The Birth of ‘Dark Discussions’

The Birth of Dark Discussions

By Philip Perron

If you miss your favorite ESPN show, go get it on a podcast. If you want to hear news from some of the biggest news agencies in the world, you can get it through a podcast and listen to it a day later. Podcasting has been a spectacular if not largely known medium that provides programming for those folks who prefer to listen to their favorite topics when they want and wherever they want.

Though satellite radio has been a great phenomenon where folks are able to listen to an eclectic mix of shows on books, movies, sports, news, finance, and even cooking, niche audiences still may not be fulfilled with what they really want to listen to. What about themes such as video games, gardening, or even something as specific as horror movies? This is where podcasting really has promise. Not only is it free, it requires nothing more than an audio digital device, a laptop, or even a smart phone.

As an avid fan of the arts, specifically books and movies, I was always visiting websites to read about the production of Martin Scorcese’s latest film or the progress of the next Stephen King novel. Then one day I came across an audio review on the film Cloverfield as well as an audio round table discussion about the film No Country for Old Men. Afterwards, I saw that these audio files were also being streamed from Apple’s iTune’s store for free.

Getting programs on my little iPod was a convenient way to listen to programs I wanted to listen to while doing my daily walks in the woods or working out or commuting to work. And with the wide variety of programming available I was able to search for shows discussing upcoming books and movies. And yet even more specifically books and movies within the horror and techno genres.

The interesting thing was that many of the podcasts I listened to were done by amateurs or simply people who did them for fun. Their shows were filled on topics they were passionate about. The discussions were probably the same ones they’d be talking about over a round of beers. They weren’t making any money, they weren’t making any inroads towards a more promising career, they were doing it simply because they loved talking about their focused topic.

Early 2011, I figured I could do it myself. While grabbing burgers with a few guys, I noticed our discussions focused around either sports or genre fiction which included horror, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, techno-thriller, and mystery. And having added a number of genre themed podcasts as part of my weekly listen to-do list, I did my research and started putting together the idea. What resulted was a genre themed topical podcast entitled Dark Discussions Podcast.

Finding two wonderful folks online through various genre themed forums, myself along with Eric Webster, of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Michael Dunleavy, of Port Jervis, New York came together and put together a weekly show on topics that anyone from the New England Horror Writer’s group would be familiar with. Not to be tagged as specifically horror, the tag line “Your place for the discussion of horror film, fiction, and all that’s fantastic” seemed to fit.

The podcast basically focused at first on themed discussions or specific movies. Topics such as a retrospective of the director and screenwriter Frank Darabont as well as the franchise of the Planet of the Apes were some of the early weekly episodes. But also films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and John Huston’s Moby Dick have been a focus. It’s true, we are no experts but our perspectives as fans of genre fiction were as well thought out as some of the genre websites and magazines available. And at the worst, we provide another voice on both obscure works and genre classics.

Some of the inventive ways the podcast has expanded were by being contacted by some folks for reviews and promotion. Horror Realm, a convention every September in Pittsburgh, emailed and offered the podcast passes to their convention. M.J. Preston, the author of The Equinox, asked if we’d be interested in a free copy of his novel to review. However, it was co-host Michael Dunleavy who really got it. While attending Horror Realm 2011 as press, he not only interviewed the film stars of some of horror fans favorite films, but he started interviewing the vendors and independent talent. What resulted was Dark Discussions Podcast helping out folks who need promotion of some really fantastic works that anyone who enjoys horror should know about.

This is where Dark Discussions Podcast in a sense merges with the NEHW group. After Horror Realm 2011, Dark Discussions contacted the folks at both the Rock and Shock and Anthocon conventions and received press passes to attend and promote their events. This is where our podcast became what some would call an unofficial promoter of the folks we met specifically at Anthocon and therefore NEHW. We interviewed such NEHW members as Charles Day, Gregory Norris, and Inanna Arthen. Small presses as Evil Jester Press and By Light Unseen Media, which had tables at Anthocon were also focused on.

So after a year and a half, the podcast keeps going. The listenership grows. And topics as wide ranging as modern novels as Scott Sigler’s Infected and independent cinema as Simon Rumley’s Red, White, and Blue are featured. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing. With Horror Realm come and gone and Rock and Shock and Anthocon coming up, Dark Discussions looks forward to seeing everyone and helping you promote your new and wonderful works. As an inspiring writer, I know the work folks go through juggling their everyday lives with writing.

Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods Looks Like Every Horror Movie (You’re Gonna Love It)

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Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods Looks Like Every Horror Movie (You’re Gonna Love It)

by Angela Watercutter

The new trailer for the Joss Whedon-produced film The Cabin in the Woods comes stamped with the very evocative message “You think you know the story….” It’s a tease of the best kind because the fact that the first trailer looks like every horror film ever made is what makes it look so freaking awesome.

The movie’s premise is simple: A group of friends go to a very remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun. The group (lead by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) gets a little lost, but then the semi-friendly owner of a dilapidated country store helps them find their way to their decidedly freaky-looking shack.

Then, get this, the store owner says, “The lambs have passed through the gate. They’re come to the killing floor.” Things proceed to go wrong — very, very wrong (and very weird). Marilyn Manson’s “I Put a Spell on You” (from the Lost Highway soundtrack, obviously) is playing in the background. It’s so on-the-nose it’s really hard not to feel like you’re watching it at a junior-high sleepover.

But this is a film co-written by Whedon with Cloverfield/Lost/Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer Drew Goddard, who also directed the movie. All the predictability feels very intentional, and it’s hard not to imagine that when things get even worse for your pretty young things that there will be great horror moments of the highest order (our guess is that the hot doctor from Grey’s Anatomy — Jesse Williams — eats it first). Also, there are some unexplained shots of a mission-control-type place — the kind of high-tech headquarters that typically aren’t seen in your run-of-the-mill horror flick.

There will also be plenty of tongue-in-cheek lines like, “We have to stay together,” and lots of winks to the audience. We’re counting on the stoner friend to be the narrator who points out all things intentionally over-the-top.

And since it’s a Whedon-and-Goddard production, we’re also expecting the third act to be more surprising than even this twisted teaser lets on. As the trailer notes, you might think you know the story, but “think again.”

The Cabin in the Woods hits theaters April 13, 2012.