The Letterboxd Show 2.16: Chvrches

Episode notes

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street plays]

NANCY I grab the guy in my dream, you see me struggling, so you wake me up. We both come out, you whack the fucker and we got him.

GLEN Are you crazy? With what?

NANCY You’re the jock, have a baseball bat or something. Just meet me on my porch at midnight. Oh and meanwhile—

GLEN Meanwhile?

NANCY Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street ends]

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]

SLIM Hello and welcome to The Letterboxd Show, a podcast about the movies people love watching from Letterboxd: the social network for people who love watching movies. Each episode your host Gemma and Slim—that’s me—are joined by a Letterboxd friend for a chat about their four favorite films. That is the four films you choose as your favorites on your Letterboxd profile. We’ll have links in the episode notes as you listen along, so there’s no excuse not to add these films to your watchlist. Today, for Halloween month, our guests are the band who have been teasing their new album right here on Letterboxd.

GEMMA Screen Violence is not just another name for Halloween movie lovers favorite genre. It is also the title of the brand new, and frankly excellent, album from Chvrches. And if you’ve been closely following Letterboxd this year, you’ll know that the band has been dropping pretty wild hints to song titles, lyrics, and the general vibe of the new album. So before Chvrches head out on tour, we have convinced Lauren, Martin—or Dok as his friends all seem to call him—and Iain to come here and scare us silly with their four favorites which are—get this, I mean it’s an absolute lineup—A Nightmare on Elm Street, Get Out, Carrie and Scream. Oh my god.

IAIN Hmm, hang on a minute.

SLIM Is this the biggest line up?

IAIN This is wrong!

SLIM It’s wrong? What’s the real list?

IAIN The Exorcist.

GEMMA Five favorites! It’s a new format! [Slim & Gemma laugh] 

LAUREN Sorry.

SLIM For the first time ever. For one day only, five favorites. Well if you’re going to add any movie, it might as well be The Exorcist.

IAIN I’ve got it on in the background in preparation.

GEMMA Oh my god! Well, we can only start there. Who’s favorite? Like ultimate fave?

IAIN That would be my favorite film of all time. But not just in the horror genre.

SLIM Iain’s fave.

IAIN Straight up the best movie ever made.

SLIM Wow. Do you remember how old you were when you saw it? What your first time experience was with The Exorcist, Iain?

[music from The Exorcist plays]

IAIN I do. I was—I think I was nineteen and at the time it was still banned in the UK because it was banned as part of the Video Nasties Act in the 80s where the conservative right decided that we weren’t able to make our own decisions and took away I think 70 films that were deemed obscene. And The Exorcist was one of them, which is absurd now when you think about it. But you couldn’t get it in video for I think maybe ten, twelve years or so in the UK but that made it all the more kind of taboo and exciting because every video store had a copy under the desk. [Iain laughs] And if you knew the guys that work there, you could sort of do a nudge, nudge, wink, wink and they would pass you some like first generation copy of The Exorcist. Yeah, there have been so much build up because my mom and dad had seen it when I was very young and spoke of it kind of in hushed tones you know. And I grew up in the church as well and everybody talked about how the film was kind of inherently evil and all that stuff. I mean, as a teenage kid you’re just like, ‘well that sounds like the best thing ever.’ You know what I mean? [Iain laughs]

GEMMA Yeah, way to guarantee any kid is gonna watch anything.

IAIN So yeah, I think I was about nineteen.

SLIM Not to derail but have you seen Censor, the recent movie that came out about the Video Nasty topic?

IAIN I’ve seen several documentaries about the Video Nasties but is that a new one? I don’t think I’ve seen that one.

SLIM Yeah, I think—it might be on Shudder. 

IAIN Oh, guess what I’m doing after this interview. [Iain & Slim laugh]

GEMMA You’re watching Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor, guaranteed. 

IAIN Amazing!

GEMMA It’s right in your wheelhouse.

IAIN There was a double DVD set came out about ten years ago, and I think it was just called Video Nasties and the second disc and the set was 70 trailers of these hilarious B-movies. So yeah, there’s lots of treats in there.

SLIM Lauren, is it the same for you The Exorcist? Is it up there as well?

LAUREN I think this is one that’s just been so heavily embedded in the band. Maybe because Iain loves it so much. So I remember the first time I went to Iain’s studio to do, what I now guess was an audition to be in the band. But I didn’t know we were thinking about it as that at the time. And you had your little Exorcist model. 

IAIN Oh yeah. It was a little bed with Linda Blair’s head that’s turned around as it played—

SLIM Oh my god. [Gemma laughs]

LAUREN I just remember looking at that a lot whilst doing vocal takes, and we weren’t even making like a horror inspired record at that time. We were making like the demos of what would become the first Chvrches album. But I always like to have a line of sight and just choose something to focus on. And that’s what I looked at a lot. I remember doing we were on tour, and we’ve got a screening of it put on for Iain’s birthday because we had a night off, so we got it put on and there was like a basement in a hotel in Glasgow. And we had one night so we put it on in this hotel in Glasgow. And I think everybody that came with us had seen it apart from our tour manager at the time, who had been actively avoiding it for like 30 years. [Iain & Gemma laugh] So you can still get people with that film even now I think.

SLIM Oh yeah.

IAIN But it was also the first time that we met, I would say we met at a screening of the The Exorcist in Glasgow.

LAUREN Oh yeah!

IAIN But you were actually working behind the tech giving me free popcorn.

LAUREN Yes. Like I worked in a like multiplex thing and in an independent cinema in Glasgow. And the rules were for a midnight showing, if nobody turned up in the first 20 minutes, you could leave. And I was really excited about that idea. [Gemma laughs] And then I was like agh, someone’s booked three tickets for this, who is this? And I had to look up the name. And I was like, oh, because Iain’s name has an interesting spelling. And I knew, I was like, “I wonder if that’s that guy.” And it was that guy! But then I had to wait for you to watch it. So now it’s nice that we’re friends. Yeah, and I remember it being really bad because the cinema was not very well sound proofed. And there was just loads of noise from like the bar club upstairs. So you could hear like horror glass in the middle of the film. And one could say the soundtrack is really a big part of it. And the sound design. Silence is important! [Lauren laughs]

SLIM Oh yeah.

LAUREN But, oops! Sorry!

SLIM Dok, what about you? What’s vibe with Exorcist? Actually, I rewatched this maybe last year and I—at least in my opinion—it felt like I was stunned that this came out it’s like a mainstream film in 1973. I was like, how was this not like X-rated in the ’70s. It’s still pretty crazy to me.

MARTIN The Exorcist is not my favorite film of all time, like Iain’s, but it’s really comfortably in the top ten, maybe even top five. It’s a really, really special piece of filmmaking, in my opinion. So much deeper than just like a horror movie if you ask me, you know, the sort of a lot of pretty deep questions. And someone I guess—maybe interesting that you said that you grew up in the church Iain, because my dad’s like a hardcore Catholic, and I’m not, but what all of those things from going to Catholic school, there’s things that kind of, that stay with you, like managing faith and losing faith and talking about—and then the idea of the devil being like the ultimate evil, so to speak. And like all of these things that get wrestled with it in quite a intellectual way. But under the backdrop of this really dark, really fucking scary horror movie, which is really interesting to me. Of course, I also watched it when I was like ten years old, and you know, was deeply traumatized for many years afterwards. But I also get confused when when I hear religious people—like you were saying about your folks—criticize The Exorcist, because to me The Exorcist is like the ultimate pro-religion movie. [Dok laughs] It’s the only movie ever made and as far as I can tell, where like the priest is the hero of the story and saves the day the way that you might expect Bruce Willis to save the day.

GEMMA And frankly the Catholic Church could do with a few priests as heroes in popular culture.

LAUREN Spotlight after that, maybe they need to remake it to be like “Wait! A priest did a good thing once!” [Lauren & Gemma laugh]

IAIN I think that’s to me one of the probably the most interesting thing about the film. It isn’t really a film about about a young girl who gets possessed by the devil, it’s a film about this priest who’s sort of losing his mother and wrestling with his faith and the whole like, what use am I in the church if I don’t even believe? And it’s a whole kind of crisis of, of conscience. And that to me is the crux of the of the movie.

