In an upcoming issue of NIGHTSHADE:
INTERVIEW WITH DR. BLOOD, WEBMASTER OF DR. BLOOD'S VIDEO VAULT
CONDUCTED BY LUCINDA MACGREGOR
We want to highly recommend the site for its variety of horror materials,
film reviews, goth models' photos, chat section, etc., plus its overall
entertainment values and the entire layout.
A truly well-done website devoted to the horror genre. Thus it seemed appropriate to seek an interview with Dr. Blood.
Q) How did you develop your interest in the horror genre?
This is a very tricky question to answer. I think
it must have been due to Hammer horror films and the old black and white
Universal horror movies I watched as a child. There is a film that I remember
called "I Walked With a
Zombie" which I adore and it was shown
by the BBC in a season of the old Universal horror films. I used to
stay up late and watch them until closedown . . . yes, there was a time when
TV ended at around 11 p.m. here . . . that was true horror! Anyway,
I watched all of them, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and the Mummy, Bela
Lugosi as Dracula, and my favorite, Lon Chaney, Jr., as the Wolf Man. I
didn't limit myself only to horror films though. I also loved watching
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and even watched Jimmy Stewart and Cary
Grant comedies from time to time. I loved all movies!
Possibly it was an escape from my loneliness as an only child, but I tend to think that I loved the ''fantasy" films because they were food for an ever curious mind which had long since outgrown more childish stories.
When I was about eight years old, I read Lair by James Herbert, an English author who broke the mould as far as English horror stories were concerned. The story was about giant man-eating rats. It sounds silly but it was compulsive reading. As I owned a pet rat, I bought the book because it had a picture of one on the cover, then I read it and loved it! Each year, Herbie seemed to publish close to my birthday and so I grew up reading his work as his writing developed.
His latest work, Others, I could quite happily throw in the bin though as he took a leaf out of Stephen King's book (literally) and ruined the ending of it by killing off a beautiful character.
Stephen King if you are reading this, I will never forgive you for killing Mattie Devore!
Anyway, back to the story . . . well, I was always a bit of a sick puppy I suppose . . . I used to burn ants with a magnifying glass in the sun and all the other nasty things that little boys do . . . I never "got off" on it though like some weirdos mighthave done nor did I even think of progressing to more sadistic things. I just loathe bugs and executing them made me feel so much better! In fact, the only films that scare me are ones with bugs in. I can't watch "Arachnophobia" or "Ticks" without feeling very uncomfortable . . . but I can watch someone being diced into a hundred pieces by a threshing machine and not even wince. Horror is a very personal thing, isn't it?
There is nothing in reality that actually scares me. Some things sicken me to my stomach, such as rapists and people who inflict terrible injuries both mental and physical on others for no good reason at all, and by "no good reason" I mean politics or religion. In general, I am hardened to just about everything. Maybe it has occurred through horror films and books, but I prefer to think it is because people just do got hardened as they get older.
Q) What motivated you to create your website?
When I was unemployed after leaving university I was looking for a literary career and was planning a holiday to Whitby to get some inspiration in the place that Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Out of curiousity, I contacted a tourist exhibit there called "The Dracula Experience" and was told that they were planning to publish a magazine for fans of Dracula and launch The Dracula Experience Society, a kind of club, to enable like minded souls to meet. I offered my services as the video reviewer and co-editor of the magazine and we published it for nearly four years. After the "Centenary" celebrations, 1887 being when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, interest died down a bit . . . so I decided to make a website and record the history of the society and parts of the magazine for people to look on with fondness. I had been surfing the net for about two years before I thought of making a site. It all seemed so difficult . . . but I learnt HTML in about a week and coupled with MS Publisher I made a really appalling site out of all my notes and bits of the magazine. I then looked at the "Official" Whitby Dracula Society site, which never got finished and was far more awful than mine! So I then kept on plugging away and by October last year I had finally got a site up and running which I consider now to be one of the best horror sites on the World Wide Web. A lot of other people think so too, which is why I keep adding more to it. It just keeps growing and growing . . .
