You’re stranded on a desert island. Assuming electricity and equipment aren’t a problem, which five horror movies would you want with you?
Such a tough question, and I can’t consider the list permanent until the island vacation occurs, but….
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, Creepshow, The Birds, and Night of the Living Dead. It’s weird how none of these movies are obscure, but I think they are all good.
What is your limit you have when it comes to horror?
This will sound like macho stupidity, but I don’t really think I’ve reached it yet. I will say, the scene in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer where the family gets iced is pretty brutal due to its realism. Largely because of that movie, I would never, ever want to be in a fight with Michael Rooker.
Who is your favorite slasher villain?
Freddy Krueger. He’s an obvious choice. I find his backstory creepy, his kills creative, and his look and personality iconic and genius. You have the glove, sweater and hat combo, the depraved cockiness and the burnt face — great stuff! The bastard son of a hundred maniacs.
What are your favorite books, horror or otherwise?
Horror: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood anthology is fantastic (although curiously, I don’t seem to own it anymore). And, of course, Edgar Allan Poe.
Non-horror: Orwell’s 1984, Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea, any poetry by e e cummings or Robert Frost. Also, Hunter S. Thompson has a way with words. Also, sometimes I’ll check out Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics for something different.
I’m also a sucker for classic anarchist writers like Bakunin, Kropotkin or Emma Goldman, who — if nothing else — expose the pitfalls of authority. Look at Kropotkin: He was born a Russian prince but renounced his position to become an anarchist, geographer, scientist and social philosopher.
Who are your favorite movie directors?
George A. Romero, Wes Craven, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers… Yet again, I don’t have any ultra obscure ones on the list. That’s probably because I’m forgetting some people.
What is the first horror movie you remember seeing?
Good ol’ Nightmare on Elm Street 3.
What are some overlooked horror gems?
The Piper (2015) – This film has “artsy fartsy” written all over it, but this Korean take on the Pied Piper of Hamelin legend left me quite impressed. The word “masterpiece” is thrown around often, but I think it easily sticks onto this one.
Family (Masters of Horror) – Although it’s not a perfect little film (due partly to some cheesy CG), George Wendt does a great job depicting a psycho trying to create a perfect new family in — let’s just say — unconventional ways.
The Riverman (2004) – Based on Robert Keppel’s 2004 non-fiction book, The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt For the Green River Killer, this movie is close to matching The Silence of the Lambs.
What urban legends or mythical creatures would you love to see get their own film some day?
A bunch of product mascots, like Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, Snuggles, Cap’n Crunch, etc. This could make a wonderful horror parody. Maybe it would be abysmal, but it could be good.
What are your favorite activities outside of writing about horror movies?
I’m writing stories nowadays, like “The Santa Matrix,” and a new one called “Tired of Sleep,” about a man imprisoned in his past “sins.” I also like playing and recording musical instruments, and have a bunch of albums (both good and bad) at Bandcamp under the musical moniker “Grandpa Helicopter.” I occasionally DJ at WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. I’m trying to get back into art as well. On top of that, I have a regular day job, and I also substitute teach sometimes.
What should more horror movies do/not do?
More horror movies should just try to be themselves, rather than do this or that to impress audiences (even horror audiences). I can appreciate gore as much as anyone, but it should seem organic to the plot, and not feel tacked on. This is not an impossible feat.
Also, too many movies rely on CG effects nowadays. I’m not even talking about whether they’re done well or not. Yes, CGI can be done decently, but it usually doesn’t beat well-done (or even badly done) practical effects.