The Underground of Horror – By Joshua Samford

 If one takes time to really stand back and gaze in the glory of what modern technology has provided us, the internet and what it has become has really opened the floodgate for information and understanding the world over. If you really had to claim one technological innovation as the most important in the past thirty years or so, I definitely see the internet as being the most drastic influence on all of our lives. From the teenagers and adults now flooding "Myspace" like crack addicts looking for their next hit, to the pompous internet goons who have found a way to make their lives just that much better by picking fights with people they would never dare speak a word of ill will towards in real life – no matter who you are (unless of course you’re in a third world nation where food, when it can be found, is the most profound innovation in your life) the internet has drastically changed the landscape of just about every practice in our lives since it first started to break into the culture some fifteen or so years ago. For me I wasn’t really aware of just what this "interesting" stuff was until around 1996 when my public library started providing internet access. It wasn’t long before I thought it was the bee’s knees and begged for years to get a personal computer of my own. Being from a very modest background it wasn’t until around 1999 before I was able to get my first PC and oh my did it change up my little world. Being a kid who loved horror movies from a small southern city, no matter what I did I was always going to be trapped in a box as far as cinematic ceilings go. Small local video stores in my neck of the woods just don’t carry the works of Dario Argento, and bookstores don’t even carry Fangoria. So it was the internet and my personal interest in cinematic horror that helped form the person I am today. Horror opened up many paths for me, it developed my interest in all forms of cinema, it made me take far more notice in what makes a good film versus a bad one and I was able to understand what filmmakers go through and why they tell the stories they do – because as a devoted fan of something, you easily understand the reasons behind making it.

 In my journeys across the internet, especially in those early days, I came to be obsessive about horror films and the "underground" of the genre. Namely extreme gore films or oddball sleaze flicks. My journey began, like hundreds of others, with Lucio Fulci. The Beyond might have been the first Italian horror I had ever seen, and to this day I count it as one of the greatest films of the era and maybe one of the best horror films of all time as well. It is a pitch perfect gothic horror, with enough gore to please the masses and enough dark and brooding imagery to even appease the art house gore-freak. Some, in this day and age especially, probably won’t even consider The Beyond or films like Deep Red, Suspiria and even to some degree "Cannibal Holocaust" to even be part of the cinematic "underground". There is of course no problem with this, but as a growing man – a little younger than I bet I let on sometimes, I find myself in an awkward position of letting down that old guard. Ten years ago, being acquainted with Fulci and Argento’s work really meant you had your finger on the pulse of the community. In this day and age though, with every kid who gets a summer job able to track down a copy of Cannibal Holocaust on eBay – I’m not sure if there are that many of those undisputed "underground" bits of dark cinema still left. Sure, the Guinea Pig series is still hardcore enough to scare off many newer horror fans and films like the August Underground series certainly push the limits of good taste farther than just about any series before it; but for my personal tastes – some of the mystique is gone with the hunt for the most extreme and unknown films out there. I have approached that point as a horror fan myself where I feel like I have seen everything, and for the few films I haven’t seen, I’ve read enough on them that I feel as if I have actually watched them. However, just when you start to feel that way – films like The Red Room series come along, or Bone Sickness and helps to re-establish that instinct to keep searching because maybe there still are a number of crazy flicks out there that you can turn around and spread the word about.

I most definitely understand how childish and selfish it is to still hold on to the thought of being part of any kind of "underground" glee club of selected geeks who have experienced more than another said group, but I think it is part of what has drawn many of us into this particular genre. The search to see more, and I think my main goal with this article is to remind those of us feeling a bit lost with these newer generations coming along and catching up with us so fast – that no matter how hard we all search, there are always going to be those diamonds in the rough and there will always be a group of people willing to push the buttons of society in even harsher terms than those who came before them. So remember horror fans, keep you head up and your wallets open; it’s only a matter of time before the newest horror revolution in some foreign nation – and once again, the easter-egg hunt will be on and even though the days of ragged VHS tapes are over – the VCD, burned DVD and SVCD are here to help spread as much information as possible and I’m feeling pretty optimistic.