Mike Muncer’s The Evolution of Horror has become a popular tome amongst horror fans for its in-depth analysis of the chronology of the genre. The podcast explores horror’s history by delving into specific sub-genres across a number of weeks, thus far covering the history of slashers, ghosts, folk horror, zombies and the occult. Now, the host has now switched focus towards his most terrifying subject yet, people. Departing from the usual format of a specific sub-genre, The Evolution of Horror’s upcoming season will have a broader thematic focus on the ‘Mind and Body’. Twelve Cabins caught up with Muncer to talk about the new season and his evolving relationship with the show since its inception.
Why did you decide to start The Evolution of Horror, what was it about the horror genre that specifically interested you?
I’ve been in love with horror ever since I saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller when I was five years old. I became obsessed with the monsters and werewolves in that video. For me, the horror genre offers everything. At it’s worst, it’s entertaining, shlocky fun, and at it’s best it’s profound, thought-provoking and more transcendent than any other genre of film. Either way, it’s never boring. I love being scared but I also love the way horror uses genre thrills to explore bigger themes, whether it’s nuclear war, mental health or consumerism. It’s always had a reputation as being somehow inferior to other genres like dramas or war films, and I wanted to start the podcast to prove that horror is worthy of deep, academic analysis. For my day job I’m a video and TV producer, so I thought it was time to put my producing and editing skills to good use and do something I love!
What have you found to be the most rewarding element of the show over the last few years?
The thing I never expected was how much of a community the podcast would create. The horror genre attracts a loyal, dedicated fanbase and the podcast has really tapped into that. Off the back of the podcast, I launched a Facebook discussion group and it’s really taken on a life of its own. There have been meet ups, Christmas drinks, Halloween parties and since lockdown began, group horror watch-alongs. I’ve met some incredible people through the podcast, including many horror writers, journalists and filmmakers. As cheesy as it sounds, that group has become a family. That’s definitely been the most rewarding part.
From the point of starting the podcast, what has been your favourite discovery? A film you may have not seen since without this endeavour?
There have been so many! My favourite might actually be a collection of strange TV ghost stories from the 1970s. The BBC used to adapt M.R. James’ work into ghost stories for Christmas, and there’s a brilliant boxset of the whole collection. All of them are absolutely brilliant and terrifying, but my favourite has to be one called Whistle and I’ll Come To You from 1968. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to seek it out! Wait till it’s dark, turn out all the lights, pop it on, and brace yourself.
Similarly, if you had to pick one film that doesn’t typically feature in the pantheon of great horror films to include in that list, what would you pick and why?
There’s a little known Australian horror film called Lake Mungo. It’s a found footage ghost story and was released in 2008. We covered it on the podcast and it’s probably the recommendation I consistently get the most positive feedback. Nobody’s heard of it, everybody loves it. It’s an absolutely perfect movie. Totally terrifying too.
Looking ahead, I’ve seen that you’re starting Evolution of Horror TV on YouTube soon, what can we expect for that?
I’ve been thinking for ages how much I’d like to branch out into video content. As I said earlier, for my day job I produce and edit video essays for the BBC, and my brain is always bursting with ideas for horror video essays so I figured, it’s time! The YouTube channel will have a mix of everything from vlogs, to press interviews, to video essays, to ‘explainer’ videos and all the other stuff you tend to find on YouTube! It will hopefully be launching at some point in the summer.
And finally, it has to be asked, what can we expect from the next season of the podcast ‘Mind and Body’?
I think it’s going to be the most fun series so far. Unlike previous seasons which just cover specific subgenres like slashers, folk horror or zombies this is more of a general ‘theme’ that encompasses a few niche areas of horror in one. Mainly anything where the horror stems from within, our own bodies and our own minds. We’ll be starting with early classics like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Freaks to eventually cover everything from David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Lost Highway to David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and The Fly. We’ll also be exploring some of the more extreme areas of horror and covering Martyrs and The Human Centipede. So, it’s going to be quite a mix!
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