It wasn’t very long after my initial interview with Anabelle that I had an idea for a follow-up. Considering how the band she fronts, Veile, labels itself “Blackened Horror Metal,” she must have an interest in the horror genre, right? And since their debut EP was titled The Ghost Sonata, wouldn’t it be cool to discuss the paranormal with her as well?
As luck would have it, I got to discuss both topics at length with Anabelle herself. However, our conversation wasn’t exactly short, so we’re breaking it into two articles. If the headline adorning the one you’re currently reading weren’t a hint, then brace yourself for a transcription of our horror talk.
This will appear slightly different from other interviews I’ve published during my career. Since we went in with nothing written down and only a general plan at most (that was intentional), this really will read like a conversation in the purest sense. Given that, I will try to capture the back-and-forth nature as best as possible, while possibly omitting non-related tangents. Hey, when two chatty people get going – especially me, and anyone who has seen me on a Culture Junkies live videocast can vouch for this – the topic at hand may possibly drift off like a newly liberated chunk of glacier. But I hope you enjoy reading it, because Anabelle and I really did have a fun time putting this together.
Here we go…
Eric: My love of horror started pretty early. I read those Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark books, which got me interested in urban legends. I was Freddy Krueger for Halloween when I was eight. And being born in the ’80s, kids like me watched a lot of stuff they probably shouldn’t have at that age. Can you remember when your love for horror started? I can’t point pinpoint my first exposure, but what was it for you if you can remember?
Anabelle: I wish to say Goosebumps. That. Was. The. Ticket. I used to love watching Goosebumps. Oh my gosh, that really takes me back. I love the one…do you know when they had the masks for Halloween, and then they turned into what they were wearing?
E: I have a coworker who actually references that as one of her favorites. I watched a little of the TV show. I read one-and-a-half of the original novels, but I wasn’t too big into R.L. Stine. The one you said kind of reminds me of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
A: I always think of that one Buffy episode, that same thing happened, where they cast a spell and the town turns into their costumes. I don’t know who ripped off who, but I can’t quite pinpoint the “aha!” moment. I guess there’s something about having a natural morbid fascination. I remember going to this little shop we have here, more like a stationery shop, but for some reason upstairs used to have videos because it was the ’90s. And I remember, I don’t know if this even counts as horror, but Tremors with Kevin Bacon, I remember being like, “I want this video!” I had to go back in with an adult, being very small. I can’t remember how old I was.
E: I would say Tremors is horror-comedy, maybe more so for the sequels. But I would say that franchise falls under horror-comedy, I would think.
A: The first one…
E: More straight-faced.
A: Yeah, I don’t remember when the first one even came out.
E: 1990-91, I think? [NOTE: I’ve since looked it up. It was 1990.]
A: It’s very relative, in the ’90s, but also Jurassic Park. I mean, now I wouldn’t classify that as a horror, but as a child, watching big monster, big teeth was absolutely terrifying. I remember the third one, was that 2001, something like that? [It was.] I don’t remember when it came out. I was like seven, and the bit when the Spinosaurus bites the guy on the runway and the blood splatters all over the plane, I remember just going upstairs and throwing up. I mean, now I wouldn’t have that reaction. But there was some sort of fascination with these big monsters with teeth. Sabrina The Teenage Witch doesn’t count, but it’s a gateway drug, isn’t it?
E: It can be now, depending on which version of Sabrina. There was the comic book, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which was then adapted to the Netflix series.
A: Yeah. I really enjoyed that series. I’m trying to fast forward through my mind. I can’t remember the exact moment. I remember it being more of a feeling or something to explore, but I didn’t start watching them until much later in my life. It was later in my teens, and that’s primarily because I have a very, very active imagination. I have a very visual mind. And my therapist at the time, he told me to not watch horror films. I was in psychiatry for an anxiety disorder at quite a young age. We’re talking twelve. One of the things I would focus on was catastrophic natural disasters. The Day After Tomorrow, not really a horror…
E: We’ve still got 20 or 30 years before that happens.
A: Yay! But a lot of my anxiety disorder was based around catastrophic, uncontrollable events. I avoided horror for a long time because of that reason. So it wasn’t until my late teens when I actually started to experiment and dabble in the horror world.
E: Stuff would keep me up at night as a kid, having a vivid imagination, but I wanted more of it. It was a very weird relationship with the genre. I remember watching a movie with a haunted mirror, I can’t remember what the hell it was. I was like eight or nine, and going to bed staring at the mirror on my closet. But I still want to watch more horror movies. Or if you saw movies with porcelain dolls and my aunt collected a lot of them, so you’re thinking those things may come alive. I remember going over this girl’s house, we didn’t wind up dating, but she had porcelain dolls all around the wall of her room. My friend and I were kind of put off by it, and my theory was that they were previous visitors to her home and she trapped them in doll form through sorcery.
