The Happy Wife

I’ve been making movies since I was a kid. I had the awesome privilege of owning a Hi8 camera that essentially took the place of my right hand. I recorded everything from trips to Walmart, my voice messages with different backgrounds, to movies that I was sure that I would one day be able to edit “professionally”.

My “editing” process was simple then. I would record my content, transer it from Hi8 to VHS, set up my tripod in front of my tv, and proceed to make cuts, ad music and text (colored pieces of paper with peoples names or titles scotch taped to the screen) to my videos. The quality obviously dropped a bit but I didn’t care. I would then take these masterpieces, transfer them once more to a grip of tapes and then pass them out to my friends. I shudder to think that those tapes may still be out there… waiting for me.

My Video Making Game has upped a bit since then. I’ve gone into business for myself shooting and putting out other people’s stories and messages. The Movie bug is still in me though. Ultimately, the goal is short films and documentaries, and with my inclination towards horror, these dreams will naturally flow in that direction.

This was my attempt at a cinematic look & feel. It’s nothing deep or inspiring, but it marks the beginning of my new attempts at the goals I’ve made for myself. I was able to charm the beautiful Tamara Gray into being my test subject for these shots and I appreciate the hell out of her for playing along. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of her in my future projects as well.

Enjoy!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/271629315″>Happy Wife</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user85453596″>Josh T. Romero</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Never talk to Strangers

In this world of uncertainty, there are some things in life we know to be true, and some pieces of age-old advice that we should all heed. When you live in the middle of nowhere, never, never answer the door for Strangers.
The Strangers: Prey at Night dropped their first teaser, and naturally Bloody Disgusting was right on top of it. The trailer has been watched, my curiosity has been stoked and I’m ready for the release of Strangers 2.
I’ll be honest, this second installment has me stoked but nervous! The original Strangers, released in 2008 meant a lot to me. I saw it in theaters 3 times! That’s a big deal for me. Strangers had its flaws and I was originally going to make this a review on the first film and use catchy phrases on twitter like “It’s time we talked about Strangers” or “Tamara can never come out to play” and use hashtags like #strangerdanger… Now that I see them in front of me, they’re not all that clever.
The point is that Strangers rocked my world primarily because it was the first movie that I got cuddly with the luckiest girl in the world who is now my wife. If you don’t know my wife, she’s not super stoked on horror. It’s lead to movie night arguments, conversations over what is and is not appropriate to wear on a tee shirt in front of our kids, and the list goes on. My point is that I view it as a symbol of how much my wife loves me! I’ll admit, this has nothing to do with the actual film…
If you happen to be a horror fan or just enjoy a good Home-Invasion story that may or may not be based on true events, Strangers is very much worth the watch. Throughout the entire movie, Bryan Bertino nailed an ominous tone that so many directors strive for. The “safest” of scenes were still filled with dread for what was to come. It’s terrifying and fun in all the right ways. Sit on your couch and get caught up, then join Tamara and I in theaters on March 9th, 2018 to watch The Strangers: Prey at Night.

