Keep... reading this interview!
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Scott Shoyer, better known as 'Anything Horror' and 'Anything Horror Scott.' For those of you who don't know,
he's one of the foremost authorities in the field of horror entertainment... and probably THE foremost authority, if the truth be told. So, you can imagine how excited I was when Scott graciously agreed to sit down with me for this exclusive one-on-one
- How and when did you become "Anything Horror Scott" - creating that cool nickname and identity for yourself?
Did the moniker just pop into your head or something?
--- I started AnythingHorror.com in December of 2009. I was reading various horror websites' reviews and was bored. It seemed like
all the reviews were pretty much all the same and read the same. But I came across one website that stood out from the others. It's run by a woman in Vancouver and I loved her voice. She was unique, honest, and funny. I emailed her
and we struck up a friendship and I wrote a few guest reviews for her. Then a few days later I thought to myself, "Why not start your own website?" I thought I had a unique voice and would stand out from the big, boring cookie-cutter horror websites
out there. I think it worked. People really responded well to my reviews!!
The name "Anything
Horror" came to me out of frustration. I was trying to come up with a good name that represented what I wanted to do on my site. I wasn't just going to review horror movies and novels. I was going to focus on the indie horror scene, short
films, horror comics, horror video games, etc. I was chatting with a friend and he asked me what aspect of the horror genre I was going to focus on, and I said, "Everything. Anything that's horror, I'm going to cover it." Anything
Horror was my next thought, and the rest is history!!
- How and when did you make your advent into the horror movie industry?
--- This came from making connections and friends from various horror conventions. I used to attend the
Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas every Spring and besides there being tons of huge-named horror icons, there was also tons of local, Texas independent horror filmmakers. I would meet and talk with them and establish friendships with them. One
of my favorite filmmakers is Billy "Bloody Bill" Pon. Back in 2010 he made this amazing short film, DOLL BOY. I loved it and gave it a rave review and he contacted me to thank me for my review. I was also the first person to review it.
We started a friendship and still talk to this day.
- Do you remember how old you were when you got your first taste of horror and became
interested in it? When did you see your first horror movie? What was it? I suppose that seeing your first horror film is what got you hooked and led to your ongoing, continued interest in "anything horror."
--- This is a great question!! I was watching horror films at such an early age that I don't even remember them!! My mom tells me stories that she would put me in a baby swing and turn on the original TV show, DARK SHADOWS.
She says the music from the show always soothed me. Lol I also, apparently, enjoyed the images that were on the screen as well!!
I grew up in South Jersey and we had this kick ass
UHF station, channel 48, that aired classic Hammer and Universal horror films from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s all day on Saturdays. This
is where I cut my teeth in the horror genre. I remember being in elementary school watching the classics. My mom was also a horror fan, so I never had to sneak around.
- Did your parents disapprove of your immersion into horror or did they support you all the way?
--- My parents were pretty cool with it. My dad generally loves movies of all types. I wouldn't say the horror genre is his favorite genre, but
he just loves all kinds of movies. My mom, on the other hand, is a horror fan through and through. Once I started getting interested in more current horror films (I grew up in the 70s and 80s, just when the slasher film was coming into its own), I was still young (I was 10 years old in 1980). So my mom would watch films like FRIDAY THE 13th and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET with me. Plus, I grew up reading Fangoria magazine, so I already knew that nothing I was watching on the screen was real. I was obsessed with special
f/x and various make-up artists!!
- Did your passion for horror ever interfere with your homework and bring down your grades?
--- As far as watching horror films, that never really affected my school work. I mostly binged on horror films on Saturdays and nights. The two people who kept me from school work were Clive Barker and Robert R. McCammon!!
When Barker's BOOKS OF BLOOD volumes and McCammon's SWAN SONG and STINGER, et al started coming out in the early to mid-1980s, I devoured them!! I couldn't get enough of their writings. I'd finish one of their books and immediately grab another. I've read all their works many times
over. I would read Barker and McCammon's stuff instead of reading the "classics" that I was assigned in my literature classes. But if Barker isn't a "classic" writer, then I don't know who is!! My grades never suffered because I'd just buy
the Cliff's Notes for the books I was supposed to be reading (do they even make those Cliff's Notes anymore??).
