In October last year, filmmaker Eli Roth (Hostel, The Green Inferno) dove into an in-depth history of the horror genre with his AMC produced seven-part History of Horror; a talking heads-filled documentary series that interviewed stars, directors, producers and genre-loving celebrities and played connect the dots across nearly a century of horror films.
As great as History of Horror was, the show left viewers wanting more. Not just more of the show, but more of the interviews. Eli Roth had a way with these legends of the genre and managed to drag out stories and insights from his interviewees that left fans drooling for more. Now, we have it.
Soon to be released in bulk to AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder, Eli Roth’s History of Horror: Uncut is a podcast series that takes the full, unedited – for the most part – interviews with those talking heads and mainlines them into the ears of rabid horror fans. From Stephen King to Tony Todd, Bryan Fuller to Bruce Campbell, History of Horror: Uncut is a veritable who’s who of the horror genre that have sat down with the cult director waxing lyrical and baring their rotten souls for their listeners.
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We have been fortunate enough to listen to the first three of the upcoming 12 episodes – around 14 hours of podcast in total. This brief glimpse not only gives a deep look at what is on its way to whet even the most cynical of appetites, but also leaves a high watermark for the episodes that will follow them.
First, an hour with legendary author Stephen King. Famously a man who avoids interviews and the public eye in general, Eli Roth has a surprisingly candid chat with the author of classics such as The Shining, Pet Sematary and Carrie. Delving into everything from vampires to Universal monsters and a frank conversation about the adaptations of his books, it’s a rare thing to get to hear the It creator talk about the genre he’s spent his life in. To have it be as part of such a fun and funny conversation is a true delight.
“What if they’re Jewish vampires? Do crosses still work?”
Maybe one of the biggest and best surprises of this series is Roth’s conversation with superstar director Quentin Tarantino. The filmmakers share a recording together as they discuss how they met, their friendship and their love of all things film. While it’s a well established fact that the Jackie Brown maker lives and breathes pulp films and eastern classics, Tarantino’s horror credentials aren’t nearly as well-versed. But that doesn’t stop the friends from spending two hours talking about the darker influences of their films and how a world of scary movies influenced them. It’s a pleasure to listen to a master in any other genre like Tarantino listen intently to Roth and go off on tangent after tangent as only friends can and do. It is a strange and confusing realisation that Tarantino isn’t the film expert in a conversation, but it makes for compulsive and addictive listening.
The final of the three episodes in our preview is a sit down with make-up icon (and apprentice of the legendary Tom Savini) Greg Nicotero and Hickspoitation filmmaker Rob Zombie. The only episode in the 14 that make up this first season that becomes more of a roundtable conversation than an interview is like being a fly-on-the-wall to a conversation between three titans in their various fields all bonding over the things that brought them to the genre they love so much. Much like the Tarantino episode before it, it’s a look at these icons in a different light. Zombie shares his stories of biking for two hours to see midnight showings of classic monster films and trips to the drive in with his parents. While Greg Nicotero goes deep into his work with George Romero and directing The Walking Dead, all while Roth excitedly bounces off the pair. The episode echoes with laughter all the way through. It’s a joyous experience to listen to the trio.
Overall, if the 11 episodes we haven’t heard yet come anywhere close to the opening three, Eli Roth’s History of Horror is sure to become required listening not just for horror fans, but for film fans across all genres. While there are times that the production definitely stretches the “Uncut” moniker, and there are points where the sound quality dips into amateur levels, the podcast is sure to have an instant fanbase. And it’s well-deserved.
All episodes of Eli Roth’s History of Horror: Uncut will be available on Shudder on Friday 3rd May. Episode 1 will be available on Apple Podcasts and other platforms on 3rd May, with subsequent episodes released twice-weekly on Mondays and Fridays.