With tomorrow being , what better time is there to chat about all things strange and spooky? That is what we're hoping to do today as we share another entry in our Netflix Halloween series.
Earlier this week, , where the winner will receive a free six-month subscription courtesy of Netflix Canada. Today, we're talking Halloween with Dave Alexander, the editor-in-chief of , who is one of the foremost experts in horror entertainment out there. We always enjoy sharing a new perspective on the present state of television, so we hope you enjoy this discussion. (If you want to see some Halloween-themed Netflix highlights, then just scroll down to the bottom of this article.)
CARTERMATT - WHAT DO YOU THINK PERSONALLY IS DRIVING THIS NEW REVOLUTION OF THE HORROR / SUSPENSE GENRE ON TV?
I think it's a reflection of the popularity of horror in general, and since studios chase what's popular, huge shows such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, Dexter and Supernatural have opened the door to even more horror programming. The other key factor is the rise of cable stations, which show more adult-friendly content. Imagine how lame The Walking Dead would be on a major network, with the gore and violence stripped out of it, or how tame True Blood would be without the sex and bloodletting. You'd be left with, I dunno, the whiny faeries? Ugh
IS THERE ANYTHING TO YOU THAT CONSTITUTES A GREAT WORK OF HORROR, VERSUS SOMETHING MORE DERIVATIVE OR CLICH ?
Great works of horror generally bring something new to the genre, which can happen in a variety of ways. One is to create a new subgenre and/or aesthetic, which is what The Blair Witch Project did by creating the modern found footage horror movie. Or sometimes a great twist on an existing subgenre has great results, such as the Paranormal Activity series, which took the found footage movie into the home and added a surveillance element. Sometimes it's a new combination of existing elements, such as in James' Wan's Insidious, which recombined classic haunted house scares in a new way. Or sometimes just a really creepy setting can reframe familiar elements, such as Session 9, which is disturbing in large part to its amazing setting in the decaying Danvers State Hospital. And you can't discount the drawing power of groundbreaking special effects, such as Brundlefly transformation in David Cronenberg's The Fly or the gorgeous creatures of Pan's Labyrinth. You can apply all of this to TV, of course; The Walking Dead not only delivers technical quality, great writing and strong performances, it has taken zombies and gore gags to new levels of outrageous and gross. Similarly, Being Human takes well worn supernatural creatures and gives them a new setting as flat mates, while exploring the drama of trying to remain hidden and fit into the human world. True Blood tweaked those classic monster mythologies a bit but also really sexed everything up, so suddenly we're learning all about the sex lives of the fanged and ferocious.
WE'VE OBVIOUSLY SEEN THE TREND OF MANY VAMPIRE-RELATED TV SHOWS, AND NOW SERIAL KILLERS AND WITCHES ARE WHAT THE INDUSTRY IS GETTING THEIR KICKS FROM. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE SUPERNATURAL (I.E. GHOSTS, MORE ZOMBIES) THAT YOU THINK IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT BIG TV TREND?
Hard to say, as when something hits, it hits. Could Hemlock Grove, Being Human and True Blood help get a specifically werewolf-themed show off the ground maybe? The popularity of demons and demonic possession in films could lead to something along those lines -- there just has to be an exorcism-themed drama in the works. And while sharks are wildly popular on reality TV, wouldn't it be cool to see a Lovecraftian TV drama with all kinds of salt water horrors?
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME OF THE HIDDEN GEMS OF HORROR-RELATED TV THAT YOU THINK VIEWERS OUT THERE SHOULD CHECK OUT?
That's a bit of a tough one because when it comes to horror-themed television, it's either wildly popular or dies right away because it's terrible -- faster than other genres of television because the fans are so ravenous and passionate. For new stuff, I think Falling Skies might be overlooked by horror fans because it's more of a sci-fi show with a prime time audience, but I really like the creature design of the aliens and some of the nasty stuff they do, such as enslaving humans with Cronenberg-like parasites, which is pretty unnerving and gross. And if you haven't been watching the horror-themed stuff the BBC is doing, you're missing out. I love the Dead Set zombie-themed mini-series from a few years ago, The Fades was great while it lasted, and I just finished watching the first season of In the Flesh, which approaches the undead subgenre from a fresh angle. For old stuff, I've always loved shows like the Jack Palance-hosted Ripley's Believe It or Not and the Leonard Nimoy-narrated In Search Of , which offer up some freaky reality-based chills (and some admittedly ridiculous schlock, which can also be fun).
NOW THAT THEY ARE A FEW SEASONS INTO THEIR RUN, WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOWS LIKE THE WALKING DEAD AND AMERICAN HORROR STORY CAN DO IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO SCARE AND SURPRISE? AT A CERTAIN POINT, YOU WONDER THAT VIEWERS MAY BE CONDITIONED TO FEAR.
Well, seeing as American Horror Story hits the reset button for every season, it's essentially a new show every year, so as long as they can deliver one long story that creeps us out, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Walking Dead is giving us an epic sweeping narrative, but since it's so grounded in its characters, with the zombies, more of a backdrop, it's biggest challenge is probably a combination of ballooning actor salaries combined with an audience that is increasingly tired of zombies in pop culture. But with such an epic story arc, so many possibilities for spin-offs and the fact that they're not afraid to kill off cast members (well, except for Daryl, maybe), I can there being some form of The Walking Dead on TV for some time. You do wonder just how many zombie gore gags they've got up their sleeves, though
WHAT TV SHOW WOULD YOU CHECK OUT EVERY HALLOWEEN TO GET YOUR FIX IF YOU HAD A CHANCE?
It's not an ongoing show, but I used to love watching Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow cartoon every Halloween and think I need to bring that tradition back. You can never can't ever go wrong with The Simpson's Halloween episode either. And finally, you can't talk about monsters on TV without paying respects to The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, which is like an old friend that I need to revisit on a regular basis.If you are an "American Horror Story" fan, we'll have a full review of the episode airing tonight up by the morning at the latest, but if you're looking for something great to watch this Halloween on Netflix Canada, you should get a gist of what they have to offer in the image below. (Just click to enlarge.)