Our ongoing series of interviews with the Blumhouse crew 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 Stephen Johnson, Writer for Blumhouse.com!
How long have you been a horror fan, and what attracted you to the genre?
I’ve been a horror fan since the 1980s. This is because I am very, very old. I started really getting into horror movies when I was 11 or 12, back in the ’80s, when cheap, grimy slasher flicks would actually play in theaters. I went to see all of them with my no-account little friends. (Back then, a bunch of ‘tweens buying tickets to JUST BEFORE DAWN was acceptable somehow.) What I liked best about those movies was the unsettling feeling that came with considering how they even existed at all. I understood from TV shows what went on “behind the scenes” of “real” movies like STAR WARS, but how something like MANIAC could even exist was a mystery to me. Those movies were so violent and bleak and irredeemable that I thought “Who would have done this?” They seemed like they must have come from actual maniacs or from some other world.
Now I know how the sausage is made, and I understand the people behind those movies are generally regular, nice people that are doing it to make money or Art, but the way Art can sometimes seem to open a crack between this world and some “other place” has fascinated me ever since. I also have a special fondness for the kind of forgotten and unloved horror movies you find on bargain basement DVD collections — TV movies from the 1970s about werewolves, shot-on-video slasher flicks set in aerobic studios, and ill-conceived experiments of all kinds.
Tell us about your role at Blumhouse Productions.
I am a writer. I write articles about space diseases, cursed movies, horror video games, and anything else that is horrific, terrifying and/or awful. I’m excited to also be covering horror games for Blumhouse — there’s a lot of really interesting horror going on in the gaming world that I’m stoked to write about.
What is your career background, training, school, etc?
When I was 15, I worked in a kite shop, but that went out of business, so I had to change careers. I studied writing at Emerson college, and since then, I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for various magazines (when those used to exist), websites, movies, and television. I spent several years as a writer/editor/producer at video game cable channel G4TV, where I got to make a lot of cool videos and write video game reviews, previews and news. Since that place closed, I’ve been freelancing for various outlets, writing horror screenplays and directing short films that play at festivals. Here’s a picture from the editing room of my movie “Away from it All.” Look for it soon on a YouTube near you!
What/who is your favorite monster, and why?
I like Lovecraft’s “blind idiot god” Azathoth. Described as “The Lord of All Things,” Azathoth doesn’t actually do all that much. He just hangs out and “gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes,” which pretty much describes my life.
What is your weapon of choice?
My greatest weapon is my good looks.
List five of your favorite horror films.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974, of course)
MADE IN MANHATTAN
What was the first horror movie you ever saw, and what was your reaction?
One my first memories of anything was seeing the segment in 1974’s TRILOGY OF TERROR, where Karen Black is chased around by a voodoo doll. I don’t even think I saw the whole movie. I probably just caught a commercial, but whatever I saw, it gave me nightmares for a long time. Fuck dolls that walk by themselves.
The first horror movie I really remember was IT’S ALIVE. I was probably around eight, and I was up in the middle of the night for some reason. To an eight-year old, that movie is intense, man.
Describe one of your favorite Halloween costumes that you’ve worn.
One year I dressed up as a ladybug.
Name one horror celebrity — dead or alive — whom you would love to meet, and tell us why.
I would like to meet F.W. Murnau (NOSFERATU) and talk about movies. Early directors like Murnau, Fritz Lang, etc. had to invent most of the cinematic technique they used, basically creating the language of film themselves. 100 years later, everyone is still using the tricks they came up with.
Please recommend a recent horror film that you saw and really enjoyed.
I really liked THE BABADOOK.