recall last time I got the jolt in a horror film, more thrills in driving on an interstate highway or a parking lot at Christmas for the scares one needs.
Discuss the website for which you are reviewing and the regular podcast you are currently involved in.
I currently have my material published on Rogue Cinema, I started with just writing one article for the entire year, and at a time in I think 2010 and continued that pattern for 2 years, adding a few more reviews, interviews and articles always on the horror genre. Then in 2014, I wrote 68 reviews and 7 articles, the Bizarre AC I & II both garnished over 5000 views each, and I achieved the coveted position as the number one writer for Rogue Cinema for 2014 with 65,889 views. The movies I reviewed come from various sources but all obtained by me none comes from Rogue Cinema, or the owner/ editor of the site Duane L. Martin. I have my own style in which I review the films, no favoritism, a straight review though I search for one redeeming quality even if the film is atrocious. I obtain films from BrinkVision, Midnight Releasing and Brain Damage Films (which I consider a huge avenue of films to review) and Chemical Burn Entertainment, all acquired in 2014. I try to other distribution houses with various degrees of success, but when faced without a film I return to DirecTV package of films, or Popcornflix, Viewster, Snagfilms, Hulu, YouTube and of course contacting the filmmakers themselves. I have been fortunate enough for invites to other film festivals and conventions, under the banner of the VIP Press Pass, hence reducing costs and gaining more access due to my high quality and professionalism. For example if someone states “off the record” I will show them my mic, and turn it off providing the safe haven for them to speak freely and for those moments the discussions never appears anywhere, nor do the photos, I am not paparazzi.
Now as the podcasts there currently two, the first one started on January 30, 2014, and came as a result of good timing and fortune, I was invited to the Bizarre AC (a horror convention in Atlantic City, hence AC), by Jon Henderson, Convention Organizer. It was there I felt I achieved a great level of personal success, for eight years I covered the Terror Film Festival, which was held in Philadelphia, PA until it went online for various reasons. I learned my skills for interviewing, photography and knowing where to be at the right moment for the “money shot” it was a tough learning curve but well-worth it in the end. Therefore, at Bizarre AC, I am touring the vendor tables, looking for the potential ones to interview, and then met BMovieRadio, headed Buddy Smith, Zach, and Bryan. I gave them insight on how to handle the convention, pointers on what they should do, and how, they welcomed my advice, one month later Buddy contacted me to become a host of a horror show – Baron’s Crypt.
It was an off guard moment for me, and yet I still gave the attempt, into the studio for the first show, and honestly a tad unsure of how this was going to work, but in the end it worked well, and in fact used my resources to obtain my intro music of then Gregorian “Ave Satani”. Afterwards I started to promote the show, increasing from 1hr to 2hrs, finding my own guests, and named by listeners and the BMovieRadio as the Horror Historian. I have since embraced the title and it fact I feel it enhances me on the podcast and the reviews, and led me to achieving with Promote Horror a little notoriety as a Horror Icon of Social Media on April 26, 2014. One month later I took full control of the podcast, and with no co-host, I achieve a solid performing show, on every Friday night, normally 6:30pm Eastern Standard Time, and did a show even on the Fourth of July. This show I inform listeners about the horror news, new releases, history of horror, music (which I obtained and verified permission to play), the horror films I saw for the week, Indiegogo & Kickstarter crowd fund projects, deadlines for film festival and other tidbits. There have been some interesting shows, and sometimes a horror fan contacts me with a personal issue like bullying or intimidation about their passion for the horror genre, so I use the show to defend and speak broadly about how to handle a situation. Nevertheless, as of January 3, 2015 I broadcast my 43rd show, and closing in on 52nd marking a full year, even that is past my official anniversary, the reason, due to conflicts, and weather foul-ups that prevented the recording of the show.
Then in June, I came up with a music show, on BlogTalkRadio – very difficult to do, yet I was now with SJSPodcast (formerly known BMovieRadio) and got a nod to attempt the project. I came up with the format and name, Shredding Metal Beasts (SMB), which took the longest, to check and verified it, was available for usage, and then launching the campaign to acquire permission to play band’s songs as it is a free radio show. The genres I play fall from Hard Rock to Black Metal, nothing alternative, the closest in that perspective, psychobilly and gothic bands, and from worldwide locations. I have been very fortune in the bands and labels that permitted me permission. Some of the bands, Astrovamps; Abigail Williams; Chastain; FireForce; Steel Assassin; Snowy Shaw; Liege Lord; Stormwarrior; Hellion; Macabre; Cage; Grave Robbers; Alkoholizer; Pegazus, Denial of God and so many more artists. I do all the work on researching and finding the proper person to contact, such as the case with current roster of 400 bands equally nearly 4000 songs, and have yet to repeat any tracks on the show as of yet. The show, had completed the 22 episodes, and had a classic finish to the last show of 2014, when I stated time to bury the year, and played the track Funeral March, given to me with permission from The Legion of Tchort, and black metal producer of 13 compilation albums. SMB’s popularity grows each week, and I am thankful to all the bands, the fans, and the listeners, who enjoy a 120-minute show, of about 20 to 24 bands so much that Metal World Radio, contacted me, thanks to an introduction by The Lord of PR, and working on putting a third show together. This third show under the banner of SMB features very obscene, uncensored, inflammatory show with music from only Doom/ Death/ Black Metal (and possibly Grindcore and Folk Metal) and unleashed in early 2015. Sounds like a lot, I know, and yet still other projects exist which I’m thoroughly investing my time to complete all surrounding the topic Horror. This is a genre that I always use my two favorite quotes for “Horror is Everything, Everything is Horror” and “The Extreme has a Lasting Impression”.