Brand New Creeps Are Never Really New

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I feel broken. Every day, new allegations are coming out about sexual assault cases. A little while back, the horror community was in a buzz about Victor Salva and his latest film, Jeepers Creepers 3. If this was one you missed, Salva was convicted in ’88 for molesting his lead actor who was a 12-year-old boy and for possessing child porn, severed 15 months, then got back to movie making. From the side of the internet that I’m on, the primary discussion was about whether or not we can separate the art from the artist. I’ll be honest, I didn’t care so much for Jeepers Creepers. I didn’t hate it, but I never thought it was something to write home about. It was an easy decision for me. The artist and the art cannot be separated! Give him the boot and brand his forehead with his sins. Today made me consider why this was even a topic.
My cousin shot me a text and asked if I heard the news about Brand New. Being that they’ve been in my TOP 3 favorite bands for the past 9 years, I immediately told him to tell me everything. He did, and my heart sank. Not for Jesse Lacey and Brand New, but for the victims of this manipulative creep and his supportive bandmates who were constantly playing “cover-up”. Brand New’s front man, Jesse Lacey was recently called out by a former band tech posting on social media “So while we are on the topic of outing famous and semi-famous creeps, anyone want to speak up about Jesse Lacey from Brand New?”  Immediately after hearing this, I took to Google and YouTube to find out the extent of the “misconduct” that all the headlines stated.
Substream Magazine spoke with Nicole Garey, one of the first to come out about what happened between her and Jesse.
Garey told Substream “He solicited nudes from me starting when I was 15 and he was 24.” and continued to go on about how she was manipulated from the age of 15 up till around 22. She had tried to tell her story before what Woody Allen called a “witch hunt”. She lost friends and relationships trying to get her story out.
The truth of this matter is that we are dealing with pedophiles who are using their positions of power to find new victims. When we let it slide, or “separate the art from the artist”, we’re delivering children to them on a silver platter in exchange for their art. I know that we’re all human. We all screw up every day and have to deal with the consequences of our actions, but some sins have much larger consequences than others. These attacks will stick with the people and children who have been victimized by these creeps, yet most of the time, they’re the ones who’s validity is questioned. They’re the ones who lose credibility and lose friends and relationships. So many cases have been reported where the victim is treated like the victimizer.
We’re at a place in time where we are finally taking the stories of the abused seriously. Whistles are being blown every damn day now because the abused finally have a platform to be heard. I genuinely believe that this is a great road to be on. This is also a perfect time to teach our kids and loved ones what sexual abuse and manipulation look like. Now if only there was a punishment to fit the crime…
Child abuse of any sort is not something to be tolerated or supported. In the case of Victor Salva and Jesse Lacey, their art is tied directly to their name. There is no way to separate the art from the artist. To attempt to do so would be to give approval to them and their actions so that they can continue to provide us with their art. Though I understand how the thought can come up, and how difficult it can be to detach yourself from something that you love, I believe the separation is worth it, even simply as a statement of disapproval.
Despite the culture of tolerance we live in, child abuse and sexual assault cannot be tolerated. Men and Women need to be held accountable for their actions. We need to stand against the predators and provide safe support for the hurting.
I was going to include Jesse Lacey’s statement in this post, but I want this to be less about him and Victor and more about Nicole Garey and Nathan Forrest. Nicole and Nathan are the ones who suffered and will probably continue to suffer do the traumas they faced. Steps can always be taken by people to heal from their experiences, but more than that, we as people need to be there to provide the support and comfort that they need to keep moving. The pendulum is approaching it’s highest, and we as a people group are throwing tolerance to the wind and taking down the attackers who are hurting us. My only fear is that when it swings back, the victims will once again be demonized to a more extreme extent. We can’t let this happen.
To Nicole and Nathan, thank you so much for having the courage to speak out about the abuse you’ve faced from Jesse and Victor. I’m sorry. I hope that you guys will continue to be praised for what you’ve done and that the people who say that you’re responsible for what’s happened to you are all punched in the throats.
If you’ve been abused, speak up. Your mic is up and you’re not alone. Let your bravery lend courage to the fearful who don’t know how to get it out.
If you know somebody who’s been abused, be there for them. Keep on providing support and love that they need to keep moving.
You can read Jesse Lacey’s statement on Facebook: Brand New

Buffy Slayed my Blogging Career

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The negative side effects of binge watching internet & tv series