GEMMA We get Jack at Letterboxd to deliver us some Jack facts as we go through your favorites and he’s just come through at the last minute now we’ve added The Exorcist into our five faves. With the fact that The Exorcist is on Letterboxd, the most popular film of 1973. And it’s freakin’ second highest rated film behind Sorcerer. I don’t know why that is. Ranks number 30 on the all time Letterboxd horror list and was the first horror film to win the Oscar for screenplay, which is fascinating. I never knew that! But even so, given that it was massive at the time it came out, do you think that part of how The Exorcist has only grown in stature and mythology over the years is because of William Friedkin himself and what what a banter he is? There’s so many documentaries and so many books out there, you know, by him and featuring him. He’s just a raconteur.

IAIN He says exactly the same thing in every interview he’s ever done about the exercise since 1990 whatever. You know, I think the Fear of God one is the first one I saw. And his stories and his partner’s are exactly the same every time. And I love listening to him. But get some new stories, Billy. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

MARTIN I don’t know if this is probably an every single Exorcist documentary ever. But the great story is the actor whose name escapes me, who plays Damien Karras.

IAIN Jason Miller.

MARTIN Yeah, there’s a scene where he’s in his apartment and he can hear the outside kind of hubbub of the night. And then there’s a gunshot and it’s a really intense, really terrifying, really, it’s kind of a jumpscare. But, you know, a very psychological jumpscare where this guy’s like, managing so much. And apparently Billy really shot a real gun and didn’t tell him that he was gonna do it. And his reaction on screen is the reaction to him hearing an actual gunfire that’s like six feet away. [Iain laughs]

IAIN Yeah, I think he had a bit of a reputation for doing that on the set of The Exorcist too. Like really unsettle the actors. And you know, Max von Sydow, who plays Marin the altarpiece, when Billy did that, he turned around and said, “If you ever do that again, I’m walking off this set and I’m not coming back, because I’m an actor, but I mean, let me act.” [Iain laughs]

SLIM I think I had watched Rope, a rewatch a Rope before I rewatched The Exorcist recently and there’s this great subtext obviously in Rope of the two leads. I actually picked something up between Karras and Father Dyer in The Exorcist, there’s a lot of very emotional scenes between the two of them, where they kind of like holding back their emotions of like yearning between the two. There’s that famous scene where I think Karras is like tired and Dyer comes in and like takes his shoes off at bed.

IAIN With the whiskey.

SLIM There’s the scene at the piano. Yeah, so that was another layer that on this, maybe like my tenth watch, I was like, oh, I never really noticed this before. I wonder if that was intentional or not? I’m not sure if you picked up on that.

IAIN Yeah, well, the sort of director’s cut or I think it’s called “the version you’ve never seen” which is definitely a Billy Friedkin decision to call it. The original ending—or sorry, his intended ending—has them sort of like, you know, sort of meet up and he hands over the—

SLIM The medallion.

IAIN Yeah. And it’s more of a kind of like happy, everything’s well, you know, God is in heaven, and all is well with the world sort of ending. But it wasn’t like that in the original. It was a much more abrupt ending when the family left, you know, in the car and stuff like that.

MARTIN But isn’t it also the case that in the screenplay, one of the woman says to the other, “My heart has a wish that you would not go?”

IAIN Yes, the archaeologist in Iraq at the beginning says that in the in the novel to Marion before he leaves.

MARTIN Oh, I thought it was between the priests.

IAIN My old band named an album after that. [Iain & Gemma & Slim laugh]

MARTIN Yeah, that’s what made me think about it.

LAUREN I didn’t know that until this exact moment. I didn’t know that was what that was from.

GEMMA Well, that’s a perfect segue into a not insignificant question I’ve prepared earlier. You have a list on your Letterboxd profile for Chvrches, it’s called In Search of Darkness. And the tagline is, “movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative.” And I wanted to know how have movies made you psychos more creative? [Iain & Lauren laugh]

LAUREN I think especially for this album, we rewatched a lot of things knowing that we wanted there to be that kind of imagery throughout the songs and the sounds and the lyrics and it’s not a concept album in the purest sense. It’s like personal stories, but they’re told through that lens. And I think, I don’t know, I think so much of creativity—and I used to not think this was the case, I used to think I was just skiving and being lazy—but I think so much of what ends up being creative for me is watching things, reading things. Not a lot of it is music based, most of it is taking in other forms of art that’s not audio and films have always been like a big part of that for me, I think. And for all of us I think. You find a lot about yourself from watching films, I think. And this album was very fun because I we don’t actually go around talking like that to people. It’s not who we are on a day to day basis but I thought it was more fun to play with characters and the songs are all personal but there’s like layers of things on the record. Like there’s a song called ‘Final Girl’ on the album and how can you take that trope and the other tropes that are in horror and in society and write those into songs in a creative way? If that doesn’t sound too pretentious.

[Final Girl by Chvrches fades in]

GEMMA None of it sounds pretentious.

SLIM Pretentious meter isn’t even moving.

IAIN Have you got one of those? [Dok laughs]

SLIM Yeah, not budging.

GEMMA I have to say we’re about to jump into A Nightmare on Elm Street but pretty much in response to having watched it this week for this and listened to ‘Final Girl’ and I looked at the Letterboxd page for A Nightmare on Elm Street and I was like, why do we have Johnny Depp as the backdrop? He’s not even—what the? So I’ve issued an instruction this morning to our team at HQ and now we proudly have Nancy up there as the backdrop for A Nightmare on Elm Street because, you know, why are we even ignoring her in the first place?

MARTIN He’s not a very redeeming—there’s not much redemption for this character. He just falls asleep a bunch then he dies at the end. That’s literally it. He lays Nancy down like a bunch of times and then he gets sucked into the bed.

GEMMA You had one job! You had one job!

SLIM He’s wearing that like football player tank though. [Slim laughs]

MARTIN Oh yeah, the exposed midriff. Yeah.

SLIM Wes Craven, quote unquote “one of the masters of horror”. 1984 This is a 3.8—

IAIN A master of horror.

SLIM A—singular. 2.1 thousand other people have this in their faves. If you’re not familiar with the synopsis of Nightmare on Elm Street, you can probably just give it a watch right now. Please. Teenagers in a small town are dropping like flies. And on the grip of mass hysteria causing suicide. The cop’s daughter Nancy Thompson traces the cause to a child molester Fred Krueger, who was burned alive by angry parents many years before and he’s come back and infiltrating their dreams. So who among you has this as the number one? Is it Dok? Judging by that poster behind you.

MARTIN Yes, yes, it is me. You know, and the poster behind me is actually, it’s for Dream Warriors. It was close between the original Nightmare and Dream Warriors as to which is my favorite. Dream Warriors being the third. And the poster that no one can see, so it’s very boring. It’s by this guy called Jay Dombrowski. It was a Mondo thing, where he did this kind of comic-book cover and the art really spoke to me. But the Nightmare on Elm Street let’s forget, you know, two, four, five, six.

IAIN C’mon! [Slim laughs]

MARTIN I mean, I should preface it by saying that most of them are about the same. And do what makes me sad about it is they took to me what is arguably the most chilling, most terrifying concept for a horror film of all time, and sort of made fun of it towards the end. Like the idea that you when you, when you are at your most vulnerable and are utterly defenseless, is the one time that you’re not risk to this, the boogeyman, is such an amazing hook. Like that was such an original hook. That that’s what makes it so special to me. And like my relationship with it of course, I think I was maybe ten years old, eleven years old at my cousin’s house. “Oh we’re gonna watch this film. Ha ha ha! We’re going to watch this thing about this guy that wants to kill little kids called Freddy Krueger. This burnt-up pedophile guy. Burnt pedo.” And I watched it and I think I slept with the light on for about a year afterwards. I had real trouble getting over the idea that this guy could come from any moment in my sleep. The hook was so powerful. And of course, as an adult, you know, as you get older, it starts to have less power over you. But even now, even still, when I watched that movie, and still can I get transported by that little—being a little kid and having that like, extreme moment of fear. It’s led to total obsession with the series. And I’ve seen them all like hundreds of times. But one and three are the only movies that I could recommend on a podcast like this and not feel like I was saying that people were going to be wasted their time.

