It’s a Horror to Know You: Adam Sherlock of A Damn Movie Podcast!
1. What is the first film that ever scared you?
I remember being really scared of Garfield’s Halloween Adventure. The idea of the ghost pirates, and the fact that they follow him BACK to his house always terrified me. Also, the episode of The Bloodhound Gang where the house was supposed to be haunted.
As far as films go, Poltergeist was huge, to the point where any 80’s architecture creeps me out and makes me think of Questa Verde. And of course Jaws held massive sway over my tender young mind. For years I was sure that there was a trap door in my bathtub that led to a shark tank. I also saw a trailer for Blood Beach as a child and was forever traumatized. But the reigning champ is still the librarian ghost from Ghostbusters. I saw this in the theater with my dad and just about jumped out of my skin when it transformed. I thought about that stupid ghost for months after that.
2. What is the last film that scared you?
There have been a few the last couple of years that have really done a number on me. Lake Mungo, which has such a surprising emotional and artistic impact that I thought about it for days, not to mention an undercurrent of real world dread. Absentia, which refuses to ever become a traditional horror film, whether through not giving us shocking scares, but rather ones that make us know what it might feel like to be losing ones mind. And speaking of losing your mind, The Eclipse with Ciaran Hinds has a couple of scenes that made me accidently drop kick the beer I was drinking across my living room.
And finally, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh does some amazing stuff with just atmosphere and one of the things that gets me more than just about anything: Religious Cult crap! Those who have seen this (which is streaming on Netflix) will know what scene got me the worse. It has to do with a quaint little framed needlepoint saying on the wall. Yikes!
3. Name three horror movies that you believe are underrated.
I go nuts for undiscovered or underrated. It’s a trait I am still holding onto from high school, when having that record by that really good punk band meant something (before the internet made all of that obsolete).
Let’s start with the Dowdle Brothers‘ The Poughkeepsie Tapes. It’s kind of a shame that nothing they have done since (Quarantine, Devil) in any way live up to the grim terror and surreal viciousness of this film. There are some real August Underground-esque levels of depravity here and some really effective unsettling doom and gloom with fairly little gore. Is some of the acting cheesy? Sure. But it cost them $500,000 dollars! Plus, it was a real stroke of genius to take the found footage genre and go full Court TV Forensic Files with it. I love this movie.
I know that you guys have talked about it a little bit on your site, but I want to give another shout out to Exorcist 3: Legion. There are so many reasons why I think that this movie should be more important. It’s always a shame when a studio gets their hands in a film and twists it away from its original vision. And to be sure, the last twenty minutes of lightning, snakes, acrobatic priests and pyrotechnics does nothing but fly in the face of the deft and subtle hand of Director William Peter Blatty. But let’s not get bogged down in that. What still works? The arguments of morality and faith between Father Dyer and Lt. Kinderman. The incredible performances from George C. Scott, Brad Durif and Ed Flanders. The slow, methodical pacing of the first half of the film, having us show up after the gruesome scenes, and not showing us the atrocities, but just showing us Scott’s face as he reacts to them. Brilliant. Not to mention some of the most memorable single images. The statue of Christ with no head, old ladies playing the piano too fast, the neatly organized jars of blood, the scissor-legged figure in the white sheet bounding down the hall, and heart attack of heart attacks: the old lady climbing across the ceiling.
Alright. My third may be a little controversial. I thought that the second installment of Paranormal Activity was the stupidest thing I ever saw (probably not true, but hyperbole is just so damn fun). Why should I be scared of a pool vacuum? Who green-lighted this thing? But I gave the third installment a chance, and I am really glad I did. I loved the throwback to the 80’s timeline, and it makes sense to set a found footage film in this era. We were crazier about filming everything when home camcorders came of age than we are now. I like how Paranormal Activity 3 adds to the mythology of the girls. Toby is a pretty creepy (giant rabbit?) entity, but nowhere near as creepy as some of the reveals towards the end. Everything gets pretty Wicker Man, which as I said above, the culty thing always freaks me out. And, one of the most cheap / effective scares? A freaking person under a sheet! Man, that takes some serious cojones to put that in your film, but it was AWESOME! Too bad that part 4 was so god-awful.
4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.
I’m going to start with a movie that I think is actually pretty good, and well done (no pun intended) but that in and of itself is one of the problems. The movie is Long Pigs, a Mockumentary style film that follows serial killer cannibal Anthony McAllister while he does his ‘work’. Far from a perfect film, a lot of the acting and realistic portrayals are really creepy, shocking and effective. I guess I have the same problem with this as I do with something like Nekromantik. I am drawn to the things I find the most repulsive, and then when I get so queasy later that I can’t finish my dinner, I get really pissed at myself.
So I know that for some people, Prince Of Darkness is a great film, but for me, it is pretty embarrassing. Lots of the effects in it just suck, like the whole green ooze, the dude made of bugs, not nearly enough creature transformation, etc. let’s not forget that this is the same year that Hellraiser came out and a year after Aliens and The Fly, so the bar was pretty high. Plus, it’s John Carpenter, fer crying out loud! Then the whole homeless people army led by Alice Cooper (who does nothing but stare menacingly at our main characters and eventually kills someone with a bike!?!), this movie has a lot of problems. SO why have I watched it fifteen times? I LOVE the story here. The idea of the end times being explored by scientists inside of an old church. The hubris of researchers accidentally unmasking some ancient evil that they cannot control totally gives me the willies. And the whole ‘transmission from the future’ with a veiled in fog silhouette of some Lovecraft like ‘old one’ is totally the stuff of nightmares.
Finally, Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (A.K.A. The Mansion Of Madness) is one of my favorite films, but at times it is almost unwatchable due to it’s low budget, acting and overall weirdness. Directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma (who was a protégé of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s, and actually served as a producer on El Topo, if that is any indication) it was filmed in Mexico, and then all of the actors voices were dubbed over. It isn’t a good movie, but man, some of the visuals are hilarious, violent, and all around painfully surreal. There is a dandy Prince look-a-like, an awful rape scene with Benny Hill style music set to it, a man dressed up as a giant chicken, a psychedelic dance sequence with a group of women who look like the Bene Gesserit witches from Dune. You get the picture. It’s like a bad fever dream. Plus, the whole thing is on YouTube!
5. Send us to five places on the Internet!
1. I need to pimp my podcast of course, A DAMN MOVIE PODCAST. We are currently getting ready to celebrate our 200th episode. We have been doing this since 2008. We review all kinds of films, old and new, and are super casual about it. Just a couple of buddies sitting around drinking beers and being nerds.
2. I also would like to share my job website. I help incarcerated youth tell their own personal stories in radio podcast form. It’s called Sending Messages, and it is basically a This American Life for incarcerated kids. Check it out HERE.
3. I totally just stumbled onto this guy’s stuff. It is very genre based artwork, and it is really gorgeous. It is also very NSFW, but the combination of pin up girls with giant creepy robots and sea monsters is your thing, THIS GUY is right up your alley.
My last one is a friend’s movie review blog that is just plain stellar. If you like in depth thought provoking film critique, check it out: HERE.