Not too long ago, I was in the middle of a conversation and was caught off guard by a comment that left me in a minor state of shock. Conversing about the information age we live in, I was told that this was part of the problem that millennials face. According to them, we have all of the knowledge of the world at our finger tips and anytime we want to know something we head to Wikipedia, YouTube and IMDB. They concluded that the problem with my generation is that we’re too educated. Does that sound right to you?
There are a lot of benefits to living in the Information Age and the fact that we’re still progressing is not only incredible but its also crazy inspiring. I personally didn’t develop a love for learning until after I dropped out of college. With things like Wikipedia, instant google searches and the international movie database, we’ve been given an incredible opportunity to pursue knowledge. Netflix is pumping out documentaries left and right and as we begin to scroll through the seemingly infinite catalog of educational opportunity, we see something else; entire series of the best shows created by man. We, unfortunately are not haunted by our insatiable thirst for knowledge, but our apathy and laziness are what plague us.
This is not going to be another blog about “what’s wrong with millennials” or how we can all learn from our elders. This is about my personal shortcomings, Buffy and myself.  Personally, I find it pretty easy to fall prey to the entertainment industry and all they shit it feeds us. Consume, Obey, More Bubblegum, Repeat. I know I’m not the only one. There wouldn’t be an industry catering to every sick fantasy we have if I were. The fact is that I feel unable to properly prioritize my life, goals and passions when I know that somewhere online, I get to live in the size 7 shoes of a teenage vampire slayer, or travel the verse looking for another job that will inevitably endanger the lives of myself and my shipmates.
The entertainment industry is a blessing and a curse for me. As an art fan, it’s only natural that I would fall for a piece that captivates my attention and takes me to another world where adventure looms behind every gravestone. Buffy was that for me.
I really enjoy writing. I also enjoy binge watching tv and internet series. This life provides so many opportunities for distraction. That being said, the only thing that can keep you on your path is to know your purpose and constantly remind yourself of it. Maybe your purpose is to be a consumer and devour every series that presents itself in your lifetime. If you believe that, then consume till your hearts content. For me, I believe that my purpose is to chew bubble gum and challenge the world to think, feel, act and speak for themselves… and I’m all out of bubble gum.
So what is your purpose? It’s not always an easy question to answer. It takes a lot of time and dedication just to discover it, but I believe that once you do, even Buffy can’t stand in your way.
-Josh T. Romero

 

Pulling the trigger 

I’ve come to a point in my life where I feel incapable of working for someone else. Maybe its because I’m a “challenge person” or maybe it’s because I’m a millennial. What ever it is, my step father told me growing up to find what I love, then find a way to make money out of it. I genuinely believe that this is the only way that I will find joy and fulfillment in my work. I am taking the steps towards working and creating for myself. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but only recently have conjured the guts to pull the trigger.I’m passionate about a lot of things. I love creating art, painting and vectorizing. I love the process of creating videos and music. I love writing poetry, blogs and short stories. I love photography. I love… lamp? For the longest time I’ve tried pinning down the one thing that I love the most to make a business out of, but truthfully, I can’t abandon them all to do just one. So screw it, I’m going to do it all.

I believe that challenge is necessary for progress and that I’m at my best when I’m helping others to see things differently. I believe that my purpose in life is to challenge the world to think, feel, act and speak for themselves. My goal is to inspire people to look past their circumstances to see what they were created to do though the artwork that I create.

What I want to do is big. It’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of help. This is where I plan to reach out to those who believe what I believe and they are the ones that I will build my business around serving.

I’ve made too many excuses in the past about why it’s not time and why I can’t pull this off. This isn’t the example I want to set for my little ones. A part of why I’m doing this is to prove to them that what ever you set your mind to, you can acomplish.

All that said, there’s going to be a new freelancer in town! The “dream” included it all, but instead of starting up way over my head, I figure I’ll approach it at a steady pace.

I’ll keep whoever’s interested in my journey updated here with all of the other things I have going on.

Side note: if you’re reading this and need some promo art done for events or shows, hit me up! I’d love work something out with you!
Advice and feedback are always appreciated.
Thank you for reading,
Josh

Balancing Horror Addiction & Fatherhood


If you follow me through any form of social media, there are a few things that you probably know about me. I am married with children, I absolutely adore them, I work at a dental lab as the creative director and I am addicted to horror. My life isn’t anything crazy. I don’t go out a lot or go on adventures. The majority of the time, I’m in survival mode. My kids are monsters and my wife and I haven’t slept in the past 6 years. 

