This week on the Best Little Horror House in Philly… we go on an emotional roller coaster!
First we meet our guest, Kevin Cole (Haque, Pretend Friends, Space Kings, Goosebuds) and dive into his history with horror – Kevin is a late bloomer to horror but has diving in with abandon! With his background in gaming we also get into some of his favorite horror games, like Fatal Frame.
Then we get into Kevin’s pick for the best horror movie ever made, and he drops a bombshell on us – upon rewatch, Slither might not be the best? We decide to proceed with our investigation and figure out just where this movie falls on the scale.
We discuss the history of the movie including Jame’s Gunn’s past with Troma and how the style of Lloyd Kaufman and his ilk influenced James, especially in the blend of gross-out horror and edgy comedy. Another similarity to Troma is his use of a stable of actors; several of the actors that James Gunn would go on to collaborate with frequently in later movies as a producer and director began their relationship with him all the way back during this directorial debut – including Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Rooker.
Gunn’s passion for horror is on clear display in this movie and we break that down as well – from the homages to the greats with name checks as easter eggs on buildings, to the usage of classic tropes in a deliberate fashion. This familiarity with and utilization of these tropes are what allows Gunn to subvert them, creating some wonderful moments of both tension and delight.
We break down the plot, the truly disgusting effects, and themes but do we come to a conclusion regarding if Slither is in fact, the best horror movie ever made? You’ll just have to listen to the ep to find out!
This week – it’s the one year anniversary episode of The Best Little Horror House in Philly, and we’re celebrating in style – with star of stage and screen (Mad Men, Devil Wears Prada, GLOW), plus horror superfan and generally cool guy Rich Sommer!
We start out talking about his own horror role in Summer of 84 and his horror board game recommendation before digging into his passion for the genre and where it all began, which leads to his love for anthologies and his pick for best horror movie ever made… George Romero’s Creepshow!
The conversation starts off with a chat about Romero himself and his work with Stephen King, plus how they each fill in the gaps for each other in terms of their work before talking about their passion for the horror of their youth, especially the EC Comics like Creepshow itself, Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear and Vault of Horror.
We also mention the rest of the crew that make the movie so special including master of effects Tom Savini and his protégé Greg Nicotero, as well as cinematographer Michael Gornick, and the incredible cast of legendary actors that populate the various vignettes!
We discuss the look of the movie as well and how integral it is to creating the atmosphere, while comparing the deliberate deployment of the comic book aesthetic to both adaptations like Superman and Popeye, as well as the extended use in movies like Sin City and The Spirit.
As we move into the discussion of the various segments we break down all the wonderful performances, homages, and references that fill the movie before discussing the legacy of Creepshow including the sequels, modern anthologies, and the currently running and much lauded Creepshow TV show on Shudder. All this and more in the Best Little Horror House in Philly – I’ll see you boils and ghouls there!
This week in the best little horror house, we’re joined by a fangtastic guest from Toronto, Glen Matthews! We talk to Glen about his passion for horror all the way from its start as his original sin (lying to his mom so he could watch Child’s Play at a friends house) to his own work on the unique vampire story Teething, a short film recently nominated for best short film by the Director’s Guild of Canada.
His taste for vampires lies with both Let the Right One In and his pick for the best horror movie ever made – Taika Waititi’s 2014 hit mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows. He recounts his experience seeing it for the first time in a black box theater as it made the festival rounds, and seeing audiences react so strongly to it before we start talking about the filming.
We discuss the comparisons to Christopher Guest and the unique mockumentary style, plus what Taika does to differentiate himself in the space then move to the movie. As the plot of the movie reveals itself, we read into the metacommentary of the various generations of vampires stories and their distinct eras, then determine our favorites.
We also call out Taika’s attention to detail and obvious affection for the vampire tropes, including references galore, as well as his ability to create incredible visual wordplay like the vampire bar being dead. And while his performance in the movie is stellar, we also pay tribute to the rest of the cast, who are equally strong with Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby and all the rest creating lived in characters that feel realistic despite the fantastical elements at play.
