HORROR BUSINESS Episode 11: Honey, Put That Found Footage Back Where You Found It

Episode XI: Honey, Put That Found Footage Back Where You Found It

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Greetings miscreants, and welcome back to Horror Business, the podcast that wants you to keep filming NO MATTER WHAT. We have a powerhouse of an episode in store for you, and as always your inexplicable decision to keep listening to us warms our weird hearts, because without you we are shouting nonsense into the void. Even with you it’s likely we are doing just that!

This episode we wrestle with the concept of found footage and documentary style horror films, specifically 2013’s Final Prayer (also released under the alternative title The Borderlands) and the 1992 BBC special Ghostwatch. Our goal was to figure out the appeal of “found footage” horror movies and what makes a good found footage film versus a bad one.

We open up the episode by talking about some films we had seen recently, including the 2014’s Clown, 2016’s Don’t Breathe, and 2016’s I Am Not A Serial Killer. You all get a wonderful little history lesson of the Lehigh Valley’s oldest drive in theatre, the illustrious Becky’s Drive In. We continue by discussing Blair Witch, which we were not one hundred percent (or even fifty percent) crazy about. Sorry, Blair Witch people. Finally, wrapping up the “what we’ve been doing lately” segment is Liam’s brief summary of his experiences at the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival and our Wednesday night outing to Brooklyn for the Miskatonic Institute event with Jack Ketchum (more info on that can be found here).

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Our first film of this episode is Final Prayer. We begin the discussion on this film by giving a brief summary of what “found footage” means, and the methods and history behind the genre. We discuss the weaknesses of such a technique and the potential shortcomings of employing such a technique. The way the filmmakers of Final Prayer get around the “why am I watching this?” question is discussed. The use of “documentary” style camera setups in creating tension and fear is discussed, as is the lack of a Cloverfield moment i.e. a dramatic and powerful yet improbable reveal of the monster. As Liam aptly states, “if you have the money for a giant payoff in a found footage movie, just make a movie.” We talk about the British subgenre of horror focusing on some ancient pagan evil re-emerging into modern society, the role of faith and Christian anxiety in this movie, and the way complex philosophical ideas in the church are presented in this movie. We finish up our discussion of Final Prayer by talking about how England and English culture is almost a character in itself in the movie, which exceeds in a way that the “it’s buried on an ancient Indian burial ground!” trope in American horror movie often fails to do.

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The second film in our episode is the 1992 BBC special Ghostwatch. We begin this segment by explaining how Ghostwatch differs from the typical found footage movie in that it doesn’t present itself as footage from a missing party but rather a TV special that bites off more than it can chew. The interactive nature of the original special and how that nature lent it a feel of authenticity is discussed. The similarity to Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds is discussed, with the opinion given that this production was actually far more realistic than that broadcast. We talk about the context of the special and how it was largely unprecedented in it’s nature and how that made it that much more believable, as well as the “prankish” nature of the special at times.

As always thanks to everyone and anyone who checked this episode out, or shared a tweet/shared a post on FB/gave us love by recommending us to someone. We love you forever for listening. Any questions, comments, suggestions for movies and guests, or if you yourself want to join us for a movie viewing or even an episode, can be sent to thehorrorbiz@gmail.com. Big thanks to new member of the Cinepunx team, Jamie Burchardt who edited all the audio for this episode, our first episode not edited by Liam! Thanks again to Justin Miller and Doug Tilley for their technical contributions, Mike Smaczylo for the awesome fliers, and also thanks to Josh “Foghorn Leghorn” Alvarez for the theme song, and HUGE thank you to anyone who retweeted us or shared something on Facebook that we posted. Follow us on Twitter at @thehorrorbiz666, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/thehorrorbiz66, and remember to rate, review, and subscribe to us on ITunes! Until next time…thanks!

 

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Justin Lore

Justin Lore

Greetings and salutations. My name is Justin Lore, and in addition to being a real life pawn star, an obsessive dog dad, and a falsely accused Lovecraft apologist, I am the creator and co-host of the podcast Horror Business and the communications manager and assistant editor of Cinepunx. I saw Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ at the age of six and horror films have been a large part of my life since then. Favorite directors include John Carpenter, George Romero, David Lynch, James Cameron, Wes Anderson, and David Cronenberg. I don’t eat animals, I abstain from the partaking of drugs and alcohol, I think ‘Friday The 13th’ is the most overrated franchise in film history and if I ever saw Metallica live and they played ‘Blackened’ there’s a decent chance I’d be led out in handcuffs because the pit would get murdered.
Justin Lore

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  1. […] The next day, the school yard was of course abuzz with talk of the programme and frankly how it had scared the shit out of all of us, despite the fact that we probably shouldn’t have been watching it. But the brilliant thing was, it was all bullshit, part of the BBC’s Screen One series. It actually had opening credits with writer Stephen Volk credited, but we were kids, we didn’t pay attention to that. Another draw for us is that Greene spent a fair amount of time previously presenting children’s television — we knew her intimately, and more than that, we trusted her. It turned out that the house scenes were shot a month and a half previously, so everyone in the live studio were just reacting to footage they had already seen. Still, when we saw Greene disappearing and Parkinson start mumbling nursery rhymes while his eyes went all crazy and the studio lights died, we were absolutely terrified, to the point where Greene had to go on TV a few days later to explain to the kids that she hadn’t really been violently murdered by a pesky poltergeist named Pipes. Having watched it as an adult, knowing it was actually a drama, it was still a thrilling experience and quite chilling. It was really well put together from concept to execution, and is the kind of fresh and risky drama that doesn’t really happen anymore; I guess the American equivalent would be the Orson Welles radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. There was a phone number given out during the show which keyed callers into it being a fictional show, but so many called it that it was just constantly jammed. We all heard the stories that came after, that a kid had killed himself over it, and that the BBC were in big trouble. Sadly, it was true. A teenager with learning difficulties who was apparently obsessed with the show committed suicide, and the BBC eventually apologised after the Broadcast Standards Committee said Ghostwatch was “excessively distressing and graphic.” The programme was not repeated for a decade and was generally unavailable until a 2002 DVD release. Despite that tragic postlude, Ghostwatch remains a wonderful curiosity, an example of fearlessly innovative television and a brilliantly put-together film that still holds up as a document of a once in a lifetime event and a genuinely scary treat. Seek it out, but a word of warning: when you put your heating on and the pipes begin to squeal, just make sure you check them. You never know what might be around. Ghostwatch is available to stream on Shudder. Listen to the Ghostwatch episode of Horror Business here. […]

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