Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interview with Joshua Patterson, horror bloggy guy


Today's interview is with Joshua Patterson, who runs But The Third One Was Great, a blog dedicated to reviewing, summarizing, and poking fun at horror series. He is also currently embroiled in attempts to turn his blog into a book. If you've never read his blog, you're missing out. It's hilarious, and as someone who doesn't really watch a lot of horror movies, I love reading his reviews so I know what I need to know without actually having to subject myself to the film itself.

Now, without further ado:

ME: Why horror movies?


JOSH: I think something in my nature likes to root for the underdog, and honestly, is there a bigger underdog than horror films? It’s not that I don’t enjoy large-budget studio films. I do. But I have a much greater appreciation for someone who can take two million dollars (or less) and show me something I’ve never seen before.


How many do you think you've seen?


I’m sure it’s somewhere in the high hundreds, though I’d hesitate to say I’ve made it to the four-digit realm. Let’s go with: More than most people, less than the guy who writes Horror Movie a Day.


What was your motivation for starting the blog?


It was a lot of little things over a lot of years.


My first experience with direct-to-video sequels happened a bunch of years ago when I had an entire weekend to myself. I decided to rent part 2 through part 666 of the Children of the Corn series, just because I really wanted to know: Did the underwhelming, mostly forgettable original really NEED five more parts? (there are six now)


The answer was, no surprise, “It did not.” But I had heard good things about part 3, and as it turns out, they were true. It’s a really solid, freaky little flick, and it even has a pretty cool, if a little obvious, twist ending.


Though the other parts range from okay to awful, they do contain the first starring roles of Naomi Watts and Eva Mendes. So they were curiously satisfying from that perspective.


That stuck with me.


Then, a couple of Halloweens ago, some stores were blowing out copies of the Child’s Play movies. For reasons not worth getting into, I had only seen the third part. So I bought the whole series for less than $20.


Around that time, I also started noticing just how many horror flicks with so-so box office had direct-to-video 2s and 3s. “Pulse.” “Feast.” And “Wrong Turn,” which most horror fans didn’t like much at all, had a VERY well-reviewed part 2.


But finding information on these movies was just about impossible. I realized that if I wanted to know what happened in The Grudge 3, I was going to have to find out for myself.


And I figured: Well, as long as I’m scaling that mountain, perhaps I should make a few notes, and return with a field journal of sorts.


Who do you see picking up your book off the shelf when it’s finally published?


I’d give the painfully obvious answer “people like myself,” but that might limit my potential reader(s) to me, and me alone.


I think the kind of people who would enjoy my book fall into a few different categories:


1. Movie fans who are just plain curious what happens in Tremors 4 and Hellraiser 8.


2. Movie fans who enjoy a good laugh. Hint: If you’ve read and enjoyed Roger Ebert’s I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie or Your Movie Sucks, you’ll enjoy my book.


3. I also suspect, somewhere in my bones, that folks who enjoy Mystery Science Theater 3000, Rifftrax, or Cinematic Titanic would probably enjoy the book as well.


I have a sneaking suspicion that once the folks listed above get the book off the shelf, it will become something they need to pick up extra copies of to share with like-minded friends.


What’s your process like while you create the summaries? Do you watch the movie several times or go stream of consciousness?


Originally, I watched the movies with a notebook in hand and scribbled down the plot. Then I’d sit down and type up the plot, adding jokes, observations, and whatever else I could come up with.


Now I pull up the movie, and start typing on my laptop. I hit pause and rewind a LOT. Writing up a movie takes somewhere between six and eight hours depending on how long the movie is, how poorly it’s directed (I’ve watched the same scene seven or eight times attempting to figure out what happened, and sometimes I still don’t know) and how inspired I’m feeling on any one day.


My job would be a lot easier if I was just doing a straight review, or if I was just trying to be cruel to the films in question. But I’m trying to be both funny and educational, and that takes a lot more work than just calling a movie stupid.


How do you feel about the current state of the horror genre?


The horror genre suffers from the same problem most of the movie-making industry is suffering from: a lack of fresh content. Most of the big horror movies today are either sequels, remakes, or in some cases, remakes of sequels.


