Our series of candid interviews with the staff of Blumhouse Productions continues, in which we share our collective passion for all things scary, discuss our personal and career histories in the genre we all know and love, reveal our favorite films, and maybe even share a few spooky stories.
Today we sit down for a Q&A with Ryan Turek, Development Executive for Blumhouse Productions!
How long have you been a horror fan, and what attracted you to the genre?
I’ve been a horror fan since maybe 6 or 7. I remember picking up a first edition of Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf and the grotesque illustrations by Berni Wrightson hooked me. They were graphic and terrifying and probably gave me nightmares, but I loved them. From that point on, I always had a fascination with macabre entertainment. As a kid, I just thought it was cool to side with the misfits that populated horror films. I identified with them. As I got older, I understood you could not only use horror to get audiences to jump out of their seats, but you can use it to say something important as well.
What is your role at Blumhouse Productions? Can you tell us a little about your job?
I’m a Development Executive at Blumhouse Productions, one of two here at the company with Bea Sequeira. Basically, I look for potential projects to do, potential directors and writers to work with. It involves lots of meetings, lots of reading, notes… development. I try to attend all of the major genre festivals to see what’s out there and who is coming up in the industry. I also tend to tackle producing unconventional projects for us as well. For instance, I had a great team with me — L. Gustavo Cooper and Travis Stevens — when I was tasked to produce a series of Halloween commercials for an international beer company. On top of all of that, I try to have a bit of fun on our social media.
What is your career background, training, school, etc?
I grew up on the East Coast and went to film school at the School of Visual Arts. After that, I moved to L.A. to be a writer-director, but wound up stumbling into a 15-year career as a horror journalist. I worked at a site called Creature-Corner.com then co-founded DreadCentral.com then worked for Fangoria for a bit before founding ShockTillYouDrop.com. Then Blumhouse called offering me this dream job.
What/who is your favorite monster and why?
I’m going to go with straight “monster” — not a human monster or a slasher, but a straight-up creature: Pumpkinhead. Cool mythology, cool design, great moody movie. I’m a monster movie nut, too. When I saw PUMPKINHEAD, I was hooked.
What is your weapon of choice?
List five of your favorite horror films.
These are just a few of my favorites – which differs from my list of horror films I think are the best: FRIGHT NIGHT, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE FUNHOUSE and ROSEMARY’S BABY.
What was the first horror movie you ever saw, and what was your reaction?
My introduction to horror came by way of clips. I lived in a movie-loving household, so HBO was always on, but I remember one of my earliest memories of seeing a horror movie was THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Something had happened to one of the kids – something as simple as a window slamming on his hand — and I was concerned, but not scared. Cronenberg’s THE FLY was the first full horror movie I saw. My father took me to see it on opening night. I loved every minute of it.
Describe one of your favorite Halloween costumes that you’ve worn.
A few years back, I was RE-ANIMATOR’s Herbert West, complete with Rufus the cat scratches on my faces and a severed head. When I was a kid, I was Edward Scissorhands and the Joker (the Jack Nicholson version). My mother really dove into the holiday in a big way, so she slung together some amazing costumes for me and my sister.
Name one horror celebrity, dead or alive, you would love to meet, and tell us why.
William Castle, for sure. I loved his films growing up and, as I became immersed in the industry, I started to appreciate his showmanship even more.
Please recommend a recent horror film that you saw and really enjoyed?
I’m going to throw out two, both half-horror: THE FINAL GIRLS, which cracked me up and is a nice nod to slasher films, and BONE TOMAHAWK, which has an intense last 30 minutes.