Crash Discussion: Interview with the Keeper of the Crimson Quill

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Billy Crash sits down with the grand master of the horror film review as well as the short story, known as the Keeper of the Crimson Quill. In a sincere discussion, we explore his work, what drives him, and what may be next for him in film. This is one candid conversation with a truly devoted craftsman you won’t want to miss.

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Crash Discussions: Interview with Donna Swensen

1404738834_37795279001_3662535362001_video-still-for-video-3662506531001In the Jacob Ennis horror, KILL, GRANNY, KILL! Abby Daniels (Alicia M. Clark) leaves her family and rents a secluded farmhouse in the country. But there are rules to follow, and once she breaks them, Grandmother Mildred Mays (Donna Swensen) unleashes the horror.

Now, the star of the film, the wonderful Donna Swensen, takes time out from her current film projects to introduce herself and answer a few questions.

KILL, GRANNY KILL! will be released soon…


Tell us a little about yourself.

My family roots are Utah Mormon although I am not a Mormon. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota where my father was a commercial illustrator. My mother was also an artist. We moved back to the Salt Lake area and I majored in art (painting) at the U and eventually worked as a commercial artist. This went on as I moved to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and finally to New York with twists and turns along the way. Around 2007/2008 any art career I had was very diminished and I thought perhaps I could do some background work for film. I found that frustrating and started acting classes. The main teacher I had for more than four years was Roger Hendricks Simon. I managed to get some principle jobs for TV, the Internet and short films in a fairly short time.


In KILL, GRANNY, KILL you play grandmother Mildred Mays who harbors a disturbing secret in her home. What drew you to the role?

I was invited to audition for this role and I sent them a couple of videos. They contacted me through my Backstage resume, I think, because of my age and non-union status. They needed a grandma type. I was never drawn to horror especially, but the Mildred character had some complexity and the fact that it was a lead role drew me in. You might say I just stumbled into this horror film.


How did you prepare for the performance?

Practicing going over lines repeatedly. I also was going to another theater class and practiced some of the scenes with others as a performance.


What was the set like on KILL, GRANNY, KILL, and how did it differ from your other films?

I was flown out to Kentucky and driven from the Louisville airport to a small town. I stayed in the director’s mother’s home. The area around the town was readymade for horror. Decrepit barns, broken down houses, weird artifacts, etc. Kentucky is famous for ghosts. It was difficult in that it was so low budget the hours could extend more than comfortable to get the work done. The director, Jacob Ennis, did an amazing job in directing, doing the camera work, and improvising in a limited time frame. The whole experience was unlike anything else I have done as an actor and was more interesting.


Do you enjoy horror films? Do you have any favorites?

I do not seek them out. I watched a lot of “True Blood” on HBO but got tired of it eventually. I like some of the old classic horror films. The current horror films I have not seen.


In 2015, your other horror, DEATH: A LOVE STORY will be released. Have you developed a taste for performing in horror Films?

I like strange, offbeat characters, horror or not. In that movie I am in a story called “Flip.” I am a creepy, slightly demented lady next door to a haunted house.


How did you get involved with television’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories”?

It was on one of the actor sites and I submitted. Also, I had a ghostly experience myself.


How does television differ from feature films, and which do you prefer?

If I had to choose, I think film, but I certainly wouldn’t turn down television. One may have more preparation time for film.


You have been involved with film since 2009, what brought you to acting and when did your career actually begin?

The last thing I ever thought I would do is act. I am an introvert. I did like to playact as a child with my friends and wanted to be in a Cinderella play as an ugly stepsister. My family left the summer resort area where it was to be, so that was the end of my childhood acting ambition. I thought I was going to be a visual artist and did a lot of drawing and school art projects. With acting, I started getting parts as soon as I started classes. At first they were student films and other unpaid jobs. I started getting paid local commercial work around 2009.


Besides acting, what do you enjoy doing?

Seeing live music performances. Mainly classical but I like many types of music. I would like to see more theater than I do. Films of course and good TV series. I like nature walks. Conversation. Food. Reading.


What is something you’d love horror fans to know about you?

I am speechless here.

(Photo from Movie Pilot.)

Crash Discussion: Thespians of Terror: Dee Wallace

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We take a look at one of horror cinema’s favorites, the amazing Dee Wallace. She brings a special strength to her characters – even when they seem most vulnerable. We’ll take a close look at her work in THE HILLS HAVE EYES, CUJO, the HALLOWEEN remake, THE LORDS OF SALEM, and more! Don’t miss this salute to one of the genre’s best performers!
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Crash Discussions: That’s Not a Horror Movie!