SLIM Are you going to get those Freddy Krueger Vans that they just released?

MARTIN You know, I just saw Freddy Krueger Vans that they just released. And I did think to myself ‘Could I really pull them off?’ [Iain laughs] But I don’t know man.

IAIN I saw them in real life. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA There are so many ways in which we could talk about this film. I’m just thinking to zero in, could you each pick and talk about one scene that jumps out at you?

MARTIN Well, I’ll kick it off. But like, there’s one scene that sticks out to me so much that I don’t think gets talked about enough. I think there’s a character—and this is fresh in my mind because we just watched it—but the character of Nancy’s mother throughout the whole movie is effectively a child, the roles are reversed. And Nancy has to take on the role of an adult to her alcoholic, Xanax’d mother. They take it so far that eventually when the final scene when Nancy is about to fight Freddy and she’s just set up all the house, she literally has to put her mother to bed the way that an adult might do with her child is thought that that was a really nice—a really interesting thread through the whole movie. The way your parents are supposed to be your protectors when you’re in high school and protect you when you’re vulnerable. But Nancy’s mother’s contribution to the movie was to drInk a bunch, put bars on the windows so she absolutely could not escape and then get pissed and fall asleep and Nancy would have to put her to bed before she takes on this like ultimate evil. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA Not before issuing that zinger.

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street plays]

NANCY You’re going to get to sleep tonight if it kills me.

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street ends]

MARTIN Well there you go. Yeah. [Dok laughs]

IAIN Oh yeah, that’s a classic.

MARTIN The ultimate line. [Dok laughs]

SLIM Lauren, what about you what jumps out at you from Nightmare on Elm Street?

LAUREN Only properly occurred to me on the rewatch we had the other day—because I haven’t seen it since I was in high school, I don’t think. And on the rewatch I was struck by the fact that basically every male character in this film is complete crap.

GEMMA Yes!

LAUREN Which is not something that happens—like her dad is allegedly in charge of the situation. He’s the Sheriff—is he the Sheriff? Yes. He’s the chief police or whatever, he’s in charge of investigating and he’s not doing a good job. Both boyfriends of both characters are completely useless in these situations. And I guess that’s why she’s one of the poster women for final girls because it’s up to her to figure out what happened to Tina, it’ss up to her to save herself, to save her friends, to save whoever. And I guess that’s what’s interesting when you talk about the fact that Johnny Depp is the main breakout star that people remember from that because his presence in the film is kind of underwhelming and he’s not really pivotal to the plot necessarily. He has an iconic death scene but ultimately him as a character—I’m like for once, I suppose he’s almost a prop to advance Nancy’s character which doesn’t happen an awful lot.

GEMMA And you know, in fact, the way he’s dressed in that little crop top but almost like he is the dumb blonde.

SLIM Eye candy?

LAUREN And I read something once that said that his outfit in that was  a direct inspiration for the Tatum outfit that Rose McGowan wears in Scream.

SLIM Whoa.

LAUREN The crop sports dress. But, yeah, and this was a film that we thought about, I thought about a lot when writing lyrics for Screen Violence because I really, really, really wanted to get “never sleep again” in somewhere. And we finally got it in on a song called ‘Violent Delights’. And there’s actually a little sneaky etching on the vinyl of the record which Iain was the king. And love coordinating so there’s a little nightmare based treat on the physical vinyl if anybody gets it.

IAIN You’ll need to buy it to find out what it is. [Lauren & Iain laugh]

SLIM You have to play it backwards at midnight and you’ll see what happens next. [Gemma laughs]

LAUREN And then Freddy appears.

SLIM Iain, what jumps out at you for this film?

IAIN Well, I mean can I just preface this by saying that I—you’ll laugh at this Lauren—I unironically think that Freddy’s Revenge is the best of the Nightmare movies because—and I know that’s a deeply unpopular opinion—but it’s just so fucking weird. It’s one of these films that that you watch and you’re like, ‘is this really bad or is this like really intentionally kind of dream like and real but unreal?’ And it’s kifn of more of a possession story than A Nightmare on Elm Street story because Jesse is possessed by Freddy and obviously it’s an allegory of him coming out and stuff like that. But yeah, the reason I mentioned that is because for me it’s the kind of teenage stuff that they do in the Nightmare films that’s the most powerful. You know, it’s that kind of teenage sexual awakening thing. And the scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where the couple are having sex and get murdered and the room start spinning and like oh, Jesus Christ, that’s still so powerful. It’s so powerful and weird.

GEMMA Again, that script writing economy. There’s that beautiful, very funny moment and Nightmare on Elm Street where, where Johnny Depp’s character just goes—

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street plays]

GLEN Reality sucks.

[clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street ends]

GEMMA One of my favorite lines in the whole film.

MARTIN It just occurred to me that we’ve got this far in talking about Nightmare and we haven’t mentioned Robert Englund once. [Slim & Dok laugh] It’s really sad. Because not only did that guy like, take a character that could have been really basic and turn it into like an eight or nine movie franchise, whatever the hell it is. But he brought so much life to it. And I was actually watching a documentary recently about it, that everyone should check out if they’re into the series, it’s called Never Sleep Again, I believe. And it’s like four hours long or something like that. And they tried to replace them on the second movie. Did you see this, Iain?

SLIM No.

MARTIN His agent was asking for too much money because he made the first movie during his like John Wayne meets Jimmy Cagney like, sort of like, this in life that you brought to the character. And they got some random guy and like the makeup and like a hat, and he shot the scenes with him for Freddy’s Revenge before realizing just how much Englund was bringing to the role. And eventually caved and payed him what he was worth. [Dok & Gemma laugh] It kind of highlighted just how crap Freddy could be if if it was in the wrong hands. So I just want to digress and shout out Robert Englund.

GEMMA I love that. But also you know, kids just know, we know, right? There’s a clip that’s going around on Twitter at the moment if you look up Horror4Kids account of Robert Englund on Nickelodeon promoting Nightmare on Elm Street 4.

SLIM Geeze.

GEMMA With you know, a couple of tweenage hosts of this kid’s show. And there’s Robert Englund showing up. [Gemma laughs] Like it’s just you know, Paddington dropping in to talk about the latest film. [Slim laughs]

LAUREN That’s horrifying!

IAIN It does become silly, though.

SLIM Yeah, I think it eventually became a parody of itself, probably, after maybe the third one. So people were like almost in on it a little bit.

GEMMA Since we’re talking about Wes and we’re talking about sequels, I mean, should we just dive straight into Scream? Let’s just get all of the Wes out of the way.

SLIM Continue the Wes train.

LAUREN Might as well.

GEMMA 1996 with Wes Craven directs. Kevin Williamson, creator of Dawson’s Creek writes. This is Scream that has a 3.9 average on Letterboxd which is higher than Nightmare on Elm Street by one point.

SLIM Wow.

GEMMA Which seems wrong but, eh, recency bias. [Slim laughs] And you, Chvrches, one of 11,000 fans of this film. A lot of people have Scream in their four favorites. And here we move on from Freddy and we move on to a killer known as Ghostface, who started killing off teenagers. And as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the rules of horror films, as they find themselves living in a real life one. Who’s favorite is Scream?

SLIM Show yourself.

LAUREN This is me. Yes, this was my choice. Partly because I think it was a very formative one during the right era for me, because I guess I remember seeing it at a sleepover when I was maybe twelve, or thirteen, which we probably shouldn’t be doing. But I also think the fact that it’s written by Kevin Williamson is a big part of it for me, because I did watch a lot of Dawson’s Creek at the time. I have seen most teen TV shows from that time, and I’ve seen most of teen movies from that time, and The Ring and 90% of the rest of them is just not as good. And I think the only way you can make a film that successfully, meta analyzes the genre of horror to have somebody like Wes Craven, who actually fully understands it. Like without the first ten minutes of that film—which is just like a masterclass in horror—without that you’re like, well, but you’re pulling a thread of something that maybe you don’t fully understand. And you’re being condescending to the genre, and you’re making it tongue in cheek when it shouldn’t be. But I think after the first ten minutes, you can kind of do whatever you want. And the stories, the characters, the writing, the performances. And I know that Kevin Williamson wrote—did he write The Faculty as well? And a bunch of other things.

