Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with Fascination with Fear's Christine Hadden

Christine “Chris” Hadden started her horror blog Fascination with Fear back in March 2008 as an outlet for her obsession with all things horrorlicious. Over the past several months, Fascination with Fear has grown in popularity and has been embraced fervently by the horror blogging community. Chris is glad for the attention, but even more grateful to find like-minded fiends!

She loves to write about horror 24/7, but, alas, a pesky thing called a day job tends to get in the way.

Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre?

Chris Hadden: When I was young, I always seemed to gravitate towards the scarier children’s stories, like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. My grandfather was a Methodist minister, so of course I knew a lot of the Bible stories, and was fascinated by Lazarus rising from the grave and Jonah getting swallowed by that whale. I loved Disney’s Halloween records (LP!) that told frightening stories by genre pioneers such as Edgar Allen Poe. The Tell Tale Heart was a favorite. As I got older I took a liking to Chiller Theater (a Pittsburgh tradition), and shows like The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, and Lost in Space firmly rooted me in the genre. By the time I was a teenager, I was helpless not to feel the draw of horror. Movies, books, trips to cemeteries, and exploring abandoned old (read: “haunted”) houses became an obsession. And as an adult, I’m more consumed than ever for my love of horror. And of course, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Chris Hadden: For me, it is the extreme high one can get from fear. I love to be scared. I am forever looking for that next book that will scare me as badly as the first time I read The Shining, and I can’t wait till a movie freaks me out as much as the last five minutes of The Blair Witch Project did. Horror to me is a passion I couldn’t live without, like a limb that would still have phantom pain if removed. In the most literal sense, horror is whatever scares you. Be it watching The Exorcist alone with all the lights out or watching the war in Afghanistan on CNN.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you start writing about the horror genre?

Chris Hadden: When I was a kid, I used to make up ‘fake’ magazines that would include reviews of movies I’d watched or books I’d read. And as a teenager I wrote stories out longhand (because yes, I’m that old and there were no computers in your average household) in journals. Specifically, vampires have always held a certain allure to me, and even today I continue to write stories about them – but at least I have a laptop now.

Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?

Chris Hadden: For me I guess it would have to be finding some recognition as a female horror blogger – or a blogger in general, really. When I first started a blog in the spring of 2008,  I was only writing about my life and things that happened in pop culture and the world and such. Then I noticed a lot of my posts were leaning towards horror, and thought perhaps my family wouldn’t be quite as interested in reading my critique of I Am Legend or Joe Hill’s new novel as I was. So Fascination With Fear was born.

Fatally Yours: How would you convince people who aren’t horror fans to give the genre a try?

Chris Hadden: I’d simply sit them down in front of the TV and pop in a copy of Halloween (1978). Seriously though, it’s hard to convince most folks that horror isn’t anything but blood and gore. You don’t have to sit through Inside to say you are a horror fan. Lighter fare is out there, like The Haunting (1963) or even Psycho. Has anyone seriously not seen that? I think people have stereotyped horror so badly that they think its fans are all seventeen year old boys with bad acne and a penchant for listening to death metal while popping ecstasy and slashing tires. I probably try to ease them in gently, maybe with a paranormal chick lit book if they are romance fans, or a silly SyFy Saturday afternoon movie if they want to try a wee bit of horror at first. Gently, gently.

Fatally Yours: In your opinion, what constitutes a good horror review? What guidelines do you follow when reviewing something?

Chris Hadden: A good review is one that gives you the main jist of the story and throws in a few tidbits or jabs about what makes it good or bad. I try not to get to technical in my reviews, meaning I don’t wax poetic about how the director spent his life savings on trips to Romania to get the accents perfect for his 8 minute short film about a lonely vampire. I just tell it like I see it. If it’s good, I’ll let you know. If it’s a stinker, I’ll implore you not to waste your time. I tend to always add pics from the film as well, as I like to associate the movie with visuals. I don’t rate the films per se – no “5 Skulls” system for me because I think, just like garage sales – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?

Chris Hadden: I suppose that would almost certainly be a no answer. I would have to assume it is still exceedingly difficult for a woman director to get a film made if there is a male counterpart available for the task. Off the top of my head I can only think of a few female directors that have had success filming horror movies.

