Sunday, July 10, 2016

Digging Up the Dirt with KillDozer and Dave Alexander of Rue Morgue

KillDozer has been a fan of Rue Morgue magazine for years, often getting obscure movie recommendations and horror news from their pages. So when he was able to speak to the Editor in Chief, David Alexander, about the publication and his views on the horror community, well, let's just say it was an exciting experience.

KillDozer: Rue Morgue magazine is one of the most recognizable publications in the horror community. How did the publication go about making a name for itself against heavy hitters like Fangoria?

Dave: Rodrigo Gudino, Rue Morgue's founder and president, was captivated by the genre and saw that there were no publications discussing horror in the in-depth way that he wanted to approach the genre, so he decided to start his own magazine. The name, which references Poe, a writer of dark detective fiction, represents a mission to explore "horror in culture and entertainment." The genre has grown up a lot since he began Rue Morgue in 1997 -- it's not just for kids or teens -- and I believe we represent a more mature audience that wants to engage with the genre on a more critical level. I became interested in the same thing when I was in University in the early 2000's, and I wrote often about the genre while in Film and Media Studies, so Rue Morgue became a good fit for me.

KillDozer: Why do you think it's important to cover things like music, comics, and art in Rue Morgue?

Dave: The simplest answer would be that they represent a big part of the genre. Horror fans generally branch out beyond just film, so the magazine represents that, but also I believe you can learn more about the genre by studying it in various forms, and that leads to a richer engagement. Before I could watch most horror movies, I read horror comics, and before I was allowed to read horror comics, I collected pictures of monsters, and before I find monster art, I played with monster toys. And the differences between those experiences tells you more about yourself. For example, the Universal film adaptation of Frankenstein presents a more sympathetic, child-like version of the monster than the more complex one in Mary Shelley's original novel. The movie is defined, really, by the visuals created by Boris Karloff and makeup artist Jack Pierce, but the book gives the monster a more layered inner life that I think amplifies the emotional horror of the thing that the Doctor creates. When I was kid, I was obsessed with the image of the Karloff monster, before seeing the movie or reading the book, and I realized later that I identified with him as this awkward, easily frustrated, immature individual who was growing so fast his pants and shirts were too short.

KillDozer: Horror and genre in pop culture has grown quite a bit in the last few years. It seems like everywhere you go you see new adds for the next horror themed television show or limited edition genre collectible. How has this affected Rue Morgue? What do you do to keep up with the trends? Do you choose to write articles based on what's popular?

Dave: We explore the genre in all its forms, and it's exciting to have new ones emerge or old ones mutate. We adapt our business model to fit the changes, as best we can, so we've introduced our own exclusive collectibles, such as the Vincent Price bobblehead. Monthly themed gift boxes are also trendy right now, and it's been amazing to be included in HorrorBlock because it's brought us a whole new fan base. We write articles based on what captivates our own interests, so that can be taking a look at new trends -- say, for example, our feature on horror podcasts -- or it can be discussing things in horror that are obscure and deserve more attention, such as an upcoming piece about an obscure medical oddities museum in Paris that just closed and hardly anyone knew about, yet it was the oldest of its type in the world.

KillDozer: Genre fans like myself love to collect and keep issues of our favorite publications. Do you think Rue Morgue with ever go fully digital and leave the printed format? If not why?

Dave: We've actually had a digital version of Rue Morgue for years now. We're available on almost anything you can read a digital magazine on. You can find us in the iTunes and Google play stores, for example. That said, the goal is to remain a print magazine, which fans still want because it's tangible, collectible, contains a lot of artwork, and digital things can disappear much more easily than a physical copy of something.

KillDozer: I know marketing comes into play when deciding on art work but what other ways do you go about choosing a cover? 

Dave: We want something that represents the story it's linked to in an eye-catching and compelling manner. We try to mix up the styles while keeping a consistent look in terms of being recognizable brand, so we'll have both illustrated and non-illustrated.

KillDozer: Outside of covering new releases, what are your favorite reoccurring articles and why? 

Dave: I love reading a Classic Cut about something I'm unfamiliar with and learning about some new piece of the genre. I also love hearing what our writers think about films I haven't seen. And I'm always guaranteed a laugh in Bowen's Basement, of course.

KillDozer: Do you think there is a difference in people from the US and Canada who are involved in the horror community? Have you notice any trends there that you haven't here? 

Dave: I think American horror fans, in general, gravitate a little more to the American-created genre and subgenres, notably slasher movies. We have a lot of fans in Texas and Texans are really proud of being the home of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- and rightfully so -- just as we're proud of Cronenbergian body horror. Canadians, being part of a more multicultural society, are more primed for international horror, particularly French horror, as it's our official second language. Our country isn't as old or as large, population-wise, as the U.S. so we haven't developed as much of our own mythology, but we can certainly relate better to anything about the cold I assume, ha ha.

KillDozer: How did you get involved working with Rue Morgue? Have you worked for other publications?

Dave: When I was at the University of Alberta, I worked at the newspaper as the Arts & Entertainment Editor, and the Editor-in-Chief, which led to me freelancing for weekly and daily papers in Edmonton, and then magazines such as Maxim and Spin. At the same time, I discovered Rue Morgue and bugged Rodrigo until he gave me a shot, back in issue (I think) #33. After a couple years, the mag decided to publish eleven times per year, up from six times, and needed another editor. They asked me to apply but I turned them down a couple times because I was scared to move across the country to Toronto. Then, Spin sent me out to cover Kevin Smith's stint on the Canadian T.V. show Degrassi: The Next Generation. While out there, I spent some extra time meeting the Rue Morgue crew, and by the end of my visit I knew I had to take the gig. I started January 2, 2005, and in 2009 became the Editor-in-Chief. So, I owe Kevin Smith! I've worked for other entertainment publications, but not horror ones.

KillDozer: What other involvement do you have in the horror/genre community?

Dave: Quite a bit, I'm happy to say. I program and host our monthly CineMacabre movie nights; I'm been brought in as a guest at horror conventions throughout the North America; I'm one of the people putting together Rue Morgue's new horror expo, The Dark Carnival; I regularly go on TV, radio and in documentaries to discuss the genre; I've published short stories and a comic book tale; I created a poster art show about Canadian horror films that don't actually exist (but we wish they did); I've written chapters for non-fiction books; I'm been on genre film festival juries; and for the last year I've been working on a documentary show called Untold Horror, which is being pitched at this year's Fantasia film festival in Montreal.

KillDozer: Okay here are some quick fun questions! What is the best Canadian genre film ever?

Dave: Yikes, that's a tough one! Here are five faves off the top of my head: The Changeling, Rituals, Black Christmas, The Mask and The Fly.

KillDozer: What is the most awesome piece of movie memorabilia you own? 

Dave: That would be the beat up Frankenstein Aurora model on the shelf in my office. It's black plastic with a glowing head and hands. He's my favorite monster and I got to help my dad make the model when I was a little kid, so it has huge sentimental value to me.

KillDozer: If you could stop one film from ever being made which would it be and why?

Dave: I dunno... It's pretty easy to not watch a movie you don't like, so I'd rather see one get made that failed to happen. The number one on that list is Guillermo del Toro's At the Mountains of Madness.

KillDozer: Is working for Rue Morgue a career or a way of life?

Dave: To work here, you have to accept that Rue Morgue will take over your life. You'll work long hours, your co-workers will become your friends and family, and strangers will identify you with it. But if you love what you do and the people you're doing it with, that's not a problem at all.

You guys can find out more about Rue Morgue and their upcoming Dark Carnival by checking out their sites.


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