This week leading up to Halloween, we interviewed several notable creatives to get in the spirit. Our journey drops us off in the United States, where Erika and Roshane, the two wonderful spooky creatures behind the microphone of the Homies of Horror podcast, talk about and review horror movies and shows.
“Despite watching horror movies all year long, nothing compares to the feeling of putting one on as soon as spooky season hits. Grabbing a cup of tea, lighting a candle, and throwing on a blanket while screams flow from the television screen. Something about it brings an air of nostalgia. Takes me back to the excitement of being a child excited to throw on my costumes and go find some treats (or tricks). For most people, horror is what you turn to for a quick thrill or fright, but for me it’s a warmth. A comfort. Something I look forward to. And fall just so happens to be the perfect backdrop for that.” – Erika
“What is it about Fall that always gets me in the mood? There’s something about the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. The smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Even this desert land of California can’t escape Fall’s chilling touch as that first cool breeze sweeps across the trees. Summer fades away and the era of long sleeves and long nights makes its annual turn. It’s the calm, I think, for me. The quiet afternoons bundled up on the couch, warm drink in hand, watching some unsuspecting character flee from a murderous figure or great beast. There’s nothing quite like it.” – Roshane
Photos by Anthony Jay Taylor and David Anthony Hinton.
Hello Erika et Roshane! So happy to have you with us today! I love your podcast. I’ve gotten used to listening to them, mug in hand while working on things. Relaxing but energizing.
Erika : Wow, that’s so awesome to hear! We really appreciate that.
Roshane : Of course! Thank you for having us and tuning into the show!
How are you going to spend Halloween this year? Are you planning a podcast or something? A movie to recommend for Halloween?
R : Honestly? Probably working. Halloween is a very exciting time for the horror community, and we like to celebrate by providing as much content as we can. Last Halloween season, we released bonus episodes of our podcast and had a virtual costume party for ourselves and the rest of the Homies who were stuck inside during the lockdown. We’re thinking about doing something similar this year, but bigger and better! A wonderful thing about the internet and the rise of live-streaming is it allows us to stay connected during this confusing time. We’re not local to one another so it’s nice that we can still celebrate Halloween remotely and spend time with our community as well! If you’re in need of a good ghost story to put you in the spooky mood I highly recommend looking into Mike Flanagan’s work. (Haunting of Hillhouse, Bly Manor, etc.)
E : Yeah, October tends to be the busiest month for horror podcasts, which is totally fine by us. Helps get us even more into the spooky spirit and ensures that we will be watching plenty of horror movies for the season. Last year I had a scary movie marathon the entire day of Halloween, and I honestly feel like I’ll do a repeat of that this year. I definitely want to put more effort into my costume though, because I slacked off a bit last time. I’d recommend the movie Haunt if you’re in the mood for a teen slasher but have already had your fill of the classics!
Interesting picks! Thank you. Let’s talk about your academic background… I’m sure many people are curious about it.
R : We’re both classically trained actors. We were both in the same Bachelor’s program while in College and studied closely together. I grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, but was originally born in Jamaica and moved to the states as a child. I’ve always been fond of cinema and spent a large portion of my time, and allowance, at the movie theater growing up. Although I’ve worked briefly in film on a few independent projects, I have not yet had a chance to work in horror. But, I would like to! It would be very exciting to watch and participate in the process live. As long as there are no dolls. Spooky dolls creep me out.
E : I would absolutely love to work on a horror movie in some capacity. I’ve dabbled in writing some horror scripts and would obviously love to act in one. I’ve always said that I think it would be so much fun to do a pretty grisly death scene. If I can’t be the final girl I definitely want to go out with a bang. Even more than that, I think it would just be fascinating to be on a horror set and see how it operates. I love watching behind the scenes to see how they’re able to achieve those practical effects or intense chase sequences and I think personally being there and witnessing it would be incredible.
Two friends who have a horror movie podcast channel. We’d expect it to be through the movies that you met. Wasn’t it ?
R : Well, we sort of did. While we were studying together in College we formed a small movie group with our friends. We would get together on weekends and watch movies to unwind after a long work week. It was through this that we both discovered that we love horror movies! From there, horror movie discussions became commonplace. We would talk about some of our favorites from the genre or upcoming horror we were excited for regularly. When we finally decided to start podcasting, naturally we leaned toward horror since it’s had a big impact on our friendship over the years. Although we were nervous at the start, we quickly realized that we’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing all this time, now there’s just a microphone on the desk as well.