A: I mean, that is a natural conclusion.
E: I mean, that happens a lot.
A: I remember being freaked out by them. Let’s just blame Toy Story for all of this.
E: What are some of your favorite horror movies? I really like the franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. I only recently got into Hellraiser, as I told you a few months back. I’ve seen only the first three, but I’ll say Pinhead has the best dialogue of any horror icon. And then someone pointed out that’s because he actually has dialogue.
A: A creature has dialogue? What madness!
E: Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees are silent characters, depending on which movie you watch. Rob Zombie violated that rule for better or worse, depending on who you may ask. One movie I really enjoyed over the past decade was Sinister.
A: I really enjoyed Sinister.
E: I know I will get heat for this, but I really don’t care for The Conjuring movies. Maybe I’ve been desensitized by being around the genre for so long. The Conjuring is a well made film, but stuff like that was more shocking when The Exorcist came out in the 1970’s – and it’s nothing you can’t see on any given episode of Supernatural. I watched Supernatural from the time the pilot episode aired, all the way to the end, so I’m excited for the prequel series that’s coming out. But I loved Supernatural because it started out with urban legends and folklore. That’s why the first two seasons are so near and dear to me. I first thought Sinister was going to be an average haunted house movie, but I saw it a few years later on TV and it wasn’t what I expected at all. The movie lives up to its name in every sense and the music in it was phenomenal.
E: I actually did like Sinister 2 as well. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s good, clean family fun.
A: Yes, snuff film, found footage family fun.
E: The music was very good as well. I was disappointed it didn’t make enough money to get a Sinister 3. They did think of doing a crossover with Insidious, which would work because Bughuul comes from another dimension, but it didn’t happen. I’m also into video games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill because the immersion takes it a step beyond cinema. I often call Silent Hill “my home away from home,” so I don’t know what that says about me.
A: I enjoyed Insidious. I remember seeing it at the cinema. I remember being scared, then I stopped being scared because this is just really cool, like with the astral projection, dream worlds, and the universes that are created. I am very much into supernatural horror more so than, like, Hostel, Halloween, Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The murdery-murdery, stabby-stabby films don’t really appeal to me as much. If I go to bed at night, that’s not gonna freak me out. It’s not something that plays on my mind in such a way that’s it’s something I can understand. I can understand the person doing this. In supernatural, the unknown, the things that are bigger than myself, I intend to get really drawn to. I really like psychological horror. For some reason I’m really going blank… demonic possession films. I find that naturally terrifying. That may come from my anxiety, the things I can’t control, like the weather, like possession, like ghosts, something that you’re at the mercy of. I do remember liking Insidious when it came out, also for the soundtrack. I find soundtracks in horror films very inspiring.
Also films like The Witch as well, where it has those layers of socio-cultural, political, historical, and narrative weaved into them. Sometimes things like that are the most frightening. I really enjoyed the surrealism of Eraserhead from the ’70s. I remember watching that because it makes you think. It’s abstract, it’s layered, it’s not something I can conceive. I do enjoy being led into those worlds, those theologies or ideologies, and having those reflected back at me in a way that’s thought-provoking. I often find that I’m not scared watching films, it’s always after. Like Paranormal Activity, I remember when that came out. So boring to watch, but when I went to bed I was terrified of something lifting up the cover. I was about thirteen, fourteen when it came out. The noise – I’m really sensitive to sound, being a musician – this electronic noise, a humming before anything demonic happens…and I have tinnitus. So for me, when I go to bed at night, that’s when the tinnitus is really active. Hearing that and having that association freaked me out. Oh my gosh, that wasn’t me sleeping for awhile.
E: Eli Roth movies like Hostel don’t appeal to me for reasons I won’t print. But I like most of the Saw movies because it’s a compelling story – most of them – and it was like a serial, but you got one episode per year. It was kind of like an ongoing TV show, until the series kind of imploded on itself toward the end. I do like slashers like Halloween and Scream.
A: There was one Saw film that always stuck out to me, I can’t remember what one it is. The one where he makes this guy choose between people and you get their stories, I think they work at an insurance company.
E: Oh, that’s Saw VI.
A: I enjoyed that one because it made me go, “What the hell would I do in that situation?” But Saw is definitely one of the anomalies for me that I do enjoy because, like you said, of that overarching story, these pieces that come together, and the psychological profile, and “What would I do in that situation? Would I hack off a leg?” I wouldn’t say it’s slightly more tethered in reality – well, maybe it is – but the ideas and the sort of themes and more common issues like the American healthcare system, they’re still issues now. Those are things that are prevalent. Those are things you can connect with.