- Did you have the reputation among your peers as "that kid that loves horror" ?
--- Absolutely!! I was definitely the "friend who loves horror" among my group of friends. I always had at least one Clive Barker book in my backpack at any given time; I was the kid who had a subscription
to Fangoria magazine; I was the kid that didn't just know who directed what horror movie, but also knew who did the special f/x; and I was the kid whose mom let him watch any
horror movie I wanted.
Growing up in the
mid-1980s was a great time to be a horror fan!! My mom took me to see all
the R-rated horror films that came out. Then as I got older, my friends always relied on me to tell them what the newest, goriest horror films were. I remember one Saturday night, me and my friends all went out to see this brand new horror film,
HELLRAISER. We were all blown away. My one friend, Bill, especially loved it and that cemented our friendship forever.
- As a youth, were you somewhat of a bully? That's what some people may assume from a physically
imposing guy who has dedicated his life to horror entertainment, although it isn't necessarily the case. Just describe for us what your personality was like as a young lad.
--- Me, a bully? Oh, hell no!! I was always tall for my age and I played a lot of basketball and
enjoyed working out. I was hulky and I guess a little intimidating looking. But my personality couldn't have been any further from being a bully back then as it is now. I was a laid back kid who loved to make others laugh and gross people
out as I described to them the lattest horror film I saw. People who didn't know me at all would probably have been shocked to learn I was such a huge horror fan. I was always laughing and being goofy. I was also a comic book geek!!
various horror conventions I learned that horror stars and fans are the best people around.
We are all passionate about the genre, and overall we're not a violent group of people!!
- Thanks SO MUCH for dispelling that myth about horror aficionados!!! Now, on to my next question. Do you have a favorite horror
--- This is the
toughest question that people are always asking me!! Asking me this question is like asking me, "Which of your kids is your favorite?" But I can break this question down for you and give you an answer (or several).
The first horror film that really smacked me in the head and made me realize what a fantastic genre the horror
genre is, was Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD. That film blew me away on every level. My mom and I rented it from the ma & pa corner video store (this was back before Blockbuster video stores ruled the earth), and I was over a week late returning
the film because I kept watching it over and over again. I still watch this film 2-3 times a year.
Another film that had a huge impact on me was David Cronenberg's VIDEODROME. I admit that when I first watched it, I had no fucking clue what was
going on in it. But the story just grabbed me and sucked me in. James Woods' performance was intense, the story was intricate and mesmerizing, and the f/x were mind-blowing!! I watched this film continually and dissected it until I understood
exactly what Cronenberg was trying to tell me. I also watch this film at least 2-3 times
Other films that I consider among my favorites are EVIL DEAD 2, RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BEYOND, SUSPIRIA, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE THING, and MARTYRS.
you have a favorite horror movie character?
--- Hmmm.... another great question. As far as the classic creatures go, I've always loved the Wolfman. Werewolves are so primal. I love the aspect that
they are normal people 98% of the time, but during that 2%
when the wolf takes over, there's nothing the civilized person can do. I like that idea of being trapped in your own body - being a prisoner to one's own baser, primal instincts.
In general, I prefer Jason
over Freddy, Predators over the aliens, Chrome Skull over Victor, and slashers over ghosts. And I love Pinhead. Pinhead is in a category all of his own.
- Do you identify with any particular character(s)? Like, seeing him makes you think, I'm a lot like that! If so, I guess
(this) would be your favorite one.
--- Even though
I don't see a lot of my personality traits in werewolves, I do identify with the werewolf archetype. It is kind of like the whole. "Everyone wears masks." The people who are werewolves realize they are killers, but they try and live as normal
a life as possible while at the same time trying to figure out a way to stop transforming into the beast. The same could be said about most people. I wear a mask when I go to work every day. I hate my job but put on the mask so others don't
know what is really going on behind my eyes. And let's face it, who at one time or another doesn't want to unleash the monster inside and let it just go wild for an hour or two. Lol
- This question is closely related to the previous one. What horror movie character would you most want to BE, and why?? We sort
of already covered this topic, especially toward the tail end of your answer. So, I'm assuming you'll say a werewolf because you could "unleash the monster inside you and just let it go wild for an hour or two."