(Interviewer response: Yeah, that's why I wanted to interview you!)
Q) How do you select what you will include on your site? And how frequently do you update it?
I just add stuff which I like. It isn't all horror,
some things are just about me and my "other personalities," i.e. my real
life! But for the most part, I select images that will look good and
capture the feel of the horror genre. I look for the more tongue-in-
cheek things, because horror films are supposed to be fun as well as being
"sh_t-your- pants scary." I have avoided real life horror on my site
because there are too many of those "amputation and mutilation" sites out
there already and although they are good for a chuckle once in a while they
aren't of any lasting interest, I tend to concentrate an the "Video Vault"
Watching films and giving my opinions on the ones I watch to the world is what keeps me going throughout the travesty which I call me life. I also use the website to keep in contact with my online friends . . . which I seem to have acquired a great many of over the years . . . though in making them, I have also lost a great many real life friends . . .but that is another story . . . "internet addiction" is the key phrase here!
I update once a week, or sometimes three or four times a day . . . it depends on what I have to add. Visitors can often be surprised when they go to click "Back" and the page that was there before now has about twenty new things on it!
Q) What is your background in website design?
I am self-taught in everything I do. I had a mispent youth playing
with early computers and my first job, at nineteen, was as a typesetter.
I used to create magazines and books on a clunky old computer which
used a "mark up" language not too dissimilar to HTML. Then I bought
a couple of books on HTML, which were a waste of money as I already knew
more than they told me just by looking at the source code of web pages I
I am currently employed as a website designer, though I have to say it isn't quite the wonderful job some people think it is. I don't just surf the Net all day! I have lots of mundane things to do, such as typing in lots of text and resizing pictures of some of the most boring things you could ever imagine, but it beats printing teabags which is what I used to do just a year ago. My advice for anyone wishing to be a website designer, however, is "Don't."
It is fun to do your own site, but when it comes to doing other people's it can be hell!
Q) How popular is the horror genre in England where you reside? Compare it to the U.S. and elsewhere.
I think the popularity of the horror genre everywhere has
been gradually dying because of "Trendy Hollywood" horror. Films like
"Scream" and "The Craft,"
although having some merits, just weren't scary at all. Although we
still get the occasional "good and gorey" horror film such as
"Event Horizon" or even Wes Craven's
"Wishmaster" . . . for the most part, horror has
merged with the action genre and created hybrid comicbook stuff such as
The days of coming out of a "Nightmare on Elm Street" sequel buzzing with the post-film rush, seem long since over. We have a more demanding audience here now who don't just want effects but want an engaging storyline as well.
My friends in the U.S. love horror but also often cite the older films from the 80's as being the best. I agree though I was not totally into Jason and Freddy and all the sequels. The 80's were the best time for horror, when watching a video cassette of the latest scary film was a novelty. Thus I think that the horror genre belongs more to a time than a region, but in saying that, I think there are things to come from this country which will shock the pants off the rest of the world . . . among them a few non-genre films which have moments of true horror.
Q) Who are some of your favorite horror writers? Your favorite horror films?
Well, my favorite horror writer I already mentioned
as being James Herbert. I also read Stephen King, Peter James, Richard
Laymon, Shaun Hutson and Guy N. Smith. I read a few Dean Koontz novels,
too, and felt them to be well-written but very "samey" and too derivative
of others. His best work, Phantoms, was made into an appalling film
My all time favorite horror film is "American Werewolf in London." It is a great film to watch when it is raining outside and you are cosy and warm watching the two friends crossing the bleak Yorkshire moors! I think the werewolf transformation scene was fantastic, Rick Baker excelled himself. The love story involving the beautiful Jenny Agutter is,however, the best reason for watching!
The scariest horror films I have seen are "The Haunting" and "The Exorcist." They typified the genre for the decades they were made in. I am also partial to "The Omen" trilogy . . . there's just something about the idea of such a power of evil existing as in those films that it makes you wonder about a lot of things that happen in the world.
I am not into the really sick, gorey stuff with no plot, but one of the best of those is "Demons."
