The Evolution in Horror: An Interview with Rue Morgue Magazine

Fear. Disgust. These are the emotions that most horror movies try to elicit from their viewing audience. There are often scenes of the macabre and of the supernatural, sometimes even overlapping into the fantasy or science fiction genres. Depictions of our nightmares, our darkest fears and of course, terror of the unknown are what they deal in on a regular basis.

The genres popularity has grown significantly since its alleged debut in the late 1890s with the silent shorts of film pioneer Georges Méliès. From the first images of a monster in a full length horror film (The Hunchback in Alice Guy’s Esmeralda in 1906), movies about zombies, vampires, the deranged psychopath, all of their terrified victims and the one lone survivor standing in the end has created a culture all on its own. So, with the horror genre generating a huge interest and fan base once again in the last decade or so, how do you find out what terrifying tales to read, what melancholy music to listen to, what frightening films to watch?

The answer is: Read Rue Morgue Magazine

For the last two years, my husband and I have subscribe to the Canadian owned and operated monthly magazine and since I received my first issue in the mail, I make it a point to read it cover to cover. What makes it so incredible for an avid or a budding horror fan? It doesn’t limit itself to horror films. The magazine covers all aspects of the genre – from movies, music, comic books, novels and everything in between.

I was given the opportunity to sit down with Trevor Tuminski, associate editor for Rue Morgue Magazine during the Calgary Entertainment Expo (June 17 – 19, 2011) to talk about horror culture and the booming success of the magazine since it first clawed its way from the belly of the Beast in 1997.

Kim: Hey Trevor, how are you doing? I just want to start off by asking how it is for you guys being out here in Calgary. I know that the magazine is stationed out of Toronto, so that’s a bit of a trip for you guys.

Trevor: I’m good. I mean, yeah we were a little bit jet lagged yesterday, but everyone’s been really friendly and we’ve been pleasantly surprised about how organized this convention is. We do one every year in Toronto called Festival of Fear in August and we’re definitely going to take some ideas that we’ve seen here back with us. Fortunately, I’ve been to Calgary many times before and I just love it. All of the people are very gracious and welcoming to us.

Kim: For anyone who isn’t familiar with Rue Morgue Magazine, why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?

Trevor: It was started by my boss, Rodrigo Gudino out of his apartment back in 1997, so we’re now in our fourteenth year. We’re currently working on our issue #113, we’re a monthly magazine and have been now for quite some a few years. We’re now considered the number one horror magazine in the world, above Famous Monsters and Fangora, which is a great source of pride for us because we’ve worked so hard. We’re sourced out of an old funeral home in Toronto, which we’ve called “The Rue Morgue House of Horror” and it’s pretty much the best job I could have ever anticipated.

Kim: You mentioned Fangoria and Famous Monsters, and way back in the day, they used to be the biggest and best source for horror culture information. How was it for your guys in the beginning when you were trying to compete with those other magazines?

Trevor: Well, you know.. we have a lot of respect anyone in the genre who’s trying to publish on a regular basis, to build the fan base of the genre. So we have an enormous amount of respect for our competitors. It’s sort of that “The Devil You Know” – I mean, we like that they’re around. We kind of just have our own thing, our mandate is a little big different. We try to take more of an academic and investigative look at horror, so even while both magazines are horror-based, I think anyone who picks them up would notice the different approaches. Honestly, we don’t really concentrate on what they’re doing. We’re a real collaborative team effort, and we just do our own thing and are glad that people are into it.

Kim: One of the things that I enjoy most about the magazine, is that you touch on everything that’s related to the genre. Of course, there are movie reviews and recommendations, but you take a look at books and music inspired by horror culture as well… even then I’m only scratching the surface of what you guys cover. So, I was wondering if you can tell us a little bit about the process that you all undergo in deciding what to discuss and how you choose what gets to be on the cover every month.

Trevor: I think that we just follow the mandate that’s been set out by Rodrigo, the founder of the magazine. And for that, we just go with our instincts. We’re not controlled by advertising money or anything like that, even though there is advertising in the magazine itself, but we don’t let it dictate our editorial. That would be the worst case scenario for us.. to become a more ‘advertorial’ magazine. We just.. again, it’s a real collaborative effort between the main five of us that put the magazine together. There are three editors, I’m one of them and then there is Gary, our art director and Justin, our designer and we just really talk about it. Of course, we’re immersed in horror ourselves, we just try and make the best decisions about what’s blowing our minds and we think “Well, if all of us are in agreeance then hopefully other people will agree too” and it’s really more of an instinctual thing and who’s really evolving horror as a genre.

Kim: You mentioned the Festival of Fear which is this August, do you want to maybe tell us all what we could expect from your convention?

Trevor: It’s a really big year at the Festival of Fear, this year. And I know that’s a really cliché thing to say, but we have an incredible line up, in my opinion. Our guest of honor is Robert Englund (of Freddy Krueger fame), we have John Waters (who was on the cover of issue #111), we’ve got Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark, Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser), Tom Savini (pioneer in FX and Makeup) and John Astin, who played Gomez Addams in the original Addam’s Family TV Show, Sam Trammell who plays Sam Merlotte from True Blood, and a couple of great bands. One of them is an awesome Toronto based occult-witch-rock band with a female singer that’s really haunting called Blood Ceremony and the other band we’re flying up who’s been a favorite of ours Ghoultown, a Texas Hellbilly group who’s been featured on our compilation CD (Hymns from the House of Horror) in the past, so we’re really excited to have them. There are tons more guests that are listed on the website (see below for the link).

Kim: Just one last question for you, Trevor. If you could only pick one, which would you say is your favorite horror movie?

Trevor: That’s really tough.. and I’ve been getting this question all weekend. Man, it’s sort of a tie for me.. I’m more of a classic horror guy (Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Wicker Man), but I also really enjoy some of the newer stuff like Martyrs, which is definitely a favorite. I can’t really narrow it down to just one. For all it’s grotesqueness, I have to appreciate A Serbian Film – it’s really out there. Not a a feel good movie, but I really liked the bold Stanley Kubrickian approach to the material. It’s not an easy one to admit to liking, it’s not something I would tell my mom, but I liked it.

Kim: Alright, thank you very much for your time, Trevor.

Trevor: Thank you.

For more information about the Festival of Fear and about Rue Morgue magazine, visit their website at: http://rue-morgue.com/index.php

You can also follow them on Twitter: @RueMorgue
or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rue-Morgue/163691139525

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