SLIM He helped on Halloween H20 as well.

LAUREN Which was not—it’s interesting, because I’ve seen all of those, but one of the better Halloween sequels if we have to have them. [Slim laughs]

SLIM High praise.

LAUREN I rewatched, all of the Scream canon in the run up to this one coming out, and I watched the documentary called Still Screaming, which is on YouTube. And yeah, I think the first one is still obviously far and away the best one, but I also think that it gets shit on because it’s—like shit on critically because it’s a ’90s movie and everyone’s like, “oh ’90s, oh teen movies”. And that kind of detracts from how good it is. I don’t know.

SLIM Yeah, I think you’re right. I recently rewatch this this past year. And it definitely feels like frozen in time, like, mid ’90s. I mean, even the close of the students. It feels like—I grew up on Dawson’s Creek too, it just feels very Kevin Williamson, which is like the for people that watched his stuff, you kind of know what that means. But it still holds up. It’s still like tongue in cheek font of them, making fun of slashers and they’re sort of like rejuvenating slasher movies. You know, like, I don’t think it was really happening around that time, except Scream. Everyone’s like, oh, okay, we’re doing this again. It’s back.

LAUREN I think it made it more of a respected genre again. And I do think that ultimately for me, I find the villains in the first Scream specifically a lot scarier, because to me, that’s almost reality, like more women are killed by people they know by intimate partners than anybody else. So that to me is actually more scary to carry around in the back of my head on a day to day basis than Freddy Krueger, who scared me a lot when I was small, and it’s still very creepy and uncomfortable. It’s a different kind of—it’s a different kind of horror film. It’s a different kind of—I don’t know, different kind of fear, I suppose.

GEMMA I remember watching it at the cinema at the time and thinking that that first ten minutes was iconic not only for what it did for the genre, but also because Drew Barrymore, who at that point in time was so famous, such position, to put in that blonde bob wig. And that only I only found out very recently on on rewatching it this time round that the entire role was intended for her. And then she had a scheduling conflict. So she said look, I can turn up into the first ten minutes and then roll into Neve Campbell and it’s one of those things where you can’t imagine it not being Neve. And thanks to Drew Barrymore’s scheduling, you know, conflict because we got a different kind of more grounded I guess, final girl, who was well known, but not with that Hollywood royalty that I guess Drew comes with. There’s something about horror movies working best when the actors in them aren’t too famous. If that makes sense.

[clip of Scream plays]

CASEY Hello?

PHONE VOICE Why don’t you want to talk to me?

CASEY Who is this?

PHONE VOICE You tell me your name, I’ll tell you mine.

CASEY I don’t think so.

PHONE VOICE What’s that noise?

CASEY Popcorn.

PHONE VOICE You’re making popcorn?

CASEY Uh huh.

PHONE VOICE I only eat popcorn at the movies.

CASEY I’m getting ready to watch a video.

PHONE VOICE Really? What?

CASEY Just some scary movie.

PHONE VOICE You like scary movies?

CASEY Uh huh.

PHONE VOICE What’s your favorite scary movie?

CASEY I don’t know.

PHONE You have to have a favorite. What comes to mind?

[clip of Scream ends]

LAUREN Yeah, and I like the bait and switch of like Drew Barrymore being the pool on the poster. And then they do the Janet Lee Psycho thing where she’s not even in half the film. She’s in  tiny percentage of it. And apparently Neve Campbell filmed The Craft and Scream back to back and they came out in that same year. And she was just like, oh!

GEMMA This is who I am!

LAUREN Yeah, I have defined an icon of the ’90s I guess. Yeah.

SLIM Before we drift too far from Kevin Williamson, what did you think Lauren, of the finale of Dawson’s Creek? What did you think of how everyone ended up? [Gemma laughs] The burning question.

LAUREN I did rewatch this during 2020, so I studied up to know this. I think you can tell that they brought him back for the final episode, he had a lot of tidying up to do because it does get pretty rough from—season three is where we’re like oh, right, Varsity Blues and like that kind of stuff has happened so they’re trying to make the Creek a very like sexy, sexual place to be but in a much less wholesome way. And then he wasn’t in charge of the writing for seasons the seasons and they gave him I think the last two episodes, like the second part of the two. He did his best, man. He brought it back down to earth as much as he could. [Gemma laughs] Still pretty sad about the the demise of Jenn, I think that’s one of the most hurtful things that’s ever happened to me. But even watching that, she does like a two camera soliloquy thing for her kids in the end and Michelle Williams, a class above everybody always.

IAIN She’s great.

LAUREN Even in that space. But also everyone, it’s just constant horrendous treatment of Jenn from start to finish. Like if we wrote that now, and I kind of feel like he was maybe trying to make that point in the first season. It’s just terrible thing after terrible thing. And then she dies. Like I don’t know. At least in Scream, some of the, you know, Sydney got to keep going. She got to keep swinging. But I guess in a way it speaks to, maybe we can link that back to the horror aspect because, Jenn was not pure. She was not virginal. So if if Dawson’s Creek was a horror movie, Jenn probably wouldn’t have made it past season one. [Slim laughs]

SLIM That’s an HBO Max reboot waiting to happen.

GEMMA We’re not even getting into the class issues that come up in horror films, but oh my god, I’d like to wrap the Scream segment up with a few Letterboxd observations, because—I mean as we talked about, such a ’90s slasher. The soundtrack is so ’90s. The whole set up is so ’90s. Like landlines, no caller ID, what do slashes do now without landline telephones? [Dok laughs] There are some clues here from Letterboxd members. Sophie writes “if this took place in 2020 the killers would have Letterboxd accounts and would have created lists like “movies to mention when murdering.” And Lily writes “Killer: what’s your favorite scary movie? Me: idk check my Letterboxd.” [Slim & Gemma laughs] And then just one more from Kennedy: “I relate to Randy because I too scream at everybody about the rules of cinema when it is not appropriate, or asked for, at social events.” [Iain & Lauren laugh] But I guess if we are talking about Dawson’s Creek and Jenn and and the general societal treatment of one particular woman. Shall we segue to Brian De Palma’s 1977 classic Carrie?

LAUREN Please.

SLIM Mama mia.

LAUREN Please, let’s.

IAIN Maybe the second best Stephen King adaptation. Just gonna put that out there.

LAUREN What’s the best?

GEMMA Are you saying Misery is the best?

IAIN C’mon. Misery. 

MARTIN Guys, guys. The Shining anyone? [Gemma & Slim laugh]

IAIN Oh, The Shining. Sorry.

GEMMA We are still recovering from the last episode before this one in which we had the founders of Letterboxd, Matthew and Karl on the show and head to ask Karl why he rated The Shining one star out of five.

MARTIN Wooww.

LAUREN Bold! It’s his platform I guess, he can do what he wants.

GEMMA He can do what he wants. You want to know the answer?

IAIN Yeah.

LAUREN Yeah.

GEMMA Too scary.

LAUREN He’s not wrong. He’s not wrong.

MARTIN Ohhh. Well that’s not acceptable. Making a mockery of the rating system. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

GEMMA So I watched Carrie for the first time in my life this week.

SLIM What?!

GEMMA I know—drink. I had been avoiding it because it’s one of those films where the iconography of it cannot live up to the hype and I’m not one to normally get as put off by hype as Slim, my colleague here. But with Carrie in particular, I really was. Hey, you know, I watched it this week. It is it straight out the gate, five star film that sits for me that sits far above Misery and The Shining. This is probably in my top ten of all time, instant. And I would never ever expected to say that at any other point in my life. So let’s dive in. [Slim laughs]

LAUREN Wow!

MARTIN I’m so happy for you.

