In this episode of the Best Little Horror House in Philly, we’re back and badder than ever thanks to writer and musician Mabel Harper pitching Wes Craven’s New Nightmare as the best horror movie ever made!
We start off with a discussion our favorite subgenre, slashers, and look at them on a larger scale -including the institutional sexism and problematic aspects of many, while also exploring some of the points brought up in Carol J. Clover’s Men, Women and Chainsaws.
As we get into New Nightmare, the first thing that comes up is how unique it is. Not only as a work of metafiction but also how it stands apart from other metanarratives within horror like those in Scream and Cabin in the Woods.
This leads to our analyzing the relationship between horror, its creators, and the audience watching it, how Nightmare on Elm Street distinguishes itself by blurring the line between real and fake, even within the context of the movie, and New Nightmare takes it to yet another level.
We also get into the nature of parasocial relationships and how starring in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies affects the members of the cast including Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon and Robert Englund before getting to the MPAA and how trying to prevent exposure can exacerbate the problem, especially when horror is so frequently about contextualizing your traumas and seeing your experiences, positive and negative, reflected on the screen.
In the end, being able to parse fact from fiction is crucial both to defeating Freddy Krueger and to understanding the role that horror plays in our culture.
Bill Bodkin (Editor and Co-founder of The Pop Break) is pulling up to the Best Little Horror House in Philly with the Porkchop Express to talk about Big Trouble in Little China!
We talk about how he got scared by Willow, didn’t get back into horror until his wife started forcing him to watch the movies she liked, and how his taste has expanded.
After discussing Bill’s background we move to John Carpenter himself and the accessibility of auteur horror versus schlock, plus the way critics constantly get it wrong about his movies until years later.
We pay homage to the cast with James Hong and Kurt Russell in particular getting some love, and then talk about the original script plans, the tumultuous production, marketing campaign and threat of a remake.
We also discuss the similarities to Buckaroo Banzai, Flash Gordon, and other pulpy movies while subverting the John Wayne archetype – the cracks in the facade of bluster, and Kurt Russell playing Jack Burton to perfection.
It’s not just Kurt though – we also talk about the incredible way exposition characters are still charming, not getting lost in overcomplicated backstories and how challenging “bad” acting can be – just look at the brothel scene in this one!
When we get to the horror, we discuss how it’s effective because it’s used sparingly and not signalled, plus the way immortality is a true curse. Plus spooky Chinese Bigfoot, aka the Yerin!
We move on to the way VHS saved Kurt Russell’s career and why it means so much to so many people, then get to the extreme villain lair makeover with incredible neon decor, the best toast of all time, and why discuss which Rocky movie is the best in a mini review.
Finally, we discuss the wonderful fight scene at the end, why we’re glad Jack Burton is the one who actually saves the day despite his incompetence, and how this movie subverts expectations right up until the end.
This week on The Best Little Horror House in Philly, George is joined by award-winning writer Chad Quandt from series like Trollhunters and Unikitty, plus the amazing podcast Goosebuds!
The conversation starts with the path to EGOT status now that he’s a (daytime) Emmy award winner, and we reminisce about the glory of the Scholastic Bookfair at school and his affinity for Goosebumps.
They talk about Uwe Boll’s impact on culture and his determining the zeitgeist then get to Chad’s pick for the best horror movie ever made, Dawn of the Dead (2004). George and Chad wade in by talking about Zack Snyder and his style being present right from the beginning, and how he and James Gunn made enough changes to differentiate this reimagining from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead while keeping elements to connect it.
Chad and George ask each other if they’re ready for people to know about zombies in zombie media, and how to establish different stakes for different acts of the movie to keep the tension rising. They continue to discuss the choices made by Snyder and co, including subverting the racial tropes of the past and keeping combat capabilities realistic.
They bring James Gunn back in, and how his Troma background could have influenced the movie, especially in the zombie baby scene. They do the math and decide trading a racist for a dog is a good deal, and establish showbiz parents as the true horror. There’s also talk about how to keep unlikable characters important so they aren’t just a passive detriment, tying the Day of the Dead ethical questions into this remake, and going after your dog in the apocalypse.
Finally they discuss the satisfaction of seeing annoying characters die in a horror movie, complete redemption arcs, and a great tragic ending, especially with an element of ambiguity.
This week at the Best Little Horror House in Philly, comedian Matthew Schmid is here to talk about his pick for the best horror movie ever made – Paranormal Activity! But first we talk about growing up in a house with Stephen King books lining the walls, and what an impact that has on a burgeoning horror fan!
We move to the history of Found Footage movies next, our fascination with micro and nano-budget filmmaking, and how the subgenre was propped up by the advancing technology and influx of affordable high-quality digital home cameras.
As we get into the cultural context of Paranormal Activity, we examine how it dethroned Saw, the series that had previously owned October in the 2000s, and the similarities between the two franchises. We then move to the actual development of the movie, starting with the great story of Steven Spielberg’s reaction to it.
The development discussion continues with how difficult it was to nail down an ending and actually get the movie released thanks to changing studio ownership, and how when it finally was released, quickly became the most profitable movie of all time.
Finally we move into the actual movie, talking about which installments in the franchise are good, how the movie invites and inspires to do it yourself, and what the movie does so right to create an effective environment.
This includes the way it effectively uses “fake out” moments and isolates the characters – using empty space in a way that lauded in the similar Invisible Man from 2020.
Finally we talk about our comfort food movies and the ending of the movie – how well the whole thing is paced to get you there, the constantly rising action, and the multiple endings that could have been before summarizing why it’s the best horror movie ever made!
In this episode of the Best Little Horror House in Philly, George is joined by his pal Laura Haase to chat about her pick for the best horror movie ever made, Saw from 2004! They start out talking about her horror proclivities before getting into the actual movie and breaking it down.
Before the movie even starts there’s plenty to admire – it kicks off with the production company “Twisted Pictures” logo, and the two of them discuss how it perfectly captures the vibe of the movie.
They also get into the classic Saw editing style – with some exclusive information from editor of Saw and director of later installments, Kevin Greutert!
The conversation gets into the selfish nature of humanity as portrayed in this movie, while George practices his Jigsaw impression. He’d like to play a game, and that game is poorly imitating horror icon Tobin Bell. They lighten things up with some talk about the iconography of the franchise and the construction of Billy the Puppet, including one thing that he lost in between the original short film and this – much to George’s chagrin.
As the movie continues, so too does their insight – Easter eggs like Stygian Street come up, as does discussion of the twin self-destructive obsessions of Jigsaw and Detective Tapp, plus Doctor Gordon’s degrading home life.
Eventually, Laura and George discuss the humble beginnings of this movie that would become its own subgenre, and how it effectively utilizes twists and turns to keep the viewer off balance as it leads to an exciting and satisfying ending – that might not be exactly what people expect, and why that’s a good thing.
They finish by digging into the ethics of jigsaw and John Kramer’s delusions both of grandeur and regarding his own motivations, then summarize why it is the best horror movie ever made!