Editor in chief at Fangoria Magazine and author of BLOOD SPATTERED BOOK talks to FWH about his upcoming projects, his favorite horror films, his new album, and breaks the news about his first film!
What is your, all time, favorite horror movie(s)?
I’d have to say my all time favorite film period is Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD – I never, ever tire of it, I love every inch of it (especially the longer cut from Cannes); it has every genre mashed into it and it fires on all cylinders. Plus it’s a textbook study on how to make an epic entertainment on a threadbare budget. But floating in that same orbit is Alan Parker’s neo-noir mood piece ANGEL HEART, Cronenberg’s SHIVERS, Herzog’s NOSFERATU, Argento’s SUSPIRIA, Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and although they aren’t straight horror, Charles Laughton’s NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS. But there are hundreds more I adore. Those are just the ones that I keep returning to time and time again…
What has been your biggest letdown in recent horror cinema?
I don’t let myself get let down anymore when it comes to new movies. Because with every picture I don’t like, there are a dozen ready to dazzle me. A wealth of classics to mine that I still have not seen. I guess trend wise, I get pretty bummed by the glut of truly unimaginative indie filmmaking there is out there, pictures made by people with cameras who have nothing new to say and are tone deaf. Technology has allowed everyone to play “lets make a movie” and not everyone SHOULD be playing this game! Worse, these characters more often than not proclaim themselves “horror directors” and only reference (or blatantly rip off) horror films…be a filmmaker first. Know the rhythms of editing, of sound, of dialogue and visual composition. Know film history. And most importantly…know your audience. Just because your cousin and girlfriend like your flick, doesn’t mean anyone else will waste their time with it…unless you have something vital to say. And for the love of St. Peter….dial down the zombie movies already. Bad actors fighting other bad actors with silly putty and karo syrup on their face…enough!
Thanks…it felt good getting that off my chest….Ha!
How about your most unexpected surprise?
The fact that in that cesspool of homemade dreck, you’ll sometimes find a gem that blindsides you. One of our casual writers, a guy named Jack Bennet made this 1 hour long “almost” feature called CAPRICE that threw me for a loop. Smart dialogue, decent enough actors to deliver that dialogue, great twists, command of drama and mood…a real film. Another one was a short film by a guy named Ricky Lewis Jr, a straight, faithful adaptation of Jacobs’ masterful tale THE MONKEYS PAW that cheats its invisible budget and is pretty much a perfectly realized piece of ingenious horror filmmaking. The other thing I am surprised about is just how many films out there are horror movies but pretend they are not. In fact I’ll say some of the best works of dread, terror and fear have come in the forms of art house fare like Von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA, Almodovar’s THE SKIN I LIVE IN, McQueen’s SHAME and most recently, a film I just saw that opens next year called THE GREY….real films made by people who understand the language of cinema and how to use horror in novel ways….
With an ever expanding base of up and coming horror filmmakers, who do you find the most promising?
He’s not really up and coming of course, he’s arrived, but god bless Tom Six. That mad, mad man. He’s the heir apparent of all those bad ass, daring and rowdy filmmakers that have pushed buttons and taken great pleasure in freaking us out through the years. With only two disgusting, perverse, horrifying and cinematically aware counter-culture flicks, he’s become the new Lynch, Cronenberg, Waters, Buttgereit and Ken Russell all rolled into one. As much as they made me ill (CENTIPEDE 2 genuinely made me feel I had seen something that may have actually been BAD for me, YAY!) they are works of black comedy genius. I cant wait to see what Six does next and even if it’s CENTIPEDE 3, I’m in.
You have interviewed and worked with some amazing talent in your career. Does any experience in particular stand out as the most memorable?
So many. Every day I am excited and dazzled by the great minds and storytellers I have access to. I take none of it for granted. My heart skips beats when I get an email from say, George Romero or Gene Simmons (I’m a massive KISS fan) and all of the other artists and pop cult players that have fascinated me since I was a child that now know who I am – that in itself is surreal. I learn something new and fresh and inspiring every day first hand from all of these people and it’s all memorable. All serves to make me better at the things I do. I am very lucky.
Do you have any news on BLOOD OPERA, or when we can expect to see it in theaters or on the festival circuit?
I’ll break this first here – I am making my first film in FEBRUARY. The great minds behind stuff like THE THEATRE BIZARRE and THE INNKEEPERS are actually financing an ultra low budget film experiment that I’m handling every facet of. It’s not BLOOD OPERA per se (a film that will eventually be made when I have the scratch to realize that epic), more a scaled down chapter in that film’s broader scope. I can’t tell you the title, nor plot specifics but I will tell you that it will be moody, strange, bloody and really informed by music.
What inspired you to create MUSIC FOR MURDER?
MUSIC FOR MURDER is out December 13th from a soundtrack niche label called 2M1 Records. It partly consists of music I’ve written and recorded over the past decade as well as new stuff…music is a big part of my life, I need it to say what written words cannot. So even though this album is a small release, I’m happy to have these tracks, my “children” out there for people to hopefully enjoy…and I stress that all my music is the product of my own two hands, no pro-tools, no other musicians even save my wife, the singer Carrie Eliza who has contributed some haunting work here…it’s all very personal, like most of the stuff I do, I guess….
Recently, you released your first book, BLOOD SPATTERED BOOK. How did you decide on the concept?
BSB came out 2 years ago from Midnight Marquee and it’s a fun – again, personal – collection of essays and interviews surrounding some of my favorite, often unloved or undervalued horror films. Many of the entries stemmed from my FANGORIA blog I did before I became EIC…the site got wiped incidentally so the only place you can read this stuff in any form is in this book. Ive seen so much and expanded so much since I wrote that I hope to eventually do a follow-up…
Recently, you took over as editor in chief at Fangoria. How has it compared to your time at Rue Morgue?
There is no comparison. At Rue Morgue, I was a writer, columnist and radio voice but I was a freelance gun at the end of the day. I had no creative control over the presentation. At Fango, I’ve been blessed to have this amazing piece of history to honor for the past 2 years, to play with, hopefully improve upon in some respects. Rue Morgue taught me so much and opened so many doors though. I value that. And I understand how hard it is, how much work it is to be an editor now, all the decisions both creative and economical…I was a brat back in those RM days and I as editor would have probably hated me back then. But you live, you learn, wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.
It seems as though you’ve made myriad changes since joining the Fangoria team, what’s next for everyone’s favorite horror magazine?
Who knows! Only a fool attempts to predict the future. I will say that I promise to always be true to my mandate to make a fun, smart, unpredictable and eccentric genre film magazine with something for everyone. I refuse to be boring. The minute any of this becomes tiresome routine I will lose interest…
Do you have any projects on the horizon that you would like to share with us?
Lots of ideas bubbling in the Fango-verse, lots of projects on the go…it’s a great magazine, you know, my tenure aside. I often go back and just read how much incredible history is in those pages and I’m filled with pride. I used to read Tony Timpone, Uncle Bob and Mike Gingold when i was a child. Now I’m doing this, my face will be on that monument too…it’s just bizarre. So my main focus will be keeping this magazine alive as long as readers will let it live….and ensuring that every project bearing this brand does what FANGORIA should always do and that’s enlighten, entertain, energize and of course, make you barf. Can’t forget that.
You can download sample tracks from MUSIC FOR MURDER here:
You can download sample tracks from MUSIC FOR MURDER here: