Horror Movie Podcast Ep. 063: A Horror Fan’s Plea to Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions or: “Jay of the Dead’s 13 Principles for Making an Effective Horror Film”

HMP 63 Art

This episode is dedicated to Producer Jason Blum.

In this unusual edition of HORROR MOVIE PODCAST, where we’re Dead Serious About Horror Movies, Jay of the Dead attempts to save the future of horror cinema by delivering an open letter-style address to Producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, arguably the most important Producer in horror today, in hopes that he will listen to this episode and consider implementing these good-natured suggestions to improve the overall quality of his future productions.

The Background: Last weekend, Jay saw the latest paranormal, found-footage Blumhouse flick called “The Gallows,” and its utter failure as a quality horror film inspired Jay to finally openly express his concerns with the direction of contemporary horror cinema and to publicly provide a list of foundational filmmaking tips that he calls, “Jay of the Dead’s 13 Principles for Making an Effective Horror Film.”

Jay and Josh conclude the show with Feature Reviews of two of the most recent Blumhouse Productions, “The Gallows” and “Creep.” If you’re Dead Serious About Horror Movies,” this is a must-listen! Join us!

Horror Movie Podcast is a weekly show that’s released every Friday. If you’d like to support our show, please subscribe to our podcast free in iTunes, and leave us a review! And remember, we love getting your voice mails, so call in with more recommendations and comments at this number: (801) 382-8789 Thanks for listening to Horror Movie Podcast!


I. A Horror Fan’s Plea to Jason Blum
— Explanation for this epsiode
— Hear Jason Blum interviewed on: KCRW’s The Business
— Acknowledgements and admissions


Don’t run a successful property into the ground with several sequels. Leave the audience wanting more.

Adopt what Jay calls, “Christopher Nolan Model,” where you produce great, one-off Horror films and instead of producing numerous sequels, you move on to the next great, one-off Horror film.


“Jay of the Dead’s 13 Principles for Making an Effective Horror Film”

1. Introduce a new kind of monster.

2. Reverse-engineer the writing of your film, so it’s built upon themes that reflect actual, societal fears.

3. Regardless of the universe that your film is set in, anchor certain aspects in realism.

4. Conjure “Horror in the Daylight” by making Horror spring out of what’s typically safe and the mundane.

5. True Horror is born out of deep sorrow or profound rage, often both.

6. Write and observe the rules and parameters for the world of your film, but don’t explicitly reveal them all to your viewers.

7. Don’t try to depict everything visually onscreen, but provide an equally powerful alternative method for conveying that same idea.

8. Defy expectations and conventions by seeding in mystery.

9. Story beats should organically and logically lead one to another.

10. Generate genuine Suspense in your Horror film.

11. Horror is not just physical violence, but it is also emotional violence or terror.

12. Remember that Horror happens to those who deserve it least.

13. Don’t be afraid to have a devastating ending to your Horror movie where balance and peace are not restored.

[ 01:17:53 ] III. Feature Review: THE GALLOWS (2015)
Jay of the Dead = 3.5 ( Avoid )

[ 01:29:52 ] IV. Feature Review: CREEP (2015)
Wolfman Josh = 5 ( Low-priority Rental / Low-priority Stream it )

[ 01:52:39 ] V. HMP Voicemails
— Voicemail from Fritz about watching “EAT”
— Voicemail from Dr. Shock at the beach: As Above, So Below = 7.5 ( Rental )

VI. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending

JOIN US IN TWO WEEKS ON HMP: Our next show, Episode 064, for a THEMED episode about “The Found Footage Convention in Horror.” It will release on Friday, August 7, 2015. (We’ll resume our weekly schedule thereafter, but we need to get back on a 10-day editing schedule, as opposed to a two-day one.)

NOTE FOR NEWCOMERS: If you love this podcast, there are 36 episodes of two other great podcasts that precede this one. Just scroll back through our archives, or use the links in the sidebar on the right.

Leave a comment or e-mail us here: HorrorMoviePodcast@gmail.com


RT this episode to Producer Jason Blum: @Jason_Blum

RT this episode to Blumhouse Productions: @Blumhouse

— Hear Jason Blum interviewed on: KCRW’s The Business

— Don’t forget to help Kyle and leave a positive review here for his book, American Zombie Gothic, and you could win a free Horror Movie Podcast T-shirt of your choice!

Dr. Walking Dead’s links:
Pre-order Kyle’s new book! How Zombies Conquered Popular Culture: The Multifarious Walking Dead in the 21st Century
Order Kyle’s previous books American Zombie Gothic and Triumph of The Walking Dead
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @DrWalkingDead

Wolfman Josh’s links:
Follow Josh on Twitter: @IcarusArts
Josh covers streaming online movies on: Movie Stream Cast
Follow MSC on Twitter: @MovieStreamCast
Like MSC on: Facebook

Dr. Shock’s links:
Dr. Shock’s daily movie review Web site: DVD Infatuation.com
Dr. Shock on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation
Dr. Shock’s DVD Infatuation is now on: Facebook
Dr. Shock’s other horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

Jay of the Dead’s links:
Jay of the Dead and Horror Movie Podcast Official Twitter: @HorrorMovieCast
Jay covers new releases in theaters on: Movie Podcast Weekly
And if you’d like to e-mail Jay with a good Beastly Freaks recommendation: BeastlyFreaks@gmail.com

You can always contact us by e-mailing HorrorMoviePodcast@gmail.com. Or you can call and leave us a voice mail at: (801) 382-8789. And you can leave us a comment in the show notes for this episode.

Special thanks goes out to singer-songwriter Frederick Ingram for the use of his music for Horror Movie Podcast.

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218 thoughts on “Horror Movie Podcast Ep. 063: A Horror Fan’s Plea to Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions or: “Jay of the Dead’s 13 Principles for Making an Effective Horror Film”

  1. First time commenter so forgive me if I break any unspoken rules with this comment. I am a lover of The Asylum studios and the kinds of movies they make, so I can watch some low quality stuff and have a great time, but I haven’t enjoyed anything from Blum House since Sinister. You have to give him points for that business model though. Spend very little money and hit all the necessary parts to make a children’s horror movie, push it into theaters and rake in the cash.

    Been loving this podcast since I found it a few months ago and I love that the hosts actually know horror and will critique horror movies with that knowledge. I’ve listened to so many movie podcasts where they try to review a horror movie and its just nails on a chalk bored to listen to.

    • Welcome to the boards, Slamophiliac.

      And, yes, I can relate to the nails on a chalkboard feeling. I’ve gotten that with most other horror podcasts, too.

    • Welcome, Slamophiliac. Glad you’re enjoying the show and glad you’re getting involved here. Great community of horror fans who are all smart and respectful. And thanks for listening! Check out the sidebar of the site to catch up on some of our older themed episodes you may not have caught-up with yet. I’m most proud of those eps.

      • Thanks for the welcome guys. ^_^

        Also, I’d like to recant my previous statement of not liking anything since Sinister. After looking at IMDB I noticed a few others I liked. Dark Skies being the main one but that’s because I’m absolutely terrified of aliens.

          • Fortunately I don’t have any stories to tell. What scares me about aliens is that they are a monster that doesn’t have rules in a sense. Most monsters have some means of being taken out, vampires, werewolves, ect. but I’ve yet to see an alien abduction movie where the humans posed any threat whatsoever to the aliens, nor have I seen a way that one could kill an alien.

            And I’m talking very specifically about alien abduction films, so movies like the classic Alien wouldn’t exactly count, though that monster is horrific in its own right.

            • Hey Slamophiliac! That name makes me think you’re a metalhead haha. If so, even better. Anyway, about your “how to kill an alien query”, I think blowing them up has been shown to be pretty successful. Alien, Independence Day, and Predator come to mind as pretty good examples. If it bleeds we can kill it, right? 😉

              • All excellent examples, but not of the alien abduction variety that he specifically mentioned. Something tells me that blowing them up would still work, though.

                • Blowing them up would more than likely work; however, I’ve never seen that presented as an option in an alien abduction film. Would love to see it though.

              • That is the case in all of those movies you named my friend. The movies that frighten me however are ones cause that The 4th Kind, Dark Skies, Alien Abduction, Skinwalker Ranch, etc. These are the kinds of alien movies I was speaking about and in those examples the aliens are an unstoppable malevolent force and the humans of those movies never have a chance.

                Also, Slamophiliac is the name of my one man death metal project. Darryn is my real name or as my friends call me Dazz.

          • Surely “Fire in the Sky” has got to be one of the most terrifying Alien Abduction movies out there. The aliens are just so brutal and monstrous in that film, which I think cleverly plays against the convention of the sinister yet physically placid and highly advanced aliens of many abduction movies.

        • COMMUNION is another good alien abduction movie. I seem to remember Jay mentioning the movie on some past episode. ALIEN ABDUCTION: INCIDENT IN LAKE COUNTY is a movie I remember hating after a friend recommended it to me, but it’s a movie that is so bad that there’s a lot to talk about. Seems like the type of low grade horror that Jay and Josh would enjoy talking about.

  2. Blumhouse is quite a mixed bag. I haven’t listen to the show yet, but CREEP was very effective and well made. I wonder if they do the very bad and cheap movies to make money and allow themselves to take risk elsewhere. I really don’t know, because often they take chances on movies nobody would, and then they will release horrible movies like ‘The Gallows’

    Anyway, looking forward to listening to the show

    • Hmmm … that’s interesting. Maybe there is a “one for them, one for me” aspect at play here where every Paranormal Activity 6 allows for a dozen Creep acquisitions … I don’t know.

      I think they are probably just trying to make money each time out and some are better movies than others. I think they legitimately want to make good movies. Who wouldn’t? Nobody wants to make crap. Even the Producers of Sharknado 3 are trying to have fun with it.

      I just think that the formula Blumhouse has found is a bit divisive amongst horror fans. You’re never going to make everyone happy, though. Like I said on the show, if someone comes along with the next great film that breaks totally new ground, they’d be interested. Of course they would. Because as much as a creative needs money and support to make their film, Producers rely on creatives to bring the product/art to them. They can’t do their job until someone else has an idea that they can execute.

      • mmmm… Don’t know where my head was when I wrote that paragraph but thanks for responding without judging my poor grammar ahahah

        • David,
          This is one of my fears… I think there are aspirations to make “film art” and aspirations to make money, but I believe the scales are tipped toward the latter. And it makes sense… These producers aren’t going to risk the farm on some lofty, arthouse Horror flick, because in Tinsel Town, one bomb and you’re out in the cold.

          But my assertion here (which may not have been clear) is that I think it’s:

          1. possible to do both.
          2. beneficial for the business in the long run.

          My concern with Blumhouse is that they’re picking all the low-hanging fruit while it’s ripe. The problem is, the low-hanging fruit eventually runs out…

          I’m talking about planting new trees.


    • Thanks for the Creep review, Josh. I agree with everything you said except that I think the title is great for this movie. You know going into this movie that this guy is a creep. It’s not overly scary or gory but just plain “creepy.” Mark Duplass has a much better roll in this film than the Lazarus effect. He’s pure creep and I like it!

      • It is indeed creepy, but it’s just not very memorable or descriptive. Plus, there’s at least one other great horror movie called “Creep” already. I wouldn’t have liked it if they’d called it “Halloween” either.

        Somehow, I still haven’t seen The Lazarus Effect. I’ve been meaning to get to that.

        Thanks, Mark. I’m glad the review was intelligible. It was a little scatter-shot because my Colombian Skype kept cutting out during that review.

        • I just watched this last night and I agree with the creepy factor although it’s done in a very straightforward, almost generic way. I don’t know how I feel about this movie to be quite frank. I think the beginning and ending were great and even though the middle wasn’t bad, it just didn’t do enough to build the suspense. The feeling that “the creep” was a threat was always sort of up in the air. We knew there was something off about him, we knew his intentions weren’t what they seemed, but we didn’t get a good look of who this guy really was until literally the very end. Too little too late in my opinion. Having said that, there are some pretty cool and interesting scenes and shots here that made me crave for more of that. The bathtub scene for instance, as well as the scene where he’s standing atop of the stairs at night. Very powerful stuff. Overall CREEP is a decent watch. It’s streaming for free on Netflix and you can certainly do much worse than that. It’s a 6 for me.

          • That’s basically how I felt about it right after watching, Juan. One thing I will say is that it has really stuck with me. I still find myself reevaluating my thoughts a week later. Things that seemed really lazy to me the first time make more sense to me now. But, I basically agree with everything you said.

  3. This turned out to be a pretty good show; it basically evolved into a general discussion of the horror genre. I didn’t know what to expect when I found out this would be a plea to Blumhouse Productions because, honestly, I think your (JOTD) reaction to THE GALLOWS was a bit exaggerated. I agree that it’s a generic entry, but I still found it to be fun for what it is.

    Not every horror movie is going to be THE SHINING or IT FOLLOWS. For every INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3, there’s going to be a handful of inferior popcorn horror movies like THE GALLOWS or POLTERGEIST. The same situation holds across all genres: for every MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, there’s a grundle of JURASSIC WORLDs and TERMINATOR GENISYSssss, for example.

    In the end, personal tastes aside, we all want the same thing – lots of quality horror movies. I agree with most of what you said on the show and think you presented some really great ideas. That said, I’m totally fine with Blumhouse Productions’ current path because they’ve been able to churn out some decent horror over the last 5+ years. And, for that, I’m willing to bear the other crap if it means they’ll be staying in the horror game.

    • I’m with you, Dino. Well said. You’d have been a better stand-in for Jason Blum than me since you are a big fan of the Paranormal Activities movies. I like most of the Blumhouse Productions I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen those that Jay has the biggest problem with: The Gallows, Unfriended, PA2-4, etc.

      I think most of Jay’s points here–yes, more a discussion of horror in general–are solid recommendations that would improve most screenplays. He did a great job and I believe him when he says he is speaking of as a fan.

      • I agree. I think he did a great job with the discussion, and it definitely felt like a love letter to the genre. You did a great job with your counterpoints, too, Wolfman… especially considering you were brought into this discussion cold.

    • Dino,
      Your comment has troubled me deeply, Son, and I am weeping inside. ha ha. I know you have a film-lover’s heart, so I’m going to ask you “the tough questions” here. But really, Dino, my comment isn’t directed at you as much as it’s an extension of this episode, spilling over into the comment boards…

      It’s not that “The Gallows” was the worst Horror movie I’ve ever seen… It was just “the last straw,” or “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for me. It’s not that it stands out in awfulness; it’s that it blends in and has become a repeat of mediocrity. We’ve seen this film so many times, and I believe it’s lazy.

      To your point… You wrote something shattering that I think we should all take careful note of… You wrote: “Not every horror movie is going to be THE SHINING or IT FOLLOWS.”

      I ask you, why not? Why aren’t we filmmakers and we audience members all striving to create and to see tremendous Horror films?

      I’m not trying to go after you, Dino. Your sentiments are all too prevalent and pervasive. We have become tolerant or accepting of such a low, low bar for Horror. So many of my fellow Horror critics (and I myself) have said things like, “There are so many awful Horror movies, you really have to sift through them to find the gems.”

      Sadly, I think we have become OK with the state of things, and we all seem to accept that the majority of the releases in our favorite genre are going to be terrible.

      And here’s the point: This is precisely the reason why Jason Blum can crank out these low-budget pot-boilers like “The Gallows” and still sleep at night, because he knows we Horror fans will pay good money to go see a Horror film.

      Wake up, all Horror fans out there! This is my Paul Revere clarion call here: Hollywood has learned that all they need to do to sell a movie to us Horror fans is to slap the classification of “Horror” on it, and we’ll pay to see it!

      This podcast episode wasn’t about “picking on Jason Blum” or attacking “The Gallows” and its filmmakers; this episode was about me going all “Network” (1976) on the Horror filmmaking industry and saying, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

      Watch this video. This is me. This should be all my fellow Horror fans, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINDtlPXmmE

      Much love,
      Jay of the Dead

      • I think there’s a big flaw in your argument though, Jay. That clip from NETWORK is great and all, but the horror business is not in poor shape right now. In fact, Blumhouse Productions are responsible for some of the best movies that were released in the fast few years. Movies like IT FOLLOWS and SINISTER. The people responsible for the bad horror movies of today are not Blumhouse.

        Chances are, this supernatural fad is likely coming to an end soon. Soon a new fad will come up and quietly kill off the supernatural films just as it’s happened to Asian remakes and torture porn in the past decade and a half.

        • Once again, I hate to be in the position of defending Jay ;), but It Follows was not a Blumhouse film. It was an independent film that they had nothing to do with.

          Also, it is not just the supernatural fad that has Jay bent out of shape. It’s the quality of the supernatural films. Again, he loved It Follows, The Babadook, Sinister, Insidious, etc.

          I think he’s afraid that when we look on the Blumhouse docket for the next couple of years we see a lack of “original programming” with Ouija 2, The Purge 3, Sinister 2 & 3, Unfriended 2, etc.

          But, I have really high hopes for other upcoming Blumhouse films like The Gift. It looks incredible. And there are a dozen that we have no idea what they are. There’s Paranormal Activity 6, but I don’t see a 7 … yet.

          Also, Jay me be intrigued by this, it is another remake, but Blumhouse is making the next Friday the 13th movie. The budget is in and the light is green. Will it be found footage, as rumored? The new Amityville they are making is not found footage.

          Mostly, I tend to agree with you, Sal. This too will pass. And I’d say mostly thanks to the filmmakers churning out films like It Follows and The Babadook who are doing the kinds of things that Jay suggests.

          Come on, please don’t make me keep defending this guy.

          • Legit question here. How much does it pain you to be sticking up for Jay? Have you reached the point where you’re in the fetal position in the corner, sucking your thumb and rocking back and forth? Lol

            Unless I’m wrong, but isn’t THE GALLOWS a similar story to IT FOLLOWS? Where THE GALLOWS was made and was ready to be released direct-to-video, before Blumhouse stepped in and got it a proper theatrical release? If so, can’t you include IT FOLLOWS for a positive thumbs up in Blumhouse’s record if Jay is going to count THE GALLOWS as a thumbs down?

            Something else to kind of consider. With movies like THE BABADOOK and IT FOLLOWS gaining a lot of attention in the past year, would it not be natural assumption that it will cause Blumhouse to look at different sort of films than just the cookie cutter formula ones that they have been focusing on? Unless this new PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequel does really well, it’s probably it for the series. The fact that PA 5 (Or PA 6 if you want to count MARKED ONES as PA 5) has taken this long to come out can’t be a good sign for the longevity of the series. Chance may literally be happening right now, but it’s going to take some time before we actually see it since they still have some old success formula films to release that was green lighted back when times were a bit better.

            They’re really making an OUIJA 2 though? That’s…disappointing. At least with Unfriended, you had a movie that was so terrible it was fun.

          • “How much does it pain you to be sticking up for Jay?”

            It’s not that I actually dislike sticking up for Jay. It’s that Jay and I were taking opposing positions in this debate and I’d ideally like to stick to that because, as I’ve mentioned, I agree with a lot of the criticisms being leveled here. But, I also consider myself to be a pretty open-minded person and I don’t like to see any idea completely squelched, even if it is contrary to mine. I love teasing out theories as much as I love challenging them. That’s what we do. I also give Jay a lot of crap because we’re playful rivals on these shows, but I respect all of the thought he puts into his film criticism.

            “Isn’t The Gallows a similar story to It Follows.”

            I hadn’t realized that The Gallows was a Blumhouse acquisition rather than a Blumhouse production. That would actually make me much more forgiving of it upon viewing, knowing that it was likely made on a shoe-string budget and with independent passion behind it. Creep is also a Blumhouse acquisition.

            But, It Follows was acquired and distributed by The Weinstein Company. Blumhouse had absolutely nothing to do with the picture. Not in the sense that they had nothing to do with the production of Paranormal Activity or The Gallows, but NOTHING AT ALL. ZIP.

            “It’s going to take some time before we actually see it since they still have some old success formula films to release.”

            That is an excellent observation! This may already be a moot point at the company. We can hope. And again, I don’t mind the continued release of the Paranormal Activity films, as long as they are good. Part 6 was written by the Taking of Deborah Logan team and that was fairly interesting, story-wise. It’s a first time director, but he’s edited most of the PA movies. I recently started following Ryan Turek on Twitter due to all of this stuff. He is the head of development at Blumhouse and that guy is a legit horror fan who seems to be a really cool guy with great taste in horror films. I’m hopeful.

            And yes, I hope the success of films like It Follows and The Babadook will spark a new direction for paranormal films and switch things up a bit. They aren’t films you could easily copy and I feel like they inspire creativity.

            We’ve had a lot of bad horror movies in the last couple years, I’d say the vast majority, but I also think we’ve had some incredible gems that are actually already finding place among my favorite horror films of all time.

            Great things are happening!

            • Oh, I’m a moron. I thought I saw IT FOLLOWS on the list of Blumhouse Productions releases. That hurts my argument a good deal since I was banking on IT FOLLOWS to being an example of Blumhouse being responsible for some of the best horrors in recent years.

              It does make me wonder if all of the positive praise will influence Blumhouse at all when IT FOLLOWS didn’t make as much money nor was it shown as in many theaters as a movie like THE GALLOWS. Money wise, THE GALLOWS was the better film out of the two.

              How is THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN? I’ve been seeing it on Netflix for weeks, but have been passing over it due to the plot not grabbing me.

          • We’re reviewing The Taking of Deborah Logan on the next episode. In short: It’s okay. Because my day job is making documentaries, I’m probably overly critical of found footage/mockumentary films that get the documentary filmmaking conventions wrong. I really enjoyed the basic story, but the format seriously drove me out of my mind. That’s in the directing, though, and these guys aren’t directing PA6, they’re just writing it, so I’m hopeful.

          • RE: the relative success of It Follows to The Gallows, I wonder how the per-screen averages compare–how much it made based on the number of theaters and how long it was screening as opposed to net profit. These guys take that into consideration. It Follows was supposed to be very limited, initially, but did so well that it went pretty wide, ultimately. So, it’s per-screen would have been excellent at first, but may have been diluted to the point of The Gallows once it went wider. It destroyed The Gallows in critical acclaim and audience buzz, however.

            • It also destroyed my sleep for a good long while after seeing it the first time (and every time I’ve seen it since).

      • Your point about THE GALLOWS being a repeat of mediocrity is fair, but I don’t believe it’s because the filmmakers were lazy. Yes, they used common horror conventions and techniques, but that doesn’t equal laziness. In fact, most of our favorite horror movies share these common conventions and techniques; they just do it better.

        I believe that all filmmakers intend to make a great film. The simple truth is that not all filmmakers are created equal. Not everyone is the next Kubrick, Cronenberg, Carpenter, or Craven. So, when you ask why can’t filmmakers and audiences strive to create and see tremendous horror films, I say we can and we do. But simply wanting that doesn’t mean it can happen.

        The unfortunate truth is that studios are going to pour more money into the mainstream genres. That’s where they’ll pull in the big box office numbers, and/or earn acclaim and notoriety for their brand. The same holds for the best talent (i.e. filmmakers, actors, etc); they’ll tend to go where the money and notoriety is found. Horror is a very niche genre. We horror fans are an enthusiastic and loyal bunch, but we’re still a small group within the movie-going public. This is the reality of the situation.

        And, to be fair, crappy movies are not just limited to the horror genre. There are sub-par movies being produced in all genres, and the truly excellent films are in the minority. This is a similar discussion to the one over on MPW with your blog post “Two Trailers That Are Harbingers of Doom for American Cinema” (for the non-crossover listeners, see: http://moviepodcastweekly.com/mpw-blog-two-trailers-that-are-harbingers-of-doom-for-american-cinema-by-jason-pyles/). The reason I’m not mad as hell, though, is because there are still excellent films (including horror) coming out today.

        We all want the same thing – excellent horror movies. We’re on the same side in this battle. I just don’t think there’s a battle to be fought right now.

        Now, that said, I’ve been thinking a lot about your “13 Principles for Making an Effective Horror Film.” As (I think) I’ve said before, I think they’re excellent overall, as was the discussion between you and Wolfman Josh on the episode.

        Principles 2, 10, and 11 are probably my three favorite. A few thoughts and/or questions about some of the rest (numbers correspond with the Principle)…

        1. What exactly do you mean by a “new kind of monster?” I know you reference the “It” in IT FOLLOWS, but what about a new character coming out of an established horror convention? A serial killer, for instance, isn’t a new kind of monster; but that particular “monster” could be very interesting given the right motivations and character design.

        4. Not mentioned as one of my three favorite principles, but another really good one. I’ll call it #4… get it?… #4…

        5. I disagree with the specific wording of this one. I can think of several examples in horror where the truly horrific are born not out of deep sorrow or profound rage, but out of mundanity, insanity (different from rage), or any number of other conditions. In fact, I feel like this point conflicts with Principle #4 in some ways. I don’t disagree that deep sorrow and profound rage are both excellent sources of deep horror, but I feel like you need to insert the word “often” before the word “born.”

        7. Yes, I love this point.

        8. I’m not sure that seeding in mystery would necessarily defy expectations or conventions. That said, I love me some mystery with my horror, so I’m not disagreeing with the point your making. Just sayin’.

        9. I think I disagree with this point. I feel an inorganic and illogical progression of a movie could be effective in creating a sense of unease and disorientation within the viewer, which may be beneficial to a film (particularly a horror film). I’m failing to come up with a good movie example, but an example that does come to mind is one of my favorite video games of all-time – ETERNAL DARKNESS: SANITY’S REQUIEM. As you progressed through the game, your character’s sanity would gradually deteriorate as what he saw and experienced affected him. As this would happen, the game itself would begin to do random and strange things, like place you in a completely different environment and section of the game or reset your video game system altogether. These “glitches” were designed to make you, the game player, feel as crazy and disoriented as the character himself. As a result, the game did not necessarily progress from one point to another in a logical manner… and it was awesome. I think this would be effective in a film setting (if done well, of course).

        12. Like Principle #5, I don’t think this should be a such a sweeping statement. Horror CAN happen to those who deserve it least, but horror can happen to anyone. I know your point is that the audience is likely to be more emotionally invested in a character who doesn’t deserve to experience horror, but I believe horror done well can happen to anyone.

        13. I agree with this point, but also agree with Wolfman Josh’s response on the show that quality horror can also have happy endings. Having this balance actually keeps the audience off-balance, not knowing how it’ll all end.

        For me, the most important elements of effective horror are setting and atmosphere. I know these are different from the principles you deduced from the genre for this list, which are much more granular and foundational, but that for me really is the basis of good horror. Now, a lot goes into creating the right setting and atmosphere: many of your 13 principles, music and sound design, etc. But, at a high level, that’s what is most important to me.

        • I love that you brought up Eternal Darkness*. It was a very underrated gem of a game. I’d just like to correct one little fact about the game. It didn’t reset your game, it just made you think that it did. Many people actually reset their systems thinking there was a real glitch haha. I loved that stuff.

          *Eternal Dankness would be a great name for an IPA!

          • Exactly (re: the reset sequence).

            Similarly, Eternal Darkness would be a great name for an Imperial Stout. Someone should come out with an Eternal series of beers.

    • Josh, I was kind of surprised that you didn’t bring up the fact that Jay’s plea for less generic horror movies is in many ways at odds with his restrictive approach to genre purity. Surely a part of the reason that we just get the same old stale stuff over and over is a reluctance on the part of filmmakers/studios to push the boundaries of what the genre can be? This is why I’m so against Jay on that point; I feel like a lot of those cross-genre/fringe horror movies actually turn out to be the most inventive and interesting.

      That said, I do agree with almost every single point that Jay raised in this particular episode. And I’d add that I think the folks writing horror movies should really try taking WAY more inspiration from horror literature. There’s literally hundreds of amazingly creepy and unique horror stories out there just waiting to be developed into awesome movies. Sure, Lovecraft has had a fair few cinematic outings now but what about writers like M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood and Ramsay Campbell just to name a few. Campbell alone has enough brilliantly eerie ideas in his repertoire to keep the genre alive for another decade. Plus reading horror is good way for filmmakers to learn how to rack up tension and atmosphere through narrative and suggestion instead of relying solely on obnoxious noises and gore.

      • “Josh, I was kind of surprised that you didn’t bring up the fact that Jay’s plea for less generic horror movies is in many ways at odds with his restrictive approach to genre purity.”

        Actually I think I’m going to retract the above point. It doesn’t seem fair to suggest that Jay can’t simultaneously be all about definitive horror while rejecting lifeless, unoriginal entries in the genre. Even within a strict framework of adherence to “pure horror” there’s still a lot of room for fresh ideas and movies executed in new and interesting ways.

        • Look at you with the shiny new picture.

          Unrelated question: are you still doing work as A Tape Collage For Eloise?

          • Gah! I hope you’ve not listened to any of that stuff!

            But thanks for asking and yes, I’m currently in the midst of badly recording a shoddy album. It’s very slow going at the moment though.

          • Yes! David, I’ve imagined you much blonder than you are, based on the other photo. You’re so grown up in this one. Not the coffee house guitarist I think of you as. I’ve heard your old A Tape Collage For Eloise stuff and quite liked it. And I’m sorry I haven’t listened to the new stuff you sent me yet. I’m really embarrassed that I haven’t, actually. It keep slipping my mind. I think because it is in that MSC email and I almost never check that. Can’t wait to listen!

            • I’ve listened to what you have on Soundcloud. I dig… definitely good stuff. Is the new material along the same lines?

            • Not a coffee house guitarist, but reading a newspaper (what’s that?! said the younglings) whilst sitting in the English countryside… yep, that sounds about right.

          • Dino: Thanks for the kind words my friend. The new stuff is similar though maybe a little more baroque(?) with a bit more of an emphasis on piano/keyboards/accordion. It probably incorporates even more in the way of broken old tape machines and things as well. Here’s a link to one of the new songs (don’t be too put off by the intro which was recorded on a 70’s cassette deck): https://soundcloud.com/atapecollageforeloise/saints-be-praised-for-the-nuclear-winter/s-Y3dBS

            Josh: Thanks also for your kind words and the soundcloud likes! I actually think that whole Christmas EP is really rickety sounding (even by my lo-fi standards) but I’m glad you like my “Only You” cover. It was actually more inspired by The Flying Pickets version of the song (which was a Christmas #1 over here back in the 80’s) than the Yazoo/Moyet version though that isn’t very apparent considering the Flying Pickets cut was a cappella.

            And don’t worry about not checking out the other stuff I sent you, Josh. You’re not missing much anyway! It was some minimalist/ambient stuff I did as a sideproject and you can find it here: https://stolenflowersofthedead.bandcamp.com/releases
            It’s pretty uneventful though!

            I still want to hear your old band, Josh. there’s no way it can be any worse than my feeble attempts at music.

          • “My old band is the worst”

            I don’t believe that for a second. Didn’t the band involve Matt and William Bono Jr. as well as yourself? And you opened for The Blood Brothers? How can that possibly have been anything other than amazing?

            And as for Matt trying to convince you that you should do something new; you absolutely should. The most fun thing to do is to come up with the plot to an imaginary film and then try and make a soundtrack to it.

        • I think both of your points are valid, actually. Jay is a fan of slashers for crying out loud. One could argue that you can’t get any more formulaic than that. But, there’s no doubt that applying some of these principles can make for higher quality films, even if they are familiar.

          And yes, a film can be solidly in the horror genre and still be inventive. But, if you want something that is truly new and innovative, it has got to push the bounds of what is expected in some ways. If you are going along and always able to guess what the characters are going to do next, there is a problem. I want to be surprised by a film.

          I intended to make that point and started to, actually, but got side-tracked with my South Park screenwriting anecdote. I was a little all over the place with this episode because I didn’t have any idea what Jay was going to say and couldn’t really prepare.

        • Actually, I thought the same thing with regard to his restrictions on genre purity- and that he’s often at odds with himself regarding many films he reviews. It’s kind of one of the most interesting aspects of the show. Last week they sort of teased an upcoming episode where they would be discussing some of these things in greater detail, such as comedy in horror and other genre splicing… I think that’s going to be an explosive show.

        • Hi David,
          You wrote:
          “There’s still a lot of room for fresh ideas and movies executed in new and interesting ways.” Yes! Exactly. My complaint is that we have forgotten how to conjure true, deep horror. There’s so little suspense. I just want these filmmakers to try to build on a solid foundation. I want the horror to “feel real.” I want the audience to be afraid, because there’s something very disturbing afoot — not just because the characters have started running and the camera is shaking.

          Yes, I love Found Footage, and as you’ll hear in our next episode, I’m a huge defender of the convention. I’m not attacking Found Footage when I criticize “The Gallows.” I’m criticizing the impotent use of Found Footage…

          You need more than some plastic fangs to conjure the powerful fear and dread that comes from Dracula. Your characters can have plastic fangs (or found footage), but unless these mere tools are framed in a context of true horror, they’re just tools. Tools, indeed.

      • That’s an excellent point about horror literature, David. I’m a big reader myself, but somehow never really got into regularly reading horror, unless you count Poe. Think of all the milage we’ve gotten from Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker alone! I love Dracula. As I mentioned somewhere else here, it’s still one of my favorite novels I’ve ever read.

        You mention Lovecraft and of course Stephen King has probably had the most adapted works of any author, but that being the case, I’m surprised Producers aren’t on the lookout for more horror literature. I was doing some research and found that The Bye Bye Man, that I mentioned on this episode, is actually an adaptation of a short story and it’s the most excited that the Weinsteins have been about a horror movie in over a decade.

        It’s really a strange deficit in modern horror.

        • I don’t read many books, I’m sad to say, but I do keep up with comics and there is tons and tons of great stuff that is begging to be made into a movie.

              • Whatchutalkin’bout Dino?

                Josh, in no particular order:

                Black Hole
                Criminal Macabre
                Hoax Hunters
                Locke & Key
                Morning Glories (this one might be pushing it, but it’s still great)
                The Wake

                Not to mention a huge portion of the EC comics catalogue and a bunch more that I’m not aware of. I’m far from the expert. Perhaps the geekcast could give us a more comprehensive list.

          • Just looking some of these up, Juan. It looks as though Locke & Key was made into a television pilot for Fox back in 2011 (trailer), but didn’t get picked up. Too bad. Great cast with Nick Stahl and Miranda Otto. And then, last year at ComicCon, the author announced that Universal is adapting Locke & Key into a trilogy of movies. So, look forward to that!

      • I don’t mean to be the jerk of the conversation, but I still think Jay is a very self-contradicting being. He loves movies like The Babadook and It Follows, which are doing great and innovative things that don’t strictly follow the conventions of horror, yet he keeps begging for horror to stay the same. He wants mystery and suspense, but he wants more slashers (most of them devoid of both). This all ties back to his fear of the genre being diluted by blurring the lines of what his personal imaginary definition of horror is. What about our own personal imaginary definition of horror, Jay? Do we not count? Are we not part of the system? Personally, I would much rather have the genre “diluted” by having quality movies that blur the line, than having countless low-quality and generic horror movies that in the end are just diluting the genre in their own way. In the episode that Jay did with Billchete about the state of horror, one of Jay’s biggest concerns with “blurring of the line” is that he thinks it’s harmful for the genre because people that are new to horror could get the wrong idea of what the genre really is. Isn’t it also harmful to have newcomers watch a crappy slasher and think that’s what they can expect from the genre? I’ve always been a firm believer of quality over quantity and of less is more. They’re few and far in between, but we’ve gotten some great horror in the last few years (some from Blumehouse Productions), so I’m not sure why Jay is in such a state of worry. Not every horror movie is going to be a hit. One doesn’t need to look further than Jay’s favorite era in horror, the ’80s, to find evidence of this. How many crappy horror movies did we have to go through to find a gem? Were you worried back then as well, Jay?

        Now, about the popularity of supernatural movies. Slashers had their time in the spotlight and so did creature features and a few other subgenres, so why not let the supernatural have its 5 seconds (years?) of fame too? I understand that it’s not your favorite type of subgenre, but you sound like you’re not even giving these type of movie a fighting chance. You loathe talking about them even before seeing them, and you unfairly nitpick every single detail whereas slashers just get a pass from you no matter how bad they are. I don’t think the problem here is the supernatural, it’s your level of objectivity (or lack of it) and your mindset going into a movie.

        Having said all of this, I do think Jay’s 13 steps are great and a fine example of what filmmakers should be striving for when attempting to make a fine horror film. And Jay, please don’t think of this as an attack. I love you bro. You know this. But I think you’ll drive me insane one of these days. And if you do, I expect you to come visit.

        • I agree, Juan. I think JOTD is overreacting a bit, though, I did enjoy his 13-point discussion on the genre.

          p.s. Supernatural movies rule.

          • I concur, bro. I love me some supernatural horror. I used to fantasize about ghosts, the beyond, possessions, covens, and all that good stuff. There is nothing scarier than something you can’t see or understand is what I always say.

            • Exactly. You should go see THE GALLOWS. 😉

              Actually, I’d be interested to hear what you think of THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE. Let me know if/when you catch that one.

              • Nice! That sounds like my kind of movie. I’m obsessed with E.S.P. and psychokinesis and telekinesis and pyrokinesis and all sorts of psychic abilities! In fact, I don’t think there’s enough good material out there. Besides Firestarter, Carrie, The Fury, and Scanners, I don’t know of any good horror movies that touch on the subject. Any suggestions besides The Atticus Institute?

                • Whoa, calm down there, cowboy! Although I did enjoy ATTICUS, it’s certainly no CARRIE or SCANNERS.

                  You’re right, there really aren’t many tele/psychokinesis movies out there. Honestly, the only other one that really comes to mind is FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD. There’s the 2013 film PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (link below) starring Charles Dance (promising), but I have yet to see it so can’t recommend either way.


                • One more note on ATTICUS – it’s very slow on the build-up, so you do need to be patient with it. That said, it does build up nicely.

                  • Let me tell you about build-ups. I love them with a passion. After all, prog holds a very special place in my heart.

          • With regard to movies dealing with psychokinesis and the like, there’s always “Psychic Killer” (qu’est que c’est?). I’ve never actually seen it and it’s probably terrible but the trailer used to play at the beginning of every bloody movie in my friend’s dad’s collection of vipco video releases (a collection that served as my primary introduction to the cruddiest, sleaziest depths of the genre):

          • Also, would “From Beyond” kind of loosely fall into that category? It’s not exactly telekinesis or anything but it deals with parts of the brain that when stimulated are able to perceive extra-dimensional elements. So it’s kind of in that vein.

            And it has Kenan’s dad from “Kenan and Kel” in it.

        • I don’t understand why Jay is a defender of the found footage, but then voices his displeasure of too many supernatural releases. There’s been so many more found footage movies in the past seven or so years than supernatural not to mention they’re found in every other type of horror sub-genre.

        • Agree with much of this- though I do think that his latest review of “the Gallows” was a little harsh. I know it sort of pretends to be “supernatural”, but it’s really just a slasher film.

        • Well-said (if harshly-said), Juanito. The only thing I will completely disagree with you on is that slashers are devoid of mystery. One of the primary reasons I so enjoy slashers is the very fact that they are usually built as whodunnits. The good ones anyway. There is a killer out there picking people off one by one, but we rarely know who it is until the metaphorical “Scooby and the gang” ending where they pull off the mask at the end revealing … Old Man Marley?! Black Christmas, Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Curtains, The Prowler, Sleepaway Camp, Child’s Play, Maniac Cop, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cold Prey, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, etc. “It’s Prom Night revisited, man! Everybody’s a suspect!”

          • Ha! You got me! Haha very well said Joshito. For generalizing slashers earlier, I apologize. I was afraid to come out sounding like a little prick with my comment above, but I think Jay appreciates the brutal honesty that I provide him with and I hate sounding apologetic for my thoughts, so I just hope Jay didn’t take it personally because it’s not. This was intended to be more like the scene of a movie where one friend starts freaking out over nothing and the other friend slaps him back to reality. That was me giving you the tiniest of slaps, Jay. I hope I didn’t leave a bruise haha. Random thought: what if there was a subgenre to the slasher where the killer doesn’t kill, but slaps instead. It would be called… wait for it… a slapper! :/ Anyway, if I ever step over any bounds, do set me straight Jay and Josh. A little slapping never hurt anyone 😉

          • “A little slapping never hurt anyone”

            Was “happy slapping” never a thing over in the US?

            It was a trend here most popular amongst the chav subculture which involved a gang of them physically assaulting someone while filming it on their camera phones to show their friends later.

            But I would actually love to see a comedy movie built exactly like a suspenseful slasher except the antagonist does something really mild and inoffensive when he catches his victims, like he makes them a sandwich or shows them his stamp collection or something.

          • No bounds have been overstepped, Juan. I agree with all of the points people are making about Jay’s apparent inconsistencies and I’d love to hear him respond to some of these points on the show. I just don’t think it discounts his core points here, which are excellent and important.

            David said “I would actually love to see a comedy movie built exactly like a suspenseful slasher except the antagonist does something really mild and inoffensive when he catches his victims, like he makes them a sandwich or shows them his stamp collection.”

            Wasn’t there a comedy at an old folks home like that? I think it was called “Silent But Deadly” (not the Jason Mewes movie) but I never actually saw it. I just remember old folks on the poster and I may have just assumed stamp collections and sandwiches were involved.

            I remember seeing news clips about “happy slapping” a few years ago (though I never heard that term). I’m not sure that is really a thing here.

        • Juan,
          Don’t worry. I don’t think you’re attacking me, and I know you’re not a jerk. We’re way past that, Brother. We’re genuine friends. So, let’s get in the ring here:

          Your astute comment demonstrates, better than anything I said in this episode, how fine a line and how tricky a balance it is to make great films.

          There is this insane balance that we audiences demand of filmmakers: We want it to be the same, but also a little different.

          The great film scholar David Bordwell described this: “…Some viewers look forward to following each entry’s formal dynamic of familiarity and variation. Filmmaking becomes a kind of gamelike performance that coaxes us to ask, ‘How will they deal the cards this time?'”

          I stand by everything I said on BillChete’s show and here, and I don’t believe they contradict: I want to retain and preserve the Horror genre and its characteristic elements. But I want filmmakers to approach these elements in a creative and innovative way. Not by watering down the genre by making it 90% Drama, 10% Horror. I want them to do it by being creative and clever.

          Consider how plain Jane “The Babadook” really is when it comes down to what it shows us (and doesn’t show us). It’s a very mild “Haunting / Supernatural” movie, really. But those familiar elements were executed onscreen in an engaging and frightening way.

          “It Follows” is a monster movie, plain and simple. It’s a monster movie as much as “Jaws” or anything else. But it was also clever, creative and innovative.

          To be clear, I’m not saying, “You can’t provide variations on a theme within the genre.” That’s precisely what I do want. What I said on BillChete’s show, in essence, was “Don’t water down the genre by changing its composition altogether.”


      • Has there ever been an adaptation of Ramsey Campbell’s work? I couldn’t think of any offhand. That is a true shame (or maybe a blessing – would hate to see the Maximum Overdrive version of a Ramsey Campbell novel).

        I remember in the nineties Fangoria did a great extensive interview with Campbell (I believe it was in two different issues) and he was talking about an adaptation that John Carpenter wanted to do of “The Hungry Moon.” If we could have had that instead of say the “Village of the Damned” remake or “Vampires,” 90’s Carpenter might have been a lot more interesting.

        • Jonathan, if there has been a cinematic adaptation of his work then I’m not aware of it although I do remember pointing out on the HMP “Babadook” episode that the concept of a creepy character from a children’s book being used as a horror antagonist is (on the surface at least) very similar to the conceit of the Ramsey Campbell story “Meeting the Author”.

          You know, I haven’t even read any of his novels, just a whole bunch of his short story collections but just from those I feel confident in saying that he’s one of the most underappreciated horror writers of the past century. His stories are just so evocative and measured and atmospheric. I know Stephen King is a huge fan so I guess he has at least influenced some bigger names to an extent.

          Another writer that I’ve been impressed by recently is China Mieville. His stuff is normally in a sort of dark, steam-punky fantasy vein but with his short stories he seems to be venturing more into the horror genre. I read one called “The Ballroom” which is ostensibly a ghost story in the gothic tradition but set in the ball-pool play area of an IKEA. It plays perfectly to Jay’s point about horror coming out of the mundane.

  4. I should probably point out that I’ve come down a bit on my rating for THE GALLOWS. I still enjoyed the movie, but looking at how I rated some other recent movies I realized that my 7/10 was a bit on the sharp end. Specifically, thinking back to THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN and AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, which I gave a 6.5/10 and 7.5/10, respectively. I’m pretty solid on those two ratings, and I know that I enjoyed them both a lot more than THE GALLOWS. So, I’ve amended my rating to a 5.5/10. I put the extra 1.5 point inflation down to the post-movie glow effect I talked about over at MPW, which was at full bore after having just seen MINIONS (awful) and SELF/LESS (blah) hours before.

  5. This is a little irrelevant but I wondered if you guys knew whether or not it’s a common thing for hotels to not have a room 237?

    I was at a wedding on Saturday at The Grand Hotel here (https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7004/6441253161_15dd61d653.jpg) which is very old and quite creepy inside. After having a little too much to drink I convinced my friends to go for a wander around the halls to find room 237 (just for kicks) and we became quite perplexed when it eluded us. Where it should have been there was just the indentation of an old doorway that had been filled in and wallpapered over. I knocked on it and it was hollow back there. What gives? Is this a common thing because of The Shining?

        • “Me too. This could be the starting point of an interesting horror movie, actually.”

          It kind of felt that way in my warped and wine-sodden imagination. It didn’t help that during our first attempt to head back downstairs we ended up going along a weird curving corridor that we thought would lead to the elevators and ended up coming out right back at room 237. I think that probably had more to do with inebriation than anything supernatural though!

          I did ask the bartender why there wasn’t a 237 and he said he didn’t know but lots of people have died in the hotel over the years and several seances have been held there.

          I’ve just found a video some guy has taken just walking around the place and especially if you go to about the 2:50 mark you get a feel of how winding and slightly Shining-esque the place is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwa1GEPNL5E

  6. Well last night I watched the movie…Dark Was the Night…Its a beastly freak…siege narrative movie and I liked it alot…Great acting, cinematography, mood and atmosphere…and I so wanted the guys to review it but the monster reveal was very lacking…so is a good movie ruined by a lack of money and special effects during the money shot…very frustrated!

  7. Like Slamophiliac, this is my first time leaving a comment on this site.

    Even though I’m tiring of the whole supernatural craze and especially the found footage sub-genre, I can’t find much fault in Blumhouse Productions. While they are releasing a ton of similar supernatural movies, they’re also responsible for non-supernatural gems like THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN and THE BAY (I know some may not consider it to be horror, but the plot terrifies me). I’m also really excited to see their September release of THE VISIT.

    Variety’s nice, but I’d rather have a nice abundance of mainstream horror releases compared to some of the dry periods of the 90’s.

    For what it was, I enjoyed THE GALLOWS. Reading up on the production, it sounds like it was a real nightmare so for the film to be as decent as it is, is impressive to me. I loved CREEP though. As Wolfman Josh said, it’s a bit different from other found footage films and I thought Mark Duplass came off as pretty creepy. What makes the movie work for me is that you have this nice guy just trying to make some money, only to stumble onto something completely deceiving. Even when the whole ordeal is seemingly over, it’s not. He’s walked into danger, unexpectedly, and he can’t escape. Quite the difference in comparison to just staying awake, leaving the woods or not going into the water like in other horrors.

    • I agree, Sal. I thought Creep was excellent.

      I’ve been curious to checkout The Bay but got kind of a body horror vibe off of it which I’m not usually a huge fan of.

      • There’s definitely a body horror element to THE BAY, but that’s not the whole movie. I don’t want to say more for fear of spilling the film. I think it’s worth checking out, though.

          • THE BAY is legitimately scary because it’s one of the most believable scares you can find in a horror movie. The fear isn’t some ax welding maniac that just can’t die or a fictional monster, but rather something that already exists to some extent. It was just last year that there was a water ban in Toledo, Ohio due to fears of what would happen if you come into contact of the water.

            I don’t believe this should be considered a spoiler, but the found footage aspect of the movie being from multiple different sources set it apart from other found footage films as well.

          • Yeah, we talked about this a bit on our “Infected” themed episode, but I think Outbreak and Contagion are still the very best films in this sub-genre. I think The Bay is a low-priority rental, but it’s worth a watch. I like that “multiple source” element of the film as well. Reminds me of Dracula, still one of my favorite novels. But, it’s an excellent idea for a found footage film and I’d like to see more like that.

    • Hmmm … But, is Patrick Brice’s character really just a nice guy or is he in some way as broken and messed-up as Mark Duplass’ character? Why is he engaging in this craziness? Sometimes he’s trapped, but other times he is a willing participant.

      It’s a difficult film to talk about, I found. Definitely unique. Curious to hear what others think if they give it a try.

      • Well, Aaron does have some flaws, especially his biggest misstep at the end. I don’t believe he’s crazy, messed up or broken. He’s just a very trusting guy, to a fault, that never has much of a chance to truly process what’s happening in the first half of the film.

        I think we’d have a better idea of what exactly is Aaron’s problem with going along with too much had we knew more about Aaron’s past. What sort of background does Aaron have? Has he lived in a small town where trust came more natural without having to worry about strangers? Has he been someone that has been pushed around for a lot of his life that he doesn’t know how to stand up for himself? Has he been impacted by cancer with a loved one?

        MINOR SPOILERS FOR CREEP AHEAD. It’s weird, but I felt myself relating with Josef at the end and his enthusiasm that Aaron actually did what Josef hoped he would do. A plan that shouldn’t have worked out, works out and Duplass’ smile is contagious. It reminds me a bit of the swamp scene in PSYCHO where the viewer is feeling the same emotions as Norman as he watches the car sink. You feel panicked when it looks like the car has gotten stuck, but relieved and just a bit satisfied when it sinks the rest of the way down. There isn’t any reason why you should relate to the killer, but you do. I can’t understand why I feel this way towards Aaron and Norman, but it’s satisfying when a plan, regardless of how evil, works out.

    • Welcome to the boards, Sal. I feel the exact same way as you about having an abundance of mainstream horror releases. That’s why I’m ok with taking the good with the bad. Glad to hear you also enjoyed THE GALLOWS. Like you hinted toward, it’s not a great movie, but I also had fun with it.

      p.s. I’m a fan of THE BAY, and think it’s unquestionably horror. Very disturbing.

      • Thanks for the welcome, Dino.

        For 2015, I’ve been trying to increase the amount of times I go to the theater to see horror releases rather than just waiting for the DVD or for the movies to pop up on Netflix. In the past few months, I went to see IT FOLLOWS, POLTERGEIST, INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3, AND THE GALLOWS. I’ve found repetitiveness isn’t so bad if you go to the theater just because that experience can add to the enjoyment of the film compared to just watching it at home. Case in point, years ago I went to see HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION in the theater. I loved it. It wasn’t until I picked up the DVD that I realized the movie was actually really bad. So as long as you can get away without spending a ton of money on tickets and concessions, it’s typically a fun experience. It’s a major drag wanting to go to the theater and looking at the listings and there just isn’t anything even closer to being horror.

        I will say my biggest issue with THE GALLOWS is something that Wolfman Josh (?) mentioned in that the school decided to bring the play back twenty years after the death of Charlie. It was too unbelievable.

        • I’ve also been making a more concerted effort to see the new releases in theaters. I missed UNFRIENDED and THE LAZARUS EFFECT earlier this year, but have made it to every other mainstream/semi-mainstream release (I think). In fact, I’ll be seeing THE VATICAN TAPES tomorrow (although, I do not have terribly high hopes for that one).

          Theater experience definitely plays into the enjoyment (or lack thereof) of the film. The crowd for my viewing of THE GALLOWS was reacting well (and appropriately) to the scary moments, which definitely made it better for me. JOTD mentioned in his review that his theater was about half-full, but completely quiet and unresponsive to the on-screen action. He’s also mentioned in the past that his theater experience for INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 was outstanding and may have influenced his rating of that film a little.

          • I missed all hype for THE LAZARUS EFFECT and only learned of it after it was released on DVD. While it was something different for Blumhouse and I liked the basic idea of it, but it failed to leave much of an impression on me. I avoided UNFRIENDED though. The first time I saw the trailer before I believe IT FOLLOWS, I ended up laughing at it all. It looked like complete garbage.

            Considering the nearest theater playing THE VATICAN TAPES is about 250 miles away from me, I’ll be waiting for that one to be released on DVD.

            For THE GALLOWS, my theater was about half filled and occasionally would react to what was on the screen. Not great, but not a bad experience.

        • I’ve also been making an effort to see some horror in the theater at least once a month this year. Here’s how it’s been working out.

          January – Woman in Black 2
          February – Lazarus Effect
          March – It Follows
          April – Unfriended
          May – Poltergeist
          June – Insidious Chapter 3
          July – The Gallows

          So yea, there are a lot of Blumhouse on here. I can understand why JOTD would want to steer Jason Blum his way a little. We horror fans are going to be seeing Blumhouse movies no matter what. They’re what’s out in theaters. I do think JOTD is a little jaded on some of the movies. I actually defended Unfriended on the comment boards when he railed on it. It fits many, if not all of his 13 principles for horror. I’m not going to get into it though, because for me Unfriended is probably a 4 and I don’t know why I keep defending it.

        • My second biggest issue with the Gallows was that they reopened the play. My biggest issue was that in the first production of the play, they built a working gallows with a real noose. It’s a high school play! Don’t actually tie up your lead actor and put him in a noose on a working gallows.

          • You see that’s the kind of bone idle plotting that I just can’t stand. Sure it’s just supposed to be a spooky movie and some suspension of disbelief is expected but if the internal logic of the film is treated so carelessly then why should the audience invest in anything at all that’s happening.

            It would have been better if they just vaguely implied that some accident had occurred linked to the performance of the play and left it at that.

          • Not to mention that this reopening the play business is the exact same premise as both versions of Stage Fright, especially more recent one. This apparently just makes it supernatural as opposed to slasher. And RedCapJack is saying that this is basically just a slasher disguised as a supernatural film anyway.

          • I didn’t have a problem with the working gallows. It seems like the sort of careless mistake someone in a small town would have committed. Without the working gallows, you never have a movie.

            I do find flaw in Charlie’s targets though. (SPOILERS FOR THE GALLOWS AHEAD) Out of everyone to be upset with and want to see killed, he goes after someone who has ties with someone who has such an innocent part in Charlie’s death. Why bother going after Reese when you could be going after the creator of the original gallows that killed you, the school official who decided to bring THE GALLOWS play back, or just the director of either the original or new play.

            The motivation of Charlie seems awfully misdirected once you realize he has a target.

          • I had just watched Stage Fright (2014) a day or two before I saw the Gallows. That’s a good connection, Wolfman. Plus, isn’t Stage Fright just the Phantom of the Opera? The Climax (1944) also comes to mind.

            Yes, RedCapJack, that’s an interesting point. I can see the slasher aspects.

            I thought of that too, Sal. Well said. Lots of monsters or killers in movies will go after innocent people. For example, Jason Vorhees killed a lot of people that had nothing to do with his mother’s death. I usually excuse it when killers loose motivation and just start killing everyone because I assume they’re crazy and not killing logically. Plus, it’s fun to watch. Though, in The Gallows (SPOILERS), it felt like the hangman was motivated by getting revenge on the wrong people. If the kids didn’t try to ruin the set and the play opened, would the hangman have killed them on on stage during the production? It didn’t seem like the hangman cared whether the play opened but really just wanted to kill the one kid.

          • Jason does have motivation though. As far as he goes, if you’re at Crystal Lake, you’re the equivalent of Alice and he’s just wanting to further avenge his mother’s death. With Jason being mentally challenged, a bit of a headcase, or as HMP crew eventually came to conclude – a revenant – his murders become a little misguided. Whether you realize it or not, once you step in the Crystal Lake area, you’re admitting that you’re Alice, so Jason’s out to get you. The only times he diverts from that logical mindset is when he’s just scared when he’s away from home. It’s not his fault he’s killing people on a boat or in space. The poor guy is homesick and doesn’t know how to properly explain his feelings towards others around him. I’m sure he felt bad about those murders after he got back to Crystal Lake though.

            In THE GALLOWS (SPOILERS AHEAD), I don’t believe Charlie would have killed anyone other than Reese had the group not gone to mess up the set at night. If Charlie has all of these supernatural powers, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t just go after the person who connects him to Reese (Boy, trying to be spoiler free can be tricky lol). Not only does it not make sense to go after the person who has ties with Reese, but to instead only focus on getting Reese? Talk about some misguided hatred.

            When the movie was finished, was Charlie satisfied? He’s still dead, the people more directly responsible for his death live on, and the school will likely just do the play again in another twenty years lol.

          • Dark Mark said: “Isn’t Stage Fright just the Phantom of the Opera? The Climax (1944) also comes to mind.”

            Amazing. Excellent points, Dark Mark. I can’t believe I never made the connection between Stage Fright and Phantom of the Opera. Of course it is. And I haven’t seen The Climax, but it’s on my list now.

  8. Was gonna save both podcasts to listen to during my sons surgery tomorrow but I was so dead serious about listening to this episode I couldn’t wait!!!

    • And? What did you think?

      I’m trying to get a new episode of Movie Stream Cast posted tonight … you could listen to that. But, those are short and I’m not sure you’ll like the movie I’m reviewing, Shannon.

      Check out the review of Silent House I did with Jay and the review of Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus that I did with William. Those are both fun discussions for horror fans. Oh, and the Tucker & Dale review with William. Maybe the Under the Skin review with Cody Clark. Berbarian Sound Studio with my wife, Rachel.

      Best of luck to your boy, Shannon. We are all rooting for him.

  9. Haven’t listened to the whole episode yet, gotta go back to the boat day after tomorrow so thought I’d listen to it on the 4 hour drive to Paducah, but I will join the discussion later!

  10. at 34:38 “in your cubicle.” If posting pictures were possible, you would have a picture of me wearing boring business casual, sitting in my boring cube, listening to Horror Movie Podcast. Also, WMJ’s Jason Blum impersonation: nailed it.

  11. Wolfman, im not sure if this was mentioned above, but I want to ask when you mention “mumblecore” if Im saying that correctly what exactly are you referencing. I had heard a lot about creep and apparently it seems to be making the rounds, but before hearing your review I watched this movie and while I was so excited to see the movie I couldn’t help but leave feeling underwhelmed. I didn’t care for the movie and found it very lazy as you said. The jump scares were very predictable and I just didn’t get what all the hype was all about. I still keep hearing people say how awesome this movie is and I just don’t get it. Im just not seeing what everyone else seems to be getting from this film. I will admit that while I didn’t care for it I was definitely entertained and would recommend it only in the sense of you have to see it for yourself.

    As for the Gallows, I really wanted to see that as well and after Jays review I think i’ll just wait for the Netflix release. Another great cast guys and looking forward to the next.


      Mumblecore is a film movement which none of the practitioners of really claim as a label, but there is no denying that it is/was “a thing.” It started in the early 2000s and really hit its stride toward the end of that decade. It is in some ways just a descriptor for the low-budget indie films of that generation, but it is often characterized by highly improvised dialog–often an actual script doesn’t even exist–and handheld camera work. The name actually comes from the low-quality audio in some of the earliest productions, like Funny Ha Ha.

      The most notable directors to come out of mumblecore are Lynn Shelton, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, The Duplass Brothers, Ti West and Andrew Bujalski.

      The biggest actors to emerge from mumblecore are Mark Duplass Amy Seimetz and Greta Gerwig. There have also been more well-established actors that have gone back to repeatedly work in mumblecore like Joshua Leonard, Pat Healy, Jess Weixler, Ron Livingston, Marc Webber, Jake Johnson, Lake Bell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Anna Kendrick.

      The very best true mumblecore movies (in my opinion) are Humpday, The Puffy Chair, Beeswax, Computer Chess and Gabi on the Roof in July.

      These are mostly dramedies about 20-30 somethings and often really rough around the edges, production-wise.

      There have also been some great mystery/thriller/horror mumblecore films like The Innkeepers, Cold Weather, The Sacrament, Bag Head, You’re Next, etc. Creep is one of these. Many of the VHS series shorts are mumblecore films as well.

      The most mainstream mumblecore films, which are still good but a little more polished and sometimes featuring Hollywood actors, are Cyrus, Greenberg, Your Sister’s Sister, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Drinking Buddies, Frances Ha and Touchy Feely. These have featured people like Ben Stiller, Olivia Wilde, Ellen Page, Jonah Hill, John C. Riley, Jason Segel, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, even Susan Saranden.

      The HBO series Girls comes from the mumblecore world.

      And again, most of these filmmakers don’t acknowledge–or in some cases hate–the moniker, but what are you going to do? It stuck.

      Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Duplass Brothers and Lynn Shelton, Ti West when he’s in that mode. Really dislike Lena Dunham and Joe Swanberg. It’s an interesting group of films and filmmakers, though. You’re Next and VHS are the closest we’ve gotten to full-bore horror. I’d like to see more of that.

      You heard how conflicted I was on Creep, but ultimately I thought it was fun and interesting. Mumblecore movies don’t care about perfection, they care about character and real moments and spontaneity–basically the opposite of Jay’s “reverse-engineering” principle–with a total focus on the actors’ performances but throwing thing like dialog (and sometimes even story and camerawork) completely out the window. Creep worked enough for me. Especially as a first film. And Mark Duplass was magnetic in it, in my opinion. Judging by his Twitter feed as of late, Patrick Brice seems to be a legitimate horror fan. Hopefully, The Overnighters won’t launch him into a stratosphere where he feels like he’s above making another horror film.

      • I’m actually really glad this point was raised and that you offered up such a thorough response, Wolfman.

        I’m very much aware of the mumblecore movement (thanks mainly to this network of podcasts) but it’s a genre of film that I’ve yet to properly explore and I’ve been meaning to elicit a list of films from you that represent a good place to start. Of all the films that you mentioned above the only one I’ve seen is “The Innkeepers” (which I really like) and I didn’t even know that movie was considered to be mumblecore! The DIY, lo-fi approach of the genre, emphasising spontaneity and sincerity over polish and perfection, definitely appeals a great deal to me though.

        • “The DIY, lo-fi approach of the genre, emphasising spontaneity and sincerity over polish and perfection, definitely appeals a great deal to me though.”

          I know you’re specifically speaking about mumblecore, but certainly a film can be all of the above, right? If one has the means, why not give the film a little polish and flair*? Unless of course the DIY, lo-fi approach is of of consequence and not just a random choice.

          *Notice that polish and flair don’t necessarily mean CGI 😉

          • A film can absolutely be all of the above. There’s certainly a lot to be said for polishing up an already substantive film to the point of perfection. I just like the idea of a genre allowing for creative but maybe underfunded/inexperienced filmmakers to produce something that otherwise might never have been allowed to see the light of day. An unrefined piece of gold still has its value but a turd, no matter how polished, is still ultimately a pile of shit.

            I am opposed to Ric Flair showing up in too many films though.

          • Also, the concept of “polish and flair” are in my view subjective. Conventional thinking might suggest that crisp, clear imagery/audio, fancy post production techniques, perfect takes etc are key to delivering a “perfect” end product but in my view graininess/low fidelity/imperfect performances etc are all elements that, in the right context, might add to the atmosphere/character of a movie and render it perfect in its own skewed way.

        • If you can do a lo-fi dramedy, you have to try Humpday or The Puffy Chair. If you like those, you’ll be hooked. Films like Cyrus or Drinking Buddies are probably easier entry points, though. The films of Lynn Shelton are my go-to films these days if I need something low-key but engaging that Rachel and I can both enjoy. They have effectively unyoked me from the bridle of the romantic comedies altogether. It’s a beautiful thing.

          • Awesome, thanks for the explanation. Always interesting to hear your take on various films. To the whole crew, i’ll say this is easily the best horror podcast out there. Thank you guys. I’ll also note the community that participates with comments after listening. Cheers brothers and sisters.

      • Josh, I’m planning on checking out “Baghead” later today, as I want to get a feel for mumblecore but I’m also in a decidedly “horror” mood at the moment. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think.

        Also, will we be getting a new MSC episode this week? I’m feeling a hankering for a good sandwich.

        • Just be aware that Baghead is rough, production values-wise, even for mumblecore. Hope you enjoy it.

          New TSFP this Thursday. New MSC on Friday. I will start posting MSC on Mondays again this coming week.

  12. Dear Friends on Horror Movie Podcast

    I’m a 43 year old Independent filmmaker/Screenwriter that is from California

    I have been listening to your show for 3 months and I have to say it’s the best horror podcast out there, you guys are right on target.

    I have learned a lot just by listening to your show, you have giving me the knowledge to write my Killer Script, what true horror fans want.

    The latest, Episode 63, is my favorite and filmmakers need to listen to your show to take some tips because you’re just giving the recipe of how to make the perfect horror film, but I wish you did not bring this topic up in episode 63 because I want to keep it for myself for that Killer Script, the next Blair Witch.

    Jay, you are exactly right about the industry and some are afraid to admit it. For example, I posted something on indiewire about how the Horror industry is dying ever since Blair Witch came out now everybody and their moms want to make found footage crap and not only that the whole industry itself has been dying.

    I think you guys cleared things up when you reviewed their top 10 or 20, I can’t remember what movie they had at number 1, anyhow I no longer go to that website.

    Anyhow a lot of people replied to my post saying well its had its ups and downs and so on, telling me I’m wrong. I think most of the kids are like 14-20 or something, but when I look at their profiles, they all like movies that are made in the 70s 80s 90s early 2000s etc. So you mean to tell me you like movies that were made before you were even born? I rest my case.

    Now about mixing Genres with horror, I’m right with you on this one Jay, big time and I will back you up. Keep it horror! Let me make my point. The music industry is a lot like the Movie industry. Take Heavy Metal, Rap, Pop whatever. Would you mix Heavy Metal with pop? How about Metallica with Boy George? Hell No!

    In the 80’s 90’s early 2000s you had a lot of good Hip Hop but now every song is mix with R&B and it sounds like club crap music with no style and rhymes, just some guy with a bottle of champagne saying, ahh yeah.

    Now take Horror movies and what’s happening is they/the Industry wants to please everybody and get those ticket sells.

    For example, lets take the movie Twilight. It’s not horror. It’s 90210 with Vampires. It’s a chick flick. If anybody calls that horror, well I guess you could call Titanic Horror because its horrifying that the ship crashed and killed everybody.

    There is a chapter in this Independent filmmakers book that every horror filmmaker should read that talks about this subject.

    F*CK YOUR AUDIENCE A business plan for the rebel indie filmmaker

    The Greatest Threat to the Horror Industry

    In the spirit of jumping all over the place, I attacked the issues from yet another angle. I see more hope in the booming horror community for indie film than I see anywhere else. They are strong in numbers, there’s more money in it than ever before in history… But I think its current form is behaving an awful lot like an economic bubble, ripe to pop in a big way within the next five years.

    How long can you repackage older entertainment before it becomes completely irrelevant to a new generation?

    Time is the industry’s biggest threat. It’s every modern industry’s biggest threat, and the successful ones respond by *innovating* and *thinking forward*, but horror is on the opposite trajectory. What we are experiencing is an “economic bubble” driven by nostalgia, hurdling toward the history of the product instead of its future. Once the majority of us have inevitably moved on to another stage in life (when the bubble “pops”), there may be nothing left to support the industry (or those of us that make a living in it). The generational gap will eventually get too wide to relate to a new generation and there will be nothing actually new and original to feed them in its absence. Because “new” and “original” aren’t currently supported in the culture. An exclusive group of established franchises are.
    Anthony, David (2013-04-20). F*ck Your Audience – A Business Plan for the Rebel Indie Filmmaker (Kindle Locations 338-340). . Kindle Edition.

    Anyhow I hope you read this and keep it up guys with great topics.


    Anonymous ASSHOLE

  13. I’ll miss you guys next week but I’m glad you’re taking the time to catch up. Summer’s good for that! Plus, there are plenty recommendations from your reviews that I need to catch up watching.

  14. I have to be honest, here- this is not my favorite episode. The focus on “Blumhouse” pictures would be good if it were a retrospective, if it were an examination, but as it is the episode seems to focus entirely on offering advice rather than an examination- and I had to struggle to make it through much of the broadcast. Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of the production company- Paranormal Activity and “found footage” has rarely ever been my cup of tea. And so much of the advice given throughout Jay’s list is contradictory to so much that has previously been stated- especially number eight, where Jay challenges the film makers to “defy” conventions. This is the same Jay of the Dead who recently lamented his fears regarding horror films becoming watered down when they include too many genres. How is a film maker supposed to defy the convention when he’s going to be challenged for that defiance at every turn? When a film like “Maggie” comes along to challenge the conventions of the zombie film by presenting it as a fatal disease and the very personal horror involved in such an experience, it’s then criticized for being a “drama” rather than a horror. How are they supposed to set the rules or play along with the rules if they’re also supposed to defy these conventions and these rules?

    I get what Jay is saying, but is it something that really needs to be said at this point? There are good film makers and bad film makers- the good ones are already doing everything Jay suggests while the bad ones are just doing what they do no matter what. Blumhouse Pictures is not, in my opinion, a very good film company- they are commodity purchasers and distributors.

    This is actually a consistent issue when Jay tends to wax philosophically about some films- specifically, his hatred of comedy in Horror films. He can be very general and can make sweeping statements regarding the way comedy is used in a horror film with one tirade, but then he lists a movie like “Tremors” as being very praise-worthy and something that really grabbed his attention (pun intended). Tremors was a comedy horror film- through and through, it utilized comedic stereotypes, played around with them a little, gave us some pretty good laughs and chills along with a high risks storyline that ultimately resulted in a happy ending for a vast majority of the cast. Everything about this film is something that Jay has complained about with regards to the sweeping generalities- accordingly, a film like this would never have been made if artists did adhere to Jay’s philosophy.

    Then let’s look at the “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake- I’m not entirely certain where Jay may fall in regard to this particular film but it is relentlessly depressing in tone, the stakes are constantly high, and the characters are never in a moment of light. There’s no contrast in this film at all- from Krueger to his victims, they are all in one long relentless story that only throws a smidge of doubt with regards to Kruegers’ actual guilt before slamming home that he was guilty all along. As a result, the film pretty much tanked and I don’t know too many people who actually enjoyed the film- they weren’t even allowed to feel badly for the victims because they were never seen as anything other than victims. There were no dimensions- no depths, no contrasts, no moments where we could identify with anyone. It’s one very long note played over and over again- the roller coaster can only dip so far before I stop caring about the drop.

    With regards to The Gallows- I’ve previously stated that I dislike Blumhouse, dislike “found footage” horror, and there is generally nothing that would really make it seem that I would like this particular movie: But in this case, all of my expectations were wrong and I actually really liked this movie. I was pleasantly surprised- the camera work was much more solid than I expected, they showed more of the “monster’ than I ever expected, the acting was far better than I expected- this movie defied MY expectations. I label it a definite rental and worth the price of a matinee. Oddly, it sounds as though Jay may have only come in halfway through the beginning of the film, even though he described the cold open in detail. He presented the “reason” for them being there at night was to “save” the friend from embarrassment, when the truth was that was one of the many things Ryan said in order to convince his friend to come with him in order to get even with the drama geeks for embarrassing him earlier that day with their prank. He was there to wreck the set because of the Stage Manager’s actions, not in order to “save” his friend.

    The camera work was much more steady in this film than in many previous found footage films as the camera was actually being utilized as a flashlight through most of the hallway chases. As someone who normally hates “found footage”, I thought the camera work was well done.

    • Let me do something that may seem totally out of character for me and defend Jay.

      To draw a random Christmas Vacation analogy, this list of horror filmmaking principles feels to me like Clark W. Griswald’s house full of twinkly Christmas lights and you all feel like Clark’s in-laws.

      Drum roll please …

      The guy has an ear to ear grin on his face and …

      While there may be a few faulty bulbs, he’s presented something pretty great here.

      Me, I’m Juliette Lewis as Audrey, initially afraid Jason Blum would drive by and see me standing on the lawn in my pajamas. But, having survived the ordeal, I’d really like to see him succeed, because, hey, the guy is my dad. Yes, Jason Pyles is my father. No, wait, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

      The point I’m trying to make is that while I agree with the likes of Juan and Dino and RedCapJack here about Jay’s sometimes inconsistencies, and while I may disagree with him about Blumhouse being the root of modern horror cinema’s problems, I’m still really impressed by the effort.

      He worked really hard, you guys.

      Yeah, so do washing machines.

      As interesting as this episode is to me, there is a part of me that wishes it weren’t tied to Jason Blum. I think it is a little unfortunate that the Blumhouse factor may overshadow what is a really solid list of filmmaking recommendations. These are principles that could drastically improve most any horror film. I’d like to see us discussing that and picking apart these points rather than focusing on Jay’s ultimate review of The Gallows or Unfriended, which are movies I’m sure we’ll all have forgotten by this time next year.

      Also, to be fair, Jay really didn’t have much time to prep for this episode. I told him he should wait a week and really have a solid foundation going into this, but he wanted to act fast while he still had a fire in his belly about The Gallows. Under the circumstances, I think he did a tremendous job. I only bring this up because I think bringing Blumhouse into the discussion, but then not really giving us examples of where Blumhouse fails on all of these points, is, as Jay would say, “less effective.” He gave us lots of positive examples from Alien to The Shining to Jaws, but as a listener, I want to hear where Blumhouse failed on each of these points if this is all about calling-out that particular production company. See, I don’t think it ultimately is or has to be.

      While Blumhouse is putting out a grundle of films that make us as horror fans want to pull our hair out, they are also putting out some of the very best horror films today, in my opinion. It’s a mixed bag from our point of view, but it’s also always a roll of the dice from their point of view. You don’t always know what is going to hit. Much of filmmaking is an art, and that’s what we talk about here, but it is also equal parts luck and timing. That’s the part that never gets discussed on shows such as ours.

      So anyway, yes, Jay is a hypocrite about Tremors and Maggie (as just a couple of examples), but I still think this list is an incredible resource–one that I will use myself on a future pass of my current script-in-progress–and one I think would honestly improve many a Blumhouse production … or any production, really.

      So, I get it. He’s set himself up for some criticism here and that’s just to be expected, but I just hate to be the nagging voice of the obvious.

      The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.

      I know, Art. Thanks for noticing.

      Of course, Jason Blum, if he took the time to listen to this, may feel much the same about the criticism that Jay is presenting him.

      • Great response. And I don’t mean it to sound like I’m picking on Jay- I actually normally agree with him more than I disagree, and this list of thirteen points was a good discussion point. I think that tying it to the specific production company was ultimately what left a sour taste in my mouth- so many of these same points could be made for other companies, but it seems like Blumhouse is the current celebrity production house for horror films.

        Does this make me the tightwad neighbor who was blinded by the lights?

      • Josh is defending Jay?
        “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”

      • I’m with Josh on this. I’ve gone into a lot of detail with regards to my issues with Jay’s genre purity argument in the past (and I’m a little disappointed that he’s never responded to any of my points) but I just don’t feel like it’s fair to suggest that his devotion to the sanctity of “absolute horror” should negate his right to expect quality films within that framework. Certainly the two issues aren’t mutually exclusive but just because Jay prefers “definitive horror” over more fringey stuff doesn’t mean he should just shut up and accept whatever crap gets thrown his way.

        I agree that on the surface #8 of Jay’s principles seems a little contradictory when considering attitudes that he’s promoted on previous occasions but I do think it’s very possible to defy convention without necessarily blurring the lines between genres. A film can operate strictly within the confines of it’s given genre while still avoiding predictability and cliché. “Cabin in the Woods” is a great example; definitely a horror film with strong roots into the heart of the genre but it’s clever enough to play around with convention and in doing so flip the genre on its head.

        • And I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned this movie on the podcast, but what about Scream as an example?

          Seriously, though. I think your comment is right on the money, David.

          • “Scream”? I didn’t even know you’d seen that movie, Josh! Zounds!

            But seriously, I was a little reluctant to use “Scream” as an example because I feel like that movie does take some elements from different genres. But at the same time it’s entirely rooted in the conventions of the slasher movie (which speaks to my point about the futility of trying to identify “pure horror”) and it does indeed subvert those conventions in such a way that it transcends predictability and cliché.

            I think we should also point out that “genre conventions” with regard to horror don’t need to be restricted solely to plot and character. Hypothetically you could take a totally formulaic and cliché script for a slasher or ghost movie and shoot it/ edit it in such a way as to make it interesting and fresh. There’s so many different elements that can be manipulated in creative ways but it just takes a little bit of effort and intrepidity on the part of the filmmakers.

      • Haha what a great defense, Wolfman. I loved every word of it. One thing that I omitted from my previous critique is that Jay did a wonderful job in coming up with those 13 principles. Kudos as well for being able to come up with that exact number which has so many ties to horror. I’m curious to know if it was pure coincidence or if it was planned. Also, I just want to make clear that I do appreciate his hard work and love for the genre.

        “Don’t cry for me. I’m already dead.”

  15. Just wanted to say my son’s surgery went well and now I just want to get him home and let the healing begin…thanks for the well wishes…

  16. I liked the episode a lot and all of Jay’s points are very valid…I realize he’s trying to create the perfect horror movie but my question is…what if suddenly every horror movie was great…what would there be to separate the great from the classic…I feel as a life long and old horror fan that finding the diamond in the rough is the greatest feeling and satisfying thing in the world…It Follows and Evil Dead anyone? We are treasure hunters and it’s all about the discovery that makes our quest worth while…I do agree with Jay’s number 13…I love a devastating ending…The Mist is one of my favorite movies…especially since I work in a grocery store…but that ending destroyed me like no movie ever…and made it a classic in my mind…

    • This is a really interesting point Shannon. I tend to agree that if the overall quality of the genre was better then some of the magic of uncovering those rare gems would be lost. That said maybe if all the crappy horror flicks moved up a notch on the quality scale there’d be more competition and we’d end up with even shinier treasures at the end of the day.

      And I totally agree that “The Mist” is a classic of the genre. I love that movie and the ending is devastatingly unforgettable.

  17. Very good episode and I understand completely what yall are both saying. I loved Insidious, Sinister, and the first PA, but I do NOT want these franchises to be watered down and cliched. It makes more sense to do a sequel with a slasher to me because let’s face it after a while, that’s who we paid to see. I mean by Nightmare on Elm Street 4 Robert Englund was getting TOP BILLING. I really love a lot of things Blumhouse has done, but I don’t want it to turn into “oh there’s the Blumhouse logo, this is either gonna be great or gonna suck”. So I can definitely agree on both sides.

    As far as “The Gallows” thanks for the heads up, might catch it at Redbox but will not go to the theater for it. Now back to towboat in.

  18. Blumhouse is the current bigwig for horror productions. I’ve been thinking about some of the other production companies. There are smaller ones like Dark Castle which was started just to remake William Castle movies. Ghost House with Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert also comes to mind. New Line Cinema only exists because of Freddy. An older one that comes to mind is AIP with all of the Vincent Price and Roger Corman movies. Hammer had it’s heyday and they’re back making some horror. My favorite horror film productions are the early Universal Movies. They turned around Universal’s finances as well. I don’t really have a point. JOTD just has me thinking about horror production companies.

      • Good ones to add to the list! I just watched the quiet ones which was distributed by Lionsgate but produced by hammer. I’m assuming each company has varying influence on how the film is made, marketed and distributed. All of these factors help determine it’s success and these factors can even influence our perception of the film.

        • One notable absence from your list is Charles Band and company over at Full Moon. Not only are they still releasing sequels to PUPPET MASTER and THE GINGERDEAD MAN, but they even have their own little Netflix-like streaming site for 7 bucks a month.

          • Good call. Also, Troma if we’re going down this road.

            Drafthouse Films is run by the Drafthouse movie theater chain people in Austin and they are doing good things in general, with just a dash of horror so far in The ABCs of Death. I expect great things from them, though. The love horror and have impeccable taste, otherwise.

            Also, one of my new favorites is Elijah Wood’s company, Spectrevision, with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and the upcoming zom-com Cooties under their belts.

          • Wow, I didn’t know they were streaming. That’s almost the price of netflix! I’ve purchased a bunch of Full Moon movies over the years because they’re cheap but I haven’t watched most of the movies. They just don’t spark my interest and I love schlocky B horror. Maybe it’s because they’re trying to be bad and I like movies that are trying to be good but end up being bad. I do really like Tourist Trap (1979) which is a Charles Band Production and Re-Animator which is from his Empire production company. I usually like his brother’s (Richard Band) film scores too.

  19. If anyone is interested, I heard JOTD on One Sick Puppy’s Dead as Hell Podcast. The episode is called “Scarlet Gospels; Hellraiser Special Part 1” and it was released on July 11. One Sick Puppy asked some other podcasters if they would open up Lemarchand’s box. JOTD’s response is at 2:34:45 and it’s way more in depth (longer) than anyone else and it’s also pretty brilliant. I’m not sure if Jay mentioned it before but here’s the address…

  20. Hey guys- first time poster here so I’m going to beg for mercy in advance… Another episode in the books and despite “stepping off the beaten path” in terms of the direction, it was (yet another) great episode! This episode stuck with me, long after I finished it, causing me to search through the plethora of horror movies I’ve seen and enjoying the feelings that tagged along with them. (The memory of sneaking away to watch a VHS copy of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead at age 12 for the first time, never knowing its impact, and being completely engulfed in that movie is likely a single feeling that can never be touched, altered, forgotten, or even truly shared with anyone else).

    It also made me ask the question about the horror genre too: are all the original ideas gone? I’d like to think it’s not, but when an industry much more values quantity than quality, it’s hard not be become bitter and exhausted with the amount of terrible horror movies vs. the ones that are fresh and exciting. Now there have certainly been quality horror movies since, but one of the most memorable horror movie experiences I have had in the last decade, one where I was TRULY blown away by the movie experience, was watching Grindhouse (2007) in the theaters. And that isn’t a comment on the quality of Death Proof and Planet Terror, I’ll leave the reviews to you guys, but it is a comment on the experience! When will the next time be where I can go to the cinema and see a gory, disgusting, double-feature horror show that harkens back to a different time and place?! Ugh…

    So in a long, drawn-out, bludgeoning of a dead horse kind of way, it brings me to my point… Yesterday, by sheer luck, I watched a (underrated) horror classic called “Spookies” from 1986. This was another movie I remember catching on TV when I was a kid and it terrified me (at least back then)! This movie has never made it off the VHS platform, begging for a DVD or better yet Blu-ray release, and since VHS players are items in museums now… How did I watch it? Youtube. The sound was tinny, the picture grainy, but yet a long lost (maybe even forgotten?) horror classic was still clinging to life on Youtube.

    Now I get the whole copyright stuff, blah blah blah, hey, if it’s up there- I’m watching it! After some research, Youtube had tons of movies that horror fans struggle to find; Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Fright Night Part II, Lady in White, The Dead Next Door, Watchers, etc. Is the quality there? No, but the films themselves are- most of which horror fans have just gave up waiting on releases.

    As much as you guys don’t need help in the ideas department- wouldn’t it be a little neat to do a Youtube horror episode, where you each pick one off of there to review? It’s just a thought but I thought I should at least share that as we search through the muck to find new quality horror films, the gems that inspired us once upon a time can still be revisited when the going gets tough…

    • Yay! “Spookies”!

      I’m always recommending that movie to the guys but they’ve yet to follow it up. Maybe because it’s so hard to track down a decent copy?

      Anyway, it’s not a very good movie on a technical level but I just love the huge array of weird monsters it has to offer. And all pulled off with classic b-grade practical effects. So much fun! And a great “background” movie for Halloween parties and such, thanks mainly to all the weird, spooky imagery.

    • Kitzy, welcome to the comments. I think your YouTube horror idea is awesome. I just wonder if it’s something the guys would be gun shy on given, as you said, the copyright issues and implications. I also wonder how Wolfman Josh feels about this topic as a filmmaker himself.

      Still, clever idea. I like it.

      • I admit that I watch a bunch of horror movies on youtube, there’s a lot of really obscure old stuff on there. But I always try to make sure that it’s not available in any other current format first. If there’s no other way to pay to see it then youtube’s A-ok in my book but I’ll be interested to see what Wolfman has to say.

          • Thanks for making me feel welcome, guys! I’m also interested in what Josh would say; I get as a filmmaker it’s somewhat of a conflict of interest. But as a horror fan, it is quite the opportunity! Today, I lucked out again- I watched a TV horror movie that I hadn’t seen since in almost 30 years- The Midnight Hour (which is a fantastic companion piece with Monster Squad). Much like Spookies, there is no way to find this movie in America- possibly on VHS if you are lucky. I’d much rather purchase or rent these if they were available, but YouTube is still able to keep these films on life support while we hold out for someone to release them on Bluray.

            As I said before, it was just an idea, but at any rate it is interesting to a horror fan to see YouTube turn into a sort of modern day trip to our now extinct local video store to shuffle through the forgotten ones that we watched based on only cover art like Rawhead Rex or The Video Dead.

          • You’re throwing out some of my favourite z-grade 80’s horror flicks, Kitzy. “The Video Dead” is one that I just had to track down because I remembered seeing it on the shelf at the video store as a kid and finding the cover really creepy. “Rejuvenatrix” (1988), “Neon Maniacs” (1986) and “The Ressurected” (1992) are some other b-movie horror flicks in a similar vein that are hard to track down but available on youtube.

          • There are some great public domain horror movies on YouTube! I think any movie before 1922 is fair game. Le Manoir du diable (1896) by Georges Méliès is there. The first Frankenstein (1910) film adaptation is there too! They are so short you can watch a bunch on your lunch break. It’s a good look at the origins of scares on film but not so scary by today’s standards. Since they are public domain you can take them and save them to your collection as well. Hello Kitzy!

    • Kitzy,welcome! The more the merrier and these guys here in the comment section are so cool and a super respectful. This episode brought a few new people out of the wood work, actually. I’ll call that a success even if Jason Blum has the same end game in mind for Paranormal Activity that Moustapha Akkad had for Halloween.

      I’ve been meaning to get around to Spookies for awhile, but it is, indeed, hard to find.

      As for the YouTube thing: if the movie isn’t available on BluRay, DVD, or streaming … what can you do, really? You’ve got to see the movie. I will advocate for putting some money in the filmmakers’ pocket whenever possible, but if it’s not possible, you gotta do whatcha gotta do. In fact, maybe if someone over at Scream Factory or Blue Underground saw that a movie like Spookies had 1 million views on YouTube, they’d consider putting it out legitimately.

      I think a YouTube episode–or even a “pirated” episode–is a really cool , really edgy idea. It may be too edgy for Jay, but I will pitch it to the guys. Great idea, Kitzy! Seriously.

  21. So, I just watched UNFRIENDED. I’m not going to get into too much detail now (because we have company over), but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly surprised, in fact. Not to add fuel to the fire here, but I think it was slightly better than not half bad…

    • As in being decent for being legitimately decent or being decent because it’s so terrible that it’s sorta fun? I loved the movie in terms of it being so bad it was good. Otherwise, the movie is pretty horrible and is a good shout out for the worst horror of 2015 when you take into account the fact that it was a wide release, received a good amount of publicity and starring people who have had some mild experience rather than being first time actors.

      I feel like UNFRIENDED would be a fantastic movie to watch with a bunch of buddies with all of you drinking.

  22. For anybody out there still thinking about Jay’s 13 principles (like I am) and wondering how one generates what Jay refers to here as “genuine suspense” … check out this recent blog post Jason wrote about The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitckcock, over on Movie Podcast Weekly: here.

  23. Took me a while to get through this one. Blumhouse had 15 movies come out last year. If you think that Jason Blum spent any protracted amount of time creating the horror films then you are crazy. Most of his year was spent making The Normal Heart and Whiplash. Especially since those movies went hard through the festival and award circuits. The people behind the films are the directors. If you look through the background of the directors for all of the original films you’ll find that most of them have respectable work behind them. I think Jason Blum’s philosophy is ‘let good people do good work give them money when they need it’.

  24. Hey guys! Just thought you might like to know, Jason Blum is doing an AMA on Reddit on August 5th at 12pm EDT. Could be a good chance to voice your concerns and have him see it.

    • Woah, cool.

      If we have any listeners out there that are active on Reddit, I think the best question you could ask for us would be to request Blum formally answers Jay in the next week or so.

      BTW, my appreciation for Jason Blum has grown so much since we posted this show–and I already really liked him from that radio interview–because I’ve been watching him more closely to see if he would respond to Jay. He seems like a really cool guy that stays incredibly busy with really cool projects. I’m a fan.

  25. Dino: Hello, my name is Dino, and I am a fan of UNFRIENDED.
    HMP-ers: Hello, Dino.

    UNFRIENDED (2015) – 6.5/10

    I really enjoyed this movie. Yes, really! Did I like it on the level of a conventionally shot and constructed horror film like IT FOLLOWS or INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3? No, not even close. But, this movie does some very interesting things and is much more clever than it lets on.

    Right at the start, I should point out that I watched this movie on my computer, which happens to be a MacBook similar to the one used in the film itself. This worked so well on a meta level, as if I was part of the movie myself (there’s something else this movie does that works this way, but I’ll get to that later). I can see how this might not show well on a giant movie theater screen, but it should do fine on your TV at home.

    Getting into the movie itself, I really liked the story behind the film. It was a new spin on the conventional supernatural ghost revenge tale, bringing it into the modern age and addressing a topic that’s very much in the fore of social discussion today – cyberbullying.

    To borrow from one of JOTD’s “13 Principles of Making an Effective Horror Film,” something the movie does well is it accurately portrays a regular day in the life of these high school students, and the horror is sprung from this mundanity. I thought the character performances were all good and believable, and I loved how they used technology, the Internet, and social networks in a real way. I particularly liked the on-screen messaging back-and-forth between certain characters, which the others in the video chat were not privy to.

    I was completely convinced these were actual high school students having their usual Skype group chat session and going about their business. There’s a touch of humor in the movie too, but not in a comedy-horror or forced sense. The humor occurs organically in the characters’ teen-aged interactions with each other. Again, naturally occurring within the story and completely believable.

    Now, I’d like to talk about two things this movie does that I’ll stop just short of calling brilliant.

    First, since the movie takes place as a Skype group chat, the characters are facing you for the entire movie, making you an active participant in the film. By now, most of us have been part of a video call like this – Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc – and this is exactly what it’s like. Taking it one step further, there is a mystery participant with no avatar or video feed who is crashing their group chat; they know this extra participant is there, but they can’t get rid of them. And we, the audience, essentially take that seat as the extra participant. This is part of that meta level immersion in the film I mentioned earlier.

    Second, and this gets back to one of JOTD’s 13 Principles, the film succeeds in building up suspense. Now, this movie is not above resorting to cheap jump scares, and there are plenty of them present throughout. However, three specific elements of the movie succeeded in creating genuine suspense. The first element was the “do not hang up or your friends die” on-screen message Blaire received early on from the unknown user. The second element was the “game” they were playing. And the third element was the use of on-screen countdowns, which began when they were playing the “game.”

    Overall, I thought the movie employed a fresh and interesting concept. I know the concept has been done before, specifically in THE DEN (and maybe somewhere else, too?), but this was the concept done right. There’s even a little bit of mystery involved; not so much in a whodunnit way, but in a “why are they doing it” way.

    Like many “hardcore” horror fans, this is a movie I didn’t really have any interest in, which is why I didn’t bother to see it in theaters. JOTD’s review and his 0.5/10 rating just further cemented my lack of interest. But, for some reason, I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did. UNFRIENDED is a 6.5/10 for me. I stopped at a 6.5 because I’m not sure how well this will hold up on re-watch, but I think it’s definitely worth at least “a” watch.

    • Well, I do respect your opinions on UNFRIENDED, but I disagree with many of them, Dino. For believable characters, I found it hard to buy that these kids were all real. They all seem to fit the cutesy cookie cutter roles that you see in most films. There’s the computer savvy geek, the bitch that no one actually likes, the slut, the good girl, the rich jerk and the virgin guy. Yet, they all did things that seemed out of place. The knife play early on seemed really odd and forced. One minute someone is enraged and lost their mind, then moments later they’re completely normal and trying to calm someone else down. When we learn about secrets, some of them are so over the top that A) It makes liking anyone impossible and B) It makes it tough to believe it’s actually happening.

      Maybe it’s because I’m part of the age group that remembers MSN convos with high school friends, but by time Skype came around, I wasn’t having those group chats anymore. So whenever I see these group video chats in movies, they feel forced and not so natural. Do kids come home from school and jump into these group video chats? So at least for the first half of the movie, I was just left wondering why they didn’t just end the video chat and go old school with text messaging? Maybe I’m just turning into an old fart and I don’t know what’s cool anymore.

      Besides THE DEN, the whole live stream reminds me of OPEN WINDOWS starring Frodo himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Both of those movies I felt succeeded in it’s all live streaming better than UNFRIENDED. Both may have some flaws, but they’re both easy high priority rentals for me.

      Again though, I loved, loved, loved the movie in terms of being so bad it’s good. The killer’s reason for doing what it does is so bad that I just assume Freddy is in hell, rolling his eyes at this killer being a drama queen.

      • Daniel Radcliffe as Frodo?! I’d love to see that. And I think Elijah Wood might make a better Harry Potter as well.

        I actually quite liked Open Windows until the end and Jay did not, so I wonder if I might enjoy Unfriended after-all. I have to admit, even Sal’s so-bad-it’s-good review has me a little interested.

        As for Skype chats with buddies, how do you think this podcast gets recorded?! It’s definitely a big thing in my life and I’m too old for MSN chats. Podcasting got me Skyping on the regular and having kids got me Facetiming. I’m constantly Facetiming with my kids when I am working on the road. Down here in Colombia, we Skype or Facetime with Grandparents once a week.

        • “Daniel Radcliffe as Frodo?! I’d love to see that. And I think Elijah Wood might make a better Harry Potter as well.”

          I look forward to the HARRY POTTER reboot with Elijah Wood as Harry, Sean Astin as Hermione, and Andy Serkis as the Sorting Hat.

          I agree with your feelings on the ending to OPEN WINDOWS. Sometimes it’s best not to try and be overly clever.

          I can’t see you liking UNFRIENDED unless it’s from laughing at how bad it was. After seeing the film, I talked to a friend who had saw it on his own time and we had the same reaction of finding most of the second half to be hysterically bad. Who knows, maybe if you hear enough bad talk, your expectations will be so low that you’ll enjoy it more otherwise. An honest bit of positive praise I can give it is that the movie wasn’t boring. I got through the entire film without ever having to look at how much time was left.

          As for Skype, you’re in a different situation than I was talking about for the gang that was in UNFRIENDED. You don’t just use Skype to hang out with Jay, The Doctors of the Shock and Walking Dead Variety, and others. You get on Skype with them to get some work done. For the family part, I can’t remember from past shows if your family were with you in Colombia or not. If they’re not, like I assume is the case for your grandparents, you use Skype as an alternative to not being able to actually see your family while you’re still down in South America. It seems like a big different from getting on video chat at night with the same friends you see at school every day.

          Do high school kids really spend all of their time on Skype in video calls with their buddies? If that’s something kids of today really do, that would help the believability in not just UNFRIENDED, but a lot of movies where it seems as if everyone has to go on video chat instead of calling or texting. I don’t know about others, but when I’m online, I look like a damn zombie just looking at the screen with a certain SHAUN OF THE DEAD glaze over my eyes. That’s hardly appealing for any friends to see on Skype for hours on end. :(

          • Sal, that is exactly what kids do nowadays. Honestly, though, not just kids; my wife and her best friend (who lives thousands of miles away) will Facetime for hours during the day. They’re not talking that whole time, they’re just going about their business, hanging out. My 5 y/o son even does it sometimes with his grandparents and friends. So, yes, these “just hanging out” video chats are a thing that many people are doing now, which is why it was completely believable to me.

            I get what you’re saying about each kid filling a character archetype. That’s definitely there, but it’s not something that bothers me. I think they each sold their role well enough, and I could at least see a common thread that could bring them together as friends. As for their rollercoaster emotions… they’re teenagers with raging hormones! I tend to keep my eye on teenagers when I’m out and about because they’re crazy, which scares me a bit. (It’s like the scene in BLOOD DIAMOND when Leo DiCaprio’s character gets spooked by the children guarding a bridge.) So, again, I totally bought their emotional imbalances.

          • That said, it’s definitely not a movie for everyone. I’d be interested to see what the Wolfman thinks of it; I honestly don’t know which way he would fall, but we could count on it being at least a 2.5/10 for him (since JOTD gave it a 0.5/10).

            I do know I’m not the only one who liked the movie, though. I don’t normally look at ratings aggregate sites, but it’s currently at 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and 59% on Metacritic. Both respectable numbers. And BillChete gave it a 6/10 and said it was worth a watch. >> https://twitter.com/BillChete/status/628306558888230912

  26. Just read the reddit Q&A…was that you Josh…If so it was nice he didn’t reply to your question…Jason Blum fears Jay of the Dead!!!

  27. ~Slightly off-topic~

    A Tale of Woe
    (Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the iTunes)

    Several days ago, I decided I’ll do the right thing and leave an iTunes review for HMP. As it turns out, this was the beginning of my mistakes. *Cue TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE voice over guy* First up for the problems is iTunes wasn’t interested in allowing me to leave a review unless I downloaded the latest version of the program. Why that matters when the version I was using was just a few versions old? Who knows. So I downloaded iTunes 12 and left a review. At that point in time, everything seemed alright *Cue ominous music*. It only took a couple of days before I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to get rid of iTunes 12. It’s an ugly program and I deeply missed my old version. I uninstalled that version and re-installed the version I had before. That’s when the errors began. I literally couldn’t open iTunes without it immediately crashing. But hey…maybe the version I downloaded was messed up, right? So I uninstalled it and re-installed a similar version. Again…errors. Like anyone living in the 21st century, I used my incredible smarts to come up with a foolproof method of fixing the problem (Otherwise known as “Googling the problem”). I found various solutions to the problem, but their fix had me copying a dll file from one folder to a different folder. Only one problem, I didn’t have that dll file anywhere on my computer. What gives? I tried uninstalling the program and re-installing iTunes 12 (Ugh), but now even that wouldn’t work and would give me errors. I’ll hand it to iTunes though, I would get different error codes depending on which iTunes version I was trying to use. Congrats to them for being able to mixing things up. Finally, I seemed to find the correct fix by uninstalling EVERY Apple product on my laptop. That includes iTunes and Quicktime. Then I got to re-install the programs and iTunes could now be opened without crashing.

    A giant headache, but the tale is over, right? Oh no…the horrors were about as “Done” as the first time you think you killed Jason Voorhees at the hour mark. First, there was the realization that I had a small little typo in the review. In trying to fix the little issue, I couldn’t find an edit button on iTunes. What gives(x2)? Does my account not know who I am because I left that review under a different version of iTunes? I clicked on the “Leave a review” button, hoping it just allowed me to edit the previous review. It automatically opened the review box with my original review, but after I saved the review, it looked as if iTunes was going to post not only my revised review, but also my original one. Well, that’s embarrassing. So I did what any sane person would do and I deleted my revised review, willing to let my slight typo’d review be my official review. The next morning (This morning), I woke up to find that not only was the revised review deleted, but so was the original one. Oh, iTunes, you scamp, you got me again. This time though, iTunes decided to allow me to review HMP again, without having to download iTunes 12, just to prove that it was possible to do so in the first place, but that they just didn’t want me to last week. So now a week after this horror tale began, I have an iTunes program that might still have an error since it likes to freeze the taskbar when you have iTunes paused and minimized. Again, a new error I’ve never seen before. Seriously, iTunes is one creative fella.

    After all this, I can safely say that HMP and Jay of the Dead’s constant requests to have the listeners leave iTunes reviews has officially killed my decade and a half love of iTunes. May iTunes rot in the FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5 levels of hell for eternity.

    So if any of you have a preferred music program that is like iTunes, but doesn’t suck worse than a shot-by-shot remake of a Alfred Hitchcock movie, I’m totally willing to hear all recommendations.

    • That sucks, Sal. Yeah, iTunes is the 800-pound gorilla in the room right now that Apple needs to fix. Apparently, from what I hear, it’s a more difficult task than we outsiders realize because the programmers are dealing with a lot of legacy software on the backend. But, seems as though they ARE working on it.

      I’m lucky in that I haven’t had any issues with iTunes in the years I’ve been using it [knocks on wood], but I’ve definitely heard of stories similar to yours. It’s that old saying, “your mileage may vary.”

      As far as alternative recommendations, it might help to know a little bit more about how you are (were) using iTunes. What type of content are you running through it (i.e. music, tv/movies, podcasts, etc)? Do you have an integrated Apple environment? Are you consuming this content via Apple TV, or literally via the iTunes app on your computer?

      My initial thought was to setup a Plex Media Server to serve up your content and then run Plex on all your devices to consume the content. Not sure if you’re familiar with Plex or not, but it’s easy to setup and use, is cross-platform, solid, and pretty to look at. But, like I said, might not be a good solution for you depending on what you’re looking for.

      • I’m only looking at an alternate music program to use with the computer. Totally bare bones and no frills. I only use iTunes for podcasts or music, videos and anything else, I use other programs.

        For iTunes, I like being able to see every mp3 on my computer on one screen. I dig the feature where if you open a mp3 in iTunes, it automatically sends a copy to the iTunes folder, that way you never need to worry about re-finding your files if you end up moving them out of your download folder or desktop folder.

        I don’t own any Apple products anymore as my laptop is a Toshiba, I own a Roku instead of AppleTV and my phone isn’t an iPhone.

        I do use Plex for streaming my downloaded videos on my TV through Roku.

        I’ve been testing out Musicbee since all of this began and while it’s nice, I’m not blown away by it. I’d rather try out some other programs first before settling with Musicbee.

        • I ran into the same (or similar) issues. I rarely use iTunes except to listen to the music that I already own (mostly ripped from my old CD collection).

          Last year at the behest of JOTD I tried to leave a review for the HMP on iTunes. My God what a terrible experience.

          I will confess that I became so frustrated with the entire experience that I ended up abandoning the idea of leaving an iTunes review.

          My apologies to everyone that puts in hours of hard work to produce HMP but that’s the truth.

          Hopefully a heartfelt “THANK YOU” from me now will help make up for this!

          Keep it up and as always…Abide.


        • If you’re already using Plex for your video content, then why not also use it for music? You can just point your Plex instance to your iTunes library (assuming it’s still intact). That way, you still have the automated library management of iTunes, but don’t have to interface with it.

  28. Pretty interesting and short video of 5 things that cannot be explained. I think some of these could form the basis of an interesting horror movie or two (of course, Annabelle was already made into a movie). Personally, I’d like to see the “Coke Mystery Vending Machine” turned into a horror/comedy in the vein of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, while “The Hum” could be a good supernatural tale.


    • 1. DR. WHO – When I first heard about this awhile back on Imgur, I found it to be really creepy. Out of the five stories in the video, it’s what I’d call the scariest as well. Had I saw that as a kid, I would have had nightmares. The basics of this story (Creep interrupts children’s television show) can easily be turned into a horror film whether by having it be a supernatural film (Which I’m sure Jay of the Dead would LOVE) or by making it into a slasher or real life crime by interrupting transmission as his calling card before killing. Kind of like how a teen would have a first dream with Freddy, where Krueger just messes with the teen without killing them, to get the ball rolling. If you go for the real life crime drama, you focus on the police waiting for these transmission interruptions as their only chance to try and learn more about the killer. The catch is the thing they hope most to happen has a catch of knowing someone will be killed twenty-four hours (Or whatever) later.

      2. Raining Animals – You can find a good amount of movies that have at least a small scale harbinger of doom with mysterious animal deaths. The supernatural demonic ones (AMITYVILLE HORROR) had them, as does some alien films like DARK SKIES, and they’re obviously a staple among strong religious based thrillers, namely when they deal with events like the rapture. Raining animals in movies will never not be creepy though.

      3. Coke Mystery Vending Machine – First, let me just say I have a feeling this one would be super disappointing if you investigate this case closer as I fully expect it’s simply a case of someone re-filling the machine at night. With that being said, I think it might be tough to try and come up with a ninety minute film about this. Yet, the story would have been perfect for an old episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. While listening to this story, I was instantly reminded of that Rod Serling series. For that matter, any of these five cases would have made for a great TWILIGHT ZONE episode.

      2. The Annabelle Doll – You know, with the whole Annabelle incident happening back in 1970, I’m kind of surprised that there’s only been one real movie based on the story. Maybe there were legal problems with having to get the Warrens’ permission in order to do a movie based on the case?

      1. The Hum – This story has the most potential in terms of being able to tell so many different stories about this. If you show this to a dozen different writers and told them to write a script about it, without giving them any guidelines, you could end up with twelve very different scripts, with many different sub-genres at play.

      For other real life unexplained mysteries, I would love to see a movie based on the Dyatlov Pass incident. I was so excited to hear that 2013’s DEVIL’S PASS was being made, but then disappointed when I finally got to see it. Instead of focusing on the actual incident, it’s set in modern times and goes off in a completely different direction. I wouldn’t mind hearing the HMP crew review DEVIL’s PASS at some point. Since it’s found footage, it would have fit in nicely with the next episode.

        • See, this is why the HMP community rules. You mention wanting to hear a review by the HMP (Or it’s sister sites) and you quickly have a listener politely tell you that it’s been done AND they provide the episode number and a link to the show. Seriously, that sort of nice and helpful attitude is not elsewhere on the net. Both you and Juan have been awesome when it comes to steering me in the right direction for past shows. That does wonders for welcoming new posters and encourage them to keep coming around.

          Ironically, I had HMP #5 playing a couple of days ago, but I stopped it because the beginning sounded really familiar. I’m thinking it’s just a case of Dr. Shock sharing the same stories a good amount, so I may have heard excerpts from HMP #5’s beginning on other shows. Listening to the episode now though. The original Black Christmas would likely be in my top five for favorite horror movies of all time.

          • Don’t mention it, Sal. Besides, I get tired of talking to Juan and David all the time, so it’s always nice to have someone new come around with smart and thoughtful comments.

        • A fun quote by Jay of the Dead in episode 5:

          “…but I tell ya, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, he’s been doing some great things. So I’m not saying he’s the rebirth of horror cinema, but with people like him out there, I mean I think we’re going in good directions at least.”

          Take that 2015 Jay of the Dead!

  29. *Seriously, that sort of nice and helpful attitude is not easily found elsewhere on the net.

    Okay, as much as I love the HMP community, I hate that there isn’t an edit button. Ha.

  30. hmm. I hear the sentiment hear Jay, and I think you approached it with sincerity.

    I would argue though, that a film like “The Gallows”, which is indeed awful, uses about 11 out of the 13 principles. Maybe not super well, but they are there.

    I’d also argue that, “Paranormal Activity” is no worse than the direction any of the slasher franchises went including “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween”, and NoES.

    I like supernatural films a lot, and I really don’t have a problem with the sequels as a cash cows. Especially since Blum House is producing a lot of other excellent horror.

    • Great points all-around, Kagan. I hope Jay will respond. Sometimes the comments for these older episodes slip through the cracks.

      Thanks for commenting. Hope to hear more from you.

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