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Better Know the Alliance: Halloween Horror Questionnaire Part 2

Halloween is tomorrow and in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it’s shaping up to be a good one, with a great weather forecast.

However, plenty of members of the MNFCA will be inside watching horror movies. In this segment, some of those critics, including Hunter Friesen, Joseph Froemming, Jay Gabler and Kyle Goethe, share their views on how they entered the genre and personal favorites.

This is the second of three posts in this segment, with the final to be posted tomorrow. Click Here for the first part.

Hunter Friesen

What were some horror shows and movies you watched as a kid? / What horror movies have scared you the most?

While I know it isn’t (and shouldn’t) be considered a horror movie, one of the earliest scary movies I watched as a child was “Independence Day.” I was six years old at the time and begged my parents to let me watch it on VHS on July 4th. Despite their trepidation about how I might react, they relented and allowed me to experience it.

Even for all the death and destruction in the beginning sections of the movie, things were going pretty well. That was until the alien autopsy scene, which scared the ever-living hell out of me. I ran out of the room and couldn’t sleep at all that night, forever terrified of an alien coming to get me.

That moment alone turned me away from any scary movies/shows for a good chunk of my childhood. A few other scary scenes from non-horror movies supplemented that experience, such as Doctor Octopus’s hospital scene from “Spider-Man 2” and the chosen poorly scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

What was your first R-rated horror movie?

Because of that traumatic experience, I didn’t venture out to the theater to see an R-rated horror movie until 2018’s “Hereditary.” I had seen other horror-adjacent movies like “Mother!” and “Crimson Peak” in theaters, but they weren’t that terrifying compared to “pure” horror movies.


The buzz for Ari Aster’s film was glowingly positive out of that year’s Sundance Film Festival, so I knew I would be treated to a good movie no matter how I reacted to it. To my surprise that day, I loved the film, especially in how it slowly executed all its scares. Just as “Independence Day” turned me away from horror, “Hereditary” led me back in. Films such as “Climax” and Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” were some of my absolute favorites that year.

What is your favorite horror sub-genre (zombie, slasher, etc.)?

My favorite subgenre of horror would probably have to be possession films, usually ones dealing with the devil, demons, and/or witches. I’ve also been fascinated with history and understanding the past, so having it twisted around in such a dark manner was really interesting to see. “Haxan,” “The Witch,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist,” and “Suspiria” are some of my favorites.

Plus, most of these movies don’t give you perfect answers for why everything is happening, which I think makes them much scarier. The unknown is often the scariest thing to the imagination.

In your time reviewing movies, which horror films do you feel should have received nominations/wins during award season?

Of course, any horror movie has an extremely uphill climb in order to get awards attention. I’m always surprised at how little horror movies represent the Best Makeup/Hairstyling category at the Oscars. Smaller movies such as “Possessor,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Malignant” could have really benefited from a deserved nomination.

But the one movie I was really riding for all season was Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria.” Sure, I may have a little bias considering it was one of my favorite movies of that year, but I felt strongly that it was deserving of a nomination in several categories such as Makeup, Production Design, Sound (who can forget the sounds of the human pretzel scene?), Original Score, and Supporting Actress for Tilda Swinton.

Alas, the extremely poor box office and divided reception killed any chance of those things happening, so now I’m left to stand on my soapbox endlessly repeating “Suspiria was robbed!” until the day I die. Maybe “Bones & All” will bring Guadagnino his recognition?

Joseph Froemming

What were some horror shows and movies you watched as a kid?

Oh, I watched a lot because of USA Up All Night on weekends would show marathons of TV censored horror movies. So, “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series I had watched growing up.

What was your first R-rated horror movie?

First proper R-rated movie would probably be the first “A Nightmare on Elm Street” because I think my brother rented it. I was really young, so I probably spent most of the movie with my eyes closed. The first one I rented as a young teen with my friend would be the “Evil Dead” trilogy, which is dynamite.

What is your favorite horror sub-genre (zombie, slasher, etc.)?

Slasher! For whatever reason, those are always just stupid fun to watch because of how ridiculous they tend to be.

What horror movies have scared you the most?

Only two horror movies scared me. First was my first viewing of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” because the whole “based on real events” and the amazing jump-scare with Leatherface.

Two is “The Exorcist,” because it was both a psychological horror movie and it had the gross stuff too. The idea of a little kid becoming a demon and how well that was done really creeped me out.


In your time reviewing movies, which horror films do you feel should have received nominations/wins during award season?

“Mandy” I was very impressed with visually. It should have gotten more recognition for how well that was shot and edited.

Jay Gabler

What were some horror shows and movies you watched as a kid?

As a kid in the ’80s, I didn’t like horror at all. My cousin had a Freddy Krueger poster on his wall, and I absolutely could not understand how he slept at night. I loved science fiction, though, so most of the horror I saw was as an aspect of sci-fi movies (“Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone” is scarier than you may remember) or fantasy films (“The Dark Crystal,” shudder).

In the wake of “Alien,” there was actually quite a lot of horror in ’80s speculative fiction films.

What was your first R-rated horror movie

Does “Beverly Hills Cop II” count as horror? That was definitely the first R-rated movie my mom let me watch in a theater. I came closer to the genre with “Robocop,” which she let me rent on VHS — but I was such a scaredy cat, I couldn’t even make it through that one.