If you know me and my kids personally, you’ll know that my kids and I all share a love for the macabre! This is something that I’m super proud of. Maybe it’s because I can see the effects of parenting and I love the idea of molding these little minds to think the way I do, or maybe it’s because I love seeing other people’s reactions to my kids singing made up songs about severed heads while laughing hysterically. I don’t entirely know why their dark side makes me feel proud, but I love it and certainly don’t plan on changing anything! Believe it or not though, I do think about what my children are exposed to. I have a collection of horror books and movies on a book shelf in my closet that are just for me (and my wife when I can convince her that “It” really won’t be that scary). I’ve written in previous blogs and various channels of social media that I was exposed to horror and the macabre at a young age. I have memories as early as 4 years old of watching Stephen King movies and being scared senseless of little trolls in jester hats coming after me with crooked daggers. Not to mention the actual kid movies and stories I was obsessed with growing up, i.e., The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hokus Pocus, The Addams Family, the Halloween Tree… 

My children have a deep appreciation for some of the horror icons we all know and love. They have hand painted Jack and Sally peg dolls, they play Dracula and The Wolf Man all the time and on more than one occasion, I’ve found my girls frumpily walking around like Frankenstein’s Monster, and yes, they know the difference between Frankenstein and his monster. These actions are partially in response to movies that they watch regularly, like Alvin and the Chipmunks meet the Wolf Man and Frankenstein or Tim Burton’s various creations. However, a large part of why they enjoy these things is because I love them! 

If you have children or work around them, you’ll notice that when they like you, they want to be like you and they want to like the things that you like. This is a huge responsibility! Having kids is absolutely amazing, humbling, exhausting and terrifying. Uncle Ben wasn’t kidding. The power you have over these little lives is daunting. You shape who your child becomes in this world, either by leading them directly or indirectly. These little humans look to their fathers and mothers and learn how to ‘adult’ through what ever example is in front of them. When you see teaching opportunities and take them, telling your kids what to do and what not to do, or when your wife has had a hard day but you come home, pour a glass of bourbon and turn on the tv to what ever garbage the CW is feeding you that night. They see it all, they learn from it all. 

My kids are weirdos. They howl like wolves, they pretend they’re monster and they fight the forces of darkness on a daily basis. As a father in the good ‘ol US of A, our job is to provide and protect our families. Part of that protection is sheltering them on a psychological level. I love that my kids can be creeps and I love that they can be sweet. I want them to like the things that I like, to read the books that I read and have a passion for the things I have a passion for, but I will not expose my kids to things that I feel will hurt or scar them. …intentionally. If you’re a parent, you know from the day your kid is born that your mind has changed. You think about things and look at the diffently.

I’d mentioned earlier that I have very strong memories about my exposure to horror and that my kids love monster cartoons and anything involving the characters they know and love. Browsing through Netflix, my middle child (4 yrs.) is constantly scanning for the darkest looking, creepiest covers of movies to watch. When she sees the movie and it meets the creep factor she’s built in her head, all she wants is to see that movie. My oldest (6 yrs.) is very similar, but lets the princesses and fairies occasionally distract her from grim. Recently, this all lead to an unfortunate eye-opening experience for them… 

When I allow my kids to pick movies and they’re both in the mood for something creepy, not only do I make sure that I am in the Kids & Family category of Netflix, I read each synopsis, and if necessary, do a quick content search to see just how dark this movie is going to be. The unfortunate part came in when I forgot to mention this thought out breakdown to my grandmother the night we had her watch my kids. They scrolled through Netflix, into the “Continue Watching” category and stumbled upon a horror anthology that very much looked like something we’d all watch together. The intro opens with a very Halloweeny animation, taking you through directors of the films and images of the stories that are about to be told, some of which more graphic than I would typically allow, but take a decent deal of attention to catch on to. The first story opens with kid on Halloween being duped by his brother and his girlfriend into leaving out his candy as a sacrifice to a ghost of the night so that his insides wouldn’t be turned out for the chocolate that he had finished. After the kid is convinced, he goes to bed, already terrified and leaves his brother and his girlfriend to eat all of his candy. As it turns out, the legend the older brother was spouting was true and the younger brother ends up stumbling upon his brother and his girlfriend disemboweled by a 6’ zombie clown covered in blood. That clown also happens to be standing right behind the kid. Nothing is left to the imagination in this scene. Needless to say, my girls were a little on the terrified side. As they were screaming, my oldest yelled to my grandmother to turn it off as my middle child stood, eyes locked on the screen in terror. They’ve mostly forgotten their experience, and as far a I know, no longer associate my grandmother with candy crazed, demon clowns. Come to think of it, it was her that I first watched the Cat’s Eye with back in ’94… Maybe I should look into that.

