Thank you, Dana Stevens, for coining the term "Artisanal Horror" / by Jason Nunes

Here's Dana from her article in Slate In Praise of Artisanal Horror:

The term caught on only in my own brain, where it’s become a handy taxonomic classification for a subgenre that seems here to stay, even in the age of the big-budget, special-effects-laden franchise. The horror genre has always welcomed tinkerers—inventive filmmakers who are interested in taking genre’s conventions apart and fitting them back together in novel ways. If the desired effect of maximum audience creep-out has to be achieved on a minimal budget, so much the better. Artisanal horror directors place a high value on cheapskate ingenuity, the trick of scaring the audience pantsless with the simplest possible effect: an unexpected camera movement, a barely glimpsed shadow, a hand reaching for a doorknob

I'd like to think I got my start in the world of Artisanal Horror though Dana might think differently of the direct-to-video screamers I had the pleasure of working on during the 90s such as Return of the Living Dead III, Necronomicon, Pumpkinhead II, and Leprechaun III. And what I loved about working on them is exactly what she describes here--the need for "cheapskate ingenuity".

Sure we worked hellishly long hours, in pretty inhumane conditions, and yup, we did it with very small budgets, and very little pay, but there was nothing more fulfilling, and exciting for me than showing up for work, and instantly diving into the job of creating something cool, creepy, bloody, or bizarre, with the limited resources I had to work with. I've always believed there's nothing better for sharpening creativity than limits.

Sure, what we created didn't look polished, or even real (case in point, the not quite decapitated head above) but that was the charm of it for me--that cheapskate ingenuity, and the visual style that comes from it. I've always loved that about horror films. From Frankenstein to From Beyond. How a filmmaker can create a whole new world, populated with nightmares, just using light, latex, paint, plywood, and shadows. It sends chills up my spine.

returnofthelivingdead3

And, yes, I've had my fling with digital effects as well--working as a broadcast designer for clients like Lucasfilm--but the slick digital, hyper realistic effects never had the same charm for me as the rubber puppet monsters of The Thing, or Reanimator. And those same digital effects made some of my first loves--Star Wars--unwatchable (but that's a rant for another day.)

You never forget your first love. When I was a little kid, my father introduced me to horror through the original black and white King Kong, and I fell in love. Sure, you could see Harryhausen's fingerprints all over the fur of King Kong, but that didn't take away from how terrifying he was, for me it somehow added to it.

So when I decided to write, and produce my own movies, well, I couldn't help but want to reanimate that feeling of falling in love. That's why I wrote, produced, and acted in movies like Blood Junkies, and The Ghost Club - Spirits Never Die, and why I'm working on  Cryptids, and PDA--feature films that definitely fall squarely on the artisanal horror film spectrum.

I'm just psyched to finally have something to call myself, and what I create.

Blood Junkies Teaser from Small Media Extra Large on Vimeo.