So, I’ve actually got a guest on my blog today. I’ve cleared out the empty beer cans, gave the place a bit of a hoover and got the kettle on. My guest today is Alex Davis, Author, publisher and film analyst. Welcome Alex.
- So, Alex Tell us about Film Gutter.
The whole thing started back at the start of 2015, when Jim McLeod of the fantastic Ginger Nuts of Horror said he was looking for new writers and reviewers for the site. I’d been a fan for a while, so I was really keen to jump on the opportunity, and then I had to kind of decide what to do. I’d always been interested in really controversial films, and that was getting really resparked by youtube channels like Otoobach, so I figured that was something I could bring to the table. Film Gutter is effectively a quest to find the movie I simply can’t watch – I’m 15 months in and still trying, and although some have come close I’ve managed to reach the end of everything so far! It’s been a crazy journey really, because it just started out as a weekly review and then the interviews started kicking off, and now the ebook is out, and I have Jim and the incredible readers to thank for that.
- What extreme/ obscure films to you recommend to the open minded viewer?
I think an open mind is essential for Film Gutter! Phil Stevens’ Flowers was a real highlight of 2015, and Julia was also a wonderful recent movie. Headless was as disturbing as hell but genuinely brilliant too. Of less recent offerings I really enjoyed Cutting Moments.
One thing that has really interested me is how many people I know read the articles just out of interest – they wouldn’t watch the kind of horror we look at, but I suppose there is a morbid curiosity that drives some of our readership!
- So, you watch a lot of extremely violent and disturbing films. Has this adversely affected your mind or polluted your soul?
I wonder sometimes! I don’t think so though – I’ve always loved horror in all its forms, I’ve just been digging a lot deeper into one particular niche of late. There are definitely films that have affected me and left me really down in the dumps – Megan is Missing stands out as a great example of that. If there’s a more depressing 20 minutes of cinema in existence than the closing of that movie, I haven’t seen it. At least not yet. There are also really visceral films like Thanatomrphose and The Vomit Gore Trilogy that you simply don’t forget, no matter how much you might prefer to. There are many fans of horror – even this much darker end – that are just totally normal, well-adjusted folks. I like to consider myself among them!
- Do you watch ‘normal’ films (like Star Wars or Deadpool)?
I’ve actually not thought about this till you asked, but basically no. That’s in part a time consideration – I probably have time to watch a few movies a week, tops, and with so much great stuff out there and the odd screener and stuff that I get that largely gets taken up with stuff for Film Gutter. But I think it’s also partly because it’s such an incredibly cool scene of people, and there’s so much great stuff out there – it’s rare I give a movie low marks because the quality on the whole has been excellent, and I love indy and foreign film on the whole, which the majority of our stuff tends to be.
I’ve not been to see Star Wars or Deadpool – in fact my last trip to the cinema was to take my daughter to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. And even that had a John Waters cameo and a Pink Flamingos gag to keep me going. It’s also very rare I go to the cinema even to see a horror film – the mainstream stuff just feels a bit disappointing to me so much of the time, even stuff that gets so hyped and loved like It Follows. That was such a huge letdown for me. I suppose you could ultimately say I’m pretty much happy in the gutter!!
- So, enough about films. Is there anything you’re reading which is sick, terrifying or just gripping you can recommend?
Disturbing-wise, one of my very favourite books is Conrad Williams’ The Unblemished. He’s always been one of my favourite horror writers, and to me this is his magnum opus, and has a lot of pretty extreme stuff in it. The book that most freaked me out – although it doesn’t really get marketed as horror – was Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves. It’s so immersive and believable that it legit gave me nightmares and had me lying awake at night for a bit.
- You are also a publisher. Tell us about Boo Books. Any new releases on the horizon?
Boo Books is my small press venture, which I set up about 18 months ago with a view to trying to publish regional writing talent. We’ve had some great stuff out so far – Andrew David Barker’s two titles The Electric and Dead Leaves have been particular big hits for us. Next up is James Everington’s stunning neo-ghost story Trying to be So Quiet – a slim volume but one that literally reduced me to tears – and Tracy Fahey’s incredible short story collection The Unheimlich Maneouvre, which we’ve just announced.
- You are also a writer with a sci-fi book out. Very different to horror I think. Tell us about that.
I suppose SF would be my second love behind horror, and The Last War was initially written to be part of a shared universe for a publisher out in Australia. When they went bust, I was left with a manuscript I rather liked with no home. I sent it on to Gary at Tickety Boo some time afterwards and he was really keen right away, and we released last summer. It’s a story about the start of an alien civilisation, and for me was kind of an effort to explore religion and how it affects people and society. There’s some good old telepathy in there as well, which definitely causes its share of problems for our protagonists.
- As well as running Film gutter and Boo books you also run the Edgelit Convention. What’s in store this year?
Last year was our biggest yet – with 250 attendees – so that was really cool, although we now have to match that! We’ve got three Guests of Honour confirmed with M John Harrison, Emma Newman and Alastair Reynolds, and we’ll have our patented mix of panels, workshops (those are always really popular!), readings and shenanigans such as the raffle and quiz. We’ve already got more launches and dealers than ever before, so it’s shaping up to be a cracker at this early stage.
- What music are you listening to these days.
I tend to flit between obscure metal and obscure rap these days! Metal-wise I’m bang into Rammstein right now – it’s so motivational with that industrial feel. I love a lot of the Scandinavian metal – Katatonia are a particular favourite right now. Rap I love a lot of the stuff on Tech Nine’s Strange Music label – I think MayDay are astounding, and Brotha Lynch Hung’s cannibal-inspired stuff is so dark and out there.
- In or out?
Honestly, I don’t know. Weirdly the one thing I do feel strongly about is the referendum – if parliament isn’t there to make decisions, based on expertise and suitable information, then what the hell is it there for? We might as well all vote on huge national decisions via our Sky remotes if the government aren’t going to make them. Press Red to Stay In Europe…
Sure, there will be some people who will look into it and make a judgement based on the info they find, but how many will be voting knee-jerk or without the facts in front of them? It’s like a football manager going out and asking the fans to pick the team – it’s nonsense. He’s employed to get the best results, and because he knows football inside out. If the powers that be don’t know, how is the man on the street supposed to know?
Thank you Alex Davis