Prism of Madness l

Friday the 13th, May 2022, was the official launch of the Prism of Madness podcast. It was also the day that, unconnected, I was laid off from my day job.

While we did a soft-launch with a  short trailer for the podcast on Wednesday night and I technically uploaded the main episode then to work on technical aspects, Friday 13 and was the actual launch, fitting for a horror-related podcast. My partner and co-host Chris and I launched with a strong episode, a great interview with writer and director Damien LeVeck.  A wonderful guy, he is the director of the horror film The Cleansing Hour.

Originally we were planning to launch with a different episode, but ultimately decided to go with the LeVeck interview due to its strength. A few weeks prior I had added an edited transcript from the podcast  on the Prism of Madness website. 

Of course I didn’t know I’d be losing my job. I was unceremoniously let go, by PHONE, after 8 1/2 years, no severance package, nothing. I was given an extra two weeks pay, but given I had never taken the allocated vacation time as I was the sole manager of the company’s online brand, the two weeks didn’t even make up for my donated vacation time.  

Having worked in editorial, notoriously volatile, I’d been through downsizings, company closings and layoffs before. Additionally, I was dissatisfied with the workplace and its lack of respect and empowerment, so I was ready to go. That said, dedicating that much of your life to an initiative and then simply being dismissed (I was one of many), messes with one’s head.

And yet the podcast was going live, interviews with people in the motion picture industry were being set up, and I was in the process of pitching scripts.  I didn’t have time, immediately, to “mourn” my loss as there was work to be done. Also, beyond the panic of how I was to now pay my bills, my overriding feeling was one of relief. I was going to be okay. I knew that the real loss was for them, not for me. 

So I will say WHAT A FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH! It’s positive energy from here on out, and I’m ready. Chris got the podcast up on Apple Podcasts last night, and I worked on getting it set with Google Podcasts today, so it should hopefully be live on that platform in a few days. It’s already streaming and downloadable on most of the main platforms: Amazon, Deezer, I Heart Radio, and others, ready to subscribe.

I know that there will be some challenging moments as I move into this very different, very new phase of my life, but I’m optimistic. I haven’t felt this good in a long, long time!

Check out our Prism of Madness podcast: https://bit.ly/37D4LfK

Much has happened in a short time as we are now only a few weeks away from the launch of the Prism of Madness podcast. We’ve got episodes edited, interviews both lined up and recorded, and the format tweaked. We’re still a bit rough around the edges and we don’t yet have opening/closing music or even know if we want it yet. The new Prism of Madness logo is being completed and will be done by launch. Now it’s a focus on content, content, content.

Even though this personal blog is more of a think-on-digital-paper type of effort for myself rather than something people are regularly reading, I still don’t want to reveal the interviews coming up on the podcast. More accurately, I DO want to reveal the interviews coming up, but I won’t until they actually air. Got to keep the surprises, but seriously, we snagged some very cool interviews.

What else to say? Just an expression of gratitude to all the people who have patiently helped us get going. Gratitude to my co-host Chris for his positive energy, drive and completely weirdo, off-hand idea for the podcast name Prism of Madness. Gratitude to the good folks over at Riverside.fm for being responsive to my questions and for making a user-friendly distance podcasting platform. Gratitude for sound engineering service Auphonic for making my life so much easier. Thanks to my son Gavin for helping do smooth audio edits and fixing some of my particular rough cuts, and to Chris’ son Connor for his patience as we contracted him to design a logo and then completely changed concept on him right in the middle. Giant thanks to the directors, producers, writers, production coordinators and other movie personnel who had faith in us and granted us interviews even before we officially launched. Thanks to Richard “RB” Botto for creating Stage32 and to all the cool folks I’ve met over there to keep me in touch with other screenwriters and movie personnel.

Thanks everyone. This is going to be a fun, mad ride.

 

My father asked me my definition of a horror movie yesterday. I didn’t have an elevator-pitch answer, so I stumbled through a spontaneous one about a movie that focuses on inspiring fear, dread or revulsion with events that move beyond what we would consider regular “normal” events. I then added that horrifying events don’t mean a horror movie. War is horror. Child abuse is horror. Movies about war or child abuse are not horror movies, or more specifically, the horrific topics don’t automatically make them horror movies.

Horror movie folks know a horror movie when they see one, but non-horror movie folks sometimes don’t get it. Any horror movie fan has heard someone say something like, “___________  is real horror” or “the world is full of real horror like __________ that I don’t need made up stuff,” to know they don’t understand the genre or the appeal of the genre.

That’s not to say there is strict agreement in the community on what is or isn’t a horror movie, but discussions between horror movie people are different than discussion between horror movie and non-horror movie folks. It’s a nerdy pleasure to for horror movies fans to argue if Silence of the Lambs or Wake in Fear  or Hush should be considered horror movies. I subscribe to Shudder, the horror movie streaming service, and there are movies there I wouldn’t consider horror. That’s cool, because it’s on the edge that interesting things happen, and being confined to unbreakable rules leads to boring content.

Still, however, horror movies are a genre, and while there aren’t specific rules (or at least there are rules that can be broken) generally good horror movies come from people who understand the genre even if they choose to push the boundaries. You’ve probably seen a movie made by someone who obviously didn’t watched horror movies who thought adding a gruesome death or a jump scare made it a horror movie. I know I have. Those movies generally fail because they don’t understand basic elements of the genre or what makes a horror movie frightening.

I’m bordering on sounding like a horror movie snob or elitist, and that’s not my intent. A good movie is a good movie and doesn’t need to be defined or pigeon-holed into a category. Is David Lynch’s Blue Velvet a horror movie? Who cares? Most of us in the horror community wouldn’t call it one (how do you categorize most of Lynch’s movies?), but it’s an amazing piece of movie making which undoubtedly has influenced horror movie makers, regardless of category. Undefined categories are fine. It’s when a movie proclaims to be a horror movie without an understanding of the genre where issues can happen.

I refuse to bash movies, so I’ll be vague, but one particular instance comes to mind in a low-budget horror anthology movie where indie directors where asked to make horror short shorts, with many of the directors from outside the genre. That unnamed anthology fell short because of the previously mentioned misunderstanding by some that showing a horrific situation automatically makes a film horror. While some made important observations about needed societal change, they didn’t belong in a horror anthology. Definitions or not, most horror movie fans would recognize some of the films weren’t horror shorts. There was a lack of understanding of the genre and it showed, the equivalent of taking a Facebook discussion of gardening and subverting it into a political discussion. The anthology was expressly a horror anthology.

Interestingly, social topics and societal change can be intensely important to horror movies, and I would argue the genre is a near perfect vehicle to explore those topics. Again, though, the topic itself, however horrifying, doesn’t make the movie a horror movie. Whether an intense exploration of grief in The Invitation or racial issues in Get Out or living with family trauma in The Babadook or damaging stereotypes in the horror comedy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, horror can go places difficult for other movies. It’s when a director exploits the horror genre to expressly to get a point across without holding deference for the genre that movies become preachy.

So going back to the original question from my father, who is not a horror-movie fan: did I consider No Country for Old Men a horror movie? Certainly there is a terrifying, soulless killer, tension, horrific scenes of violence. If not, why?

Horror fans, I’ll leave you with that. Tap into your horror nerd and answer that one in a make believe interview.