In years past, being a horror fan could make you the odd one out in your group of friends, the Internet has opened the door for the wider community to evolve. Nowadays, we have the freedom to share ideas, movie recommendations, reviews, original horror, and so much more across state lines, time zones, and even continents. Each month, Creator Feature sees April Bennett talking to creative members of the horror community, who are busy making content for the rest of us to enjoy, whether it is a podcast, horrifying art, special fx and everything and anything in between. This month, it’s Justine from Last Blog on the Left.
Justine is a full-time photographer and part-time blogger, which unleashes her inner horror movie freak. Justine covers all kinds of movies, from major hits like Sinister and The Exorcist to lesser known flicks such as Angst and Tenebre.
Her covers are easily digestible chunks that are satisfying to read and just enough to make you yearn to watch the movie for yourself. She posts new reviews frequently (at least once a week) so your desire for horror is always filled.
Wicked Horror sat down with Justine (via email) to discuss genius, what makes a good horror movie, and if anything is on the horizon outside of the blog:
WH: First of all, let me just say, I thoroughly enjoy your analysis, as you put some obscure movies into more digestible, bite size pieces. These bits do run the risk of spoiling the movies, however. Do you feel like you’re taking a chance doing it this way?
Justine: I definitely have lots of spoilers in my blog, yes. In order for me, personally, to talk in-depth about the movies and what I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy), it’s tough to keep certain plot points under wraps without missing out on a huge part of the analysis.
WH: Did you especially craft them in this way? And why?
Justine: I did, yes! Honestly, I mostly started the blog for myself, not really for an audience. I love horror and I have wanted to write reviews for a while now, so I thought a blog would be a perfect place to do so. Like I said, I really want to dive into what I thought worked in the movie, what stood out, what was lacking, what reminded me of another movie, etc… and in order to do that effectively, I need to talk about the full movie. My goal is really not trying to give vague snippets to entice new viewers to the movies… it’s just to analyze the movies for my own self (and for any interested readers, of course!). It’s definitely more for people to commiserate with me over movies we both enjoyed (or both hated).
WH: What is the method to your madness for choosing movies to review? For example, you go from older 80s films, to lesser known ones, to big hitters. Is there any particular way you go about this?
Justine: There’s no real method to the madness as far as choosing goes. I’ve seen lots of horror, thrillers, and sci-fi over the years, so while many of these are new viewings for me, a good deal are re-watches for the sake of reviewing. So I more or less just sit down at any given time and choose whatever feels right for the moment. Sometimes I’m in the mood for an old classic, sometimes I want a good alien movie, sometimes I want a campy creature feature, sometimes I want a complex psychological thriller. The joy of technology nowadays is that I have not only the combination of Netflix/Amazon/Hulu at my disposal, but the entirety of the internet in general, so I can always find something I’m in the mood for! I toyed with the idea of kind of starting from the beginning and working my way up… but I knew I wouldn’t have the patience for that.
WH: You mentioned on your website that you are a photographer. Does it balance out your horror interests or does is drive your artistic interest in horror in any way?
Justine: My photography is pretty unrelated to horror, really. I am primarily a wedding and portrait photographer, so if anything my everyday photography life is centered entirely around happy moments — wedding vows, new babies, engagements, happy families. Quite the opposite from the movies I watch!
WH: You’ve mentioned that your interest in horror began with you father’s introduction of Hellraiser. Does he know this is what kick-started it for you? If so, does he regret that decision now?
Justine: It was actually my friend’s father! My childhood best friend, Kayla, and I were at her dad’s house one evening and he let us watch Hellraiser. But I definitely grew up in a household where my parents didn’t really try to shield my brother and I too much from the real world. We watched all kinds of movies and TV that would probably not be considered age appropriate: Jaws, The X-Files, Unsolved Mysteries, etc, but it made us who we are today. My mom is well aware of my love of horror, sci-fi, paranormal, conspiracies, and all things weird and creepy, and she doesn’t regret being part of that at all — why would she? She loves who I am and we share many of the same interests, so it’s awesome!
WH: What, in your eyes, constitutes a well-crafted horror movie? Given that you have seen such a variety.
Justine: Oh man, there are so many factors that go into it, I think it’d be hard for me to nail down any hard and fast rules. The joy of horror is that there are so many genres within it, so I think it highly depends on what you’re aiming for. I have favorites that run the gamut — some are campy and full of dark comedy, some are clever and highly complex, some are just downright dark and spooky. I think the biggest thing is for a director, and a team, to work confidently towards their vision and not worry about what the audience will think. I think it’s easy to tell when a movie was made more out of a desire for it to have mass appeal rather for it to truly embody someone’s dream or their aesthetic. I like movies that are made unabashedly — whether they be more cerebral, more bloody, more ridiculous, whatever.
WH: What is next for you? Do you see yourself turning this hobby into something more?
Justine: I’m not totally sure! Right now I’m just loving watching and writing. I’m pretty busy with my regular job (I do photography full-time), but if the opportunity came along down the line to write for a bigger horror blog I would be pretty psyched about that!