Many fans of horror, amateur and professional alike, have devoted themselves to blogging about the thrills, chills, and no-frills side of the genre as seen in cinema and print. In this ongoing series that highlights the writers behind the blogs, we meet the unique personalities and talents that make the online horror scene so engaging. Up close and personal.
In this installment, Mike and Chris from All Things Horror tag team the terror to the delight of their readers.
I fell in love with horror around age seven by spending Saturday afternoons in the public library. After soccer games, my Dad would drop me off while he went grocery shopping. For whatever reason, the Dracut library stocked the juvenile section with folklore books. The history of witchcraft, true hauntings, werewolves and vampire mythology were all at my finger tips. These were pretty hardcore-in today’s namby pamby world I can’t imagine there’s much on the kid’s shelves about Vlad Tepes impaling his subjects then dining amongst the carnage, nor stories about ghost that appeared on elevators moments before the cables snapped and the cart plunged, sending everyone to their cruel demise. I gobbled up everyone I could check out. Granted they left me so scared if I woke up in the middle of the night to pee I’d clutch a statue of Virgin Mary in front of me while tiptoeing down the hall, just in case a vampire jumped out of the shadows. Just as fifth grade let out for summer vacation, I finished reading The Amityville Horror. That night I woke up covered in itchy splotches and my skin felt like it was on fire. I was terrified that I’d been turned into some sort of demonic hell spawn. It was the chicken pox.
My parents were fairly strict about not letting me watch R Rated movies when I was younger, but I got to watch the Creature Double Feature every weekend on Channel 56. They showed all the Universal films, along with the giant Japanese monsters destroying Tokyo pictures and edited Hammer films (less blood, no boobs). Those films didn’t scare me, but they were a blast to watch. How can you not love Karloff? As I got older, a bunch of us would rent the horror films of the day-The Elm Streets, The Halloweens, Friday the 13th, Fright Night and my love for horror movies just took off from there.
As I grew older, I noticed there was a community aspect to horror fans that was very similar to the punk scene I’d been a part of for so long. Horror movie fans are just plain fun to hang out with. When I moved back to Boston, we celebrated with a massive pancake dinner followed by watching Cabin Fever. A group of us dressed like zombies the night Land of the Dead came out and shambled past Fenway Park and the night clubs en route to the theater. Every Sunday our apartment hosted a horror movie night and we’d cram people into the living room for all sorts of horror, grind house and sleazy fun.
I started All Things Horror this past August after reading a ton of other horror sites and getting a sense of a real vibrant, inclusive online community. I emailed a bunch of friends asking if they’d like to contribute, and Chris jumped at the opportunity. It’s a blast doing the site with him because he’s even more passionate about horror than I am, and we love different aspects of the genre though we both consider ourselves giddy fan boys rather than serious film critics. I love the fact that even as an adult I can still get scared. Blair Witch Project scared me. The Descent scared me. Inside made me double bolt the doors. Reading House of Leaves left me with a sort of existential terror over the infinite expanse of the universe and the first Resident Evil game-when the Hell Hounds crash through the windows-nearly made me pee myself. I’m lucky to have a very tolerant wife that would rather watch French splatter flicks over Colin Firth movies.
What I’m really excited about is our film series All Things Horror Presents. Every month we rent the screening room at the Somerville Theater (just outside Boston) and screen amazing independent horror shorts and features. When you look at everyone’s list of horror favorites, there’s a sameness to them: Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, etc. If we can get ONE person to list films like Pig Hunt, Maidenhead, Must Love Death, George’s Intervention or Dawning among their favorites, then we’ve done our job.
There’s a great deal of responsibility involved with being known as “that horror guy”. I’m the one people call when they’re in the video store looking for a good horror film. Sure, “good” is a subjective term, but I like to think I have pretty decent taste. This has happened to me a number of times in a number of places, and I've grown to expect and accept it as my sworn duty. On those occasions, usually after 11 pm and with someone stinking drunk on the other end, someone will ring up and ask “what’s a good horror movie, man”. I’ll have to sit up, compose myself, and casually wipe away the drool I've accumulated after passing out on the chair.
Yep, this happens, and invariably, I choke. For some reason I always have a hard time thinking of something on the spot. If I was there with them, I’d be a whirlwind of suggestions. However, over the phone - air ball. I know I can default to the typical list, but I assume my friends have seen those and I don’t want to insult them by suggesting Halloween or Evil Dead. Sure, those are great movies. They’re also obvious. They could just ask the greasy underpaid kid at the counter and get the same result. No, they expect that I’ll recommend something special, something fierce, something nasty. Oh, the pressure!
I’m also the guy you never want to go with to the video store because I’ve seen everything on the shelf at least twice. I’ve had to lie and say I didn’t see something to avoid bumming people out. Good thing I’m always game to watch good movies a second, third, or twentieth time. I used to spend significant portions of my life just browsing the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy sections of the four or so mom and pop video rental joints in my hometown. I’ve become so familiar with the covers that even though I may not have seen a few randoms, I still feel like I watched them because of that recognition. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’d spend three hours or so on any given day just browsing, admiring the cover art, reading half-assed synopsis on the back. I didn’t have much money, so I needed to make good decisions or I’d feel terribly depressed if I brought home a real turkey. I made the video store a regular hang out and would talk for hours with whomever was working. I think the first official movie I ever rented was Critters.
I grew up totally immersed in horror films. My first memories
are catching Gamera, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, and various Godzilla
movies on Chilly
Billy’s Chiller Theater out of
As far as All Things Horror…well, when I met my now good
buddy Mike, he was hosting a horror movie night every so often at his house in
If you must know, I have other interests and hobbies that (begrudgingly) don’t revolve around horror. I love animals and work at a cat shelter a few times a month, I play drums very loudly and sloppily, I do film work and am writing a couple of (non-horror) screenplays, I love the city of Boston, I have a gluten/wheat allergy, I like my Thai food extra SPICY, I once hung out with White Zombie’s bass player and have dreamed of marrying her many times, I am obsessed with appeasing my kitty Timber, I have huge stacks of books and comics decorating my living room, and I make sure I call my grammy at least once per week.
To echo Chris' sentiment, thank you for letting us take part in this series. I've found a number of great sites in the past reading this feature and getting to know the people behind the posts, and hopefully a couple folks found us the same way.
Thank you again!
Posted by: Mike Snoonian | March 15, 2010 at 05:58 PM
Hey, the pleasure was all mine!
Posted by: jmcozzoli | March 09, 2010 at 05:03 PM
John, thanks so much for featuring our blog this past week. We were thrilled to be a part of Zombos Closet, even if briefly. Keep up the good work!
Posted by: Chris Hallock | March 09, 2010 at 04:39 PM
Love these guys, glad to see them profiled. And they do so much for indie horror that its inspired me to put on my own screenings in my home town.
Posted by: Cortez the Killer | March 03, 2010 at 11:55 AM
Awesome! Chris & Matt are two of the nicest coolest people in Boston, only second to myself..... hehe. Together we will be making Boston as horror trendy as Chicago- just you wait.
Posted by: Andre | March 03, 2010 at 11:26 AM