As part of 2019’s 13 Days of Halloween, we here at Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life thought it would be fun to see if some of the bands and artists we love had any interest in horror. It turns out quite a lot do so we turned it into an interview.
1. First things first…introduce yourself please!
Hi! I’m Mikal. I’m a musician, wannabe filmmaker, and Halloween extremist.
2. What are your top 3 favourite horror movies and why?
This could be a completely different list tomorrow, but right this second, these come to mind: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Fright Night (1985), and Dawn of the Dead (2004).
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is probably the most Halloweenish Halloween movie ever made, with the possible exception of Trick R’ Treat. The story is literally *about* Halloween and Samhain. Not to mention, I believe it contains quite possibly the most chilling line ever uttered in a horror movie – “Oh, and… Doctor? Happy Halloween.”
Fright Night is the definition of 80s horror, and possibly even the first self-aware horror movie, made long before Scream or Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. You have the kid who’s an absolute encyclopedia of horror film knowledge that can tell you exactly what the monster is going to do next according to horror film rules, along with the main protagonist kid who goes to the horror kid for help when he believes there’s a real life movie monster living next door to him. Another little known aspect of this movie series is that the Peter Vincent character mirrors Larry Vincent, an actor and real life horror movie host. His show’s name? “Fright Night”. This is the same show that eventually turned into Elvira’s show later on. This mirrors Peter Vincent’s replacement with a female host in Fright Night 2.
Dawn of the Dead (2004) is not just one of the greatest horror movies ever made, but one of the greatest *movies* ever made. There are a couple of pieces that I would’ve cut out, but altogether it’s a nearly perfect movie. It’s hard for Romero fans to admit that a remake might be better than the original, but I think that’s unquestionably true in this case. And the Johnny Cash song over the news items during the intro was just brilliant. Almost as if the song was written for this story.
3. Do you remember your first experience with horror? Was it at a young age?
I’m not really sure what my very first horror experience would’ve been, but it was definitely at a very young age. I used to watch horror movies on HBO as a little kid. I remember seeing Creepshow and Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time on cable TV and being afraid to sleep afterwards.
Aside from cable channels, over the air TV stations used to also broadcast old horror movies late at night. One particular memory is of seeing that “I, Monster” was going to be on at 1 am one night. I fell asleep before it came on. Oops.
I grew up in the Detroit area, where there used to be a horror movie show called Saturday Night Dead that would come on directly after the end of SNL every Saturday night. They’d show tons of classic horror and sci-fi movies. War of the Worlds for one.
4. What era of horror is your favourite & why?
Probably the 70s. Most 70s horror movies have a naturally creepy look and feel to them. Take “The House by the Cemetery”. Just the look of the film scared me, let alone the ‘doctor’ who you don’t see until the end. Movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark have a very similar look and feel.
5. What frightens or creeps you out in horror?
Sound, atmosphere… the unknown. Something like “The Innkeepers” encapsulates how scary a sound can be. Atmosphere – Watch Trick R’ Treat. The colours and Halloween decor are everything. The Unknown – What lurks behind that door? Watch “The Vanishing on 7th Street”. This one manages to get through the entire movie without ever actually showing you the monster.
6. Who is your horror inspiration? Be it a director/actor/author etc.
For writing, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Read his book “In a Glass Darkly” from 1872. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read. One of the stories, Carmilla, inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
I’m inspired by a variety of directors / filmmakers. Danny Boyle, James Wan, John Carpenter, Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Holland, Romero, Argento, Raimi, Fulci, Bava, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Rob Zombie, Clive Barker, Kubrick, Landis. Also, David F. Sandberg for proving that an indie filmmaker can transition to making big budget Hollywood pictures without having a relative get you the job.
7. Do you enjoy modern horror or do you look to the past for your fix?
I like some modern horror, but I think the majority is too formulaic, and just not scary. Although you could probably apply that to most eras if you look at the output as a whole. I love something from most eras, even all the way back to Georges Melies’ 1896 short ‘Le Manoir du diable’ (The House of the Devil). I’m huge into the Universal monsters from 1931 forward. I love the 50s and 60s era of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Roger Corman. I’m into 70s horror, like that of Argento, Fulci, and Mario Bava. I love 80s slashers. From the 90s, Candyman is one of my favorite horror movies ever. Most recently, I find Mandy to be incredible. I think I forgot to answer the question.