I take my job as a father seriously, and with that I take the call to protect them seriously. There’s a draw to horror that I understand. They love scary stories and I love telling them, but my first priority is their safety, physically and mentally. I know what my kids can handle and I know what they can’t. Yes, there is an element of trial and error when it comes to their thresholds of morbid tales, but that’s when I’m most attentive to their emotions and demeanor. If you’re present, you know how to read your kids. 

Having kids changes you. Your priorities and desires change. For most parents, their desires change for the betterment of their kids. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Some parents stick to their old self-centered, self-sustaining ways. Their children’s needs come well after their own are met. I love horror, but I love my children more. Their needs and desires will always come before my own and while I’m with my kids, we will enjoy the scary stories we tell in the dark together.

Split Affections

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I finally had the opportunity to see M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, Split! After a solid week of attempting to talk my wife into seeing it with me, I gave up on her and I hit up the only other person I thought could enjoy this film as much as I was about to, my brother in law.
Charlie and I went to the theater and saw it on their biggest screen, with best audio and video quality, had perfect seating with a perfect cup of movie theater coffee. It was going to be the perfect cinematic adventure.

If you’ve yet to hear the hype or see the trailer, Spilt is a story about a man with a multiple personality disorder who’s previously introduced 21 of his 24 personalities to a therapist. The problem comes when it’s revealed that there is one more unknown, malevolent personality inside referred to as The Beast. This leads to our character kidnapping a group of girls and we watch their attempt to survive.

I’ll start with this… Ultimately, the film was wonderfully done. Beautiful sequences, fantastic score, solid story line… but when those credits started to roll I felt a deep disappointment. I felt, for the entirety of the movie that I was waiting for something to happen. Even when things were happening, I just kept thinking that it would get better! When it comes down to it, I let the hype get to me. I’d gone in with expectations that simply were not met. The concept of the movie is of course terrifying but as a horror move, it didn’t hold up. This is a movie that the horror community has been raving about and killed in box offices. It was called “a win for the horror genre”. I honestly believe that had I not heard the hype or at least not bought into it, that I would’ve have walked out of this movie with a fond appreciation of what I’d seen! The performances put on by James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy were incredible. They completely deserve all of the hype that has gone about the film. M. Night Shyamalan’s direction and writing were absolutely beautiful as well.

Split wasn’t the horror movie that I expected it to be, but it definitely doesn’t shy away too much from the necessary grizzly scenes. Shyamalan was able to create an atmosphere throughout the film that was a great stage for a horror/thriller and the story is at points, absolutely heart breaking. I can completely understand why this movie has been placed in the horror genre. The story is horrific! I think I was just waiting to feel that sense of dread and fear that my favorite horror movies bring to the table.

This film has also received some backlash from groups who know and have been affected by Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). A lot of people have been offended by the portrayal of this specific disorder and have taken to the internet about it. This is one specific personality disorder that I have no personal experience with so I don’t feel that I can offer too much opinion on this. But, at the risk of sounding dismissive of these concerns, this movie is very specific about this individual who is intent on destroying the lives of these girls. Betty Buckley’s character, who plays the psychiatrist, makes her case on multiple individuals who have been affected by DID and points to their advantages. At one point she’s speaking with a friend, or mother, or colleague, I honestly can’t remember. She states “We view the broken and shattered as less than. What if they’re more than us?” She gives multiple examples of DID patients who are not malevolent and are affecting the world in positive ways. Though some may see this film who view it as politically incorrect, I don’t believe that there is a strong enough case to throw this movie out with the bath water. Besides, is there any good horror/thriller that is entirely inoffensive?

Side note, since we’re approaching the end of Women In Horror Month, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that we will all be on the look out for more horror/suspense/psychological thrillers staring Anya Taylor-Joy. New to the cinema scene, she’s absolutely killing it!