The only really successful “original” horror movie I can think of from last year was Paranormal Activity, which had probably the most brilliant marketing campaign since The Blair Witch Project.


This may point to another issue – in the rare instance that someone produces a really interesting, well-done horror film, the marketing just isn’t there. That might explain why something like Splice, which got excellent reviews, crashed and burned at the box office.


What’s your favorite all time number one ultimate horror film?


Probably The Evil Dead, though Dawn of the Dead would come in at a close second.


Original or Remake?


Original.

I'm actually a huge Romero nut. Dude made some great non-zombie flicks. Martin is outstanding, and Season of the Witch is a great idea that moves way too slowly.


Of all the villains, who scares you the most?


Though I’m generally entertained by them, I’m rarely “scared” by horror movies. Some part of my brain is constantly informing me that what I’m watching is just a lot of makeup. I’ll jump from time to time, but I haven’t had any nightmares as far as I can recall.


I will say that zombies in general are pretty freaky, only because once they get a decent foothold on the population, they’re completely relentless.

As a singular “villain,” though, I’d say The Thing (of John Carpenter’s The Thing) is probably the scariest creature I’ve encountered on-screen.


Who is the funniest?


I can’t say I go in for the quipping bad guy. Most of Freddy’s “jokes” are just weak puns, for example. But I will say that Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 manages to be funny in deeply uncomfortable ways.


What is the most retarded thing you have seen a character do in a horror movie?


As a general note, I’ll never understand why people are constantly trying to revive and/or capture killers. Michael Myers falls into a coma, and they keep him on life support instead of in lockdown in a maximum security prison.

Jason is really, really dead, but the person who killed him has to dig him up just to make sure. At which point, he should burn the body, or toss a bunch of lit dynamite on him. But no…


Then there’s Ricky, from Silent Night, Deadly Night. The guy is dead. Very much dead. But they put a little brain-hat on him and revive his memories. Why?


I realize the answer is, “Because if that didn’t happen, there would be no movie,” but still…


Can you watch a horror film without critiquing it anymore?


Actually, it’s hard for me to watch just about any movie without taking it apart to see what works and what doesn’t.


Aside from the blog and the book, what are your personal projects? Or is that all encompassing?


But the Third One Was Great has taken up the majority of my writing time over the last year, but it’s far from the only thing I’m working on. Also somewhere at the forefront of my writing time:


Mercy – A novel I wrote a couple of years ago that I’ve been trying to sell. It’s got a plane crash, an uncharted island, a mom who just wants to get home to her kid, and a zombie apocalypse in it. I refer to it as a zombie novel for moms.


The Kids – My take on vampires, which is just different enough from anything I’ve read that I’m wary of stating the premise here.


I’m also working on a memoir of the process my wife and I had to go through when we adopted our daughter.




If you have any questions for Josh, leave them in the comments or hop over to his blog. It's awesome.

5 comments:

  1. good interview. haha I agree with him on why they don't lock up Michael Meyers in prison. He is scary as hell and so is Jason Voorhees. They never speak, which make them even more creepy. Freddy Krueger doesn't scare me.

    I agree with him that horror movies, along with Hollywood, are suffering from a great lack of original stories. Remakes, remakes, remakes! Blagh.

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  2. A question for Josh: Doesn't studying so many horror movies make you want to write one? Or even better, make your own?

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  3. great interview! thanks josh and emily!

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  4. Anonymous1:28 PM

    cool post Emily, just wondering would anyone or Joshua know of good horror script or movie about snakes or insects or spiders ...
    any good horror spec scripts about incects and snakes...
    would script shadow know, if he's reading ?

    cheers

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  5. Harry:

    Well, you could probably argue that "Mercy" has elements of horror in it, so in a way I've written something in the horror genre already.

    I also have a couple of horror screenplays I was working on. The only problem is, as I'm sure you know, getting them made. Even if they do get made, I'd be concerned that they'd end up like the new version of Friday the 13th, which was lit like a bad CW TV show, removing all possible elements of scary.

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