The first true R-rated horror movie I remember willingly seeing all the way through was “The Blair Witch Project.” I was so scared, but also so impressed. For me, the door to horror was cracked after that.

What is your favorite horror sub-genre (zombie, slasher, etc.)?

Absolutely still sci-fi horror. “Alien” is the gold standard. Recently, it’s been amazing to see sci-fi horror expand into podcasts, plays, and other media.

What horror movies have scared you the most?

I’ve had delicious scares from great movies like “Us” and “Midsommar,” but honestly the movie that’s scared me the most — in the sense that I am fully averse to seeing it or its sequels for any reason — is “Hostel.” I caught part of it at a party, and realized that I just cannot find a place in my life for torture porn. “Saw?” No, nope, never.

In your time reviewing movies, which horror films do you feel should have received nominations/wins during award season? 

“Get Out” (2017) won Original Screenplay, but everybody knew at the time that it was robbed of a Best Picture win; that view has only been validated by the passing years, as it’s become apparent what a watershed that movie was for the horror genre. (“The Shape of Water” was fine and all, but five years later it’s largely relegated to a punch line.)


Also, “Host” (2020) — better known as “the Zoom horror movie” that got people to try Shudder — deserved more awards. I can hardly think of another pandemic-era project that so satisfyingly delivered on its premise. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat because now it works on two levels: it’s a great horror movie, and it’s a sweat-inducing flashback to pandemic lockdowns.

Kyle Goethe

What were some horror shows and movies you watched as a kid?

Thanks to my mother, I grew up a horror fan. The first horror movie I remember was “Halloween” (1978). I believe I was 4 years old when I first saw it. There was something about the simplicity of the story that kept me coming back. If it was on Sci-Fi or USA, I’d stop what I was doing and watch it.

If it was at the video store, we would rent it with the other tapes in our hands, and when I finally saw a VHS copy available at Menard’s, of all places, we had to have it in our collection. The other sequels would make their way into the collection eventually, but the first film (and “Halloween II,” set on the same night) would be regular October viewings.

I also became a “Goosebumps” addict as a child. My brother had “The Haunted Mask” book, and I ripped through it rather quickly, and when I heard of a Saturday morning television series, I had to watch. I believe it was one of the first shows I ever recorded onto VHS for later viewings. Hopefully one day we get a full series release on home video so I can revisit and pass it down.

What was your first R-rated horror movie?

My first R-rated horror movie was Halloween (1978), but I also remember seeing “The Terminator” (very much a slasher with sci-fi elements) at a very young age, probably 7 or 8 (my older brother bought me the VHS tape for Christmas).

Other early R-rated horrors included “Carrie” (1976), the “Child’s Play” trilogy, and a film that I saw on television in the 90s involving aliens coming to Earth through cable signals. I eventually discovered that the film is called “TerrorVision” when it came into my collection, and it’s a staple of my Octobers.

What is your favorite horror sub-genre (zombie, slasher, etc.)?

It’s hard to say that I have a favorite sub-genre as I’m really open to any type of horror, and I can usually find a favorite film in each, but I think MONSTER MOVIES would be the one, as I’ve always been a fan of great creature effects.

There’s something terrifying about seeing something I’ve never seen before. I think of the creatures in Steve Miner’s film House, another staple of my horror youth experience. Then, there’s “Child’s Play’s” Chucky, who keeps getting scarred, chopped up, and destroyed, only to be pieced back together. The unstoppable monster that keeps returning has stayed with me my entire life.

What horror movies have scared you the most?

The first time I remember genuine fear was seeing “Child’s Play 2” and watching a doll strangle a man to death. I had snuck upstairs to see what my family was watching after I went to bed, and I wandered into nightmare fuel. I had a MyBuddy doll, and things were never quite the same.

I remember having trouble finishing Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks,” and I kept making it further and further into the film with each attempt before having to turn it off again. I still don’t know why it bothered me.

Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” had a real effect on me as well. I remember being in the movie theater and having the surround sound of the alien footsteps coming from the rooftop, and the LAST SUPPER scene, when the entire family is cooking their favorite meals before they embrace death at the hands of the alien invaders, has consistently stayed in my memory as I’d never seen a film that tackled mortality in this way.


While Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” are both incredible, his 1985 film “Day of the Dead” is the far superior installment to me, as I’d never seen humanity fail on film in such an effective way. When I finished watching the last bastion of humans fail to stop the undead threat, I remember the film affecting me for days or even weeks after. To this day, it’s my favorite zombie film.

In your time reviewing movies, which horror films do you feel should have received nominations/wins during award season?

  • “10 Cloverfield Lane,” Best Supporting Actor (Goodman) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • “Green Room,” Best Supporting Actor (Stewart).
  • “The Conjuring 2,” Best Director and Best Cinematography.
  • “Don’t Breathe,” Best Picture.
  • “A Quiet Place,” Best Sound and Best Cinematography.
  • “Hereditary,” Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress (Toni Collette).
  • “Us,” Best Actress (Lupita N’Yongo) and Best Original Score.
  • “Gretel & Hansel,” Best Production Design.
  • “The Invisible Man,” Best Picture, Best Actress (Moss) and Best Visual Effects.
  • “Candyman,” (2021) Best Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography.
  • “Halloween Kills,” All the Awards Ever. The movie is great, and I refuse to ignore it.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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