Mark H. Harris has created this "NAACP of horror" of a variety of careful and extensive content unlike anything else about horror online. He's also an about.com contributor and Rotten Tomatoes critic a part of the Online Film Critics society. Blackhorrormovies.com is a dynamic resource, capping off reviews with hilarious screencaps that are at times, much more entertaining then the movie he is accurately assessing. Mark's delightfully honest, conflicted attraction to the urban Black horror film market is a much needed assertion with an awareness if that Black horror films are to make a reputable, mainstream resurgence, we need to hold ourselves accountable for more thoughtful products. Certainly there are countless, unsavory genre films not centered around a Black cast. But Rowan Pope said it best:
Oh yeah, definitely. In 2005, so-called “urban” horror had flooded the market, and even though a lot of it was terrible, I assumed there must’ve been some site that chronicled this phenomenon. Looking around, though, I found nothing, and I found horror sites devoted to other niches -- Asian horror, British horror, female horror, gay horror -- so I saw a hole that needed to be filled, and I figured I was as qualified as anyone to fill it.
There are plenty of little known creators and products in the realm of Black horror that you highlight and reverence. What was the process like doing research and what problems, if any, do you have with the accessibility of information on Black horror that is considered obscure?
There are a million movie reviewers online, so you have to do something to stand out. I know I'm not exactly writing Shakespeare or some treatise on world peace, so I figure I may as well have fun with it. And I think the best way to get a message across, which is something I try to do, is to be entertaining. Humor is something that can draw in people who might not normally care about race in horror movies, or whatever it is you’re writing about. And if you're writing about something you enjoy, that makes it all the easier to find a fun angle. Even if humor's not your thing, at least find a niche, a fresh take or a unique way to present your film criticism, something that will separate it from the crowd.
Not really. As my wife will tell you, I hate people. LOL. I’m kind of joking, but kind of not, because really, don’t most writers become writers because they’re most comfortable home alone in front of a computer? I’m not big on crowds, so, to be honest, I’ve never actually been to a horror convention. Back in college, a friend took me to an anime convention once, and I also went to one for Hong Kong movies (I was big into kung fu and John Woo-type stuff back then), but horror-wise, the closest I’ve come to those types of environments has been some premiere screenings. I’m out in L.A., so I’ve been to some showings at Screamfest out here a few times, but the coolest premiere was for the remake of The Crazies, where I was interrogated, inspected, quarantined and shipped on a bus through a makeshift contamination zone to the theater.
I can’t say I’ve personally met any big names in horror, although I’ve communicated with some directors via email -- the most famous probably being Lloyd Kaufman, but also some indie filmmakers whose work I admire, like Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) and Navot Papushado (Rabies, Big Bad Wolves).
I think I know my limitations, and nonfiction has always been my sweet spot. My only real stab at horror fiction was in sixth or seventh grade when I wrote a short story about a killer cat called Fluffy the 13th, so let that be an indication of the juvenile nature of my creativity. But really, I think everyone who writes about horror movies at some point imagines actually writing one. I’ve never seriously planned one out plot-wise or anything, but I’d like to think it would incorporate some dark humor and subtle social commentary. And I would definitely try to toy with or completely break the conventional rules of horror. There’s nothing more depressing to me than realizing five minutes into a movie that you know exactly how it’s going to play out.