[Exclusive Column] SCARRED FOR LIFE – OCTOBER 2023 – Tony Timpone

If you are looking for a one-stop shocking this Halloween to satisfy your horror thirst, look no further than essential streaming service Shudder, its sister streamer AMC+, and linear cable outlet AMC (home of the long-running Fearfest marathons). All three are bursting with things dark and spooky!

For starters, we can’t wait to see what executive producer Greg Nicotero conjures up with season four of Creepshow, dropping with a six-episode binge premiere on Shudder and AMC+ this Friday, October 13. (New episodes will also air weekly on AMC linear.) So, for this month’s column, we checked in with several new Creepshow directors to find out what films left them Scarred for Life!

The Spear Sisters (Kailey & Sam Spear), directors (Creepshow Season 4: “The Hat” and “Grieving Process,” streaming October 13 on Shudder and AMC+; airing October 20 on AMC linear)

“We first watched Heavenly Creatures [1994] when we were in middle school, and it has stuck with us since then. That scene was chilling where Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslet) have planned the murder and are following Pauline’s mother down the path with that stocking filled with a brick. It’s a bright and lovely day out. … The two girls are so unassuming. … The mother is totally unsuspecting. … The way the murder was then played out with no music, and the sound of the mother’s head being hit and her screaming out, was so brutally visceral.”

Justin Dyck, director (Creepshow Season 4: “To Grandmother’s House We Go” and “Cheat Code,” streaming October 13 on Shudder and AMC+; airing October 27 & November 3 on AMC linear)

“When I was 8 or 9, I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors [1987] at a sleepover, and the puppeteer scene is forever seared into my brain. However, my parents didn’t want me watching all of that blood and guts so my father set out to prove to me that movies could be scary without the gore. He was successful time and time again, but when we sat down to watch Misery [1990], my life changed forever. It brought a realism to horror that I had never experienced. I thought ghosts, vampires, and big strong ax murderers were scary, but Kathy Bates taught me that a quirky smiling woman who doesn’t care for curse words can be the scariest monster of all.”

P.J. Pesce, director (Creepshow Season 4: “Parent Deathtrap” and “Doodles,” streaming October 13 on Shudder and AMC+; airing on October 27 & November 13 on AMC linear)

“Growing up in Miami, Florida, my mom dropped me at a double feature every Saturday. When I was 10, I saw Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things [1972], and it scared the hell out of me. It started off funny and goofy, but here’s the thing: All the people in it seemed like people I knew. My next-door neighbors were hippie types, and they were just like these characters. They dressed the same, spoke the same, acted the same. And the movie was shot in Miami, so it all felt real! After two acts of goofy fun (though, admittedly, desecrating human remains, not so goofy or fun), the shit hits the fan, and the dead rise from the ground in a terrifying sequence that had me shaking. The final image of the undead setting sail on a boat to the Miami mainland was, let us say, unsettling at the least.”

Kjersti Helen Raasmussen, writer/director (Nightmare, now streaming on Shudder and AMC+)

“I grew up in Norway, with strict censorship and age limit in the cinema, but when the video market came in the early ’80s, it opened a new world for me. I had an older sister who could rent for me, and I must have been around 12 when I picked up Creepshow [1982] and A Nightmare on Elm Street [1984]. They were both crazy scary, but also funny and impossible not to watch! So, thank you Stephen King and Wes Craven for all the nightmares. They inspired me!”

Robyn August, director (KillHer, in theaters and on VOD and digital October 20)

“I’ll never forget watching Pet Sematary [1989] as a kid. It absolutely scarred me for life. Besides the adorable Gage and Church being tragically killed, then coming back evil, or the dead hospital spirit guide with half his head missing, there was one particular scene (two really) that absolutely wrecked me. The storyline of Zelda, Rachel’s sick sister who was left under their stairs to die. The actors’ performance and the practical effects in those scenes haunted my dreams. Specifically, the scene toward the end of the film where Rachel goes to the neighbor Jud’s house and hears her sister’s voice upstairs. She enters the room and Zelda is crouched down at the back of the room looking out the window, she twists and contorts her head and body quickly toward her and says, ‘I finally came back for you, Rachel. I’m going to twist your back like mine, so you’ll never get out of bed again!’ Then she runs quickly and crouches RIGHT up to the wide camera lens shouting, ‘Never get out of bed again! Never get out of bed again!’ Her fingers curling in and out and laughing like a hyena.”

