Blood & Ink: An Interview with Rebekah McKendry

Blood & Ink: An Interview with Rebekah McKendry

Rebekah McKendry is one of the many talented folks at the iconic Horror magazine, Fangoria, serving as the Director of Marketing. Utilizing a myriad of skills, she’s made a name for herself in the horror community both in print, on the web, and much, much more.  

How did you become involved with Fangoria Magazine and what are some of your duties? How has this shaped your appreciation of film making and horror?

When I first moved to New York City, I worked for the New York Horror Film Festival. I met a lot of the Fangoria staff there. A few months later when I was looking for a part-time job I found Mike Gingold’s business card and sent him an email. I started out working part-time for Fangoria Radio as a researcher. I then worked my way through a number of other positions including writer and assistant producer before I became Director of Marketing. My job entails a lot of different arenas including our work and cross-promotions with other companies, sponsorships, advertising, conventions, fan relations, merchandising, and much more. Plus I still write for both the magazine and website.

In the paradigm shift from print publications to digital publishing, what do you feel will be the bridge between both formats?

I’m not sure if there will be a stable bridge. The two are such different formats and have very different fans, demographics, and reasons for their success. Right now the best bridge we have found is iphones and ipads. Within the next few week we will have Fangoria magazine available in a digital format. You’ll be able to flip through the pages like a regular magazine, but some articles will link to websites, trailers, and behind-the-scenes videos. I’m really excited about this one!

With more engaging social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, and all that the Internet has to offer, what changes do you foresee in the world of horror?

It is quickly becoming more diverse and more inclusive. The online world of horror is enormous. It is also capable of gathering fans and starting movements that would have been nearly impossible before the digital realm became a staple of our lives. A great example would be the “Women in Horror” movement. A unification of a group like this would not have been possible 15 years ago. But the digital age, allowed it to spread like wildfire and gain ample support and followers. Plus, it introduced me to endless female horror icons who have now become my cohorts and friends.

What does it mean to you be a female horror fan? Do you think there are certain stereotypes or glass ceilings out there for women involved in the genre?

I never really liked to consider myself just as a female. I watched horror films and geek out just like everyone. But it has always been something that has raised eyebrows and provoked stares from others. I remember once in college, one of my study groups decided to meet at my apartment. I had my living quarters decked out in horror posters and every horror toy I could get my hands on. When the group came over, one of the guys made a comment about how I must have male roommates. Uh, nope, just me here. One of the girls made a comment about the place being decorated by a serial killer and some comment about how she would have never guessed I had such an unusual side. It was said in jest but it burned. I was unusual? I have since come to realize that horror females do have some sharp differences from our male counterparts. We love a genre that is often perceived to exploit us. We rebel against a society that says girls should watch “girly flicks” and instead cling to the darkside of media. And thanks to the internet, we have united.

I’m not sure about the glass ceiling. I know it exists on some levels but I never encountered it at Fangoria. That said, I have gotten endless looks outside of my mothership. Even just wearing a Fangoria shirt at the grocery store, I’ll get comments like “ YOU like Fangoria?” I have also discovered at conventions, when some male fans find out I’m a huge horror buff, they feel compelled to test my knowledge. I have always wondered if they do this with everyone, or just because I’m a female and look like an unlikely candidate for horror-devotion.

You also work in production. What can you share about your various video shoots?

I love producing. I totally get off on organizing and problem shooting, so film production is a great match for me. So far I have made music videos for Municipal Waste and GWAR, as well as a number of short films. Plus, I was just approached about making a music video for another metal band, but I can’t announce this for a few weeks. I have a set production crew that I always use. They have become like my family. We have such a great time together that we would probably keep doing this, even if no one was paying us. But please, don’t tell our clients that! The passion and love we have for film and for working together comes through on-screen. We are all just a bunch of horror geeks. It’s phenomenal to work in a group like this. All we have to say is “Bava up the lighting a bit”, and the whole crew knows exactly what I mean. It’s remarkable. I think working both in production and on the journalism side as well has helped me expand my brain a great deal. I have become a more informed reviewer knowing what process would have to go into particular shot set-ups. And it has made me have immense respect for all filmmakers. Filmmaking is not easy. It is a labor of love that takes copious amounts of dedication. You never know just how much work and dedication is required till you find yourself actually making a film.

Did scary movies shape you as a child? Where did your passion for writing come from?

I have always been a writer. My mom loves to pull out these little zines and newspapers I used to make as a kid and show them off to my prospective boyfriends. So technically, my first publication was the “Stuffed Animal Parade Times”. Some hard hitting news there! I never focused on writing as a major or anything, it just always followed me into whatever arena I was studying at the time. The love of horror has also been a constant in my life. One of the first horror movies I remember seeing was Disney’s WATCHER IN THE WOODS. I’m not even sure if this was technically horror, but I loved it as a child. I also loved SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Realizing that I was bored by CINDERELLA but loved anything scary, my parents loosened the reigns and didn’t really restrict my childhood viewings. I loved PIRHANA and JAWS. Also RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and all of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series were staples of my childhood. Even going through my parents’ attic it is easy to see that I gravitated towards darker media from early on. There is one box of Barbies, but then dozens of boxes filled with toys like My Pet Monster, Madballs, Boglins, Garbage Pail Kids, and Ghostbusters action figures. I was very lucky to have parents who supported me as long as I excelled in whatever I did. They strongly supported my love of horror at such an early age, but also encouraged me to read more about how it is created, and bought me endless books on special effects, horror writing, and monster mythology. I was completely supported as long as I was always working at my fullest potential.

What opinions can you share about American horror versus its foreign counterparts?

I love foreign horror. Often when American horror films lag a little, I can turn to other countries and find amazing horror movements going on. Most recently, when America’s horror screens became stuffed full of remakes, I turned to European and especially French horror to get my need for terror and innovative stories. But there is not really a constant. All film markets wax and wan. Whether we are turning to Japan, France, Italy, Serbia, or any other country, the horror movements are moments in time. The same occurs for America as well. But I also think it is important to realize that no country exists in an isolated void, and everything influences everything else. All horror movements affect everything that follows. French mysteries affected Italian Giallo which influenced American slasher films. All horror is interpolated on a global scale.

Where can folks find some of your other writing contributions?

I have a blog on the Fangoria site under Bekah’s Confessions. Plus, my articles make regular appearances in Fangoria magazine as well. I also am a contributor with two books- Cinema Inferno and From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century. Both are from Scarecrow Press. And there is a new book on the way. Its being edited now and the publication date will be announced around Halloween.

Which projects are you looking forward to in the future?

There is always so much going on around Fangoria I can barely keep track. There is always much to be excited about. We are currently working on a podcast with myself and several other staffers which I’m very psyched about. Plus, we are just now starting some endeavors’ into film and video distribution. Should be a very exciting and eventful year!

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Born in the steel scrap-yards of Lorain, Ohio, Zach Shildwachter is a VHS Vagabond wandering the Cleveland landscape in search of the perfect Horror movie and Banana flavored snacks in preparation for the Zombie Apocalypse. Until the Dead walk, our Hero remains an Aspiring Filmmaker, Compulsive Writer, Self-taught Artist, and amateur Super-Hero.

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