In anticipation for Halloween, a tried and true Dayton tradition is attending the horror film marathon, Horrorama. As they prepare for the 15th anniversary of Horrorama, moderators Matt Brassfield and Andy Copp discuss topics including their plans for the upcoming event, their opinions concerning the current climate of the horror genre, and the obstacles that they’ve faced in lieu of the untimely passing of Horrorama creator, Dr. Creep.
DaytonMostMetro.com: What’s your favorite horror movie? Why?
Matt Brassfield: Technically, I have two favorite horror films: as far as a classic its 1941’s The Wolf Man and for a more modern pick, John Carpenter’s Halloween from 1978. The Wolf Man is a favorite because of the character development. You’re made to care about Larry Talbot as a man and a beast. As a director, it made me pay attention to developing my character, and it inspired my very first film, Werewolf of Ohio. Characters were also a factor in Halloween. Michael Myers is fascinating to me, this slow, silent hulking evil, and then in contrast Dr. Loomis is a great, smart hero. The first Halloween film is evidence that you can do a lot with a smaller budget.
Andy Copp: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is my favorite horror film of all time, the original of course (I still hate that I have to make that distinction). After several dozen viewings, it’s still a scary and effective movie. There is true madness in the film captured in the hot Texas summer from a rookie crew suffering from heat exhaustion and a lot of frustration. No one involved has made anything even remotely as good since. It is one of the horror films that made me realize I wanted to direct movies myself. It also helped change the way the genre worked, helping to really push it towards a new uncharted territory in the 70’s.
DMM: How did you become involved with Horrorama?
MB: I started out just attending Horrorama and occasionally helping hand out prizes. I was already friends with Rick Martin, Andy Copp, and Dr. Creep (the three creators of the event). Later I called upon some of my connections in both the horror and business communities when there were needs for event sponsors. After awhile, Rick, Andy and Dr. Creep considered me a part of the event and began inviting me to help with planning. I’ve been heavily involved for the last five years and am really committed to this event. It’s great to be able to give back to the community through the charity we help each year and to create something fun for horror fans. Now that Dr. Creep has passed, this event has become even more important for me because we’re continuing something that mattered to him – both the event itself and the fact that it was helping people out in our community.
AC: Fifteen years ago myself, Rick Martin and Dr. Creep wanted Dayton to have their own horror movie marathon. Columbus has theirs and that was the only one in the immediate area at the time. No one else was doing it. There was no other way to see these movies on 35mm prints in a theater at that point in our area. So we scraped our funds and just did it. We also decided that it was a good idea to do it for charity. At the time, Dr Creep was heavily involved with a charity that helped children during the holidays. That charity eventually folded about six or seven years ago, but we’ve continued to pursue other worthwhile charities with our event. That is another thing that sets us apart from other marathons as we are giving back to our community with what we do. Yes we are doing this because we love horror films and want to watch vintage prints of hard to find horror films on the big screen. But we also want to give something back. We have raised a lot of money for families over the years. Last year we gave a very nice chunk to the Susan G. Komen Cure Foundation. This year we intend to give our earnings to the St. Jude Hospital.
A lot has changed over the years though. We have changed venues several times until we landed at the Englewood Cinema which has been our home now since 2002. Rick Martin has stepped down this year for personal reasons, Matthew Brassfield has become a partner in our event for the last few marathons which has been a huge help. Of course the most unfortunate passing of Dr. Creep this past year has left us all very saddened and without our closest friend.
DMM: What obscure/underrated horror movie would you like to recommend to the horror community?
MB: One of my favorite obscure horror films is Trick or Treat from 1986. It combines my love of horror and 80’s metal (Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osborne both have cameos). The film’s about a metal head who’s picked on and inadvertently summons the spirit of his dead idol, rock star Sammi Curr, by playing one of his records backwards. Then usual horror film mayhem ensues. Sammi Curr, is one of my favorite lesser known horror villains.
