The last few years have been hard on horror fans. We’ve suffered some pretty substantial losses. From the deaths of Wes Craven and other genre icons to the collapse of Fearnet and similar outlets it seems like we’re gradually losing our cultural voice. Hollywood is more interested in mass producing watered down PG-13 tripe than it is about making art while independent filmmakers, writers, and artists are struggling to share their visions with a fan base desperately seeking something that seems all but lost these days. Big names like Fangoria and Rue Morgue are struggling to stay relevant while new contenders online are simply struggling to survive. Most ‘zines and sites fold after only a year or two, crushed under the weight of their own operating costs. Horror, at its core, is a labor of love but in order to survive creatively you have to be able to support your vision financially. For most this means having to sell out to advertisers, trading quality content for obnoxious click bait and popup ads just to keep your site running for another month.
This is the problem being faced by Dread Central today. Founded in 2006 with the aim of being the premiere site for horror cinema online, they’ve managed to make themselves a cornerstone in the landscape of our fandom. From on-set visits and red carpet events to supporting independent filmmakers they’ve brought us some amazing content over the last decade. Recently, however, the online publishing industry has seen some hard times and sites like Dread Central have been left in the lurch. Larger studios are shifting away from independent sites to promote their work and the loss of advertising dollars is putting a lot of folks out of business. Sites are cutting staff and content while selling more and more of their space to advertisers just to stay afloat. The clickbait garbage that these sites are forced to peddle robs them of their integrity while forcing an infuriatingly disjointed and unpleasant experience on readers and fans. It’s the sort of thing that costs you readership and ultimately leads to a slow, painful death.
Dread Central made the announcement a few days ago that they are in the midst of just such a problem. They’re an operation on the smaller side with a handful of devoted authors and editors working diligently to bring us entertaining and informative content when it comes to horror on screen. The price of operating and maintaining a site is a hassle to say the least and they’ve been forced to make some hard decisions. Rather than close up shop or sell out to the highest bidder, they’ve decided to take a different approach and crowdsource their survival. With a new Patreon shop opening, Dread Central is asking readers to offer up a dollar a month for all the incredible content they offer plus much more.
Yeah. I know. I cringed too when I first read that. I could instantly hear the outrage and discontent from fans. “You want me to pay for what I’ve been getting for free?” Hear me out on this.
I’ve been writing for seventeen years and calling it a struggle doesn’t do it justice. I’ve worked a slew of dead end jobs and miserable hours trying to support myself and my family while I write. With the money I’ve actually made from my work I could almost buy myself dinner. Almost. The sites and magazines I’ve been published in have netted just enough from their sales to keep themselves going while offering token payments to the writers and, as an author, I’ve spent almost as much time trying to promote my work as I spent creating it. It’s no different for musicians, illustrators, or filmmakers. Larger promoters like Fangoria or Rue Morgue are great but they’re inaccessible. They’re well known in the industry and a write up on their webpage or in one of their issues would almost guarantee you a future. But the fact is, they’re no different than anyone else in the publishing business. If you can’t pay you can’t play. Sites like Dread Central offer a voice for independent filmmakers and creators that would otherwise be shut out from the more mainstream horror community. From the perspective of an independent author whose meager success has relied on sites like this to promote his work, I’d be sad to see another one die because of funding.
Dread Central’s Patreon campaign offers you a site completely free of ads as well as access to behind-the-scenes interviews, podcasts, and much more. Maybe the most important reward, though, is that it gives fans the ability to be a part of the process, a sort of personal interest in the content being created for them. They want to make this site as amazing as it can possibly be and they NEED our help to do it. Check out the official press release and then check out the Patreon page. Put it in perspective, movie fans. Your support is less expensive than a Redbox rental and will give you much more satisfaction and entertainment. Let’s #savedreadcentral before it’s too late!
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.