Anne Rice, Jerry Rice, Condoleeza Rice … and now Leslie Rice joins those cultural titans as the most celebrated Rice since Uncle Ben’s.
Leslie Rice aka Fear Fan, is the creator, writer, director and star of the web series Terror Obscura in which he offers his wry and incisive look at various horror films from the obscure (duh) to the mainstream and from enjoyably bad Golden Turkeys to genuine classics. In my opinion out of the countless web shows that offer film criticism Terror Obscura is the most consistently watchable and Rice’s commentary provides genuine analysis, not just a synopsis of the movie being reviewed.
Balladeer’s Blog’s recommendations would include Leslie’s detailed analysis of the Nightmare on Elm Street series plus his hilarious takes on stinkers like Funhouse and Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla. There are plenty of others to choose from including his new feature, Fright Bytes, in which Leslie offers much briefer takes on all things horror.
Growing up in St Louis, MO Mr Rice began flirting with horror films by viewing the movies his parents would let him rent from the video store at the end of the street. His youthful favorites included Godzilla, Rodan, the Universal horror films plus Old School science fiction like Forbidden Planet.
When he turned 16 Leslie took his earlier dabbling in horror films to the next level. Enjoying the new freedom offered by a driver’s license and the income from his first job, Fear Fan dove into the harder stuff like Nightmare on Elm Street, Predator, Candyman and Aliens.
The college years came along and Rice, still based in St Louis, put his enthusiasm to practical use by reviewing movies for the college newspaper and then for his internship. His move into online video reviews will be covered in the body of the interview.
Leslie’s early career as a riverboat pilot along the Mississippi has been extensively documented and I think we’re all very familiar with his heroics after the sinking of PT 109 (damn show-off) so I began the interview on a more personal note:
Balladeer’s Blog: How long have you been dating Lindsay Lohan?
Leslie Rice: Only since she’s hit rock bottom. We met when she drove her car through my living room, and we’ve been a thing ever since.
BB: What was “the senses-shattering origin” of your Terror Obscura webcasts?
LR: I’d just discovered a cool subculture that had sprung up on the internet – other people who loved bad and cheesy movies and who enjoyed giving them the most scathing reviews they could. It was good fun but there was one thing in particular that I looked forward to every year – James Rolfe’s Monster Madness. What made Monster Madness unique was that the reviews weren’t all negative and they weren’t just about weird, bad or obscure movies. I remember saying “It’s a shame someone doesn’t do something like this year ’round.” Well as soon as I said it, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I could be that guy.
BB: How did you get started?
LR: I’d taken a few classes in video production at college and HD camcorders were getting cheaper all the time. I got in touch with various other internet reviewers to find out what sort of equipment they used and by December 2010 I put out my first video. Since then I’ve been picked up by Agony Booth and a few other sites and had quite a good time doing it.
BB: So Terror Obscura has always been a webcast and not text reviews?
LR: It’s funny, but before I came up with the idea of doing my own video review show I had written several rough drafts for text recaps that I was going to submit to the Agony Booth. It’s kind of weird that they actually contacted ME after I put up my first few videos. Videos are a completely different animal than my old text reviews and I think they provide a wider range of opportunities for comedians.
BB: Any plans to expand into other formats?
LR: I must admit, it would be pretty awesome if I could do it on tv. The old tv horror hosts were always cool and it would be great to have a shot at being the next Joe Bob Briggs.
BB: Do you plan to pursue movie reviewing as a profession or simply as a sideline?
LR: Well, going pro has always been the dream, but at the moment it doesn’t seem like an option. Currently I’m working about 60 hours a week between two jobs and my reviews generate between $15 and $25 a month. Still, I’ve set some goals for myself and if I ever reach them I’ll probably give professional reviewing a shot.
BB: Any behind the scenes people at Terror Obscura you’d like to give a shoutout?
LR: For the most part it’s a one-man show but I’d still like to give a nod to Lewis Lovehaug aka Linkara for his valuable advice when I was just starting out. Also to Brad Jones aka the Cinema Snob for his encouragement and to the staff of the Agony Booth and the other websites my show appears on for inviting me and hosting my material.
BB: Your analysis of horror icon Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies is well known. Any plans to review the television series Freddy’s Nightmares?
LR: For a while now I’ve had some ideas for some further Freddy- related episodes. One is for an episode I’m calling All Things Freddy where I’ll look at other aspects of the Freddy phenomenon. I’d probably include a look at Freddy’s Nightmares, some of the merchandise from years past and maybe even some of the books based around him. Also, after Freddy’s Dead I thought about doing an episode called Everything Wrong with Freddy’s Dead where I would simply take a deep breath then list everything stupid about that wretched movie. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure that would kill me so I’m putting it on the back burner for now.
BB: How about your quick takes on the following figures from horror cinema. First – Jason Voorhees –
LR: Interesting example of how screen villains can evolve over time. He wasn’t even in the first movie, he didn’t get his mask until the third and it wasn’t until the sixth film that he became the unstoppable Frankensteinian superzombie that we all know and love. When he’s done right he’s awesome but in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing … well, just take a look at Jason Goes To Hell. or better yet, don’t.