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Or is it? We take a look at those films horror fans love, but aren’t listed as official horror entries, such as: SEVEN, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE TENANT, SALO, and much more. Find out why these films didn’t make the horror cut – and why it might not even matter…

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2012: The Four Best Horrors from the Last Five Years

After watching far too many weak horrors, I’ve begun to notice a sort of turn around from the formulaic and poorly crafted fair fans of the genre have had to endure. I hope this represents a new horror renaissance of sorts where more innovative and independent horror comes to blows our minds. No, films like the ho-hum THE CONJURING don’t cut it. We’ve seen that all before. But what follows are four amazing films that deliver in grand fashion. Oddly enough, all are independent features from 2012, and I have no doubt they’ve inspired many a conscientious and quality-minded young filmmaker:

Antiviral (Canada, 2012) – 4.5 stars
Story: Infatuation of celebrities at the cellular level.
Writer/director Brandon Cronenberg is following in his father’s body-based horror fascinations. In this art-house sci-fi film, the phenomenal Caleb Landry Jones absconds with ailments from celebrities, and infects fans for a hefty price. Bizarre, disturbing, and intimate, the film’s intrigue rests squarely on the shoulders of solid acting, the original music of EC Woodley, Karim Hussain’s cinematography, and wonderful directing from Cronenberg. This is one of the most mind-blowingly new stories to come out of horror in many years.

Excision (2012) – 4.5 stars
Story: Coming of age for an outcast with a downward spiraling mind.
The fabulous AnnaLynne McCord steals the show and brings us one of the most alluring lead characters since Angela Bettis’ May and Sarah Lassez’s Therese from Mad Cowgirl. Don’t miss Richard Bates Jr.’s storytelling craftsmanship in regard to theme because this is one of the most literary image laden horror stories of all time. A stellar cast, including Traci Lords and John Waters, helps bring this bizarro and quirky tale to life, along with Itay Gross’s exceptional use of color to tell one insightful yet unsettling tale.

You can find my full-length review of Excision right here:

The Lords of Salem (USA/UK/Canada, 2012) – 4.5 stars
Story: The anti-virgin is chosen to bring Satan’s offspring to the world.
This much maligned film from Rob Zombie is his first outing into dramatic fair with cool twists, great imagery, and relatable characters, unlike his exploitation movies or visceral yet unsatisfying remakes. Here, we watch wife Sheri Moon Zombie unknowingly navigate her way through witches, unearthly music, and demonic hallucinations. The story grabs hold of our realm right before an Apocalypse no one can see coming. Watch out for Meg Foster, Bruce Davison, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace and more, as they bring a trippy and captivating horror to the screen. Arguably, Zombie’s best work to date.

Resolution (2012) – 4.5 stars
Story: Trying to save a friend from drug addiction unleashes something strange.
Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead took some excellent and innovative chances with narrative to bring us a unique horror that’s hard to categorize, and leaves some fans scratching their heads. Therefore, do not take this film lightly and stay focused. The mystery writer Benson created is one of the best to come along in years, and actors Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran bring the story to life in ways the audience can understand – until the weirdness begins. This one’s a great feast for the mind.

Fabulous 4-star Films: A Serbian Film (Serbia, 2010), Black Death (Germany, 2010), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (USA/Canada, 2010), The Caller (UK/Puerto Rico, 2011), The Day (2011), Little Deaths (UK, 2011), Midnight Son (2011), The Skin I Live In (Spain, 2011), Wake Wood (Ireland/UK, 2011), The Woman (2011), The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (Canada, 2008), Mortal Remains (2012), Afflicted (Canada/USA, 2013), Banshee Chapter (Germany/USA, 2013), Dark Skies (2013), Jug Face (2013), Nurse (2013), The Returned (Spain/Canada, 2013), Crawl or Die (2014) and Deliver Us from Evil (2014).

(Excision photo from Battle Royale with Cheese.)

Crash Discussion: Post-Halloween Predilections

The Last KnockHalloween 2014 has come and gone – but the spirit lives on! We take a creepy walk through MONSTER SQUAD, TRICK ‘R TREAT, THE MAD MONSTER PARTY, the history of the holiday, and John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN franchise, including HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Don’t miss this candy coated costume infused land of Jack O’Lantern chaos!

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Want to be part of THE LAST KNOCK’s 100th Episode?

Hey, Horror fans!

Jonny and I are about two shows away from our 100th episode of THE LAST KNOCK. And we can’t thank all of our thousands of listeners enough for making that happen.

For this centennial show, we’d love to field your questions about Jonny, me, or horror in general. We’ll answer as many as possible, and give you full credit, of course.

All you need to do is leave your questions for us in the comments section to this post. The deadline is midnight, Eastern Time, on November 11.

Thank you so much for making THE LAST KNOCK a success!

Yours in horror,

Billy Crash

(Photo from Fan Pop.)

