When the opportunity arose to interview the creepy gents responsible for a new genre magazine, I grabbed it with both of my blood soaked horror hands. Editor Dean Boors and layout artist Jason Miller graciously answered my probing questions and spill their guts on the magazine. So sit back, relax and indulge in some fine chat about British horror magazine’s new kid on the block; Shock Horror.
Dom: Shock Horror is that rarest of beasts, a British independent horror magazine that focuses not just on film but various other topics such as: Horror tattoos, horror comics and games. What separates your magazine from other long running titles in Britain (like The Darkside) and how was the magazine conceived?
Jason Miller: Well I came on board extremely early on. Deano was finishing up with another horror magazine and I had sent him some samples of my layout work and artwork relating to that mag, which I guess he liked, because when he decided to start Shock Horror he approached me about coming on board to work on it. We took a long look at what was available worldwide relating to horror and really saw a hole in the market in the UK, there was nothing like what we wanted to do here. Dean and I spoke at length about how we wanted the magazine to look and the concept behind it. From the get go it was always going to be about the culture of horror and not just the films. That to me is what really sets us apart from the other horror movie magazines in the UK. Of course we are also completely self-published so with hand on heart I can say we are truly for the fans by the fans.
Dean Boor: Aye what he said! It was really a matter of perfect timing with me finishing up on a previous magazine I worked for, and us both wanting to be able to pick up a decent UK Horror Magazine and not being able to. So Shock Horror was born!
Dom: Shock Horror’s layout is reminiscent of the great American horror magazines such as Fangoria and Rue Morgue, but it also contains a smattering of the old EC Comics visuals within its pages (such as your Tattoos Of Terror section). Obviously these are big influences for any horror fan. Did you purposely want to bring that sense of wonder and excitement back to what these publications used to invoke?
JM: In a word… Definitely! I grew up reading Fango and Rue, getting them imported from the states and waiting eagerly for them. There was always a part of me which was more excited to see how the mags were going to look, even more so than reading them. As for the EC Comics references, again yeah, I am also a horror comic artist, so EC was a huge influence on me, also knowing Allan at Haunted I knew an EC style for the Tattoos Of Terror page would suite his work perfectly. I like to keep Shock Horror organic, I think that was one of the first words I used to descirbe my vision to Dean actually lol! Shock is always going to contain new layouts and interesting looks for articles so long as I’m doing it, I can’t stand boring layouts in magazines, three columns and a randomly stuffed in picture ‘YAWN’, for me its not what they are about. You want the reader to be excited by the look of the magazine and to also be eager to see what we do with the next issue. That’s massive deal for me. It’s also a huge compliment to be put alongside those heavyweights of horror magazines so thank you.
DB: Jay takes care of all the layout and design ideas, it’s great being able to work with someone that is so talented and gets exactly what I’m asking for when it comes to project creation. I think this is why the magazine gets so much support from our readers (or Creeps as we call them) because they can see how much heart, blood and guts goes into the magazine. I think the day that I don’t get excited by seeing a copy of Shock Horror come off the press will be the day I start to question where we’re headed, but I don’t ever see that happening because each issue brings something new visually and content wise.
Dom: The magazine is quickly developing a large cult following, not just with fans but with some horror greats as well. Is there anyone that you have yet to get that would make the front of Shock Horror?
JM: That’s a really interesting question. I’d probably say some of the genres great directors, such as Wes Craven, John Carpenter or George A. Romero. I’d pick them purely because a lot of the time these directors are over looked by horror magazines (in my eyes anyway). They may feature but get a very small tagline on the cover and I’d like to celebrate them more, so yeah get on that Deano (laughs).
DB: We’ve had so much support already from massive icons like Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Danielle Harris it’s crazy. It’s very inspiring to have people in the industry that I’ve admired for a long time actually give us the time of the day and let us feature them, very cool Creeps! In terms of who I would like to feature in the future, I like putting people on the cover that no one else is at that time. I don’t see any point in putting a name on the front when there’s another magazine on the shelf next to ours with the same name, if that makes sense. I like us to be different, which is why Alice Cooper is the new cover star – he gave us an interview on vampires and his appearance on Dark Shadows which is current but just adds a twist with the Coop on the cover. Plus it’s Alice freakin’ Cooper! We’ve featured Adam Green before but I think I’d like to get him on a cover, also Robert Englund because that guy invaded my nightmares as a kid so he owes me a cover at least! We’re coming for you Freddy!
Dom: In the future would you like Shock Horror to go into producing or distributing independent horror features, much like Fangoria has done recently with their own in-house label?
