December 8, 2012

An Interview with Dr Blood! The Death of Horror, Dorothy has a breakout... and cheese covered ramen noodles.

Horror is officially dead. Dr Blood said so. A few days ago I contacted the Brit himself to ask him a few questions. Questions about life, death, and about his outlook on the modern age of horror. He told me sure since he was bored, but warned that his "brain is mush from watching shitty movies so hopefully you'll get a laugh" out of his answers. Dr Blood does a lot for the people out there in la-la land. You may not think much of it at first, and if you're not prepared, then maybe you're offended by his words, or even taken aback. He's most often than not about as subtle as a brick to the face, and while he slightly makes more sense than I do on a normal day, he's got about a hundred times the charm of the average negative creep. Enjoy the show!

Dr Unketh: Who is Dr Blood? What's his deal?

Dr Blood: I'm Dr Blood, I have been since 1994 when I started writing capsule movie reviews for a now defunct horror magazine. My site, "DR BLOOD'S VIDEO VAULT", has been online since 1997 although I moved the bulk of it to Blogger back in the Summer of 2010 simply because it's easier to update than the previous incarnations of my online presence. I'm a 42 year old Brit who has been living in America for the past 5 years. I've had the usual ups and downs, watched nearly every horror movie known to Man several times over, and I'm still watching even more of them. I love cats, hate dogs, don't suffer fools gladly (or at all), and I mainly earn my living from messing about with other people's computers. I also cook.

 Let's talk about Horror. Is horror really "dead"?

Horror has, unfortunately, reached a point where it's just unimaginative, repetitive and a chore to watch. Everybody is cloning everything else and, the truth is, they have been without many exceptions since the early '80s. At the moment, with the lack of investment from the big studios in new horror, and the no-budget clones of things we've already seen, it really is fair to say that horror is dead. I don't know about horror in books because I can't read.

How do you feel about the current state of horror releases on Blu-ray?

I think the Blu-ray format is just a money-making scam. Unless you have a huge HDTV (over 60 or 70 inches), you really aren't going to notice that much difference. Plus the transfers of some movies actually look worse than they do on DVD. The Blu-ray format would have been better used to put multiple movies onto one disc rather than increasing the bitrate or whatever it is they do before adding a ton of special features which nobody ever watches.

What company do you feel gives the most respect to horror films with their releases (or re-releases)?

Lionsgate. Lionsgate owns the back catalog of just about everything. Sooner or later they will release it too. In the past, Anchor Bay were the ones to watch, but some of their titles were of dubious commercial appeal. I don't understand what goes into the various marketing decisions because, most of the time, none of the companies really listen to what horror fans want. I know that obtaining the rights to a lot of movies is difficult specially when franchises span more than one studio, but there are some things which will never appear on DVD even though they were readily available on VHS. Those need to be re-released by somebody. Of course, the streaming online services have decimated the DVD and Blu-ray markets, but that's another story.

Is there a company that you feel is really stepping up in the world of horror when it comes to releasing better shit?

I want to say Shout Factory, but I can't justify their prices for some of the crappy older movies they've been putting out. It's nice to have them for completeness, but there comes a point when double-dipping becomes less important. Synapse is slightly cheaper, but again, their selection and prices make me scratch my head in disbelief.

There is a lot of competition out there with distributors, and a lot have come up pretty short. Do you think any of them have done more damage than good? Or have released too many underwhelming releases (simple re-dos, non-anamorphic, ect)?

Paramount definitely. Just look at all the versions of the Friday the 13th series with hardly any extras. Sony and Warner Bros (RIP) have been guilty of the same thing in the past as well. As for the newer companies, I'm not sure because I'm not buying as many new releases as I used to anyway.

In terms of Independent Horror, what is the last thing you can recall that has made a valid impact to either yourself, the genre, or beyond?

This is a tricky one because two many people confuse independent horror with amateur, no-budget crap. The last real independent horror movie (before it was picked up by a studio) which I think made an impact was Paranormal Activity. It was better with the original ending though.

Are there any Independent filmmakers out there right now that you'd like to see get more coverage without sacrificing their own visions, and do you even think that is possible?

No. Again, due to the confusion over what it means to be an independent filmmaker now, I think they should all give up and get real jobs. I don't want to see any more backyard zombie epics or slasher films made by a gang of beered-up friends. Film school graduates are also the worst culprits for flooding the market with crap. Out of the real industry people, Robert Hall showed talent in "Lightning Bug" (2004) which he threw away with "Chromeskull" (2011). "Laid to Rest" was a decent but formulaic entry which deserved more praise than in got.

On the topic of independent filmmakers getting "real jobs", what about those who have real life dreams and passion? Have you seen any of Gregory Lamberson's (Slime City, Naked Fear) or Brian Paulin's (Bone Sickness, At Dawn They Sleep) films?