AC: This is something that I sort of live to do. I spend a lot of time recommending obscure movies to people. In fact, at Horrorama I have always tried to program at least one unknown or obscure movie every year that people can walk away feeling like they have “discovered” on their own. Movies like The Candy Snatchers, The Unseen, Satan’s Children, or Night Warning have all played to great audience reaction. There is a book called Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower that is devoted to American Horror from 1972 to 1985 and only covers unknown or underrated films and filmmakers. That book is a like a bible for this sort of stuff. I highly recommend a filmmaker named Fredrick Freidel and his films; Axe and Kidnapped Co-ed both of which are super poetic rural tone movies. Another one called, The Child, is a very unusual sideways look at zombies being controlled by a telekinetic kid. There are hundreds I could rattle off.
DMM: What/ if any difficulties have you faced organizing the first Horrorama since Dr. Creep’s passing?
MB: Planning the event itself has gone on as usual. The biggest thing for me is the heavy responsibility of honoring Dr. Creep’s legacy and his relationship with his fans. He meant so much to so many people (myself included), and we don’t want to let anyone down. Although in recent years, he hasn’t always been able to make it due to his health problems. It’s still really hard imagining the event without him.
AC: Besides the fact that we just miss him terribly? Putting this together without him is difficult because the media in Dayton knows Dr. Creep, but they do not know Andy Copp or Matt Brassfield. Even though this event is a decade and a half old, getting the mass media to pay attention without Dr. Creep at the masthead is proving to be difficult. We are also going to hold some auctions during the evening to raise some money for a proper tombstone for Dr. Creep, as for whatever reasons not enough money was available for him to get one.
DMM: What influenced the choice of films screening at this year’s Horrorama?
MB: We always try to have a good variety of films, and this year, since it’s the 15th anniversary, we were hoping to be able to offer some premieres. We were very lucky to end up with two films making their debut at Horrorama: Witch’s Brew (making its Ohio premiere) and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (making its area premiere).
AC: This is another “behind the scenes” element most people do not always understand. Sometimes it comes down to what 35mm prints are available, and make no mistake we take a lot of pride in the fact that we screen most of our films on 35mm. We have titles we want to get, usually spend some time throwing those around, and try to chase them down. We were lucky this year as we got a couple of those, but a lot of times we are looking for certain films and they are not available, or prints have deteriorated over the years, and we have to find alternatives. Sometimes that can be very heartbreaking or very difficult. We have made a lot of friends over the years doing this though and that helps a lot.
DMM: What additions/changes do you have planned for this year’s Horrorama?
MB: Usually at Horrorama we have several costume contests and a few other games. This year we’re introducing a Miss Horrorama mini-pageant that will be judged by Baron Von Porkchop, Todd the Fox (a local musician), David J. Getz (actor) and another guest judge yet to be announced. The winner gets a $100 prize and the illustrious title of Miss Horrorama.
DMM: Do you have any tributes planned in memory of Dr. Creep?
AC: Yes of course. This year since he is no longer with us we are opening the show with an episode of the New Shock Theater from the late 90’s that I directed and co-produced with Rick Martin. The episode is the Filipino horror film, The Killing of Satan. The film itself is totally insane, but I think it is one of the best episodes of The New Shock Theater. Hopefully it will feel like Dr. Creep is still there with us for a little while. Of course he is there is spirit.
DMM: What’s your opinion of the current state of the horror genre?
MB: There are some really solid original films coming out, especially out of the indie/DIY horror community. If you look outside Hollywood, you can find some amazing films. Hollywood is certainly not ignoring the genre either, but I’m not wild about all of the remakes of classic horror films. I prefer to see how some of the classic franchises are being continued with sequels/additional chapters.
AC: Horror fans love nothing more than to sit and talk about how awful the genre is. They seem to be in a perpetual state of complaining sometimes. They say there are too many remakes (and there are), or if something they have not heard of comes out then the fans pile up on it and rip it apart for other reasons. The truth is that there are more horror movies being made now than maybe ever before. At least since the heyday of the 70’s and a lot of them are quite good. Some are just cash-ins to be sure, but on the edges of the mainstream, the genre is alive and well. We have great indie films like Stake Land, Red White and Blue, and Ratline, as well as intense foreign horror films that are constantly redefining what can be accessible such as The Dead, I Saw the Devil or The Horde. Every once in a while the current homegrown product will get it right. The genre is alive and well, new media has given older films a way to constantly be rediscovered and the horror film is not going away any time soon.
This year’s screenings include From Beyond, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Blacula, The Killing of Satan, Witch’s Brew, and Demons.