As the chat wraps up we touch on the spinoffs and potential sequels before each saying why What We Do in the Shadows is the best horror movie ever made! Listen to these children of the night, what music we make!
This week in the Best Little Horror House in Philly, we’re joined by writer, director and producer Anthony DiBlasi just a handful of episodes after his own movie, Last Shift, was picked as the best!
Anthony and I start off talking about his history with horror, and what hooked him into the genre, before getting into his creative output and the difference between his preferred styles to watch versus create.
Finally we get into his pick for the best horror movie ever made, and it’s the beefcake bloodbath from 1987 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his power, Predator! We start off discussing the joke that put the whole movie in motion, the casting, and its status as a classic blockbuster before discussing the mixed reviews and its issues with the Academy Awards.
This is related to the costume and design work in Predator, which both of us have a lot of admiration for – we get into the original costume design and Jean Claude Van Damme’s brief tenure as the Predator, why and how that failed, and how they had to completely go back to the drawing board… only to bring Stan Winston on at the peak of his career.
We also get into how Predator subverts both traditional action and slasher movie fare in its handling of aggression, masculinity, and victims, to say nothing of its structural changes like setting at day and having the cast be well-prepared men instead of young teens taken by surprise.
We move into the plot, including the first ten minutes of the movie being truly remarkably paced and having incredible character introductions before the fun action scenes start to kick in. This leads to our discussion of the gore effects, Jesse Ventura’s delightful performance, and all those wonderful one-liners.
As things winds down we talk about what makes the Predator special as a horror icon, and just what makes this the best horror movie ever made – because this one is dug into the canon like an Alabama tick!
This week in the horror house, Brittni Martin of Montreal’s Cardboard Utopia Games is here to talk about her pick for the best horror movie ever made – 2000’s Canadian werewolf classic, Ginger Snaps!
We talk about her history with horror, and the way this movie taps into exactly what she was going through when it came out… specifically, being a depressed teenager and feeling like everything is the end of the world, and how this movie speaks authentically to the teenage experience.
We also dive into the proud horror lineage from the north including such favorites as the tv adaptation of Goosebumps, the Final Destination franchise, and Supernatural.
Similar to what Cronenberg went through years earlier in Canada, this movie had challenges getting made, so we discuss both the cultural conversation around teen violence that presented a stumbling block, plus the harsh Canadian winters.
Next we talk about the physicality of it, and how the desire to use prosthetics instead of CGI allows a more lived in feeling for the movie and creates a bigger impact for the audience. Though the audience took some time to develop, thanks to a botched distribution, but it found its footing on VHS and then HBO where it developed into a cult classic thanks to its impressive utilization and subversion of classic horror tropes and cinematic language.
This movie stands out on its own though, not just leveraging those tropes; the opening credits with the faked death, its analysis of predatory men and familial drift, plus the influence it had on later movies like Jennifer’s Body.
As we wrap up, Brittni and I discuss our interpretations of the movie and if we think there was any of Ginger left in that wolf before we sum up what makes this the best! Throw out those Hollywood rules, and don’t miss awoo00oout!
Today in the horror house – we’re breaking out (and just breaking) our VHS player, because Quinn Armstrong is here fresh off his feature debut at Fantasia Fest with Survival Skills! Plus, we talk about a unique entry into the horror house canon, an experimental short film from Peter Tscherkassky, Outer Space!
We start off talking about Quinn’s experience with horror and how he was a latecomer not only to the genre but to film in general, then transition to how his work in the theater world helped him move past common stylistic choices like complete naturalism to create art with surrealist elements but still maintaining an approachability.
We then get into his influences and preferences for horror; what drives him both as a creator, and someone who just enjoys watching the genre? We finally start talking about the origins of his own movie and getting it made, including his hail mary play to get Stacy Keach involved in the project.
Next we discuss his time up close with victims of domestic abuse and the police force, and how that influenced Survival Skills, before diving into the power of short film, which is what it started out as.