--- Yes, I'd choose a werewolf. I'd also choose a character like Dr. Jeckyll. I have always loved the idea of one person having a contradictory, dual nature living within him
or her self. There are some serial killers, both real and made up,that fit this pattern. Ted Bundy was a functional, intelligent man who harbored a monster inside, and Dr. Hannibal Lector was a respected doctor with a very dark side to his personality.
But I think being able to transform into a werewolf would be a blast!! Running around in a primal, feral state for a few hours every night is very appealing!!
- Are there any particular scenes in films that especially stand out to you?
--- Definitely. My dreams and memories are about 90% horror movie scenes!! Some
of the scenes that really stand out in my mind include the "Head Giving Head" scene from Re-Animator; when Barry Convex is shot by Max Renn (James Woods) in Videodrome and collapses and seizures into a mass of cancerous tumors; in the original
Maniac, the scene in the car, when Frank appears out of nowhere and blows off Tom Savini's head with a shotgun: in Martyrs, the look on Anna's face as the knife makes the first incision into her back before she is skinned alive; in Romero's
Dawn of the Dead when the zombie has his head sheared off by the top of the helicopter blade: in Cannibal Ferox, when the cannibals hang a woman by plunging two rusty hooks through her breasts so she is suspended in the air; and the classic
sscene from Frankenstein, when the monster throws the little girl into the water. There is something so innocent and beautiful in that scene. It is one of the best scenes in the history of horror.
- Are there any (parts) of horror movies that you like more than others? (Such as suspense scenes right before the main action occurs, chase
scenes, barbarous attacks, blood and gore, resolution, whatever.)
--- I really love it in horror films when no character is safe. Ninety-nine percent of the horror films out there let the audience know within the
first ten minutes who the "final girl" will be. But films like The Descent throw the audience for a loop. The audience thinks they know who the last girl standing will be, but are proven wrong. I don't like how horror has become
formulaic and predictable. With my novels I try and create the atmosphere where the reader has no idea if my "main characters" will make it from page to page, let alone to the end of the novel!!
- When you're watching a chase scene, do you feel as if you're the one being chased or do you feel as if you're doing the chasing? In
general, are you in a vicarious mindset sometimes, most of the time, or every time you're enjoying a good horror movie?
--- It all depends on how the scene is shot. In some films, like most of the Friday
the 13th chase scenes, I feel as though I'm Jason and am doing the chasing. I think that comes from the perspective of how the scene is shot. When we see a victim running for their life and we get a nice tight/close shot, I can identify more
with the victim. As the viewer, we can't see around the runner and have no idea if the killer is right on their tail or next to them or in front of them. Unfortunately, many of the chase scenes in the Friday the 13th films gives us wide
shots of the victims as they run. This completely pulls me out of the moment.
- What, exactly, do horror movies do for you? To use an analogy to explain what I mean: people who like to watch car racing get a certain thrill out of it for various
reasons, such as hoping to see a crash. With horror, what do you get out of it?
--- When I watch horror movies, I feel as though I'm part of a rich and varied history -- mainly the history of people trying
to shock, disgust, and scare other people!! Going all the way back to the traveling freak show, Grand Guignol theater, and the early days of motion pictures, there were always creative, and let's face it, semi-crazy people who loved to shock other people.
The horror genre is entrenched in this tradition. Sure, not every film succeeds, but when you hit on a film that really strikes a nerve with you, it is the best feeling in the world!!
- Do you find that horror movies aren't made as well now, in these modern times, as they were in past eras in terms of creativity,
acting, technical precision, theme, plot, etc. Comment on the current state of horror cinema as it relates to the way it was in former ages. Cover, if you will, all the decades spanning up to the present, starting with the earliest, vintage horror
I don't like to generalize, but if I might alter the scope of this question slightly, I'd say that the reason horror films are (made) nowadays is much different than the reason they were made in past decades.
Back in the days of Hammer horror films and the classic Universal creature features, as well as in the 1970s and 1980s, audiences got horror movies that were made (by) horror fans (for) horror fans. John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Dario
Argento, Lucio Fulci, and George Romero (to name a few) were true horror fans who wanted to raise the bar on the current state of horror films. All these filmmakers made amazing horoor movies that are classics in every sense of the word and which stand
up beautifully in today's world.
