When The Shit Hits The Fan


Before he was interviewing movie stars or producing podcasts, horror fandom stalwart Tom Elliot was sharing his thoughts on the genre with the GeekPlanetOnline community. From grim 1970s slashers to modern CGI murder, if you need the opinion of a gorehound then Tom is your man...


It probably seems a bit late in the day to be extolling the virtues of podcasts when so many people have been listening to the things for a few years now, but I think it is one of those areas of geekdom that sometimes, people just overlook, me included, until now. 

I lost my own podcast cherry a short while ago when I thought I’d give The Eclectic Podcast a shot seeing as I was contributing to the site. It was podcast 12 – Inglorious Bergman, in which Matt, Chris and Dave were discussing Casablanca. To tell the truth, I’ve never seen it (good as reportedly is, it sounds like it could use more zombies), but that didn’t matter. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the topic, the pleasure of podcasts seems to be getting caught up in the enthusiasm of the hosts, hearing them dissect and discuss topics they love, and basically to revel in the musings of fellow geeks. 

If I enjoyed a podcast that much about a film I’d never seen, imagine how much I’d enjoy one about my own passion: horror. I didn’t want to just jump to the big horror sites of the net though, I wanted to find the underground ones; the ones where it was just a few guys in a basement somewhere enthusing about horror movies, and passing that passion on to their listeners. 

Four hours after beginning my search, it wasn’t quite going to plan. I sat deflated, listening to a drunken American screaming in my ear –I’VE LOST MY MIND!!!!— as his two female co-hosts laughed manically in the background. Unfortunately this barely on topic drunken rambling was typical of the first few podcasts I chose.  

Perhaps I’d need to start looking at the established horror sites after all. 

Ironically the first horror podcast I came across that made me sit up and take notice wears its beer chugging credentials on its sleeve. After my experience with the I’VE LOST MY MIND guy I was a little resistant to the podcast from Drunken Zombie (www.drunkenzombie.com). I was expecting just another bunch of guys drinking beer and taking the piss out of each other, and to be fair they were, but this time they were actually funny! 

They’ll be the first to admit that they wander off topic a lot sometimes. One host even recounts a funny story where he started talking to a guy in a comic store and asked whether he enjoyed the podcast. “Well, it was okay I guess” the guy replied “…..it’s just that you don’t really talk about horror that much”. Thankfully the format of the show keeps them loosely on track. They review a movie per show, old or new and respond to listener voice mails. Considering they’re such piss takers with each other, they treat their callers with a real respect, even if some of them sound a bit weird, and it’s actually a great part of the show. And they know their horror. Be it Hammer; modern; obscure or vintage, Drunken Zombie knows what they’re talking about, and make sure you have a good time while they do. 

I’ve been a visitor to horror site Bloody Disgusting (www.bloody-disgusting.com) for years now, and while they may be one of the leading horror sites on the net, their beginnings are as humble as any small site. The podcast is a touch more polished than Drunken Zombie, but still has a good laid back atmosphere about it. Their position as one of the webs leading horror sites means they have access to a calibre of guest that the smaller sites may not have. The guest on the latest show was David Szulkin from Grindhouse Releasing, a fantastic DVD distribution company that specialise in the restoration and release of cult and exploitation films (I’ll be saluting Gridhouse Releasing in a future column). If you only have time for one horror podcast, this is a good all rounder; it’s light and amusing, but with some real meat to the content.  

My pick of the bunch though has to be the Bloody Good Horror podcast (www.bloodygoodhorror.com). Surprisingly, the four guys who participate actually record it in separate locations, but they have such good chemistry together, and bounce off each other so well, that if it weren’t for the sound difference when they speak you’d never know. The format is a pretty standard movie of the week and general horror chat. Where they excel though is the level of insight in their discussions. They’re not overly analytical, but they know how to dissect a movie well and still keep the discussion light and entertaining.  

What’s also commendable is that they’re not afraid to tear apart a “classic” if they don’t feel it’s worthy of the status. A recent podcast has three of the four hosts tearing George Romero’s The Crazies apart, while one defends it, which makes for a great debate. 

While it falls outside my “a few guys in a basement” mission statement due it being more of a traditional radio show, I should give an honourable mention to the Fangoria podcast (www.fangoria.com). Biggest horror site on the web they may be, but the podcast still regularly supports and publicises small independent horror films. Polished, but still essential. 

What I found quite heartening about this whole exercise, is that although I ended up having to go to the bigger more established websites for my horror fix, the podcasts themselves still have that independent spirit I was looking for. The ability to self publish on the web has closed that gap between fandom and the media, so now fandom actually is an important part of it. Knowledge and infectious enthusiasm more than make up for perhaps a lack of a more traditional presenting background. A good podcast shouldn’t feel like being presented to, it should feel like those great geeky conversations you have with friends.  

I’m happy to report, that in the horror world at least, the podcast is still firmly the domain of those “few guys in a basement”. Long may it continue.


GeekPlanetOnline.com

  

GeekPlanetOnline regulars will know, of course, that Tom went on to create his own horror podcast with fellow gorehound Matt Dray - the celebrated Gentlemen's Grindhouse. Download and listen right here at GeekPlanetOnline.com!