Horror House: An Exclusive Interview
Horror hosts are nothing new. They’ve been around since the dawn of television, haunting our sets with bizarre and intriguing ghouls who set the stage for even stranger tales. From the likes of Vampira, Criswell, and Elvira we’ve been welcomed you into their lairs with promises of chills, thrills and outright terror. Like any notion or cultural phenomena, the horror host has evolved. Other shows quickly took to the model making modifications to fit the platform they had in mind. Rod Serling gave us Twilight Zone and Night Gallery which offered science fiction and horror in a shorter, more television friendly format while Mystery Science Theater went a step further by breaking the fourth wall and riffing jokes over god awful dialogue and plot points. When I was in high school I’d stay up late and, if I was very lucky, the wind would blow just right and carry the signal for Dr. Gangrene’s Creature Feature late at night. Now, in the age of the internet, a renaissance is happening in horror culture and indie cinema. A new generation of horror host is appearing in our computer screens and on our smart phones. I’ve had a chance to meet some of these amazing new hosts like Malvolia: The Queen of Screams and the duo I’m about to introduce you to tonight.
I’ve been digging Aussie horror lately. Films like Alfred J Hemlock and Wyrmwood have been winning me over with their amazing story telling, beautiful portrayals, and frightening designs. The land down under is becoming a terrifying place in the most wonderful way imaginable. With a vibrant independent film and horror culture scene -as well as being a haven for sideshow performers, artists, musicians, writers, and actors- everything you could dream of is being explored and David Black is leading the way. The frontman for the band Darkness Visible has been writing, directing, producing and starring in several independent films and has already had quite an amazing career as an editor, cartoonist, and musician. Now, along with the lovely Tritia DeVisha, a talented presenter and actress, they’re trying to bring indie cinema to late night television as a pair of horror hosts whose gruesome, vulgar, hilarious antics are sure to capture your attention.
Dan - Tell me a bit about your careers in the film industry.
DB – I’m pretty much a newcomer to the film industry. I did my first spots as an extra in May 2016 starting with Cult Girls, and film by film, worked my way up. I’ve been in a theatrical horror rock band called Darkness Visible since 1994, so there are all those years of being on stage and entertaining that prepared me for this.
TDV – I started off doing modelling in my teens for Asian nightclub posters for clubs like Metro and Warehouse. I was walking down the street one day on my way to a tram stop with a friend and a photographer came up to us asking if we could help him as his models hadn’t shown up. So I spent my late teens and early 20s doing that and various bits of extra work through an agency on commercials and shows like Blue Heelers. Then I started volunteering at RMITV where I wrote and presented lifestyle segments for C31 covering everything from astrology to Bollywood dancing. I was also doing screen acting and presenting courses at various schools in Melbourne. I ended up scoring a gig as weekly co-host/presenter on independent music and lifestyle show NoiseTV on C31 (which was picked up by SBS), and working with a small crew of about 10 people we pumped out and hour and a half of television each week. I did that for almost five years where I honed my skills presenting and producing and learned to edit and work on tight deadlines. After that I took a few years off to travel and did the festival circuit. I was doing live MC work, acting, dancing, and performing at festivals like Rainbow Serpent, The Dreaming and Woodford. I returned to Melbourne in 2012 to focus on acting. I also started directing my own short films in 2015 with my short Exit from Eden – the Story of Lilith and also my experimental horror short, The Kali Geisha Erotica Grotesque, both of which have gotten into some film festivals. I’m currently doing post production on my latest piece Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. My own films are very much based on Goddess Mythology, mainly the Dark Goddess, trying to show the beauty of the Dark, and that not everything has to be love, light, fluffy or cute to be beautiful. I also won an award last year at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival for Best Supporting Actress for my roles in Revenge of the Gweilo and Mui Karaoke. My background is pretty varied and I’m enjoying presenting again with Horror House as it is somewhat my roots. Looking forward to what the future holds
Dan - How did you two meet and begin working with one another on this project?
DB - I first met Tritia at a movie networking night called Boogie Nights. I had been pestering her online to get into her movie, Inana Queen of Heaven. She wouldn’t accept me as one of the beautiful palace women though. I still think that I look damned hot in a dress, but there will be other opportunities down the track.
Dan - David Black, Palace Wench. Has a good ring to it.