Nowadays, it seems that people start making horror films as their "way in" to the moviemaking business -- and it shows in the final product. So many filmmakers think making a horror film is the fastest and easiest way to get them noticed.
They believe having some half-naked bimbos running around and filling the screen with CGI blood is what horror filmmaking is. That's why I got pissed off at horror fans who constantly bash Eli Roth. Roth is one of the few recent filmmakers who
actually really loves the horror genre. Sure, all his horror films aren't succcessful, but when I watch them, I can feel the excitement coming from Roth in every frame. He's like a giddy school boy who is living out his childhood dreams of making
most of the horror films being released in the theaters have cookie-cutter scripts, are worn out sequels, and are boring, family-friendly stories. Movies like The Blair Witch Project and Insidious proved to Hollywood that a low budget
horror film made right could be a huge money generator. But what we get instead in the wake of such films are countless rip-offs. When Insidious was such a huge hit, the message to Hollywood should have been, "Wow, horror audiences want
something genuinely original and scary." But what Hollywood actually took away from it was, "Okay, horror audiences want thirty-seven more Insidious rip-offs."
- Do you also like psychological horror films like Rosemary's Baby and Silence of the Lambs in addition to the action/adventure,
slasher horror movies?
I don't think there's anything better than a psychological horror movie that is done right! One of my favorite films is Jacob's Ladder. This is a damn near perfect film!! I also love Session 9, Angel Heart,and Black Swan. The mark of a brilliant psychological film, which all the films I just
listed exhibit, is the ability to crawl under your skin and really creep you out. All these films get into your head and have you thinking about them long after you've seen them.
- Did you ever get into King Kong and Godzilla movies, or is that not exactly your cup of tea?
--- Are you kidding? I grew up on Godzilla!! I wasn't much of a King
Kong fan, but Godzilla is the shit!! I watched all the big match ups. My favorites to this day are Godzilla vs Mothra, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Destroy all Monsters, All Monsters Attack, Godzilla vs Megalon,
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, and my favorite has always been Godzilla vs Headorah (Godzilla vs the Smog Monster).
- Are there any other sub-genres of horror that are of interest to you?
--- I really love the Italian-cannibal sub-genre from the 1970s and 1980s. Those films might
not be the best made films, but damn if they aren't fun as hell!! They have shit for plots, terrible dialogue, and use stock travel footage, but they are gory as hell and will always have a place in my heart.
I'm also a huge
fan of the Italian giallo sub-genre. I obviously love the films of Argento (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, and The Cat O' Nine Tails), but Bava's A Blade in the Dark, Bergonzelli's
In the Folds of the Flesh, Fulci's The New York Ripper and A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Cavara's Black Belly of the Tarantulla, and Avati's The House of Laughing Windows are some of my favorites as well!!
- Do you like to search for subtexts - trying to
look beyond the surface and seeing deeper, underlying meanings and subtle messages in horror movies that the writers are trying to convey? You said you did so with Videorama, but is this generally something you like to
do, or do you prefer to just enjoy a good movie without trying to analyze and scrutinize it too much?
--- I let the movie guide me!! I don't go into every horror movie expecting to get a deeper meaning. Some films are just shallow and meaningless!! I think all the modern day feminist interpretations of the classics, like Halloween
and Friday the 13th films are absolutely ridiculous. They are fun reads, but I don't think for a second that the filmmakers intended those films to be cutting-edge feminist critiques of society. Those films are just a bunch of half-naked
chicks running around in the woods until they get slaughtered!!
A film like Videodrome, on the other hand, begged the viewer to see beyond the surface level and look deeper into the meaning of the film. The film was Cronenberg's critique of the alienation
and breakdown of modern society due to the ever-increasing and dominating technology that was becoming more and more invasive in people's lives. But what is great about Videodrome is that if you never look for the subtext, it doesn't really
take anything away from the experience. This film, with or without the subtext, is a kickass horror flick with great performances and even better special effects.
- Do you think that horror movies are being lost on the millennial generation in the digital age -- that they're too much into
other forms of entertainment including social media and all the various hi-tech devices they're obsessed with to devote much of their time, energy and attention to horror movies?
To Be Continued...