BB: – Michael Myers –
LR: Horror fans owe John Carpenter a debt of gratitude for this one, and the first two movies are great. That said the sequels step onto shakey ground in Part 4 and start a steady downhill march after that. H20 is acceptable, but still rather tame even when you compare it to other fare that was made around the same time. Probably the low point is the infamous Snoop Dogg line “Trick or Treat, motherfucker!” If you watch that line closely you can detect a slight pause after “trick or treat” and you can actually see Mr Dogg cringing at what he’s about to say next. As for the Rob Zombie remake … well … not as terrible as some people seem to think, but the sequel is EXACTLY as bad as people say and worse.
BB: – Pinhead –
LR: Ah, a great character with a great story behind him. I assume you are talking about the Hellraiser Pinhead and not the Puppet Master one, right? Although a mashup of the two would be infinitely entertaining. (Photoshop of Doug Bradley’s head on the puppet’s body. Audio – a high-pitched helium voice: “Your suffering will be legendary even in Hell!”) Anyway, DB is great in all the films he appears in but unfortunately not all the films he appears in are great films. At least he had the smarts to duck out of the last one.
BB: – The Tall Man from the Phantasm series –
LR: Now you’re talking! Phantasm was an absolute joy for me to find! A year or so after Halloween (when I was 16) I invited some friends over for the night and we rented the first film in the series. Two hours later we returned to rent the second movie. Two hours later we returned to get the third and fourth. I think Phantasm is a great series and Angus Scrimm was one of the things that made it memorable. Don Coscarelli says that he’s content to leave it where it lays but if John Dies at the End is a success, then who knows what the future may hold.
BB: – Chucky –
LR: The first three films are worth it and its all mainly due to the excellent voice talent of Brad Dourif. The man knows how to go from zero to crazy in .6 seconds. Anyway, even with him I’d avoid Bride and Seed of Chucky.
BB: – Herbert West from the Re-Animator films –
LR: Jeffrey Combs was a great pick and his collaborations with Stuart Gordon are always worth a watch. Lovecraft himself probably would be mortified by what they turned one of his least favorite stories into, but as for me, I’m still drooling over the prospect of House of Re-Animator.
BB: – Ghostface –
LR: An interesting character if only for the fact that no single person has BEEN Ghostface for more than a single movie. I love the Scream films and I think it sort of plays into the whole “meta” aspect of the franchise that every character after Billy and Stu in the series is essentially doing a “Ghostface impression”. They aren’t the original, but they’re acting like him based on what they’ve seen in the Stab films based off Billy and Stu’s murders.
BB: – Jigsaw from the Saw films –
LR: Pretty cool but after the first two things just sort of ran out of steam. I like that John Kramer is essentially trying to “help” people to live better lives and the only bright spots in the worst Saw sequels are the scenes where he discusses his philosophy. It’s interesting to have a villain motivated by a personal philosophy rather than supernatural revenge.
BB: – Coffin Joe –
LR: Haven’t seen any of his films, but I’ve heard great things and whenever I can get hold of a set I’ll be sure to give them a shot.
BB: – Paul Naschy –
LR: Always fun, even though I tend to concentrate on U.S. and U.K. stuff.
BB: – the Ramsay Brothers –
LR: On my “to-do” list.
BB: – Jorg Buttgereit –
LR: I saw some of Nekromantik at a party once and it didn’t do too much for me. If I want arthouse I’ll probably stick with the beautiful work Argento has done.
BB: – Angela from the Sleepaway Camp films –
LR: The first film was great and the twist was absolutely unforgettable. On top of that the special effects were pretty damn good. As for the sequels, the less said the better.
BB: Do you consider the infamous Italian cannibal movies of the 70’s and 80’s to be a legitimate subgenre of horror?
LR: I absolutely do. Whenever a number of films echo each other in theme, content or visual style I feel that it can be grouped into a legitimate subgenre. Take a look at the recent Found Footage subgenre or the Torture Porn subgenre. Now sometimes these can overlap, such as how The Last Exorcism is both a Found Footage movie and an Exorcism movie.
BB: Do you view the Human Centipede films as horror or torture porn or something else?
LR: Well that’s a bit of an interesting question and for the answer I suppose we have to look to two factors: What the film was intended to do and how the film was received by audiences. Now take a look at Salo, a film that is every bit as grotesque and horrifying as The Human Centipede. According to the man who made the movie (Salo) was meant to be a statement about how dehumanizing the fascist government of Spain was. If you look at it from a purely technical standpoint the film appears to have been shot in a way that was meant to be artistic. From this we can assume that it was not INTENDED to be a horror movie. However, audiences have reacted to it with horror, so does that mean it IS horror? Personally I think not.
BB: Could you elaborate on that point?