LAUREN Exciting! Yes, welcome. Welcome to the team.

GEMMA Thank you, Chvrches. Thank you.

LAUREN I feel like this is definitely up there for me, especially when we were making this album, just because I think that Stephen King writes female characters so well. And as you say, like the imagery and the iconography associated with the film is just so defining over genre. So that’s, yes, it’s definitely up there for me. And I know the ending is technically slightly different than the book, I believe. But apparently—I have been listening to the Stephen King On Writing audio book while I’ve been pottering around in my house, minding my business, and he says that he likes the movie, he thinks the movie ending is more fitting for the cinematic version of it, so he’s approved it, it’s all right.

SLIM Brian De Palma directed Carrie, 1976, you know, based on a novel, I rewatched this morning. Got up early to fire this bad boy up. Man, the last 40 minutes of this movie. Are you kidding me? I mean, from the prom on. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

LAUREN It doesn’t let up, really. And I guess—I know, there’s been a lot of conversation around De Palma generally and the graphic violence, sexual violence, all those things. And I feel like for me and Carrie, it works because it’s part of a story. And I guess, especially with horror movies, people talk so much about the male gaze, and I feel like it definitely is an issue in many ways, but to me, and it’s about what the story is, and who’s telling that story. And films made by women, things written by women, can be incredibly misogynistic. And obviously loads of films made by men can be incredibly, incredibly misogynistic. This but to me, I’m like, well, Carrie is one of the only films where every female character gets some kind of interior life. They’re allowed to have more than one female character in the film. And all these people can have their own narratives and their own storylines. And I like the jarring nature of the colors and the extremity of that, if that makes sense. But maybe I’m just too hardcore on Stephen King. I’ll be like, “Yes!” to anything. I don’t know. [Gemma & Lauren laugh]

GEMMA Yeah, it’s a funny one, isn’t it? Because I was looking at the Letterboxd reviews of this and there’s a lot of women I follow on Letterboxd who I respect greatly, writing that they wish that opening wasn’t so male gazy. And yet, so Brat writes, “Wishing this film wasn’t directed by De Palma so it wouldn’t be male-gazey as hell vs. knowing that if it wasn’t directed by De Palma that prom scene would never have been that damn good.” And I sort of stopped and went, okay, I know what I’m getting here. I know a lot of people don’t like it. I know if maybe De Palma or even someone else made it now, that whole opening which is—it’s a classic opening that you get in many, many films, which is a post-workout locker-room theme, right?

LAUREN Yes.

GEMMA We see that a lot. And we see it a lot with dudes. We see it a lot, in a lot of movies with a lot of like cops, sports teams, whatever, we get a woman and this and of course, their teenage gorgeous bodies. And you’re thinking, okay, is it male-gazey? Uh, yeah, sure, the way he’s shooting there—I’m gonna get to the point—the way he’s sort of gazing up and down the bodies. But that all leads to this moment where we see the character of Carrie in the corner of a shower, get her period for the first time, there’s blood running down her arm. The steam is rising, it turns back, and now all the other girls are fully dressed, ready to leave, and then one of them notices, and then it just turns into this mob mentality. And it does work even if it’s a bit sexy to start with. That’s kind of the point. Like we talked about this multiple times on this episode already about the intersection of sex and horror, and the intersection of morality and teenagers. I don’t know, it’s funny, because I will be the first to be all, oh, male gaze, but in this case, I’m defending De Palma. I can’t believe those words came out of my mouth!

LAUREN Yeah. I don’t know if in any other context I have or would, but almost—like I always felt when I watched that scene that that’s kind of part of it, like Carrie’s discomfort with who she is and how she exists in the world is because the world we live in is a heavily male gaze dominated society. And what the women, what the girls—well all young girls, definitely I did, what you want to try and be and what you want to enhance about yourself is all the things that please those things, because you just want to be liked. You want to be accepted. You want to be wanted, in some way, not even sexually, but just in some way. So if anything, I’m like, well, that’s a very honest way of telling it and it shows why the girls are so aggressive to each other because we’re vying for this prize, which is empty ultimately, but you’re like this is the only way I survive is to make myself was appealing in this space as possible.

GEMMA Even when men aren’t in the room. I have a distinct memory from high school, from a high-school physical-education class. At the end of that class when we went back to the changing rooms and our teacher proceeded to weigh us in front of each other, and write down our weights and stones.

IAIN What the fuck?

GEMMA I know! I know! And I was just like, I’m watching that scene, I’m like, of course that’s how—yes, yes, it is a male-gaze camera, but it’s also how we have been taught to gaze at ourselves at each other for so many years that takes eons to overcome and for what prize? You mentioned all for the prize. And the prize is what? A boorish beer drinking John Travolta who’s just a dick? [Gemma laughs]

LAUREN All other Stephen King characters, you’re like this is surprise, this is what you get. You’re like, no! [Gemma laughs]

SLIM How about a William Katt’s hair in this movie? Tommy Ross. [Dok laughs]

GEMMA Oh my god.

LAUREN So many specific styling choices.

GEMMA I guess the greatest American hero actually seems like a really lovely prom date and he pulled off something that really makes you trust that—yeah, the kindness.

SLIM He’s not gonna screw it up. Yeah, he’s not gonna like pull a fast one. Every time I watched this movie, I’m wait a minute—does he turn into an asshole at the end of this? Or is he like legit? I can never remember why watch it. Even after the end, he’s like freaking out that the blood came down. He’s like, “what the heck is is shit?” Also the no audio when the blood drops, all you can hear—you can’t even hear them laughing. You just hear the dripping and then even the bucket when it hits him and he’s kind of like falls and cascades. It’s just an amazing directorial choice in that scene. Dok, what scenes jumped out at you from Carrie?

MARTIN The prom scene is the one—it’d be foolish of me not to just go for the obvious because it’s not just the most iconic scene in this movie, it’s one of the most iconic scenes ever. From any movie that we still talk about. Even now. There’s so much lore around the, what was in the—what was used in the blood? Was it pigs blood? Was it this? Was it that? And as a climax, like a final straw, the way that that all plays out, the amount of tension and the amount of frustration in that movie is just, it’s spectacular. Like it’s such a special moment, such as facial film. I don’t want to be sticking up for Brian De Palma and you guys can probably be stronger than me, but the guy is an incredible filmmaker. And that is a very special scene and a very special film.

SLIM Nicolas Cage in Snake Eyes anyone? [Slim & Gemma laugh] It’s no Carrie, though, to be honest.

GEMMA I just want to do a shout out to the brilliance of horror scripts, the best scripts once again, purely for the line in Carrie, that is when her mother comes in as she’s getting ready for the prom and looks at her dress and dirty pillows and says—

[clip of Carrie plays]

MARGARET WHITE Red. I might have known it would be red.

[clip of Carrie ends]

GEMMA And Carrie’s like, “it’s a pink dress.” But then—dot, dot, dot. It’s just like whaaat!

LAUREN Mothers and daughters, man. There’s a certain kind of storytelling that goes along with mothers and daughters. And I guess, yeah, even thinking about the prom scene. I’m like this whole film is about women trying to—she wants her daughter to be a certain way so she can achieve this ultimate goal. And the whole, she finally feels relieved because she’s achieved the ultimate heteronormative terrible gender-norm prize of being anointed the plus one of this guy and then it all goes to shit.

GEMMA Be careful what you wish for when you want to be Jesus’ plus one, Mom. [Slim & Dok laugh]

SLIM That sounds like a tagline for me that’s gonna hit Shudder at some point in the future. It’s an amazing tagline. [Gemma laughs]

IAIN I’d watch it.

GEMMA We have one more film to cover which is the most recent film on the list. But should we should we talk a little bit of Screen Violence first? Because I feel like we have so many questions about your new album. Like first of all, can we talk about John freakin’ Carpenter remixing one of your songs? And also you remixing one of John freakin’ Carpenter’s songs? What the?

IAIN The master of horror. [Gemma laughs]

SLIM Add it to the list.