Crash Discussions: Interview with Horror Author Latashia Figueroa

The excellent author, Latashia Figueroa brings a cool rhythm and style to her horror writing – much like fictional poetry, if you will. So impressive by her intelligence and skill, I had cropped-darkpath2to have her on the show to help promote her amazing work. Unfortunately, technological demons conspired against us. We were haunted by reverberations, echoes, and a bizarre delay in transmission that seemed as if I was contacting her from the Moon. For the first time on THE LAST KNOCK, a recorded show had to be abandoned. Never fear, however, because Latashia was kind enough to answer some questions. Enjoy the responses from this fabulous writer, and do not forget to check out her work. If you’re a reader of quality horror, you will not be disappointed.

Tell us how your love of horror came about:
I was introduced to horror at a very young age. My childhood home was suspected of being haunted. The account of that story, “The Whispers”, is featured in Thomas Amo’s second issue of Nightmare Alley Magazine.

Also, my family was big horror lovers. We watched a lot of horror on television. Night Gallery, Creature Feature, Chiller, Twilight Zone, these shows became like family; showing up every week to scare the hell out of us.

How did Stephen King influence you?
I had to do a book report for my seventh grade English class. We could pick any book or comic we wanted. I went to the bookstore with my mom and stumbled upon Pet Semetary, thinking it was a book for my age group. Obviously, I was so wrong. But I could not put the book down. I aced the report. My mom was so impressed she allowed me to read more books from Stephen King. I devoured them. I read other genres but I could not wait to get back to the scary worlds created by Mr. King.

You told me that few horror films scare you. Why?
Well, like I said, I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a child. As I got older, I began to look for movies that would scare me. It’s kind of like being a thrill seeker, looking for that next fright to get a shock, a rush. Few movies have done that to me, lately. I may have become desensitized. I hope not.

Since most horror movies don’t give you a jolt, is this why you love roller coasters?
Yes, I feel so alive when I’m on rollercoasters. The higher, the faster, the better. Or anything that will push my survival instincts. I recently took my husband and a few friends to Tree Top Adventures. It’s an obstacle course done in the air. At the end of the course, you have to zip line high in the air to a platform. I had a blast. My husband and friends, well, they’re just happy they survived.

Do the stories you write frighten you?
I think what frightens me are the ideas, how easily they come to mind. I told my husband about my latest book, the synopsis, and he just looked at me, eyes wide, and said, “That’s a little disturbing.” And all I could do is smile. Disturbing, in my writing mind, is a good thing.

What kind of edge, if any, do female writers bring to horror that men do not?
I can’t speak for all female horror writers, but for me, I think I bring a little bit of sensitivity. Yes, the antagonists in my stories, sometimes even the protagonists, are horrible, scary people. But I like to bring a touch of sensitivity to their characters. I’m not sure if being a female has anything to do with it. I want the reader to see themselves in these awful, scary, characters and understand them and then become repulsed that they do understand them.

Is there a chance you’ll adapt any of your stories into screenplays?
I think that is a goal, yes. I would love to see my stories on a television or movie screen. That would be awesome.

You have an excellent writing style that has a steady beat like poetry. How did you develop your writing voice?
I re-read my stories countless times, reworking the words until it has a certain rhythm to it; kind of like music. In my mind, the words should flow a certain way. It’s like when you hear a particular piece of music and you’re not sure if you like it but by the end of the first piece, you’re interested and you turn up the volume a little more. I want the words to my stories to have movement so by the end of each chapter the reader wants to turn up the volume more and more.

What horror novels or films would you recommend?
John F.D. Taff is freaking awesome! His latest book, The End in All Beginnings is fabulous. John has redefined horror, in my opinion.

As a fan of the genre, what does Halloween mean to you?
Halloween allows the things that hide in the darkness to become visible. Even if those things are just part of our imagination, they become real for one night.

Can you give us some insight into your upcoming horror novella?
The title is Want and Decay. I’m releasing the book cover and trailer soon. Really can’t give you any more than that.

Where can people find you and your wonderful work?
I’m very active on Twitter, my handle is @latashfigueroa.
My website is
You can find me on Facebook, and Google plus.
My book This Way Darkness is available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble Nook.
Thanks, Crash!

Crash Discussions: Behind the Horror – Bathroom

The Last KnockYes, the bathroom is the most intimate place in our world – until it’s in a horror movie. Find out why shower scenes and toilet terror freak us out so much. And you might become a little more intimate with Billy Crash and Jonny Numb than you had every hoped to. Mr. Bates will now attend to your shower…


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Crash Discussions: Director of the Damned: Ti West

PodcastimageThe Delaware born filmmaker Ti West brings a busload of themes and techniques to make his horrors thrive. Billy and Jonny take a look at West’s short career and zero in on the common threads and risk-taking in THE ROOST, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS, THE SACRAMENT and more. Don’t miss this in depth look into one of horror’s finest masters.


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