Episode XI: Honey, Put That Found Footage Back Where You Found It
Greetings miscreants, and welcome back to Horror Business, the podcast that wants you to keep filming NO MATTER WHAT. We have a powerhouse of an episode in store for you, and as always your inexplicable decision to keep listening to us warms our weird hearts, because without you we are shouting nonsense into the void. Even with you it’s likely we are doing just that!
This episode we wrestle with the concept of found footage and documentary style horror films, specifically 2013’s Final Prayer (also released under the alternative title The Borderlands) and the 1992 BBC special Ghostwatch. Our goal was to figure out the appeal of “found footage” horror movies and what makes a good found footage film versus a bad one.
We open up the episode by talking about some films we had seen recently, including the 2014’s Clown, 2016’s Don’t Breathe, and 2016’s I Am Not A Serial Killer. You all get a wonderful little history lesson of the Lehigh Valley’s oldest drive in theatre, the illustrious Becky’s Drive In. We continue by discussing Blair Witch, which we were not one hundred percent (or even fifty percent) crazy about. Sorry, Blair Witch people. Finally, wrapping up the “what we’ve been doing lately” segment is Liam’s brief summary of his experiences at the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival and our Wednesday night outing to Brooklyn for the Miskatonic Institute event with Jack Ketchum (more info on that can be found here).
Our first film of this episode is Final Prayer. We begin the discussion on this film by giving a brief summary of what “found footage” means, and the methods and history behind the genre. We discuss the weaknesses of such a technique and the potential shortcomings of employing such a technique. The way the filmmakers of Final Prayer get around the “why am I watching this?” question is discussed. The use of “documentary” style camera setups in creating tension and fear is discussed, as is the lack of a Cloverfield moment i.e. a dramatic and powerful yet improbable reveal of the monster. As Liam aptly states, “if you have the money for a giant payoff in a found footage movie, just make a movie.” We talk about the British subgenre of horror focusing on some ancient pagan evil re-emerging into modern society, the role of faith and Christian anxiety in this movie, and the way complex philosophical ideas in the church are presented in this movie. We finish up our discussion of Final Prayer by talking about how England and English culture is almost a character in itself in the movie, which exceeds in a way that the “it’s buried on an ancient Indian burial ground!” trope in American horror movie often fails to do.
The second film in our episode is the 1992 BBC special Ghostwatch. We begin this segment by explaining how Ghostwatch differs from the typical found footage movie in that it doesn’t present itself as footage from a missing party but rather a TV special that bites off more than it can chew. The interactive nature of the original special and how that nature lent it a feel of authenticity is discussed. The similarity to Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds is discussed, with the opinion given that this production was actually far more realistic than that broadcast. We talk about the context of the special and how it was largely unprecedented in it’s nature and how that made it that much more believable, as well as the “prankish” nature of the special at times.
As always thanks to everyone and anyone who checked this episode out, or shared a tweet/shared a post on FB/gave us love by recommending us to someone. We love you forever for listening. Any questions, comments, suggestions for movies and guests, or if you yourself want to join us for a movie viewing or even an episode, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Big thanks to new member of the Cinepunx team, Jamie Burchardt who edited all the audio for this episode, our first episode not edited by Liam! Thanks again to Justin Miller and Doug Tilley for their technical contributions, Mike Smaczylo for the awesome fliers, and also thanks to Josh “Foghorn Leghorn” Alvarez for the theme song, and HUGE thank you to anyone who retweeted us or shared something on Facebook that we posted. Follow us on Twitter at @thehorrorbiz666, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/thehorrorbiz66, and remember to rate, review, and subscribe to us on ITunes! Until next time…thanks!