[Good Girls by Chvrches and John Carpenter plays]

LAUREN He’s got the Twitter handle. He’s cornered the market. He is officially the horror master. [Gemma laughs]

SLIM How much of an impact was, you know, Carpenter’s scoring growing up? I mean he’s one of the best in the biz for those movies, in my opinion. Iain, does that jump out for you?

IAIN Oh, absolutely huge, yeah. Escape from New York is a particular favorite of mine but obviously the Halloween is still iconic. But it was just so simple like everything that he did. Growing up, you were so used to hearing kind of like big Hollywood scores and big orchestral arrangements and sort of vying for position in the soundtrack with voice and effects and everything. But the way that he did those and now inherited those early scores there’s just so much space for the atmosphere of the film to so coexist with the music because it was so simple and so effective. And yeah, just great taste as well. The synth sounds and drum sounds. Yeah, we’re definitely heavily influenced by him, as much as musicians, I think as a filmmaker.

MARTIN What’s funny is my favorite John Carpenter film is in fact, not a horror film, in my opinion, and that’s Big Trouble in Little China.

GEMMA Oh!

MARTIN My sister and I must have watched that movie 50 times when we were kids. There was something about it that really appealed. Working with John Carpenter in any capacity is not something that you ever think growing up as a fan that is going to happen. But I guess when we had the idea for the album when we were talking about what we were going to do, we quickly the idea of, oh, we should have a composer reimagine one of the songs. Someone like John Carpenter would be cool. And it was shortly after we just like secured the Robert Smith collaboration. And we were like, I guess we were a bit high on our supply, and so we decided well, we should just ask John Carpenter, obviously. [Gemma laughs] Because you just ask your heroes and they say yes now, that’s the thing.

IAIN That’s how it works, yeah.

MARTIN Unbelievably, he did say yes and he actually offered the remix swap—or I don’t know who. Maybe it was our manager. But he was like, oh you can pay me or you can remix one of mine. And we didn’t need to be asked twice for that. [Slim & Gemma laugh] So it was a just an amazing moment in this campaign that’s been full of highlights.

GEMMA Robert Smith. Oh my god. So the seven inch of these remixes is going to be on sale in December. Is there gonna be a sneaky little Easter egg on that vinyl?

LAUREN I think it just looks really cool. No, as far as we know there’s no hidden messages or demons inside of the actual thing. [Lauren laughs]

SLIM Doesn’t say like “Iain is dead. Iain is dead” if you play it backwards? [Dok laughs]

IAIN You just cursed me, Slim! [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA Who did the artwork for it? It’s so great.

IAIN Oh, that was a friend of ours and somebody who has collaborated with us for many years called Jamie McKelvie. A comic artist and comic writer. And yeah, he definitely had a lot of fun doing the artwork.

SLIM It’s like six degrees of separation. I grew up reading comics and Jamie’s an amazing artist. And I remember, I interviewed Jamie—doing my own flex right now. I interviewed Jamie and about, I think he had just finished Young Avengers around that time. And I think it was around the time where the video came out that he worked with—that he worked with around that time.

LAUREN He’s such a lovely dude and has been so kind to us. And like every record—like the run up to this record, once people knew we’re putting out, the’re like, “Is Jamie gonna do anything for this album?” We’re like, he’s very busy doing lots of stuff that’s much too massive for him to think of us. But he specifically asked if you could do something on the record. And this was yes, we felt good about being like could you do? Because this feels like more of an even trade. And the only artwork note that came back was the John Carpenter’s team were like, he wants to look more his age, you’ve made him look too young. [Slim & Gemma laugh] So Jamie was like ah, I need to do a bit more editing. I was like, that’s just very on brand on what you would hope John Carpenter to be like.

GEMMA That’s so beautiful. You also did a track with Robert Smith of The Cure. And did you take a moment to ask him what his favorite horror movie is? What do you think it will be?

MARTIN I’m probably just gonna—yeah, I was just gonna speculate that it’s probably Nosferatu.

[How Not to Down by Chvrches and Robert Smith plays]

MARTIN Like in my mind, he drinks red wine. And his end he lives in a castle and he watched Nosferatu.

LAUREN A scholar of the classics.

IAIN I never really thought about it. Maybe it would be something like, some kind of German expressionist thing. [Gemma laughs]

SLIM He probably has that castle—remember the castle in the OG Dracula?

GEMMA Oh my god, totally imagine he lives there.

IAIN Wonder if you Google it, like what’s Robert Smith’s favorite horror film? [Slim laughs]

GEMMA While we’re talking about Screen Violence the album, another Letterboxd list that you dropped in the in the lead up to release is called Hellbent on Revenge and it is really interesting new breed of modern horror is with women really getting their own or indeed dealing with the horror of never getting revenge. Like I May Destroy You, that series, Promising Young Woman, Invisible Man, Swallow, Violation, Midsommar. I love seeing that Grace Jones documentary on that list. That is amazing. These are, yeah, films I guess that seem to dig into the post-trauma part of violence rather than the in the moment act of trauma.

LAUREN Well, I’m really glad that people enjoyed the clues that we were leaving on the Letterboxd. Because I was like, wonder if anyone will see these or is this just a fun thing for me to do for me, so that ten other people can talk to me about it later. But yeah, I think things like I’m really glad that you said that—oh there’s the drill again. Sorry, everybody. [Gemma & Slim laugh] I’m hell bent on revenge against that guy who’s been drilling on this whole podcast. But I think that is one of the things we were thinking about for the record. And me, especially for lyrics, it’s like, the album itself is not like there’s violent imagery, but it’s not about the moment of violence. It’s about the what comes after. And I feel like so much of the time, in films and in media, generally, even in news media, when people talk about violence against women, that’s kind of the secondhand voyeurism, even if you’re not the perpetrator, the way that it’s written about, the way it’s reported, there’s kind of a—I don’t know, there’s a second hand, not enjoyment—but nobody ever talks about though, why did that happen? And what happens after that? And I think that a lot of those films are about that.

GEMMA Yeah.

SLIM God, Violation is a heavy movie.

GEMMA Have you ever seen it?

SLIM That’s the cabin one, right?

GEMMA Yeah, yeah, yeah. Lauren, have you seen that one?

LAUREN Yes. It was not—I don’t think I ever want to watch it again.

GEMMA No. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

SLIM For sure.

LAUREN But I think that—the ones that stick with me, kind of like what we were saying about Scream I suppose, the ones that stick with me and haunt me the most aren’t necessarily the ones with big scary monsters, even though I love those kinds of things. And I love the creature features. And I think that women are used in horror so much, but it’s not a lot of the time about their stories. They’re in the story, but it’s not their story. And I think that’s why it’s something like I May Destroy You or Promising Young Woman is so interesting, because I think that women who watch that have a very different experience to men that watch that. And it’s one of the few times where I’ve watched things with friends or with my partner, who is a male who watched it and was very disturbed, but able to take onboard the information if that makes sense. And yeah, I guess it’s interesting because those stories can be told, but when they’re told mostly by women, then it has a different outcome. Like think how many horrible, horrible insensitive unhelpful movies that are about rape but these films take the conversation to a different place. It’s not about the action in the moment and how outraged everybody is it’s about what that leaves somebody with and what how haunting something like that is, I guess, I don’t know. It’s a really fun summer of making these Letterboxd lists! [Gemma laughs]

IAIN In the original Funny Games, the first version that Michael Haneke he did that almost making a visual point about what you were just describing there, Lauren, and that he was sort of like linger on the aftermath of a scene like for an uncomfortable a loss of time, you know, you just watch somebody laying there and dying or dead, you know. And there’s a lot of kind of, like fourthwall and sort of commentary about filmmaking and fireism in that film anyway, but yeah, it’s good when people sort of turn these things on their head. By the way, I have an answer. I have an answer to Robert Smith.

MARTIN Oh yeah, go on then.

IAIN Okay, well, it’s not perhaps not his favorite, but it’s an urgent letter from Robert Smith to his record company, and asking him to get a bunch of horror movies.

GEMMA Oh my god, read it.