What does the quote “The Extreme has a Lasting Impression” mean to you overall?
Well first, I coined the phrase, and actually only I have used, now to the meaning, it refers to image or action done in a manner that one either recognizes or cannot forget. If one reflects on history, the dreadful attack on Pearl Harbor, and visiting the Arizona Memorial both have chilling reminders, extend that to the Holocaust camps, images that no one can erase from their minds nor ever should, a remembrance to real tragedies captured first. The atomic bombs, and devastation to melted flesh on countless people, and then 9/11, these are all forms of extreme lasting impressions. Now, changing position to the fictional world, of movies, and ideally horror, who can forget the first time one sees Leatherface or the fountain of blood in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), those scenes explore the extreme, from Cannibal Holocaust (1980), to offensive I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Last House on the Left. One will also always remember the shocking images from Psycho and Alien (1979) with the chest bursting scene, all the shock blood splattering for a science fiction turn horror film. These are all forms of extreme lasting impressions; hence I implore filmmakers to return to this form of movie-marking, abandoning the cookie-cutter cotton candy popcorn friendly PG-13 and venture back into the recesses of R-rated movies. Thereby, bringing the new viewers the same indulgences the 30 to 40 year old fans enjoyed in our hay day carnage corrupting morals and serial nightmares plaguing often, which Infliction and The Strangers accomplished recently.
Describe a handful of the movies you have recently reviewed for Rogue Cinema. Also explain your way of reviewing horror movies. Do you pay closer attention to the good or bad aspects of a movie, or is it equal?
The movies I have had the pleasure viewing and reviewing run the gambit, from serial killers to creature features, with zombies dotting the landscape and vampires swooping from the darkness, and each time I sit and watch, expecting horror glories. A film starts at 5-star and it controls the ride and the destiny of the final tally. I will not disclose my method, trade secret of mine. Every film starts equally, I look at many aspects for value, and take into account the story and care to it and the audience, which I find most important.
Some of the films that garnish large number of views 700 to over a thousand have included Zombie Isle (2014) an interesting and obviously a zombie film with the sub-genre Germany army. Then others I did such as Rabid Love (2013), from Midnight Releasing (a truly wonderful experience to review their films) with the basis of doctor designing rabies into a military grade virus. Another classic Blood Slaughter Massacre (2013), handed directly to me, by the director Manny Serrano at the Monster Mania Convention in March 2014, if I recall correctly for the month, a serial killer returns to terrorize 10 years later after evading a police officer, all set in the 1980s slasher genre incredible rich in nostalgic for a low-budgeted horror film. This past year I found my attention to detail increasing, and providing the reader with insights though, adhering to a strict guideline of fairness, such as the case with torture-porn venture Vile (2011), which starred Maria Orlsen and the religious-psychological-art house film A Measure of the Sin (2013) misunderstood by many but filled with sexual abuse symbolism. Lastly, director and writer Jack Thomas Smith’s Infliction (2013), an incredible found footage film, filled with an interest and sick disgusting twist that horror fans enjoyed. On a side note, Jack was on the Baron’s Crypt this past year, for a fantastic interview.
That is something I must note, many directors I talked to at conventions are very reluctant to give a free copy of their film away, as the industry has many false journalists, which seek only to grant themselves free items and never deliver a review. I do reviews promote furiously and constantly keeping in touch with the filmmakers through newsletters and updates on the views count or where I have review now posted. I take care with my reviews of the films, benefiting crew, cast, and distribution houses to very high exposure points, but that falls under the intellectual properties found in my Chamber Office and inside the Baron’s Crypt.
How many listeners are you reaching on a regular basis with Baron’s Crypt and Shredding Metal Beasts? What do you look for in a band when you’re choosing material to air on the show?
On regular basis, I have on the Baron’s Crypt for 100, noting I record live on Friday’s at 630p so many listen to playback version, though honestly if one took a average over the past month numbers tend for chopping seas, due to being on the day after Christmas and New Years Day. But as more guests filtering into the show, and some I can inform now, will be on in 2015 – Joe Randazzo (screenwriter); Domiziano Arcangeli (actor); Joe Stauffer (filmmaker – Pieces of Talent) and Jonathan A. Moody, and many others just to give a tease. Maria Olsen was one of my biggest guests to have on the Baron’s Crypt, such an incredible interview and show, many listener’s marked it as highlight in the first year of the my broadcast.