As far as literature goes, I used to say “For every Charles Dickens, there is a Jane Austen.” I would revise that, however, as such: “For every Stephen King there is an Anne Rice.” Though to be honest I’m not sure that’s true. There seems to be a lot more male horror writers out there, but that could be simply because more men want to write mainstream blood and guts horror. Women writers tend to romance their fiction more than men, in my opinion. Paranormal romance is a huge, huge niche right now, and a lot of it is still very much based in horror. Women still want the vampire to bite them, they just want to kiss them first.

Fatally Yours: As a woman who writes about horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males?

Chris Hadden: I’m not a big feminist. I am from the school of “there really are some jobs a woman probably can’t do as well as a man” – like coal mining or digging ditches. But as far as writing horror, I think women are on an even scale. When Brian Solomon of The Vault of Horror hosted the Ms. Horror Blogosphere contest in November, it stirred up a lot of controversy. A few men were no doubt bitching about women getting special recognition and women (some in particular) thought it was a sexist competition that was voted on in accordance to the photos attached to each entry, which of course wasn’t true. Could have been a jealousy issue on either part, I don’t know. But I do know I was excited to be a part of it, it got my blog noticed by tons of people who had never seen it, and I met twenty other female bloggers who I now consider cyber-friends. Women sometimes have to fight to be recognized, and it is nice to finally be acknowledged.  And I don’t see how the public can’t take us seriously when I believe we women are as well versed and informed as any man is about the horror genre.

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera or women writers?

Chris Hadden: There seem to be a lot more women writing books, I do know that. For example: with the wild success of True Blood coming from the anchor stories of Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, I think attention needs to be paid to the source. As far as film goes, I believe women still have a more difficult time getting noticed as well as being taken seriously…but it is changing, slowly.

Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire?

Chris Hadden: Jovanka Vuckovic, for one. To be an Editor-In-Chief (Rue Morgue, 2005-2009) of one of the best, (if not the best) horror magazines out there is a fairly impressive feat for a woman. Anne Rice is rather high on my list for her fantastic Vampire Chronicles books, and another shout out to Charlaine Harris and the droves of other women in the paranormal/urban fantasy genres. I love reading their work and I admire their wit and creativity.

I’m not uber-impressed with any so-called horror actresses or scream queens, but I got a real hoot out of Shelly Duvall’s performance in The Shining, Sissy Spacek in Carrie was divine, and Kathy Bates in Misery was perfection.

And a mini shout out to BJ-C of the Day of the Woman blog. Wise beyond her years, her fantastic blog shines above so many others.

Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you to keep writing about horror?

Chris Hadden: My inspiration comes from the hope of finding that next great horror movie. I certainly watch enough, thinking that eventually I’ll find something as pivotal to me as say, The Evil Dead. I love writing, in general, and writing about horror just comes naturally because it is such a major part of my life. Removing horror from me would be like taking off an extremity. I’d definitely have phantom pain from the despair of missing it. I can’t not write, so horror is a great outlet for me.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films and books? 

Chris Hadden: My favorite horror film would probably be JAWS.  I still believe it is a perfect piece of filmmaking. It. Scared. Me.

Halloween (‘78) was a bit of an epiphany for me, as was Psycho and The Evil Dead.  But there are a lot of lesser known movies that I admire, films that people tend to forget when making a top ten list. Such as The Changeling, Ghost Story, The Woman in Black, the 1979 version of Dracula, and the more recent The Descent, Session 9, Dead Birds, The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage, Let the Right One In, and the stellar The Silence of the Lambs. I admire the works of Romero, Fulci and Argento as well. My favorite guilty pleasure horror film is April Fool’s Day (the original of course).

I’m a voracious reader, so I have too many favorites to list, but will say that I consider Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Shining by Stephen King my two absolute favorites. I also enjoy Anne Rice, Lovecraft, Matheson and many of today’s mainstream paranormal authors, among others.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?

Chris Hadden: If I’d say I’d love to be a published author someday it would sound completely prosaic, right? Through writing in my blog I’ve met a lot of like-minded people whom I admire and who inspire me to take things to new levels. I’m a fairly determined and impassioned person, so who knows what the future holds. If I lived in California I’d pursue various horror-based professions, but alas, western PA doesn’t hold the same fascination – well, unless you’re friends with George Romero.For now I want to keep on writing about horror, be it on my blog or elsewhere.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find your reviews/more info on you?

Chris Hadden: Over at my website: Fascination With Fear.

I also belong to LOTTD, an “elite” horror bloggers group – and the upcoming TPOTD [Tea Party of the Dead], a league of exclusively female horror bloggers. I am also on HorrorBlipsFacebook and Twitter.

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