JM: Only if we get to be horror hosts on them like proper old-school Elvira stuff! No, but in all seriousness, who knows, maybe one day. When I look how far we have come in the short time we have been going and it is short, I look at what we have achieved, the huge stars we have already had grace our covers and our pages, the cover quotes, the festivals we support, the sky is the limit.
DB: Definitely, there’s so much I want to do with Shock Horror it’s just a matter of timing and getting the name around so that people know we are here first. We’re coming up to our second year in August and we’ve had an unbelievable start for an independent magazine, I think the next year is going to be pretty big for us so watch out Creeps!
Dom: The great thing about Shock Horror is that not only do you focus on modern horror, but you also do small features on some of the classics of the genre. Are there any fan or personal favorites you have yet to cover (or would like to) in future issues? For example more obscure Euro-trash titles such as Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series.
JM: I am a huge fan of 80’s horror. So for me, yeah, we have quite a few that we could cover that we haven’t touched yet. We haven’t even really focused on the Big four franchises yet, Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, either. We really have a lot of scope with what we can do and what we can look at. It’s whether or not there is enough there within the film for it to be an interesting article, I mean how much can you write about the ‘Nostril Picker’ or the ‘Boogens’? I’d love to look some Euro-trash titles too, the Blind Dead are fantastic films, I have my coffin box set of them staring at me now!
DB: We both have a big love of the classics so we definitely will be doing more on them over upcoming issues. We honestly struggle to get everything that we want to in each edition, if we increased the pages there would always still be more that we’d want to get in as the possibilities are limitless in Horror.
Dom: Obviously horror is receiving another cultural resurrection (so to speak) with modern horror gracing the multiplex once again. Do you feel directors like Ti West, Adam Green and Christopher Smith are pushing the genre forward the same way directors like Wes Craven, George Romero and Dario Argento did years previous?
JM: I think we throw in a James Wan and we got a hell of a party! We have a great crop of new horror directors coming through again at the moment, who for the most part are making some great movies. I think the remake… sorry re imagining trend we have had for the last decade is suffocating these guys though. If more money was pushed at the likes of Ti West, John Gulager, Alexandre Aja, Rob Zombie, Michael Dougherty etc etc they can come up with some truly terrifying and original stuff! Why keep pushing these guys down remake road. Some of the best horror I have seen in the last 10 years has been from these guys, Feast, Switchblade Romance, House of 1000 Corpses, Insidious, Trick r’ Treat, the list could go on and on. I mean who seriously needed to see a remake of Fright Night or Prom Night. It’s a no brainer for me.
DB: I think people like Adam Green are the new breed of Horror, guys that grew up loving the classics then going out there and making their own Horror. This is the new generation of Horror and I think it’s a great time to be a Horror fan. It will be interesting to see how the young generation just coming into Horror movies go from here, will they be the future generation of Horror quoting “the classics of Adam Green”. We shall see!
Dom: As you’ve already mentioned, there have been some great modern horror releases recently. Do you have a selection of personal favorites (excluding the aforementioned re-imaginings) that have really taken you by surprise? I know from the many that have been released it has been the French and Spanish horror that has stayed with me long after the credits have rolled (such as Inside, Martyrs and the REC series). While American horror is going back to the gory glory days of 80s splatter films.
JM: Yeah I’d go with the French and Spanish they are really trail blazing at the moment. The films you mentioned there are excellent, I am very excited for REC 3, which is about to be released to DVD and Blu-ray. I also really enjoyed Dead Snow and Saint. Although there are some great little gems slipping through the net from our brothers the other side of the pond. It’s unfortunate that we have to sit through a 1000 found footage films to find anything worth watching. Horror is in desperate need of a new trend, the last big turn was when the ‘Blair Witch’ came out in 1999 and we still haven’t had a significant fresh approach. The ‘Paranormal Activity’ films, as good as they were, are still essentially living off the ‘Blair Witch’. It’s a real shame. The last American horror titles to really stay with me after watching them, were all pretty much in my previous answer so I apologize in advance (laughs), Trick r’ Treat, Devil’s Rejects / House of 1000 Corpses, House of the Devil, The Last Exorcism and Hatchet.
DB: For me it’s all about getting something new and original, or something with a massive twist that blows you away. I loved Orphan that was a great watch. I’m a big fan of the SAW films as well, I think they gave a real boost to the genre and although a lot of people didn’t like the fact that they dragged out so many you have to remember how many Friday 13th and Halloween films they made! There is a lot of good stuff recently; it’s just a matter of wading through the crap to get to the hidden gems. Jeepers Creepers also deserves a mention, a great example of a decent monster movie. We need more monster movies! Splinter! I loved Splinter too directed by Toby Wilkins, another amazing monster movie. Insidious was good as well until the final scenes crept in…..I’ll stop now (laughs).