Coming from a horror movie fan, take this with a grain of salt, but it just wasn’t scary or tense. Split was filled with heart breaking backstories, horrific concepts and a vague feeling of suspense all throughout, but not enough to make you tense in your seat… If I had a star rating system, I’d give it 3 out of 5 simply due to my expectations. If you’re a fan of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Devil, go see this movie. Don’t expect horror elements to be at thick or gritty a Devil or Sixth Sense, but it’s still a “must see”.

If you thought different, let me know! I’m open to discussion and always open to criticism!
Thanks for taking the time to read.

Josh

The Stylist

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I stumbled across The Stylist a few weeks ago while browsing through the Shudder library. While looking for something new and exciting to fold laundry to, I came across the cover which caught my attention. The hover-over description simply read “A hair stylist has some very disturbing plans for her final appointment of the day.” That was good enough for me. Being that it’s “Women in Horror Month” I figured it was appropriate to write my first official movie review on one that blew my expectations!

The film opened with a quick dialogue between our primary actress, Calir, played by Najarra Townsend (Contracted, Wolf Mother) and her associate Alicia (Angela Dupuie), who was late for a date. In all honesty my first thought was “at least I’ve got stuff to do while I watch this…” Not being a woman or someone who frequents salons or gets regular hair cuts, I was somewhat turned off by the opening of the movie. I could only relate the drudge of having to wait for a client when all you want to do is bail your 9 to 5 job and do absolutely anything else. In walks Mandy (Jennifer Plas) who’s emotion is clearly worn on her sleeve. She’s stressed and tired and seemingly in a rush. She then reveals that she’s throwing a party for her boss. Her primary concern is that she’s “got to look perfect” and vents about the glass ceiling being a bitch. Something about the way Mandy delivered her lines caught my attention. I believed her. Not only because she was acting this role out with class, but there was an undertone pain that I’ve heard from other women in the “work force”. Or at least in movies. This woman was clearly busting her ass off, trying to get as high into her company as possible and was having a hard time due to a lack of recognition for her work. Hence the need to look perfect, I imagine. Not only did she feel the need to work as hard as possible, but she needed to look amazing while doing it, showing that she’s capable of handling the stress and monotony of higher positions. As the story goes on, it very quickly turns to the classic barbershop scene where the stylist is trying to create small talk and the client is spilling her guts out (figuratively), venting about life, liberty and the pursuit of higher pay. Midway through the rambling, their audio cuts and you’re watching the one sided conversation take place over a perfectly calming melody as Mandy’s hair goes through it’s transformation to perfection. You start to notice that Mandy’s demeanor begins to calm and her face and and energy begin to drop, all the while unsure if it’s the exhaustion of opening up and being vulnerable with another person or something else… Without giving away too much, Clair’s intentions with her client begin to surface as the appointment carries on, later revealing her frustration with her own pursuit of perfection which is acted out phenomenally. Clair’s temperance and demeanor throughout her appointment is so well maintained that you have a hard time believing that she could be behind anything, which makes her all the more terrifying. By the end of the film, all I wanted to do was to give Clair a hug… but from a very safe distance.

I’ve yet to work out my own gimmicky rating system, but on Shudder.com, I happily gave it 5 out of 5 skulls!

With a total run time of 14 minutes and 57 seconds, entering into the film blind, not having heard of it or having read the full synopsis, I was definitely caught of guard. I’d found that my pile of clothing was no more folded than when I’d started, and my eyes were stretched as wide as they could manage. The film ended and I was jaw dropped. Not reading about the movie, I had no idea that it was a short film and it could easily have captivated my attention for a full feature length. This is without a doubt a movie that I will be recommending to anyone who asks. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it will stick with you in the creepiest way possible and with any luck, you’ll reconsider bitching to your barber/stylist. Who know’s what they’ve got going on?