8. What horror movie is universally beloved that you just don’t like?
There are many! Just one? The Ring. I still feel like I’m supposed to be laughing at the girl coming out of the TV when I watch it. Yet, others are scared by it. I don’t get it.
9. If you could shoot one horror cliché/trope into the sun to never be used again. What would it be?
I don’t know if there’s a proper name for it, but when a shadow of a figure runs across the screen right in front of the camera while the potential victim is looking the other way. I can’t stand that, and it happens in almost every single horror movie. This is auto-cringe, and it makes me hate the movie immediately, regardless of any redeeming qualities.
Can I throw in a bonus one? If so, let’s please stop using the “person getting pulled backward into darkness by their legs” trope.
10. Same question but about type/style. What type or style of horror would you happily never watch again?
Woke horror. Rod Serling proved that you can address any issue you want without being literal and screaming the ‘hidden message’ in the faces of the audience. You should be able to enjoy the story without feeling like you’re being preached to.
11. What gets you excited when watching horror?
Anticipation that leads somewhere. Your story means nothing if there’s no payoff. Something must change. Something must be accomplished. If you watch for 90 minutes only to see happen exactly what was proposed in the opening scene, you’ve just wasted 90 minutes of your life and have learned nothing.
12. Have you had any real life scary experiences? We’re talking supernatural or something that can’t be reasonably explained.
I’d be extremely happy if I did have a supernatural experience, but, I haven’t. Based on what we know to be true here on our own little blue dust spec, I’d say that the supernatural does not exist. However, using the same point of reference, we’re literally just one tiny spec in the middle of an infinite universe (or universes). The amount of knowledge that we have on this tiny blue dot is near zero compared to the amount of knowledge that there is out there to know. The supernatural very well *could* exist, and could be far beyond anything that we’ve even imagined.
1. Favourite overall franchise (3 or more movies)?
That might be a toss-up between Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street. But, I guess I’d have to go with F13, simply because I like just about every entry in the original series. With the others, I like several entries, but not all.
2. Most memorable character death?
Jason Voorhees picking up a sleeping bag with a person in it and swinging it against a tree. Who doesn’t love that one?
3. Best horror twist?
The rest of the movie is terrible, but… The twist at the end of the opening sequence of Jason Goes To Hell. Speaking of self-aware horror movies, that scene is right on point. You think it’s starting out as any other F13 style movie scene, and… BAM. They lampooned their own tropes to catch the monster!
4. Favourite Stephen King book?
I don’t read much King, but I did read a short story of his that I really liked, called Stationary Bike. It successfully crosses horror with following your doctor’s orders.
If we were talking about movie adaptations of King stories, I’d go with The Shining, or maybe his Creepshow and Creepshow 2 stories.
5. Best remake of a horror movie?
Dawn of the Dead (2004). Better than the original. (Don’t @ me!)
6. Worst remake of a horror movie?
Can’t decide between Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) and Carnival of Souls (1998). Jackie Earl Haley’s Freddy Krueger was embarrassing, from the terrible mask to the ridiculous voice. And Larry Miller should ask for all copies of CoS 1998 to be destroyed.
7. Favourite horror villain?
Jason, of course. When I saw Freddy vs. Jason in a theater, the entire theater cheered for Jason the entire time. He’s likable for some reason.
8. It’s Halloween night…you settle down with some popcorn to watch…what?
Probably Trick R’ Treat, or Halloween 3. I like my Halloween nights to be occupied with something that’s actually reflective of Halloween, not just horror alone.
9. Best horror movie sequel?
10. Worst horror movie sequel?
Halloween (2018). I don’t know how this even got released. It’s a never-ending unraveling spool of “Hey, remember this scene? We re-made it and just reversed the positions of the two characters!” We won’t even mention the cringetastic “Ha, fooled you” moment with the basement scene. Ok, I guess I just mentioned it. Top that off by the fact that they marketed this as *a* direct sequel to the first 2 Myers films, but named it exactly the same thing as the first one. So, their sequence is “Halloween – Halloween 2 – Halloween”. Confused yet?