Horror Movie Survival Guide interview: podcaster Julia Marchese talks all things horror

Horror Movie Survival Guide’s Julia Marchese on Nightmare On Elm Street, Final Exam, IT and more

To celebrate the 50th episode of Julia Marchese and Marion Kerr’s podcast, Horror Movie Survival Guide, we had a chat with Julia about final girls, her love of genre and the women’s obsession and adoration of Radish from Final Exam.

It’s a podcast born out of friendship, with Julia introducing Marion to horror films while at college. Marion had never seen a horror movie, period, so Julia convinced her to give Wes Craven’s original 1984 Nightmare On Elm Street a try. Marion loved it, and especially loved Nancy because she’s such ‘an awesome booby-trap-setting-doesn’t-need-help-from-anyone Final Girl.’

From there, they took on the quest to watch every horror movie in the horror section of their local video store, Gold Star Video, about 250 films in total and kept a notebook about their venture that year. Now, as grown women, Julia and Marion are revisiting the horror movie notebook, re-watching the films in it and breaking down each one.

SciFiNow: If you could play any horror character from film history who would it be and why?

Julia Marchese: This is an exciting question, since we’re both actresses, and have talked about this very question! Although playing the villain is tempting, playing the Final Girl is so much more fun, with more depth and character development.

Marion loves atmospheric horror, like The Changeling and Lady In White, and the scariest movie to her is Rosemary’s Baby. Playing Rosemary would have been such a fun, intense challenge, getting into her head and dealing with the ultimate betrayal at the end.

I’m more into hard core gore fests, and – even though it was a notoriously hellish shoot – would love to have tackled the role of Sally in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I think it would have been an amazing experience to live a horror film like that for several weeks, and to play a character that really earns her Final Girl title, after all she goes through in the film. Harrowing!

In episode 2 of your podcast you talk about Final Exam, can you explain to the readers why you love the character Radish so much?

Because we were determined to watch every horror film at Gold Star Video (which was just a random selection of whatever films the owners chose to carry) and we were choosing the titles based on VHS cover art, we sometimes went through long slogs of very bad films. But every once in a while, a film would come along and blindside us with its awesomeness, and Final Exam is one of those. On the surface it’s just another college campus slash-em-up, but the characters and killer make it a little something extra.

Radish is our favourite horror character because he is the precursor to modern-meta-horror characters – Final Exam was released in 1981, before self-awareness in horror movie became a thing, so it’s way ahead of its time. Radish is obsessed with horror and serial killers, knows every little detail, and realises that the world is full of psychopaths just waiting to strike, so it’s up to him to learn how to survive. Violence doesn’t take him by surprise, since he has been mentally preparing for it his whole life, and he snaps into action like nobodies’ business. He’s also so charmingly in love with the main character, Courtney, and will do anything to save her. And he listens to show tunes while studying next to the dot matrix print out of his own face. What’s not to love?

In your podcast you delve into horror history, but what titles have been your highlights in the current crop of modern horror films?

From the last couple of years, I really loved Oculus directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Karen Gillan. The film is brutal, clever, and features Gillan as one of the most kickass horror heroines in recent years – she has her stuff figured out, she has a plan, and she is going to beat this thing (in Oculus‘ case, a haunted mirror – what a cool villain!). Oculus also features a practical effect so amazing that it made me stand up and cheer in the theatre.

We also both loved the IT remake that came out last year. Although we are mainly against the sequel and remake train and would never say a bad thing about Tim Curry, the 1990 version of IT was made for television – and if you have read the Stephen King novel, you know that IT is an uber-violent story about children being killed – not something that can really be shown on network TV. This new version was so great because the actors were so superb – we fell in love with every character, just like reading the novel, and it was a bit like Stand By Me, with horror elements added.

Tell us all about your favourite gory practical effect in horror.

Tina’s death in the original Nightmare On Elm Street is still – over 30 years later – one of the most shocking, brutal and amazing on-screen deaths in cinema history. We have never shown the film to someone who has not flipped out about how incredible this scene is. They actually built a spinning room to achieve this effect, only had one take to get it right, and it is absolutely mind blowing. That’s why Nightmare On Elm Street still holds up today – because the effects are practical and look just as astounding today as they did in 1984.

You can tune into the 50th podcast from 25 June and listen to Julia and Marion chat more horror here: http://indiepopcorn.fm/series/horror-movie-survival-guide/