Fearphile is me, Zachary Paul, writer/director of extremely low budget horror. My first film was “Defiled” released to DVD by Alternative Cinema. My second feature, “Never Have I Ever”, is a fun 80’s style slasher that currently is in post production limbo. I’ll continue to pursue my lifelong dream of being the next Wes Craven…though, I’ll settle for being the next Fred Olen Ray (at least the man gets work). In the meantime I’m dedicating myself to tracking down every single 80’s horror movie that I’ve never seen in hopes of discovering truly forgotten classics. I love American slashers, Italian giallos, and bizarre thrillers from all corners of the globe.
Through the Cracks – Unearthing Forgotten Horror
It was late, the middle of the night. I was young, too young to be doing what I was doing: watching a double feature of Friday the 13th Part 1 and 2 with my brother in his dark basement room. I knew my parents being Pentacostal Bible thumpers who thought twice about letting me see Home Alone due to the foul language would not have been pleased. I was sworn to secrecy by my brother, and during most of the duration of the first Friday I handled it like a champ. When one of the nubile teens met their maker, I viewed the carnage through the gaps in my fingers clasped over my eyes. My brother kept me in check by pointing out “how fake” everything was…nothing to be scared of. Then it happened. Friday the 13th Part 2 began and there was our lone survivor, Alice, minding her business in her own home far removed from the confines of Camp Blood. The moment Jason drove the ice pick into her cranium, I lost it. My brother’s mantra of “it’s fake” didn’t matter anymore. Jason wasn’t tied to Crystal Lake. Jason wasn’t his mother, and Jason could get you wherever and whenever he wanted. I ran from the room. I couldn’t handle it.
That feeling lingered for weeks. As terrified as I was, I wanted to feel it again. I wanted the excitement of doing something I knew I shouldn’t do, the rush of adrenaline from the terrors on screen that were an easy escape from the not so great home-life I found myself in at the time. Horror became an obsession of mine. Once I’d discovered the fizzy, bubbly glee brought on by a good fright, I couldn’t get enough. The movie maniacs of the 80’s and satirical and sinister madmen of the 90’s were my gateway drug. The middle isle of my local Video Xpress/Movie Gallery became my dealer in all that was vile and demented. I lapped up every frame of poorly tracked VHS that I could. All the lurid, well designed cover art was a tempting promise of the insanity within that cassette tape. I watched all of them, starting with the Friday the 13th series and moving through to the Halloween films, Nightmare on Elm Street, and even the various incarnations of Texas Chainsaw. I’d seen all the heavy hitters, the classics. It wasn’t until I brought home a VHS copy of an Australian film, Paperhouse, that I truly realized how vast and amazing the genre of horror could truly be.
Paperhouse was like nothing I had seen before. It was intelligent, much like those fancy pants “indie” movies I would watch from time to time, yet it existed clearly in this genre of horror I had fallen head over hills for. It was a truly frightening film that had me jumping up and down in my bed, squirming, and rooting for the protagonist. I loved it because it was different from all the rest I had been consuming en’masse. Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) crazy for a mindless slice em’ up, but there was something special about Paperhouse. My brother didn’t get it. That made it even more special.
As the years went on, my passion for the genre grew to all corners of the world. I’d seen all the classics from Argento, Bava, Carpenter, Del Toro, Craven, Hooper. As I grew older I began to feel like I had seen it all. I felt as if I’d seen every decent horror film there was. I looked up lists online of “Scariest Movies You’ve Never Seen”. They all included films like Dog Soldiers, Ginger Snaps, Suspiria, Black Christmas, and Slumber Party Massacre. I couldn’t believe it. I truly must have seen it all. Surely, any self-respecting horror fan has seen these films or at the least heard of them. I was searching for the holy grail, a list of films with titles I had never even laid eyes upon before.
It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon an article in Rue Morgue magazine from “It Came from the Basement”. It was an article about the film The Kindred. I immediately set about tracking it down. While sitting and watching the film it made me jump, giggle, and marvel at the gooey latex effects and buckets of Karo being thrown at the screen. This was a feeling I had been missing. I remembered seeing Paperhouse, or the first time I saw Argento’s Phenomena; it was a feeling of discovery. It brought me back to the fateful night in my brother’s room when the terror of our heroine Alice getting an ice pick to the head drove me running to bed to cower under the covers. The magical childhood fascination had been rekindled and I knew that there had to be other films out there that weren’t being heralded as horror classics but needed to be seen.
So here we are. I have started this blog for myself in search of that high I felt as preteen sitting before my television, jumping up to the edge of the bed and yelling “Look behind you!” at the screen. I hope that my journey for the horror that slipped through the cracks will benefit you as well. I hope that with each new review you will discover the stuff childhood nightmares are made of. They can’t all be winners. I realize that, but I hope to focus more on the positive than the stinky turkeys. So, hopefully you’ll find something as well to spark that childish flame inside.