IAIN This is from the [inaudible] which I guess would be what? 1991? 92? “I hope this fax finds you well. I have a favor to ask of you. I was hoping to have a day off in New York and do a bit of shopping but the addition of—blah blah blah.” Okay. “I was wonder if you could be able to give me the following VHS videos for me. Clockwork Orange, Driller Killer. I Spit on Your Grave. Last House on The Left. Bloodsucking Freaks. Filthy Rich. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and maybe a couple of others you could recommend in the splatter cannibal she-devil vein.”

MARTIN Woooww. [Gemma laughs]

SLIM Incredible. That’s a legit list.

IAIN There you go.

SLIM He’s probably following along this podcast right now. He’s probably seen all the movies you guys are talking about, he’s seen everything on the list already. He’s legit.

IAIN He’s got some interesting tastes. [Iain laughs]

GEMMA I just looked up on Letterboxd to see if anyone has curated a list called “splatter cannibal she-devil” and well, you know what, that genre is wide open to be collated into a list and whoever does it between now and the next episode, we will call you out, I will personally upgrade you to Pro. [Dok laughs] C’mon.

SLIM Shall we talk about the final fav? First ever, maybe the last ever, top five The Letterboxd Show. Get Out. 2017. Written and directed by Jordan Peele. 4.2 on Letterboxd. That is very, very good. 6.3 thousand fans. So other people also have this in their faves. This one, man, this one set the world on fire. Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit their parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship. But as the weekend progresses, a series of disturbing discoveries lead them to the truth that he never could have imagined.

[music from Get Out plays]

GEMMA Oh my god, this film on Letterboxd, honestly that conversation throughout 2017, it just would not die down the discourse. To the point where like this was the seventh film to enter the million watched club on Letterboxd. It was the site’s most popular film for a good several months there. It is number four by Black directors. It is number 21 for the entire decade of the 2010’s and the top rated horror of the 2010’s on Letterboxd. It’s the only horror movie to have won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Exorcist was adapted of course, as well as Silence of the Lambs. Wow.

MARTIN I think this is a good time for me to be honest. And say, I have not seen this film.

SLIM Holy cow. Cut the stream.

GEMMA Dun, dun, dun.

MARTIN This could be another moment like Gemma said, bringing me to the Carrie party. It’s a classic.

SLIM Do you remember, was the hype too strong for you, Dok, when it came out?

GEMMA Let’s just set up a Chvrches watch party. We’ll get all of Letterboxd and Dok together. [Gemma & Lauren laugh]

MARTIN You’re right. I mean, I’m done with that. And you’re exactly right, Slim. It’s something that I like to call—and then we can all identify with, called like The Wire Effect. Because that’s the first time that I ever recognized that this phenomenon, whereby the minute The Wire was ever mentioned in conversation, and you were asked if you had seen it, and if you said no, the reaction was so extreme and so violent. “Like what! Are you alive?! What are you doing with your life? Oh my god, you have to watch it tonight! You gonna watch it tonight? You gonna go tonight?” [Gemma laughs] And then me being me, as someone tries to tell me do something with that amount of vigor, there is no faster and play a way to turn me off a piece of media. And The Wired Effect was present with the amount of hype around Get Out unfortunately.

LAUREN I feel bad. I think I was probably the person to say it to you so constantly. That might have been me. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

MARTIN At the end of the day, I’m very confident that this is a masterpiece and an excellent film that I would really enjoy. But unfortunately, I have never seen it. [Dok laughs]

SLIM Wait for the watch party.

LAUREN You’ll get to it. You’ll get to it.

MARTIN I just didn’t want to get asked the question about what my favorite scene was and I was like, “The one where they’re revealing the thing that happens towards the end?” [Gemma laughs]

LAUREN The one where they’re running?

MARTIN I believe there was a lot of tension and screaming? [Dok laughs]

SLIM That’s the one. Well, Iain, what was your vibe when this was coming out? Jordan Peele, you know, not known for horror. What were you expecting going into Get Out? What did you come out with?

IAIN I didn’t really expect it to be an out and out genre film. Like I thought it would be more about the kind of racial commentary with sort of some horror leanings, but it really did go there, you know? In ways that were very satisfying on both of those levels. But I love the Betty Gabriel character. Is it Georgina? I don’t want to say too much, obviously.

MARTIN Well, I feel like I’m not going to have this podcast ruined for the fact that I haven’t seen it.

LAUREN Just mute us when we’re talking about it.

SLIM Take your headphones out.

MARTIN But you know what, even in having this conversation right now, I feel like enough time has passed and tonight, might even be the night.

SLIM Might be the night!

MARTIN Not tonight, because we’re going to see Alanis Morissette tonight.

GEMMA Wait, what! What!

SLIM You’re gonna cancel Alanis, and you’re gonna stay home and watch Get Out.

MARTIN And tomorrow night because that is Lauren’s birthday and we’re actually going to go to Halloween Horror Nights.

GEMMA Oh wow. [Gemma laughs]

LAUREN I’m hoping I handle it better. It’s been about six years since we went last time and last time we were on tour and then had to go back to hotel room alone. And as much as I enjoy horror, even horror films scare me. I do not enjoy immersive horror experiences. But I am hopeful that maybe I have grown, there’s growth that has occurred and I’m going to my own house where I can like swaddle a cat afterwards and maybe that will make it better and I’m tackling these fears maybe? I don’t know, talk to me after. We’ll see. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA In light of Dok not having seen the film and in light of it having reached the million watch club on Letterboxd and, you know, there’s enough discourse that we don’t necessarily need to add to it here. So okay, so your Letterboxd started off as a hint drop for the new album but now you’re really reviewing movies, including Slim’s 2021 favorite He’s All That. [Slim laughs]

LAUREN Oh!

MARTIN I like He’s All That. 

GEMMA Come on, Dok, why’d you like He’s All That?

MARTIN I thought it was, well, what’s her name? Addison Rae?

LAUREN Addison Rae.

MARTIN Right? I thought she was fairly likable. I thought she was somewhat capable as an actor. And what do children like to do in this day and age? Apparently it’s like do coordinated dancing in front of the camera so they got a bit of coordinated dancing in there. And if we want to be more sociopolitical about it, it was nice to see them flip that movie for the gender swap.

LAUREN But at the end, she still had to change her life for the guy which is the same as She’s All That.

MARTIN Oh yeah.

LAUREN Sorry.

MARTIN Yeah, okay. I don’t think I’ll watch it again. I enjoy it? And I say that—I do I intend that to sound like a question. [Iain & Lauren laugh] It was more of a kind of a like, I was curious about Gen Z and it was like a window into what Gen Z likes and that kind of freaked me out and kind of interested me at the same time. I was just really watching it with beady eyes like an old man. Like what the fuck is happening right now?

SLIM It’s funny, because I went up to say something—I think I went up to tell my son dinner was ready. And he was playing Fortnite and I heard the new album playing in Fortnite. And I was like “James, do you remember who this is? Because I was just playing it in the car.” He’s like, “Oh yeah, this is Chvrches. I know Chvrches!” And I was like, “Well I’m interviewing them for the podcast.” And in that moment I was the coolest dad in history. He was like podcasting is cool. Never in his eyes was podcasting legit. But he was like, oh, okay. This is real now.

GEMMA I’m so disappointed slash impressed that James has removed himself from the house in this moment.

LAUREN He’s got a life!

GEMMA Yeah, he’s got a life. Your list Pull me into the screen at the end is a list you’ve created on Letteboxd. And it’s clearly saying something about this wave hand around digital mess we’ve gotten ourselves in as a people, regardless of whether you want to elaborate on there, which I’d love to hear you do. Which horror film would you be gladly pulled into the screen of?

MARTIN Wow, that’s a great question.

LAUREN I would love to be in The Craft.

SLIM Ohhh.

LAUREN Before things go—or maybe if I was one of the points of the quadrangle, maybe it wouldn’t go south, or maybe it would go south much faster. I can’t tell. I feel like we are all a little bit Nancy and a little bit not, depending on the day. But I feel like I could live in that universe. I like the soundtrack. I like the styling. I like a little bit of the witchy bullshit. So yeah. [Slim laughs] So yeah, I’ll go there.