They should take their ideas to a studio to see how realistic those dreams are. If a studio won't invest in them, the chances are that it's because they don't know what they are doing. Anyone can make a film, just go to Wal-mart buy a camera and use glove puppets if you have to, but making a good film which people will actually pay to see is another matter. Some people may dream to be an astronaut, but it's not going to happen. These "filmmakers" need to spend years in the movie industry (not just the horror fan film industry), learn the techniques, and work their way up before announcing that they are a director after five minutes. Even then their movies could still turn out to be a load of crap. I haven't heard of any of the people you've named, I've never seen any of their movies (as far as I know), and I probably never will. Having been burnt so many times by the "indie horrors" with similarly stupid titles, I'm not interested in what they are offering. 

I've noticed that you've been watching a lot of horribly cheap independent horrors as of late. Are you a sado-masochist, or do you just enjoy these horrid flicks?

Ah, there's a reason for this. I'm watching them to settle that old and erroneous assertion that all these wannabe filmmakers keep making about "indie horror" being so groundbreaking and innovative. If by "groundbreaking and innovative" they mean derivative of Hollywood, formulaic, boring and badly produced hack jobs, then I'll agree with them. I've watched hundreds of these "independent horrors" over the years due to Zone Horror in the UK and the various Pendulum Pictures packs which I skimmed through in 2008 without really paying much attention to what was going on. Now I'm giving them the attention they wanted and noticing a lot of patterns. It's not good and I'm not enjoying the experience. In fact, I'm probably going to have to start eating bucketfuls of St. John's Wort or get some prescription anti-depressants if I watch any more of them.  

What's the best no-budget film you've ever seen?

There is no such thing as a best no-budget film. They don't even count as films to me, just glorified YouTube videos. Unless it's a foreign movie where the budget is smaller anyway then I can't even think of one. I try to erase them from my memory once I've reviewed them. 

If you were to make a no-budget horror film, what would it be about and what hot chicks would you cast in it?

I'd make a porno-horror. Because it would sell. Let's face it, most of these indie horrors look like porn movies without the porn anyway. Witches and vampires going at it would be good. Throw in some werewolves for bestiality! I can't think of any "hot chicks" from the "indie horror" scene who I would cast in it because they are all rather vile creatures who can't leave the tattoo and piercing parlours alone for more than 5 minutes. I'd want to see real movie stars getting nasty for no money.

Is there any particular style of horror that you're currently "the most" into?

Extreme horror floats my boat. I go through phases such as ghost stories or anything supernatural, but just lately I've become very misanthropic and love to see other people having their lives ruined.

What are five of your very favorite movies?

"A Serbian Film" (2010), "Mum and Dad" (2008) , "The Omen" (1976), "The Thing" (1982), and "An American Werewolf in London" (1981).

Everybody's got a list of their favorite horror films. What I want to know is, what are the links between your favorite films? Are there a lot of certain similarities between themes and events?

I don't think there are any links at all apart from decent stories and characterization. It doesn't even have to be the most linear story or the most well-rounded characterization either as long as there's enough of both to cause an emotional response.

Remember when Scream came out and then horror got diluted with these PG-13 trendy-song driven, good-looking teen horror and everyone said that it really blew? Now that all horror is too "meta" and "everything sucks", it seems as if everyone's got a problem with horror flicks no matter what. It even went through stages of Asian influence, shakey-cam found-footage after the Blair Witch bullshit, torture porn, and the remake epidemic. When you think about it, was the aftermath of the original Scream really that bad?

I would rather watch pretty actors and actresses than the "more tattoos than teeth" kind. I want fantasy and escapism with my horror. If I want to see the girl next door, I'll watch her come out of her house and go to work in Wal-mart. I don't want to see her on my TV or cinema screen. As for the influence of "meta" movies, that crap has been going on back to the '80s but "Scream" just made it obvious to the dumber generation who hadn't picked up on it. It's like working in retail or food service in some ways. Once you see the stockroom full of cobwebs and mouse turds, the overpriced items displayed under fluorescent shop lights don't seem so special anymore. 

Are there any films from that era that you enjoy?

"The Crow" (1994) which predates "Scream" by a year of course. After "Scream", not many. I didn't get anything out of the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" series, the "Scream" sequels or its clones such as "Urban Legend". After "The Craft" I jumped genres to sci-fi with "Species" back then. I also enjoyed "The Frighteners"(1996), "Even Horizon" (1997), "Deep Rising" (1998) and "Wishmaster" (1998) though. I don't remember any of the other horror or sci-fi movies standing out that much until the very end of the '90s.

What are some of the more recent "popular" horror films that you've seen recently and enjoyed?