This leads directly into his choice for the best horror movie ever made, Outer Space. We talk about Peter’s history and his discovery of experimental film, before getting into how they usually require stripping away recognizable elements whereas Tscherkassky plays with our own knowledge of film while still creating a visceral reaction and using the medium to help communicate the message.
We then get into the nature of originality, as Tscherkassky made a name by using the cast-off scraps of film and creating his own unique stories from them. Finally we get into the film itself, including our differing interpretations of it, before summing up why it’s the best horror movie ever made!
This week in the Best Little Horror House in Philly – we’re joined by grindhouse guru G.G. Graham! As an exploitation expert she was the perfect person to bring the first of that genre to the podcast, and give us a history lesson about it to boot!
We start off talking about it’s very beginnings as humble “hygiene videos”, but as the genre grew, it took more influence from pulp novels and other “exploitative” materials, putting the facade of education on the backburner and focusing on the elements that people had been watching for front and center.
This leads to our discussion of the splinter genres within exploitation, and how so many of them have been indirectly responsible for franchises we all love, by breaking taboos and creating an environment ready for them – plus all the iconic exploitation films that have been “elevated” by public opinion out of their b-movie origins.
Once we make our way to 1970 we’re finally ready to talk about her pick, David E. Durston’s I Drink Your Blood, his effort to make “the most graphic horror film ever produced”! A combination of the Manson Family trials and the story of a village afflicted with rabies, I Drink Your Blood tells the tale of Horace Bones, charismatic satanic cult leader, and his downfall at the hands of a little boy and a rabid dog.
We talk about the challenging filming and the way the marketing was completely patchwork – to say nothing of the way the film got chopped up by theater editors in a last-ditch effort to get screenings. We also talk about how the performances help to give this movie some more impact, despite some of the sillier aspects.
Though the film got mixed reception, it does have a cult following (heh). It’s a fascinating story that’s emblematic of the grindhouse era, and you’re not going to want to miss our discussion of it!
This week in the Horror House – Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh from the Pop Rocket and Waiting to X-Hale podcasts is here to put the “cult” in “cult classic” because we’re talking about 2015’s Last Shift, written, directed and produced by Anthony Diblasi!
We start out discussing Wynter’s history with horror – her enjoyment of the way it worms into you, the blessing of Tubi, and her preference for psychological horror. Perfect for this movie, which brings a notable sense of ambiguity that we both loved! We also talk about the budgetary constraints of this movie and the way big franchises inflate their budgets while chasing bigger box office returns, asking at what cost when you could tell multiple stories for the price of one?
We also talk about the influences of this movie, and if you should wear them on your sleeve – then the influence of this movie, coming out in the transitory period into arthouse horror, and the diminishing returns on pumping out remakes.
When we start breaking down the plot, we have to get into the incredible main character of Last Shift, who manages to pair the stress of what she’s going through with the baggage of higher expectations places on women in exclusionary workplaces and “boy’s clubs” like the police tend to be. It also paces out reveals incredibly well, and subverts type by using a sex worker as the “Doctor Loomis” of the story.
Last Shift impresses us both with the economy of dialogue and action, and how so much of the movie works on more than just surface levels. We also marvel at the limiting of options thanks to her job as a police officer and the duty she feels, while the camera is communicating her emotional state – a unique ability that horror is able to utilize.
The movie keeps you on your toes with great moments of shock while drawing a parallel between the hero and antagonist, with the police station functioning as a modern haunted house, overwhelming you with stimuli to force a retreat inward, just like our protagonist. All of these add up to the best horror movie ever made, as far as Wynter is concerned!
This week on the Best Little Horror House in Philly – shark week never ends when you know that the best horror movie ever made is Jaws, and that’s exactly what Tim Kalpakis (the Sloppy Boys, Birthday Boys, Comedy Bang! Bang!) is here to convince us of!
We start off talking about how his taste in comedy shaped his taste in horror, especially in the way he prefers a movie that knows how to joke around and not take itself too serious. His nostalgia is alive and well too, and we talk about his fondness for diving into the classics of his youth.