E : It’s so amazing the quick bonds that can be formed within the horror community. Everybody already has this one thing in common: horror. But everyone is so passionate about that one thing, so you can have these hour long conversations about horror movies and afterwards realize you’ve just made a new friend. I think for us, finding out that we had that similar interest really opened the door for our friendship and it just got stronger from there. No matter what was happening in life we would always reach out and discuss new trailers that had dropped, or new scary games coming out, and I think that’s something that will always be a connection for us.
What’s the first horror movie you’ve seen? Have your cinematic tastes changed since your debut in horror films ?
R : One of the first movies to truly terrify me was the original Nightmare on Elm Street. The idea of being hunted in your dreams unnerved me. I watched that for the first time in elementary school and I don’t think I slept properly for several weeks! Candyman also had a big influence on me growing up. Since the movie took place in Chicago, the urban legend was cemented in the culture of the time. In fact, it’s been nearly 20 years for me and I still won’t say the name five times! As an adult, these films don’t frighten me as much as they did when I was younger, but now I’m more able to appreciate them as films and analyze why I enjoyed them so much in the first place.
E : I honestly can’t remember the very first horror movie I saw, but I do remember the first one that really stuck with me, which was a movie called Darkness Falls. It’s about an evil tooth fairy who comes and kills you when you lose your last tooth. It’s a very early 2000s horror movie and I haven’t watched it since I was a kid, but I do have a bit of a soft spot for that era of horror movies. My tastes have changed and I’d like to say they’ve improved, but I still like those ridiculous killers and movies that have kind of a silly premise. I think the biggest way I’ve changed is I definitely gravitate more towards gore and body horror than I ever did when I was younger. I also used to take horror movies at face value and it took me a very long time to really dig deeper and realize that they have a lot more to say than meets the eye.
Which films are for you overrated and, on the contrary, underrated?
E : I don’t really ever consider something overrated, because people like what they like and just because I don’t quite get it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve that praise. I do think that as a genre, paranormal gets a bit too oversaturated for me. It’s so hard to put a new spin on them these days so I feel like I tend to steer clear of them a lot more lately.
R : There aren’t very many movies I consider “overrated” as I can enjoy most movies to some degree. My least favorite sub-genre would be anything centered around torture. I watched Saw for the detective story, not the traps. I think people are sleeping on the growing horror market in South Korea. Train to Busan is one of my favorite zombie films to date and the recently released Squid Game is a fun take on the death games sub-genre.
I haven’t seen it. But there are a bunch of really good movies out there. The Priests of Chae-hyŏn Chang is one of my favorites. A Tale of Two Sisters and Divine Fury aren’t bad either.
R : I think in the coming years we’re going to see a lot of competition from Asia within the horror market.
Which directors do you find most relevant to the genre?
R : There are so many contributors to the horror space, it would be impossible to list them all. Many directors have become synonymous with horror like Wes Craven, Stephen King, John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock etc. Some of my personal favorites include Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, Guillermo Del Toro, and George A. Romero.
E : I think Mike Flanagan has been doing some great stuff with that genre though, and has made me take another look at it. As far as underrated, I’d say Cube (1997) is a movie that I feel like flies under the radar. If your a fan of movies with traps but also a bit of mystery and suspense, then this is one I always recommend.
What movies did you like most to discuss on your podcast channel?
R : The perk of there being two of us is that we have different tastes and preferences. Erika has a strong foundation in classic horror while I’ve explored more recent films in the genre. It’s great because we can regularly introduce each other to films we may have missed! We like covering movies we both enjoyed, but we also aren’t afraid to discuss movies that we didn’t. We try our best to keep our reviews fair, but honest. If we don’t like something, we explain why and if we disagree with each other we stay open minded. Reviews are subjective and that’s important to remember when navigating this medium. We all think and feel differently and some of the best conversation can be derived from exploring that space.