LR: The filmmaker wanted to horrify people, but he wanted to fill them with disgust for the type of people who would create a situation like the one in the film. They did react with horror but that horror was directed at the film itself rather than the intended target. Therefore I would classify it as an arthouse movie, albeit one that failed to deliver its intended message. Now, by those same criteria if you were to take a look at The Human Centipede what was its orginal intention? To horrify the audience by forcing them to ask what it would be like if they were in the same situation. Did the audience react with horror? Yes. Therefore The Human Centipede is unambiguously a horror film and as such it is subject to the same classifications as other horror movies. In this, the only category it falls into is Torture Porn, so yeah, it’s a Torture Porn horror movie.
BB: I’m making you the official dictator of horror cinema for one day – what horror film trend would you like to see go away forever?
LR: Nothing really. Yeah, jump scares are annoying, but when you get someone who actually knows how to do them properly they can be great. That said, long, lingering shots focusing on human suffering for no reason are something I particularly hate. Do I mind watching something grotesque happen to someone? Not really. But it makes me uncomfortable when the camera seems to LEER at the damage, as if the filmmaker was really getting something out of watching someone in pain. Again, it could be effective if used in the right circumstances but mainly it’s used by either sick fucks who enjoy seeing people hurt or by directors who assume that the audience are sick fucks who just like to see human suffering.
BB: Do you have a favorite silent horror film and if so how influential do you think it was?
LR: I’m going to go for the easy answer here and say Nosferatu. There are plenty of other great silent horror films out there but Nosferatu introduced at least one major part of major vampire lore – the sun kills vampires – and has inspired a number of other cinematic bloodsuckers over the years.
BB: Do you have a favorite era of cinematic horror?
LR: The 80’s for sure. These days, so many people are so desperate to make REALISTIC horror movies or GRITTY horror movies. It seems like most people have forgotten how to make FUN horror movies. Back then, you had so many films that are just a blast to watch. Were there guts and gore? Sure, but there was also a sort of “hey kids, watch this” wink to it. I’m not saying that particular brand of horror is dead, mind you. Just take a look at this last year’s Cabin in the Woods.
BB: Who were your biggest horror influences growing up?
LR: Well, my Big Three are probably the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Friday the 13th and Phantasm. I know it seems a little mainstream, but we all start somewhere, right?
BB: Were you an EC Comics guy?
LR: To the core! I of course didn’t grow up during the period when they were first really popular but I WAS exposed to them through the Tales From The Crypt series that was on during my youth. They actually reprinted some of the old stories in text format and sold them as kid’s books around that time and I remember owning two or three of them.
BB: Which do you find more overdone right now – vampires or zombies?
LR: Vampires, but mainly because the zombie movies continue to be … well … interesting. I mean, zombies get cool stuff like Zombieland and the upcoming Warm Bodies, but vampires? Mainly it seems like the vampire market is pandering to teen girls at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, though, I would love to see some really great vampire films but for that to happen people need to be willing to play with the genre a little bit more.
BB: If there was an official Terror Obscura film festival being held what would be the 6 must-have quality films and the 6 must-have Golden Turkeys?
LR: Jeez … only 6 of each? Well … 1. Alien for sci-fi 2. Hellraiser for the artistic flair 3. A Nightmare on Elm Street for surreal horror 4. Friday the 13th Part VI for straight-up slasher goodness 5. Cube for an example of how to do a damn good movie on a shoestring budget 6. The Fly for Cronenberg, need I say more? By Golden Turkeys I assume you mean films that are awful but still somehow compellingly watchable. 1. House of the Dead for Uwe Boll 2. Jason Goes to Hell for an example of how people can completely miss the point of an entire franchise 3. Silent Night, Deadly Night II for ACTING!!! 4. Troll 2 … Just, Troll 2. That’s all I have to say. 5. Carnosaur 2 – Play the drinking game. One drink for every plot point stolen from Aliens. Seriously, don’t play it or you’ll die from alcohol poisoning. 6. The Piranha remake – underwater skank ballet.
BB: Are you familiar with the horror comic Hack/Slash in which the heroine is an archetypal Last Girl who hunts down and kills slashers?
LR: I haven’t read it yet, but I was lucky enough to be introduced to it this past Halloween. Linkara mentioned it in a special he was doing at the time and I’m hoping to get my hands on a trade paperback soon.
BB: For readers who may be curious is there a Mrs Fear Fan?
LR: Sadly, no, but not for lack of trying. I did have one attractive female fan offer to buy me a drink if I’m ever in New York and I’m always open to meeting new people, so hey, who knows what the future may bring.
BB: Care to tease Terror Obscura fans with a taste of what 2013 has in store?
LR: Well, I’ll be starting Season 2 soon and I’ll be kicking it off with a review of Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead. After that I’ll be reviewing the entire Friday the 13th series, so in all it’s going to be a busy year.
That wraps it up! Be sure to check out Leslie Rice’s entertaining web series Terror Obscura! The episodes are free but if you mention Balladeer’s Blog you’ll get an additional 10% off!
TO WATCH TERROR OBSCURA EPISODES CLICK HERE: http://www.agonybooth.com/video_shows/Terror_Obscura/
AND FOR BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MOVIE HOST RANDY CLOWER CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2011/12/22/randy-clower-balladeers-blog-interviews-a-movie-host-legend/
FOR MORE MOVIE HOST ARTICLES CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/movie-hosts/
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.