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you’ve got thoughts, comments, questions or critiques, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

If you’re looking for a way to watch The Stylist, Shudder.com offers a free trial. Check out the trailer for The Stylist below:

Director: Jill Gevargizian Screenplay: Eric Havens Story: Jill Gevargizian Clair: Najarra Townsend Mandy: Jennifer Plas Alicia: Angela Dupuie DOP: Robert Patrick Stern Original Score: Paul Pawlowski

Blame it on the Cat’s Eye

Since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to the darker side of fiction and cinema. I grew up seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas in theaters on multiple occasions, and loving movies like The Halloween Tree, The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Don’t Look Under the Bed, and the list goes on. These are the films that captivated and stuck with me! I was able to experience these horrors that people had to go through in film, like a little sister being kidnapped by a group of witch sisters who’s desperately hoping that her brother will save her before history repeats itself, or a group of friends on their way to Trick-or-treat only to discover that one friend is missing and all 9 are sent on a journey to save his life before he’s lost forever. There are so many movies that I experienced as a child that hold a special place in my heart, most of which had an overwhelming darkened theme throughout the stories. Watching these as a child filled me with an odd sense of strength. For one, there was fear involved for the lives of these children being highjacked by their tormentors, but it was a safe fear. At the end of every movie, I was able to disassociate myself from the fiction and continue life knowing that these specific scenarios really don’t happen all that often – for the most part. In another sense, it allowed me to see how others reacted to the terrors that they faced. It gave me courage knowing that terrible things happen but there was always some way of escape, not to mention the common sense of not going into your basement when a killer is on the loose!

I can’t say exactly when the love of the macabre crept into my life and sunk its teeth into me. My earliest memory of horror exposure was at my grandmother’s house. Stephen King’s, Cat’s Eye was playing on TV. Released in ’85, this is the story about a stray cat who’s in furious pursuit of a little girl in danger. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old at the time. Cuddled up next to my grandma, watching a baby Drew Barrymore tormented by a little demon in a jester hat with a crooked dagger, I was caught. Like a deer in the headlights, I couldn’t look away or breathe. Every sound the house made that night, I knew it was that little demon coming for me. To the best of my recollection, this was the first movie that shot to my core and made me believe in the creatures that go bump in the night.  In the same apartment complex, there were a couple little girls that I would regularly play with who introduced me to the art of telling scary stories! Throughout the years, I became familiar with stories like Llorona, and stories about witches, goblins and boogymen. Apparently, there were even witches within the complex that my grandmother lived in! My grandma swore that it was a sweet old lady who lived across from her, which gave my friends a skeptical view of her and what she was hiding. Just like any other kid, I grew up going to sleepovers at friends and cousin’s houses, and going on camping trips where we would all attempt to scare the hell out of each other with what ever stories we could conjure. I remember on multiple occasions, telling stories so haunting that I’d intentionally end them with some sort of slap stick joke to put “the crowd” at ease, all the while being accused of bad story telling.

We all have our own opinions and emotions towards the subject of death.
Cultures base their lives around it, people become obsessed with it. Dia De Los Muertos is a perfect example of this. Here is a culture that has done their best to understand death and now celebrates it for days. The loss of a loved one is difficult for us all. This day is meant to remember and pray for those that we have lost. If our dead loved ones are on a spiritual journey, why wouldn’t we have a holiday to pray for them along the way? Death is as much apart of life as the air we breathe. There’s no denying it. So why should we hide our curiosity on the subject.

There is a darkness to horror that scares some people away. They view it as demonic, toxic, disgusting, or just too scary. More times than I can count, I’ve heard horror movies likened to roller coasters. They leave you trembling, crying, throwing up and for some reason lining back up for more!

Horror, in well written cases is a relatable poetry. It’s an entirely emotional experience. It’s a mix between tragedy and fiction; tragedy being something that we can relate to and fiction is simply reality with different circumstances. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but throughout the genre of horror, there are themes and lessons that we can learn from. There’s this weird perception that horror movies tend to be strictly about psychopaths and gore. I’d asked my brother in a conversation what it was that in his opinion, separated horror from cinema. His response was “good dialogue”. As appalled as I was, I realized that this wasn’t just his perception, but there are a lot of people who are unwilling to engage in the genre for the reasons mentioned earlier. By the way, if you’re reading this bro, I love you and your family and hope you’re doing well!