When we start talking about jaws, it’s impossible not to talk about the troubled shoot – the series of fortunate coincidences that led to the movie getting made in the first place, and all the accidents and mishaps that led to it winding up being the movie we got. It’s no surprise the press seized on this narrative, and we wonder if maybe it was leaned into a little bit!
We also talk about the impact the movie had on society – much like Psycho, it instilled a whole new set of fears on generations to come, while also being the first blockbuster. Unfortunately it has had some negative impact too – author of the novel Peter Benchley and conservation efforts butt heads with the lingering effects of the book and movie all these years later.
As we dig into the plot, the timely nature of it in comparison with the COVID-19 response is undeniable, but the story does much more than ring true today – it also has one of the best character introductions of all time with Quint, and manages to subvert Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” in a way that feels intellectually honest and refreshing. Much of this is thanks to Spielberg and his understanding of the importance of small moments and letting a scene breathe.
Finally we get into the pulling attitudes on board the Orca, the incredible USS Indianapolis monologue, Quint’s connection to Ahab and his self-destructive nature being his undoing along with the need for a happy ending after all this despair. You won’t want to miss this episode, but you might want to miss the beach trip after!
This week on the Best Little Horror House, I’m joined by Cody Ziglar (writer for She-Hulk, Robot Chicken, Host of the Dark Weeb Podcast) to talk about his pick for the best horror movie ever made, Jordan Peele’s smash hit from 2017, Get Out!
We start out talking about how Cody got into horror as a kid and the way it has been part of his life ever since – especially when he dove in headfirst during film school. This lifelong passion has instilled a respect for the big swings that are only really accomplishable with horror, and some of other unique capabilities of the genre like utilizing the camera itself as a storyteller.
We start talking about Jordan Peele himself, including his past with UCB, Key and Peele, and how he used comedy as a trojan horse to get big enough to pivot into the projects he really wanted to do — like Get Out style horror movies and reviving classic sci-fi like his new Twilight Zone anthology.
As we dive into Get Out, we talk about Jordan’s fears for the movie, especially in terms of audience reaction, and the immense success and accolades that both he and the movie were met with upon release. Part of what made the movie such a hit with audiences was the real emotion behind it, coming from a lived-in place for Peele and many black Americans. We discuss the sunken place, how Chris is able to confront his demons, and the need for a happy ending before summing up why this is (according to my guest) the best horror movie ever made.
This week on the Best Little Horror House in Philly, we’re putting the “murder” in “murder of crows” because bird enthusiast and rescue volunteer Lacey Smith is here to talk about 1963’s The Birds from master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock!
First we talk about Lacey’s “spark bird” and what got her into birding, before discussing my distrust of birds writ large – which means this episode has all angles covered.
After learning more about Lacey, we talk about Hitchcock himself, and his mistreatment of stars like Tippi Hedren after they rejected his harassing advances.
We get into the film itself next, in particular discussing the technical filmmaking prowess on display. Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels the merry prankster immediately wins our hearts, and we also discuss why seagulls are the perfect villains – but that the diversity of tactics on display from the different species of birds is both smart and realistic.
We also get into the nature of backstory and how Melanie is able to develop as a character instead of a caricature, and how the first really shocking bit of violence is halfway through – shocking not only for the time period, but also, the way they let the placidity of the town build and build, only to finally shatter it deep into the movie. The movies immaculate pacing and the impressive use of diegetic sound instead of score to keep you in the world is also mentioned here.
Then Lacey and I relate the movie to today – the relevance of the different perspectives (especially the denial) in the restaurant scene and the prophecies of doom seem particularly ominous with the pandemic going on and how people look for something to blame. The movie also relates to today in Hitchcock’s undeniable influence on slashers, between Psycho and The Birds utilizing the “crazy” prophet of doom.
We warn people to beware the bird war! How would we react in a real-world situation where birds were attacking? Why are crows the last bird you should mess with? Then we wrap up by discussing the scale of the movie expanding at the last moment and getting another scare out of that, plus the growth of characters throughout.