I like a good story and a lot of frights . . . I would love to see a truly scary ghost story but apart from the "Entity" and "Poltergeist" that genre has been abandoned for the most part.
The BBC did a short film for Christmas one year called "Lost Hearts" which being based on an M. R. James story was the most horrific ghost story I have ever seen, and I would love to see some big shot Hollywood director make an anthology of all M.R. James' stories.
Q) What are some of your favorite horror zines? What about your favorite horror websites?
I used to like reading
Fangoria but I must be out of touch because
I haven't seen one in years. I have no idea if it is even in existence
anymore. If it is, I would love to see Fango's web site. I have
also read UK based horror magazines such as
Shivers and The Dark
Side, the latter being my favorite though it has also ceased
to be. I must admit I spend more time reading computer magazines than
any other kind nowadays.
As for my favorite horror websites, well I kinda like my own more than anyone else's! I do like aspects of some of the better designed vampire sites such as "Pathway to Darkness" and some of the personal homepages which I have listed among my "Bloody Links" but what I really like on the web are all the accounts of true ghost stories . . . they send shivers up and down my spine every time!
I am also an addict for chatrooms and have built up quite a reputation in places like "Real Hollywood" and "Eurochat" because of my very English sense of humor and bitterness towards any form of censorship. I have made a great many friends online, most of them women who seem attracted to my "dark side"! LOL! I have fallen in love a few times and been badly hurt with online relationships, but it doesn't seem to stop me . . . I am now currently in love with a beautiful NY girl who is going to take me to the witchcraft museum in Salem . . . maybe this time I have found my soul mate.
Q) Have you made many contacts because of your website?
I have made quite a few friends and interesting contacts through my website, got my present job because of it, and even found Michelle, the girl of my dreams through it. She is a werewolf, by the way . . . but you can't have everything can you? To be blunt, I have met people a lot stranger than that and have attracted a few psychos along the way . . . but that goes with the territory . . . if you play with the Devil, expect hime to come looking for you when you are home.
Q) What direction do you think
the horror genre is taking?
I think the horror genre is amalgamating far too much with the action genre. I have seen truly horrific scenes in a great many non-genre films which I would have love to have seen in a film classed as horror, e.g. Marvin's torture in "Reservoir Dogs."
Films like "Spawn" and "Blade" and, to a certain extent, "Razor Blade Smile" have gone more for the comic-book hero genre and have been a little bit disappointing in that they were not true horror films. I think the great days of films like "Re-animator" are over . . . but maybe someone will change my mind with a truly adult horror one of these days and surprise me.
Q) What direction do you think
the Internet (as a tool of communication) will take?
I think the intemet will become more channelled and focused. At the moment a lot of sites never get seen because they are hidden away among cliquey little webrings and are not often submitted to search engines and it is a shame. More choice but channelled into a better order would make the Internet a much more user friendly environment. It should be like TV but without censorship . . . any form of censorship is like a gag round anyone trying to communicate and that is the sole purpose of the Intemet, isn't it? But I can imagine that any form of re-ordering the net would lead to a lot of "puritanical" censorship for the sake of the world's children . . . and that would be a pity because having freedom to view as much information as possible can only ever be a good thing.
I would like to see the bandwidth increase to allow films and videos to be viewed more easily across the net, and I would like to see webphones and video conferencing becoming more popular. Those things at least are happening slowly but surely.
Q) What are your future plans for your website?
I plan to make my website the ultimate horror resource on the web. The interactivity of the Demeter online magazine for people to send their own work to and see it published instantly, will be my priority, though I am also looking at including a few movie MPEGS for those who just like to watch. There will also be a few more of my original pieces of programming and examples of my musical talents . . . I will be adding lots of stuff!
Q) What attracts you the most to horror?
An escape from the humdrum of day to day living, the chance to see human kind defeat yet another monster . . . monsters which mirror our own personal demons.
BE SURE TO VISIT DR. BLOOD'S FANGTASTIC SITE AT
MORE TO COME!