E : Exactly. We’ve had some great discussions come out of movies we disagreed on. It’s nice because we both gravitate towards different subgenres and different aspects of horror that really speak to us, so sometimes we will both go into a movie craving totally different things. I love when we cover movies that we’ve both never seen, which can be kind of rare unless the movie is brand new. I also enjoy looking at 80s/90s movies and I can’t turn down a teen slasher. Roshane has helped me really embrace horror comedies more, so I also really enjoy reviewing those as well.
Beyond its aesthetics, the horror film is often considered a detrimental societal vector. More precisely, it is perceived as a cultural object which maintains the culture of fear. There is some existential stuff at stake here. What is your opinion on this?
R : I think that really comes down to what the horror movie is trying to say or do within the genre. On a base level, horror movies offer people a relatively safe space to explore the nuance of fear. Most fear stems from a fear of the unknown. By exploring fear through film, we are offered an opportunity to meditate on what actually frightens us. What are we afraid of and why? The horror genre is rooted in this idea and good horror cinema offers insight into that question.
E : If you look back through the decades of horror, it’s wild to see how the time really influenced the style and the things that were perceived as frightening. It benefits from tapping into societal fears and throwing that back at the audience. I think it’ll be wild to look back in 20 years at the horror movies that we have now and remember what everyone was afraid of then. How different will it be? Fear is the heartbeat of horror. It thrives on it, and we as the audience are desperate for that scare. It’s a relationship that will be constantly evolving as our fears shift.
I tend to think it’s fishy all the same that the horror film is so demonized when you think of the 1960s and 1970s, when some of the best horror films were made. One can think of Night of the Living Dead, more than just a zombie movie, which forces the discussion on the racism and vilipendency of African Americans. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which displays the incredible violence and savagery of America today. The Cold War, the assassinations of Malcolm X, JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the influence of Charles Manson, among others are historical events that governments probably wanted to deal with themselves without the horror films do not interfere.
R : Agreed. Sometimes the scariest thing to do is to take a look in the mirror and see things for how they are. Real life horror exists all around us, horror movies just serve as an interpretation of that.
E : It’s funny to me that so many people are saying that horror is becoming more political now, or has an agenda. It’s always been that way. You could make the argument that maybe it was slightly more nuanced in the past, so much so that you wouldn’t even notice it. But it’s still always been there. As I said, our fears change with the current climate, and you can see that in horror movies. They have underlying voices, which maybe isn’t always welcomed. However, I think it’s so important that horror directors and writers continue to push the envelope and weave commentary on current issues into their films. Horror can be just enjoyed for what it is, but it should still be allowed to make a statement.
Horror films have always reflected the history of society more than the history and the society as it is often presented. Isolation, crowding, and absence of truth will be the future of movies in my opinion.
R : I agree with isolation 100%. The pandemic gave the entire world a taste of isolation and now it’s become something that most people can relate to. Fear of disease is likely to inspire more infection and contagion films moving forward as well. Technology is evolving at an incredible rate, so we could see a rise in sci-fi and tech focused films. also, with the civil unrest happening here in the
States, along with the increased minority influence in the film industry, we are seeing more films exploring racism and race relations and I think that will continue going forward.
E : Agreed. I think we’ll see an increase within all those topics. Definitely more infection movies in the future. I’d love to see a new take on a zombie. Probably more movies focused on the apocalypse in some sort of capacity. Fear and mistrust of the government or those in charge will probably also get played into more.
Do you ever think of doing a podcast on the meaning and future of horror film?
E : Absolutely. That’s a pretty big topic, so we’d want to really put some thought and research behind it. I’d love to do some sort of breakdown of past, present, and future horror. Where it’s been and where it’s going. We’re so excited for the future of it, especially now that it’s become an even bigger part of our lives.
R : Personally, I love the idea, but I think I have a long way to go before I could accurately comment on that. There is still so much in the present and in the past of this genre that I have yet to explore. The future of horror is looking bright though, that much I believe!
Exciting news! People should definitely get in touch with your works then! By the way, on what platforms can we access your podcasts?
We’re Homies Of Horror on all our platforms!
Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/homies-of-horror
We release new episodes every Monday!
It was a great pleasure to talk to you. There’s nothing like a truly sharp horror movie!
R : The pleasure is all ours! We appreciate you taking the time to get to know us! Hopefully we’ve made a long term Homie out of you as well!
It’s not even a question Roshane!
E : Thank you again for talking with us. We could talk about horror all day so this was such a blast!