Earlier this week, we welcomed BEYOND THE GATES director and co-writer Jackson Stewart onto the Shock Waves podcast! Having known Jack personally for several years, I knew the conversation would eventually turn to obscure horror gems. After all, the entire Shock Waves gang hold Stewart responsible for turning us onto the Thanksgiving “slasher” cult classic BLOOD RAGE! So, basically, I was hoping to get another obscure title out of him on par with the madness that is BLOOD RAGE. But first, let’s go back to the beginning.
In terms of favorite horror films, Stewart named PHANTASM, BLOOD RAGE and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY as his 3 personal faves. But the movie that first turned him onto the genre featured a certain familiar dreamstalker, and was responsible for a lot of our devoted readers’ sleepless nights!
“My first real exposure to a horror movie was Renny Harlin’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 4: THE DREAM MASTER,” explained Stewart. “I saw that at 8 years old and it absolutely destroyed me! The interesting thing now is it’s a much more comedic entry in that franchise, but at the time, I was like ‘this guy can get into your dreams and kill you! This is real?! And as soon as I go to sleep, this guy is going to kill me?’ Pretty much, from that point on, I had nightmares the entire year.”
But thankfully, that didn’t turn him off from the genre. In fact, he confesses on the podcast that he’d rent up to 6 movies per week. This is how he discovered BLOOD RAGE. “I have a really strange relationship with that movie now, because when I saw that (Arrow Films) put that Blu-Ray out, I watched it and thought “oh no!” It lost something because it’s so crystal clear now. The VHS copy I have is this washed out, really dark, hard to see what’s going on in the background film. And it adds so much to the atmosphere and the texture of that movie.”
Well then, fine! But what’s another movie like BLOOD RAGE that has yet to be discovered? “There’s an amazing one that I’m reluctant to (share) because I love this one and I’ve been coveting it for several years.” When pushed, Stewart finally shared the title of this gem with us. “There’s this Spanish slasher called EDGE OF THE AXE. It’s really, really good. It has a little bit of an Italian flavor to it. THE MUTILATOR is a good one to go to. BEYOND THE DOOR, that’s another one I’m totally obsessed with.”
“Oh, Lucio Fulci’s THE SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS. It’s his TV movie, and it is fucking insane! So, his idea of a TV movie is as violent as THE BEYOND. As you start watching it, the first 5 minutes of it, there are these incredibly brutal, sadistic murder scenes, where there’s a married couple that catches this guy prowling in their house, so rather than try to run away, the guy decides he has to murder them. So, he smashes the guy’s head on the back of a fireplace corner, and just does it about… 17 times. And so there’s blood everywhere. Then he goes to the wife and puts her face on a hot stove. And it’s… well, the network saw it and was like, we are never airing this. (Laughs) There were 4 of these TV movies. HOUSE OF CLOCKS was in there too.”
While touring BEYOND THE GATES at various festivals in other countries, he also got to see new, upcoming films worthy of seeking out. One recommendation in particular? “There’s a great Italian genre movie that I saw on the festival circuit which is in my top 3 of the year. It’s called THEY CALL ME JEEG ROBOT. Highly recommend it. It played at Frightfest UK, along with TRAIN TO BUSAN and a bunch of other stuff, but that movie is amazing.”
Listen to the entire episode, embedded below for your convenience!
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