TDV – Hahaha yes. I remember. We were friends on FB and I didn’t recognize David as a real person without his zombie makeup on like he had in his profile pic! We kept in touch and David has referred me for other projects. He got in touch with me for Horror House actually before the shooting even started, when he was looking for shorts to air on the pilot and wanted to screen my Kali Geisha Erotica Grotesque. Then later when I heard he was looking for a co-host I put my hand up and the rest is history
Dan - How would you describe Horror House to a newcomer? What’s can we expect to see? What’s the layout of the show going to be like?
DB – Horror House is a half hour hosted horror show that showcases Aussie short horror films. It’s a bit of an old style horror show in the type of humour, but cranked up a few notches to bring it in line with today. The layout is to be 3 short movies with a bit of banter in between by the hosts and to end up with a horror themed music video at the end. Preference is always going to be for bucket loads of gore, boobs and bad taste humour.
TDV – Haha yes! Kitch slapstick humour and pretty much pushing the boundaries of bad taste to see how far we can take it and just having a load of fun doing it. Once when we were rehearsing I questioned if it was appropriate for television, David responded with something along the lines of “if we (cast & crew) are all in tears laughing at the disgusting absurdity of the jokes, then other people out there must find it funny too.” And it worked!
So yes, like David said, it’s like an old style horror show. Old school remixed and reloaded.
Dan- You two play a ghoulish duo of horror hosts on the show. Can you introduce them for me?
DB – I play Count Funghoula. He’s a bit of a cross between Max Shreck’s Count Orlock and Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, but way over the top. He lusts after Mistress Boobiyana and tries to be the man, but she always cuts him down to size … as well as cutting off body parts.
TDV – Mistress Boobiyana is similar styling to Elvira and some of the other horror goth Queens, a sexy diva vamp, but has spent lots of time in Australia so sometimes speaks with a rather colloquial ‘Strine (Australian) accent which is a contrast to her somewhat glamorous façade. She has a somewhat sadistic streak about her and enjoys torturing the Count, who she has been stuck with for so many centuries, but deep down she has a deep fondness for the little perv. She enjoys the fact that he can grow his parts back so she can continue cutting them off.
Dan - I'd also love to know about the inspiration behind characters/names and the set design.
DB – Count Funghoula loves to have FUN and is a GHOUL. It’s not my fault that fungula is an Italian word for fuck. Those who choose to associate the two just simply have dirty minds.
Mistress Boobiyana is from the Russian word “Babushka” which means grandmother. She didn’t get that name due to being old because in vampire terms, 500 years is a short time. It’s because she is a very caring, nurturing person. As for those that thought it had something to do with boobs, once again, I can only say that they have dirty minds.
TDV – Hahaha, yes. And set design just using the amazing array of David’s latex props collection from his music videos. So many different ways you can hang a dead baby! It’s fantastic!
Dan - What were the influences behind these characters? What are you trying to capture through them?
DB – I grew up with so many horror comedies that took off Bela Lugosi’s Dracula that I didn’t even think when it came to Count Funghoula. The part was virtually second nature. I think most people have seen someone do a takeoff of a vampire where the words “I vant to suck your bloooooood” were used.
TDV – Mistress Boobiyana’s styling was very much visually influenced by Elvira, who was always the Queen of those late night horror shows, with the big hair and big boobs, but I think with the personality itself was very natural to me. I’ve already played a lot of dark Goddess/Dominatrix/Mistress styled roles, so it was pretty much just exaggerating the bits we thought worked and then working on the chemistry & interaction between the two characters
Dan - Tell me a bit about the independent (and horror) film industry in Australia. What’s the culture like for filmmakers and fans? How has it impacted Horror House’s production?
DB – The Aussie indie movie industry is extremely active. There are shoots going on constantly and many are of high quality. Culture wise, I would say it’s like one big family. E.g. I got my call sheet for a small role that I play tomorrow. Out of 14 crew listed on the sheet, I know 10, so it will be like spending a day with my crowd of friends. This isn’t the only shoot going either. I was offered another part for the same day and time and had to knock it back. So, tomorrow I am at the bottom of the pecking order, being an extra but next week I could be at the top being a director. It’s pretty much like that where we all come together on different shoots to help someone’s vision a reality.
TDV – Indy filmmaking/filmmakers/crew and actors are crazy,