E: Saw VI was one I was indifferent towards, not because it’s a bad movie. It’s actually one of the better sequels. A problem a friend and I had with it was that Jigsaw was written as the protagonist, and you’re not supposed to root for him.
A: Yes, I remember at that time there was that confusion, like, “is he the bad guy?”
E: Yeah, everyone’s gonna root against the insurance companies.
A: Hang on a minute. It’s definitely one of those “I see what you’re saying now.”
[It’s at this point that Anabelle heard my Jigsaw impression. She encouraged me to use it on an album. And I went on a tangent.]
E: Have you ever seen that original Jacob’s Ladder with Tim Robbins?
A: No, I haven’t.
E: If you like psychological horror, see Jacob’s Ladder. It was a big influence on the Silent Hill games. And are you familiar with the rapid head twitching in horror movies?
E: House on Haunted Hill (1999) popularized it, but I think Jacob’s Ladder was the originator.
A: I’ll definitely have to check it out.
E: I think House on Haunted Hill was a very influential film on modern horror. Return to House on Haunted Hill I didn’t enjoy as much. But do you have a favorite horror movie?
A: I don’t know, actually. I guess I’ve always been fond of Eraserhead, but that’s like a surrealist horror, just because it’s so “what the booooop is happening?” It’s so layered, and you can pick it apart, and it’s genuinely disturbing.
[After another sidebar of sorts, I circled back to my love of Resident Evil. Here’s what Anabelle had to say about zombies.]
A: See, zombies is another one I don’t really connect with. I enjoyed the 28 Days, Weeks, series, but it may be because my brother was obsessed with zombie stuff and wouldn’t stop, so I just became really sick of it. I know it’s like comedy-horror, but Shaun of the Dead is amazing. Good old Shaun of the Dead, I love that. For me, it falls into the same sort of category like vampire and werewolf films, which a lot of people assume I must be really into, but they’re actually probably my least favorite in the genre because, for me, they’re really one-dimensional. What do vampires do? They bite people. What do werewolves do? For me, it doesn’t really go anywhere, so those things I avoid watching. And zombies often make me feel like that.
E: I haven’t actually ventured too far outside of Resident Evil when it comes to the zombie genre. I’ve seen a good amount of the George Romero movies and the remakes. But when I first got into Resident Evil, nothing else could live up to my standards of what I expected from zombies. Of course, I’m talking about the games because most of the Resident Evil movies aren’t very good; they’re action movies, not horror.
A: I’m the same with Underworld. It’s the same feeling for me. I remember watching as a teenager. My friend was like, “You better see it!” I fell asleep in probably, like, the first half an hour.
E: I do kind of like Underworld, but I like Blade better.
A: I haven’t seen Blade. There’s so much I actually haven’t seen. I’m trying to think of some horrors…I loved Insidious when it came out because it was cool and the world building. This is what I find hard is what I classify as horror versus what has the horror tag on it. Because it’s really relative. There are people who would think the Avatar films are terrifying.
E: That’s like how I don’t really care for the Friday the 13th franchise, but I like the fifth one because it’s one of the funniest movies ever made. I don’t know if it’s intentionally funny, but the scene with Miguel Nunez in the outhouse…have you seen that?
A: I know what you’re referring to. Maybe things like that weren’t meant to be funny at the time, but we’re like, “that’s funny.” I always prefer actual prosthetics over CGI. Because, for me, it’s so much more frightening when it’s tangible like that.
E: I think that works better for horror. CGI is good in the fact that we can do so much that wasn’t possible in previous decades. A lot of the superhero movies could not exist without CGI. But at the same time, I like watching the bonus features on the Tim Burton Batman movies because I’ve worked in theater before, building sets and props and it’s cool to watch things and say, “someone built all that.”
I have to say that if I had to pick one horror movie – and I’m not sure if I find it as disturbing as other people, I just enjoy it – is The Shining from 1980.
A: Really? [She said that in an intrigued way, not sarcastic. Calm down.]
E: It’s just a good movie. It’s very different from the novel. I can understand why Stephen King hated the movie. Stanley Kubrick changed a lot. I don’t know if that movie would’ve been good had Jack Nicholson not been in it because he really made that movie, but it was just a perfect storm. I also have the 1997 remake of The Shining which isn’t as well known. It was a made for TV miniseries but it had to be watered down for ABC. Had it been on HBO or Showtime, they would be able to get away with more stuff that was in the book. It was a very good adaptation of the book but it wasn’t as solid of a presentation as Kubrick’s. I’m trying to make sense of it as best I can.
A: That’s interesting. As for me, I like The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining.
[This prompted my Buffalo Bill impression. Suffice it to say, she laughed herself silly.]
This concludes the first part of our interview with Anabelle. Stay tuned to Culture Junkies for our discussion regarding the paranormal, which will be published in the very near future.
Featured image credit: Horrify Me.