Scott Slone, producer/writer/director (Malibu Horror Story, in theaters October 20)

“As a teenager in the mid-late ’90s, the local video store was our church. Every Friday, my friends and I would visit the store and rent a stack of movies. Later, I ended up working at most of the stores I used to rent from when I was in high school. I would cruise the horror section daily, always searching for something that was not so mainstream, but also not super-obscure. Among dozens of movies in that category that scarred me, one was Witchboard [1986]. It was the first movie I ever saw that tackled the Ouija board craze, and to this day, it is the best. The film has a very creepy tone buried underneath a classic ’80s aesthetic and revolves around the story of a woman who becomes addicted to speaking with a spirit through a Ouija board. The film pays off in the end, and the image of the old man, the evil spirit Malfeitor, still scares me to this day. Kind of reminds me of Vigo from Ghostbusters II. Anyway, this is a film that is the definition of: ‘Fuck around and find out.’ Needless to say, I will never touch another Ouija board again.”

Pierce Berolzheimer, writer/director (Crabs!, now streaming on Screambox)

“I have this memory from when I was 7 or 8 years old, staying up late at my grandparents’ house watching this horrifying film on TV about a killer doll that stalked a woman around a museum. It wasn’t until much later in life that I found out it was called Trilogy of Terror II [1996]. I was already a seasoned horror fan at that age, but for some reason, I wasn’t prepared for that one. I could handle The Lost Boys, Fright Night and An American Werewolf in London … but that Zuni Fetish Doll from Trilogy of Terror II can burn in Hell! It still gives me the creeps.”

Larry Wade Carrell, writer/director (Girl Next and The Quantum Devil, now on VOD and digital)

“The first horror movie my dad let me see was The Shining [1980]. I was 10, maybe 11 years old. My dad and I sat in the living room together and watched the entire movie. I did all right for the most part. I was startled a few times there toward the end, but I showed no signs of trauma … until I tried to go to bed. My mom would tuck me in, turn off the lights, and that’s when the fear came! I was so scared my dad was going to bust into the bedroom with an ax and chop me up that I got up out of bed and carefully placed some pillows and blankets under the covers to make it look like I was still there sleeping. Then I went and hid in the closet. Terrified, I spent the entire night peeping through the cracks of the louvered door. This went on for the rest of the week until enough time had passed, and I decided I was safe. It all seemed silly in the light of day, but at night in the dark, my mind would convince me otherwise.”

Steven Pierce, co-writer/director (Herd, in theaters and on VOD and digital October 13)

“My mother was terrified of horror movies. Burton’s Batman was the closest we had at my house, so I would always be trying to watch them when I could at a friend’s. I remember watching The Silence of the Lambs [1991] with a couple friends when I was young, and it really rocked my world. The performances were so dope and the story had so much happening with the characters, and it was still just terrifying.”

Colton Tran, director (The Bell Keeper, in theaters and VOD October 13; on DVD December 5)

“The one horror film that changed my life and had the greatest impact on me was Scream [1996]. I was introduced to the franchise at the age of 10 and was immediately and strangely intrigued by the slasher genre. As the next several years unfolded, I fell in love with the filmmaking process and art of horror. My neighbor (who was a director himself) became my mentor and exposed me to the world of film, and I started recreating scenes from Scream. That film is what inspired me as a filmmaker and led me to a career as a horror director.”

(See here http://gruesomemagazine.com/author/tonytimpone/ for a link to past Scarred for Life columns. Follow me on Twitter: @tonytimpone1 and Instagram: timponetony)

Tony Timpone