GEMMA I hear you sister.

IAIN Gosh, that’s a really good question. I’m going to say Hellraiser, because—

LAUREN Oof. Sex. [Gemma laughs]

SLIM The horniest movie that is Hellraiser.

IAIN Dark, weird, hellscape, BDSM shit. It’s such a fun movie. But yeah, that was the first one to come to mind. [Iain laughs]

LAUREN Clive Barker designed the cover of zine that we did as part of Screen Violence. We put together a zine of like some writing and some fans submissions and things.  And we were like maybe, maybe some like you know, an automated message will come back from him being like go away. But yeah, he actually drew something for us and we’re like what! What!

SLIM That’s insane.

LAUREN So maybe if you go into Hellraiser you’d have a better time because you already know. [Slim laughs]

GEMMA Alright, Dok, you’re up.

MARTIN So I’ve actually given this some thought in the past, might not surprise you to hear. But I would choose House II. The much underrated—have you seen House II Iain?

IAIN I haven’t man, I saw the first one.

MARTIN House is crap. The first House movie—I mean, sorry, if you like that or something. But House II is actually an amazing romp. And the concept of the movie is like the house is kind of like a gateway to like some other parallel dimensions and like weird spaces and I guess they had no budget in the first movie because you never—it’s always suggested that there’s going to go into the other dimension but you never really see anything. You see some like kind of random puppet looking things coming out of the cupboard. And that’s that. But in House II, they actually had a bit more cash going on and it’s like they’re going in this jungle scene. And there’s like loads of like really fun things that happened. And it’s not very scary for a horror movie. But I always thought that it would be quite fun to be in that universe. And also it’s now my fiance and I’s two year Halloween ritual that we’ll drive to the house in question. We just live like ten minutes, like ten, fifteen minutes farther east, and the people who own it do the house and the most amazing like Halloween decorations. And they really like good timing on it is beautifully let and it’s old, awesome, awesome place. So whoever bought the place, was down to protect the legacy of the place, which I think is really cool. And I’d recommend you go and visit sometime this month. Because it’s really fun.

LAUREN I’ll watch House II and then I’ll go. [Gemma laughs] Or maybe I should go see it first and then watch the film so I’m not as terrified? I don’t know.

MARTIN Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s really—I mean, it’s kind of scary.

LAUREN Everything scares me, you know this.

MARTIN The first House movie is more—I think it’s supposed to be like a psychological thing. It’s one of those movies like Pet Sematary where you think in your mind that it’s still really good and then you go and watch it in actuality and you’re like damn, this movie was great.

SLIM Breaking news. There’s four House movies.

MARTIN There’s four House movies?! Okay, I’ve only seen one and two.

SLIM Yeah, House IV, William Katt comes back!

MARTIN There you go.

GEMMA Hey, so given that you’ve got a really great track record, as a band of going, huh, imagine if someone like John Carpenter would remix the song—and then John Carpenter remixes a song. Imagine if someone like Robert Smith from The Cure sang with—oh my god. Just bearing in mind that the director of Billy Idol’s music video for ‘Dancing With Myself’ was none other than Tobe Hooper.

MARTIN Wow.

IAIN Wow.

GEMMA If you could have a music video directed by any horror director—

MARTIN David Lynch.

SLIM David Lynch.

GEMMA Oh my god. [Gemma laughs]

IAIN I was gonna choose another David. Cronenberg.

SLIM Oh, the master of body horror himself.

LAUREN I mean, maybe this is a cheap one because he’s made a lot of music videos. But Edgar Wright or Nia DaCosta because the new Candyman was amazing.

GEMMA Ohhh, yes.

LAUREN I’m excited to see what she does after this.

GEMMA Put it out into the universe and maybe it happens.

MARTIN Can we just take a minute to give some respect to that new Candyman movie? Because I did not go into that with high expectations. I love Candyman, like I think it’s right up there and it totally stands up the original. I didn’t realize that it was not a remake but a sequel until I went to see it and it is awesome. I 100% recommend to anyone who has remote interest in horror, you should go and see the new Candyman movie.

SLIM The visuals on that movie—I searched up her filmography after, like halfway through the movie. I was like, what else has she done? This is a pleasure to look at. I had no idea either there was like a spiritual sequel. Because once I started hearing names, I was like wait a minute, isn’t that so and so from—like I started to put it together I was like, oh shit, it’s about to get real.

LAUREN You were quicker than me. I only picked up it where I was like, weird, we’ve been talking a lot about his mum, but we’ve not seen his mum. And then there was a point where I was like whoa, wait a minute! And I only fully figured—this is what I guess why I’m a good movie watcher because I don’t ever see twists coming every at any point. So literally when the door was opened, I was like oh my gosh! [Slim laughs]

SLIM Yeah, definitely check out Candyman if you’ve been enjoying our discussion so far. 100%.

GEMMA We could talk all day but you have a tour to prepare for. When do you watch movies when you’re on tour? Like how do you watch movies?

MARTIN Like all the time. [Dok laughs]

LAUREN Yeah, well I guess this tour will be slightly different because we have to be so careful with Covid. We have to be like super, super bubbled. So I don’t really know if we’re allowed to do anything outside the shows which is obviously what we have to do and happy to do it. Glad to do it. But yah, normally under will occasionally we’ll go for a movie trip on a day off because I always find that cinema, no matter where they are, they feel mostly the same. So it feels like a comforting thing, no matter where you are. But we’ve seen a lot of great things through that process and a lot of not so great things because you just have to abide by what’s on at the cinema in your driving time for the time that you stopped. But I think this time we’ll have to watch a lot of movies on the bus because we’re not allowed out. So maybe there’ll be—my new Letterboxd stance post He’s All That, I felt a bit bad about it so I was like, I’m just gonna choose films that we liked and then I’ll review only the ones that we liked because I don’t want to be part of the negativity.

IAIN Oh, you didn’t like He’s All That?

LAUREN No, and I felt bad about it afterward. I felt bad. I was like, I’m not gonna mention it if I didn’t like it. I’m gonna mention it if we did. It’s my new plan.

SLIM I dig it.

GEMMA I love that. Well, we’re just so happy to have you around. And I’ve got a fun fact to share with you which is, that according to the internet, Chvrches started in September 2011. Letterboxd started in October 2011. So happy tenth birthday to all of us!

LAUREN We’re like cousins!

MARTIN That’s cool!

LAUREN That’s what was exciting about getting to use Letterboxd in this way for us, was because we hope the music would find people in the same ways that normally would but because of all the themes on the record, we want to try and find our people. [Lauren laughs] And Letterboxd is the place where they are, I think so thank you guys for having us on and letting us talk more crap about it.

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]

GEMMA Thanks so much for listening to The Letterboxd Show and thanks to our guests this episode, Iain, Dok, and Lauren from Chvrches. Slim, you can faint now.

SLIM Thank you.

GEMMA Chvrches are on tour in the US November and December and kick things off in the UK and Europe from March. All their tour dates are on their website. The link for that is in our notes. Also, that seven-inch vinyl with the John Carpenter and Chvrches remixes? That’s available digitally now and it will be released for sale on seven inch vinyl on the tenth of December. So there’s Christmas sorted.

SLIM There it is. You can follow Slim—that’s me—Gemma and our HQ page on Letterboxd using the links in our episode notes. Thanks to our crew, composing dynamos Moniker for the theme music is, Vampiros Dancoteque. And thanks to Jack does the facts. Our booker, Linda Moulton for looking after our guests and Sophie Shin for the episode transcripts. And to you, for listening. The Letterboxd Show is a TAPEDECK production.

GEMMA And that’s the show. The devil has just come home so I’m off for some dirty Roadhouse whiskey.

[clip of Scream plays]

RANDY And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.” Because you won’t be back.

STU I’m gettin’ another beer, you want one?

RANDY Yeah, sure.

STU [mocking voice] I’ll be right back…

[crowd cheers]

RANDY See, you push the laws and you end up dead.

[clip of Scream ends]

[TAPEDECK bumper plays] This is a TAPEDECK podcast.