Dom: You guys are without a doubt devoted horror fans, but are there any particular films within the genre that you just can’t stand. Now I’m not talking about the so bad its good variety (to which there are many), but the ones that if mentioned you have to just drown your sorrows in a beer or run into the woods screaming for fear of having to watch it.
JM: Oh god, where do I begin (laughing) I’ll get a few remakes off my chest quite quickly, the remakes of Nightmare on Elm Street, the Fog, and Night of the Demons, I was pretty excited for these when they came out and just felt sorely let down, with Nightmare, it’s as close to walking out a cinema I’ve ever come, if it didn’t cost so much I probably would have! I as a horror fan really hate the torture porn movies, you know like the Saw movies and the Hostels. They just do nothing for me at all. When it comes to Saw, they killed the killer off in the third movie and the rest of them have been living off tapes they have found inserted into random parts of his person. I personally feel for horror to work you need to empathise with the victims otherwise who cares and in the torture porn genre you tend to want them all to die because they are jerks or annoying whiny teens, there is no one to like or anyone you want to survive so what’s the point.
DB: Hey let’s not rip the SAW movies! We’ll need a second interview with us debating the SAW franchise now. Films I don’t like within the genre, I agree with The Nightmare on Elm Street remake that was terrible and I don’t know of a Horror fan that would raise his / her hand to liking that. A film I never got that the rest of the world seemed to love was Wolf Creek, it seemed to drag on for ages then there was a small moment of Horror. I’ll maybe revisit that one actually.
Dom: We previously referenced the EC comics with regard to your tattoo section layout. But one section also includes video games, do you feel that horror is influencing more next generation titles then before. The Dead Space and F.E.A.R series (the latter which has involvement from the great John Carpenter) are churning out quality scares, but do you feel this is just a fad? Much like the original Splatterhouse series was back in the 1980s?
JM: I think horror games have a lot more legs than say the Splatterhouse games from back in the day. There is so much more to them. Take the Resident Evil games, the last couple of have been epic and have been making the films of them look sloppy and poor. I’ve not really got near any of the Silent Hills recently but from what Dean tells me they are excellent. Then like you said you have the Dead Space and F.E.A.R series of games that are all coming out and winning industry awards. I can only see the horror games market going further and further, especially with games like Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and Bio Shock games! I must admit I think the Walking Dead guys missed a trick with their game. Personally, all I have played is the demo of it and it is good, BUT I think they should have made a World of Warcraft type online game where you create your character to look like you, select a skill set, whether its a hunter or a doctor etc and set about quests and try to join groups of people and make camps etc! Seriously why has no one made this game! I would just give up on the outside world and withdraw into it.
DB: I have to put my hand up and confess I’m a gaming addict; too many hours have been burned away to the likes of Dead Space (my favorite new Horror gaming franchise), Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Left 4 Dead. I don’t think it’s a particularly recent thing though, we’ve always had Horror gaming to some degree be it board / card games but I think as time goes on it has just moved platforms to computer gaming. I hope they continue to progress in Horror gaming, I’m loving it.
Dom: Finally as great fans of the genre where do you see modern horror evolving towards (particularly with regard to British filmmakers) and what would you like see in the future.
JM: I’ll be honest I really don’t know where I see the modern horror genre moving too. We seem to be in a supernatural realm at the moment, with a lot of ghost related films appearing, I can’t really see much passed that at the moment. As for British horror, I think we can all be happy that Hammer is back in our lives! Anyone that has seen Wake Wood, will surely agree. I think we need to play a lot more on our heritage; we have so many amazing and supposedly haunted locations around the UK, why are we not looking at this as an optioned film story. We also have a lot of folklore and old stories, we should be looking at these and creating new exciting films around them. I think in the UK, what we do, do well is horror based TV shows, look at Marchlands and Dead Set as two stand out shows. I’d love to see a return of Hammer House of Horror to our TV screens. I got through the original box set in a couple of days and they were still excellent.
DB: We have a hell of a lot going on in the UK Horror wise right now, we run a regular UK indie slot in the magazine but when you look at the names we are bringing over such as Corey Feldman in Zombie King, Robert Englund in Strippers Versus Werewolves, Tony Todd in Dead of the Nite you can see that the UK is the place to be for Horror right now. I think Horror fans are lucky to have the likes of Adam Green, John Gulager, Tim Sullivan etc pushing the genre but personally I think we’re on the verge of something big here in the UK. I’d like to see the next big thing in Horror come out of the UK. Make it so Creeps!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Dean and Jason. If your interested in their independently made British magazine, you can you can follow Shock Horror on www.twitter.com/shockhorrormag
via Facebook www.facebook.com/shockhorrormagazine
and to support the guys go buy a copy from www.shockhorrormagazine.com or better yet subscribe!