As for Shredding Metal Beasts the numbers over 200 per show, on average, again minus this past month, for similar reasons, the show airs on Tuesday into Wednesday morning, hence Christmas Eve and New Years Eve mornings, does not benefit well. In addition, I must note that BlogTalkRadio while a great site, never intended for a music broadcast in my design manner, as it does not work well on phones, and mainly stays on desktops, and laptops. It also depends on the bands I don’t have permission to play many big bands in the multiple genres I air, so I remain true to form to play the independent and unsigned bands. As for choosing the bands, overall I must listen to a few tracks making sure the sound fits the format and then the vocals, fit the genre, in other words singer must sound proper and not if someone is stepping on their privates or squeezing the breasts. HA! I have reviewed music acts before and attended concerts to review them too, so I have always had the interest in the genre of metal. I was first introduced to W.A.S.P., then Iron Maiden, and then to other extreme Death, Omen, Mercyful Fate, and then much later Deicide, Marduk, and Cradle of Filth so I have an ear to what an average metal likes to hear. Therefore, I run the show from that standpoint in terms of what I seek to play.
Do you feel you have reached more readers and listeners through the internet than you would have through mainstream publications and mainstream radio? In what ways has the internet been more of a help?
I’ve been able to reach more readers and listeners, the internet is the ultimate game changer, and for many fans who live in isolated towns and ostrizatsize for their beliefs and interests a wonderful outlet for acceptance. The Horror Scene and to me a lifestyle finds a very accepting culture, welcoming everyone, regardless of their look or appearance, if you like horror then join in and view, purchase and support. I don’t think I would reach so many fans of horror nor achieved the honors of social media icon from Promote Horror and called Horror Historian if I wrote for mainstream publications. I tried that avenue first, but found I unable to break through the right door must have had a dull axe, but the net brings so many avenues to express my knowledge and love of the genre.
The net has allowed me to share internationally with both my reviews and articles, achieving with Rogue Cinema, with 65k views and the top horror reviewer of 2014, now I must repeat and advance it in 2015, with the support of the horror fans. I feel that my reviews find themselves accepted by the fans and that don’t do a 300 word or less cursory glance at the movie, rather 700 words and detail the review for all to enjoy. In addition, on the aspect of listeners, mainstream radio never would tolerate either a horror show or an uncensored metal and the range would highly limit the scope of influence. My podcast gives unlimited range, and it’s great to see during the show and definitely afterwards to that there were listeners in Australia, Indonesia, Romania, Italy, Germany, UK, Canada and Mexico, that really gives the drive to continue. The comments calling on me to keep the great show, and hearing it from musicians, filmmakers, authors, special effects personnel, entertainers, festival directors, and course the fans, makes it all worthwhile.
What sort of projects would you consider pursuing in the future? How well known do you want to become in your field?
I would like to write non-fiction books on different aspects of horror films and venturing to other gothic topics, including publishing a book of my blasphemy filled splatter-punk gore-hound short stories and poems written a very vivid visual manner. In addition, having my scripts and writing screenplays for others made into films. I’m open to working in some aspect with horror films and to have the pleasure of attending every horror and Halloween convention in the entire year, reporting about each one vast detail. Meanwhile, I still enjoy reviewing movies, doing my horror and music podcast, but to accomplish touring horror/music festivals nationwide someone else but me must pay to have me on the road for the entire year. Each year I set my goals higher than before, I feel everyone does it in some regard, especially in horror genre, from crew moving up, to cast for better roles, to filmmakers seeking a larger audience. So, for my goals rank more views, more movie reviews, and invites more sets, as was invited in 2014 to the Carver set, filmed by Emily DiPrimo and Ron DiPrimo, and acclaimed over 890 views.
A few honors of recent really mean a lot to me, include Maria Olsen giving me “Special Thanks Credit” on her movie Happy Ending, which during the Indiegogo crowd-funding, I had her and Phil Condit on my Baron’s Crypt for an fantastic interview. Armageddon Ed and The Horror Scene for continuing to have the Baron’s Crypt run the last show from the remnants of BMovieRadio, bringing a detailed show, never hurried even flow to loyal listeners. At Bizarre AC II, I was asked to be in a short movie called Con Of The Dead, a film in which I was a zombie, and in the last scene filmed at the convention, I convincingly took down the director Ray Cannella (owner of Screambox) in a zombie assault! I enjoyed thoroughly the establishing relations with several distribution companies to send me horror films, and swag materials, while generating friendships with marketing personnel, but most of all with the filmmakers, cast members, and especially the fans. I admit nothing finer than walking across a convention floor and someone yells out “BARON… BARON CRAZE” and getting a pat on the back, from Mark Ricche, director and writer of Mortal Remains, a film that bears a quote from me on the movie poster, another great honor. The accolades continue and for that, I am thankful always.
Thanks AEA Zine for my first official interview, very fun, and for allowing me to have a section in your magazine for horror film reviews under the banner of Baron’s Crypt.
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