"Twilight". The whole saga! I don't care what anybody thinks of me, I liked them, they interested me, and they belong in the horror genre as much as "Dark Shadows" no matter what anyone says. I could have done with Jacob keeping his shirt on a lot more, but the final two movies made it all worthwhile. I'm not so keen on "Resident Evil" or "Underworld" although if pushed, I'd go for the latter. If you mean the "Saw" movies or "Paranormal Activity" then I really didn't get into them other than the first movie of each franchise. 

And speaking of hot chicks: Kate Beckinsale or Milla Jovovich?

Facially, Kate Beckinsale. She's getting on a bit now, but she's still very nearly perfect. I think Milla is sexier and less doll-like though. If I had to choose, it would be Kate.

Got any favorite cover art?

I can't think of any because the distributors keep on changing it from what I was familiar with on VHS. I think "Mute Witness" was clever with the word "Mute" made to look like stitches over the girl's mouth. I also like "Martyrs".

Could you name a few of your favorite films while you were a lad? Non horror stuff particularly.

"The Italian Job" (1969), "Quadrophenia" (1979) and all the "Carry On" movies. Basically, I watched a lot of British movies and barely bothered with American movies at all. "Star Wars" (1977) had a big impact and was the half-way house due to where it was filmed (and some of the actors). [Oh, and James Bond.]

You seem pretty high strung in some of your rants. What do you do to calm yourself, aside from ranting?

I'm not highly strung at all. I just write that way to be controversial and stir people up. I'm actually cool enough all the time to be considered cold, abrupt and quite ruthless. I find a lot of my writing to be rather dry and uninspiring especially when it's yet another review of some formulaic nonsense which was predictable from the first 5 minutes. I find reviewing movies to be a chore most of the time. Sometimes I wonder why I bother since hardly anybody reads my blog (or anyone else's) anyway. I check the page hits only to see the strangest things get hundreds of page views while something I actually put a lot of effort into gets maybe 5 or 10. When I get really fed up with it, I play with my cats, add some more cows to Farmville, or drink Monster energy drinks until my urine turns bright yellow.

You said you cook? What kind of foods do you cook? And what is your passion in the kitchen?

As a trained chef  (I was valedictorian at the end of my training too),  theoretically I should be able to cook anything. In my last restaurant, I mainly cooked sloppy things like curries because it's easy. I'm also very passionate about the microwave. Don't knock it, it's great for fish!

What's your favorite kind of ramen? Besides the cheapest one of course.

Chicken flavour. I actually strain the "gravy" or "soup" off them before adding cheese but I do like a little bit of flavouring to them other than just plain noodles. 

Whoa there, you add cheese to ramen!? What the hell dude!?

Yes, I grate cheddar cheese over the top of the hot noodles in a bowl and it goes all melty. It's a student thing. I know the real Ramen is a soup, but I don't like soup apart from oxtail. You don't have Heinz Oxtail Soup in America so I've had to live without it. If I wanted the Japanese Ramen, I'd buy those little bowl things with bits of dried vegetables and a packet of slime.

Since American beers suck ass, what would you suggest for someone like me if I ever travel to the British Islands?

Anything at all because the water and ingredients taste different, the brewing process has been refined by centuries more of practice, and everything in the pub will be more alcoholic than in the American bars. One tip I learnt as a barman is to only drink the bottled beers because the drip trays get tipped back into some of the draft barrels to maximize profits. I think Guinness on draft may be one of the few that it's impossible for a landlord to interfere with. I'm a big fan of Newcastle Brown Ale, Tennants Super, and Calsbery Special Brew. Don't ever drink Gold Label Barley Wine unless you want to throw up before anyone else though.

What is life all about, if anything?

You can live in the moment or spend all your time preparing for death. At it's most basic level, life is about finding a mate,  procreation, nurturing the next generation, and making sure you have enough to eat for the duration. All the other things we do are just fluff or folly. I believe there's something better afterwards. I don't feel sorry for atheists whose entire lives are pointless because I can't stand their pedantic arguments, or their lifestyles which usually go hand-in-hand with sexual deviancy, finicky eating or other hipstery fads which don't interest me. You get an average of 70 trips around the Sun, and if you spend all your time either making yourself miserable or making other people miserable, it's your loss because you won't get a second chance. Cut your coat according to its cloth and just accept that you won't know anything for sure until it's all over. If by some slim chance, there's nothing to know, it won't matter anyway because you'll have no consciousness.

Thanks Dr Blood.

This is Drunketh, blacking out.

1 comment:

J.M. said...

Really good interview, sir. I wasn't aware of this guy, though somehow in the deepest depths of my mind the name does somehow seem familiar. Weird. This quote pretty much made my day better, "I check the page hits only to see the strangest things get hundreds of page views while something I actually put a lot of effort into gets maybe 5 or 10. When I get really fed up with it, I play with my cats, add some more cows to Farmville, or drink Monster energy drinks until my urine turns bright yellow." So true the first bit. Funny how I play with my cats too, haha. The last comment about the energy drinks had me laughing out loud. Good stuff.

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