On the same note, others see the state of the world today and view “horror” in the same light as current events or reality. CNN and Fox News junkies are constantly ingesting a bloody savagery and pegging it all down to staying informed. Horror fans are constantly being scrutinized for loving the films, art and literature that they do, but I genuinely believe that true horror fans find something more in the genre than bloody brutality for the sake of itself. It’s odd to compare the two, but both groups of people are dealing with horror rather than trying to suppress it and pretend that we live in a decent world.

With the horror genre on the rise it now has more fans than ever before. However, even with this movement, I still feel like an outsider. This is partly my own fault because I am constantly bringing up what are in my opinion, new amazing movies and stories that I come across, only to be greeted with “ew’s” and “You shouldn’t watch that stuff!!”. I don’t know anybody who shares the interests that I do! This has been the story of my life. I mean this in the least emo way possible. I’ve learned to be okay with it. Really.

I understand that in my case, some things are a little different. I believe a lot of the things that I see in horror. I’ve heard a popularized television show state that “all monsters are human”, and while that would be a nice idea to hold onto, I personally believe that there is more to it than that. Movies like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring, even The House of the Devil all have “true events” that sparked the tales that have terrified us to our core! Side note, I say “true events” because I know the deal behind Texas Chainsaw… These movies hold something that I believe to be real and are things that go beyond the world of psychology. There’s a lot more to dive into here but I plan on going into this another time.

I recently had the privilege of watching Tal Zimerman’s “Why Horror?” documentary, in which he goes on a quest examining the psychology of horror and why people love to be scared. Much like him, I’ve grown up with a love of the macabre and have only recently felt the need to understand why I am so drawn to it. One of my biggest take aways from the documentary is that “Why Horror?” is not a simple question to answer . “The answers to the question are about as diverse and abundant as the people who enjoy it.” Zimerman compares his feelings towards horror like eating a cupcake. “We don’t watch a horror movie like enjoying a cupcake. We’re not celebrating the pain of others, we’re using it to transform our own.”
I’d mentioned earlier that horror for me is an emotional experience. This genre puts me in a place where instead of denying my emotions, I’m provided with a safe place to experience them. Thank you to “Why Horror?” for helping me put that into words! One film can take you through extreme feelings of hope and anxiety, excitement and fear, depression and joy. The dread, anger, grief, and pain felt so close to home can lead to gratitude, contentment and humility. Throughout the course of these stories, you can sympathize with the characters. There are so many representations of reality in even the most classic of movie monsters. Werewolves, for example, tend to exemplify power but at the complete loss of control. They can exemplify a change in life or in the body that is unfamiliar to the character. These monsters connect to social behaviors and disorders, mental issues, and our differences in class or sexuality that we experience in every day life. We all have an ideal for how life is supposed to turn out, but when it comes down to it, life is filled with people and things will deviate from the norm. My point is that if you simply look past your pre critical response of “I like it/don’t like it”, it’s all there! Side note, for the first time in my life, I’ve developed in interest in sociology!

I’m not writing this to defend horror or its fans, but so often people hold this assumption that fans are strictly obsessed with violence and gore. In all honesty, I can see where they’re coming from. After seeing Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, there was one scene that had me talking to everyone about the movie! This scene was so gruesome and visually disturbing that it made me cringe! As any long time horror fan will tell you, it takes a lot to make that happen! The entirety of this film was amazing, but the one segment of the hand being cut through the door will stick with you to your deathbed. Not only was it incredibly directed, but the effects used to pull it off were without a doubt, praiseworthy. To be honest, I love when a kill on the screen is done in a new way or has to be created using a different direction. I’m a fan of art. Throughout the years, the horror genre has pulled off some incredible visual trepidation. It takes an artist to set a stage, create an atmosphere and bring you into their world. These are the same reasons I’m into the music and writing that I’m into. I’ve tried on several accounts to create what I’m inspired by and it’s not an easy task!

Whether you’re into zombie shows, werewolf lore, vampire movies, or Nicholas Sparks novels, we all fear the same things in life. As John Carpenter put it “We’re all afraid of the same things together. It binds us as people.” The stories we cling to and our responses to them make us who we are. This is who I am. This is a part of the reason that I love horror.

“It’s a reminder of our mortality and that life is worth having. Pursue life to the fullest.” Tal Zimerman

-Josh