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Talking Terror: Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

Horror. To some, the genre is that of cheap thrills, startles and nightmare fodder to allow entertainment to be entertaining without the need to turn on one’s brain. To others, Horror is a conduit that our deepest fears, anxieties and paranoia are visualized, hence why the community of horror fans has become as large, vocal and intertwined as any group in modern popular culture. Horror molds around our individual perceptions of shock and terror, and often times can be discussed with the enthusiasm and passion that may not apply to other genres. Therefore, Diabolique Magazine presents Talking Terror, a weekly column where we speak to actors, comedians and other public figures about their relationship to the world of Horror.

It’s not much of a stretch to say irreverence has been a tool for the horror genre for quite some time, especially throughout the ’80s as the concepts were higher in origin and even stranger in their low-budget execution. Whether it’s to justify the supernatural, the methods of murder or to implement inappropriate humor into the film, irreverence defined the camp horror genre and has been a cornerstone to the entries of the genre that simply qualify as entertainment. That’s not to say that irreverence doesn’t have artistic merit, as it is in theory instrumental to surrealism, another major factor of the horror genre. However, irreverence has since become fundamental to modern comedy, flourishing throughout the worlds of improvisation, animation and feature filmmaking, and even allowing content to drift into darker areas as a result. It’s that combination of irreverence and outrageousness that has come to define the work of radio personality Dave McDonald.

Known as “East Side Dave” and “Davey Mac”, Dave McDonald has ascended through the world of radio since landing on many comedy fans radar as the frequently on-air producer of The Ron & Fez Show. After a public salary dispute, Dave left his position at Ron & Fez, yet has continued to flourish as a comedy presence, appearing on the Sirius-XM program Special Delivery with The Opie and Anthony Show producer Sam Roberts before branching off onto his own show, The Davey Mac Sports Program. Since establishing that venture, Dave has become one of the top talents in the world of independent sports radio, offering his rapidly growing audience topical, sometimes irreverent comedy in the format of a standard sports talk show. Of course, Dave’s love for films, especially horror films, have leaked into his discussions time and again, so Diabolique glued the pieces together and talked to Dave within the lines between horror, sports and comedy…

DIABOLIQUE: You’re currently the host of The Davey Mac Sports Program and the former host of Special Delivery with Sam and Dave, as well as the former producer on The Ron & Fez Show. On each, you’ve gone into your love for movies and have on multiple occasions brought up references to the horror genre. Have you always been a fan of horror culture, specifically film and literature?

DAVE MCDONALD: I took a class in my junior year of high school called “Horror Fiction”, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I really am a huge horror fan. I love Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. I’d say those are my top three [authors], and as for movies, my favorite horror film of all time is William Lustig’s Maniac, starring that guy from Rocky and The Godfather [Joseph Spinell]. He played a woman-murdering psychopath, and I loved him.

DIABOLIQUE: Do you remember the first thing specifically that got you into horror, whether it’s the first horror book you read or the first horror film that you saw?

MCDONALD: Well, I think The Telltale Heart from Edgar Allen Poe was the first horror I read. The first horror movie I ever watched was on a Saturday, maybe a Saturday afternoon, on Channel 11, WPIX in New York and New Jersey, where I grew up, they showed The Shining. It was the TV version although for whatever reason, they still showed that weird teddy bear creature giving that guy a blowjob, and they had the blood in the elevator, and that freaked little baby Davey Mac the shit out.

DIABOLIQUE: Do you have any recent horror films that you saw and enjoyed? 

MCDONALD: I didn’t think the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was that bad. I know with the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, everybody loves it, but it was one of the absolute greatest things I’d ever seen in my life. I was frozen in terror when I first saw that [film]. Then, I started to smoke a lot of pot and even sometimes drop acid, and I would listen to Primus, specifically Sailing the Sea of Cheese, and then I would put on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, kind of like how they have with The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. IT WORKED FUCKING PERFECTLY. It’s amazing! 

DIABOLIQUE: I’ve never heard of that combination before!

MCDONALD: No, I invented it, brother! I invented it very high and very much on acid, and I was eating the whole time like a real psycho. It’s a real brutal movie to eat meat to, unless you’re high, which I was at the time, and even when I wasn’t fucked up, I was like, “Oh, this still works!”

DIABOLIQUE: That experience sounds like a nightmare. 

MCDONALD: Oh, it was horrifying! Leatherface was jumping out of the wall like a  Bugs Bunny cartoon the entire time. But it was still great.

DIABOLIQUE: As a longtime horror fan, what do you think is the biggest difference between the horror that comes out now and the horror that you grew up with?

MCDONALD: Well, I loved the graininess of the ‘70s to about the mid-‘80s horror movies. I don’t think horror movies should be too sleek and too nice looking. C’mon! That’s what we got MichaelBay’s piece-of-shit movies for. Horror movies should speak to a human level, like the dirtiness inside of us. I don’t think they should cinematically look that pretty, and I think that’s the problem with the horror movies make now. I want to see them get back to graininess, shitty editing and all of that kind of stuff.

Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

DIABOLIQUE: What is the most important thing in a horror movie to you? Is it the gore? Is it the tension?

MCDONALD: First of all, I want the person sitting next to me to be quiet. I’m sitting here, I paid my $10 for the movie and I don’t care if you’re scared or of the female persuasion. I don’t want you crushing my arm. If you’re of the male persuasion, I don’t know why we’re sitting so close together. It’s like we’re about the make out, and I think that’s crazy. I want to be left alone and to concentrate on the horror film.

I think the key, for me specifically, is a great villain. That’s the key to a great horror movie. If you don’t have a memorable villain, it doesn’t mean anything. Horror movies come and go, but the ones that last, the one thing they all have in common is great villains.

DIABOLIQUE: People act so differently with the in-theater horror movie experience as they would in any other genre. Do you remember any specific in-theater horror movie experience, either for better or for worse?

MCDONALD: I remember seeing one of the Friday the 13th films, either Part V or Part VI. I remember sitting there, and there was this old white couple, and the woman kept on saying, “Don’t go in there!” and this-and-that. Finally, the husband had enough of this and stormed out of the theater, and she stayed, which was rather odd. The husband had to leave, but the old woman stayed ‘til the end. It was a very peculiar moment. 

DIABOLIQUE: As a former radio producer and now currently an on-air talent, what would you say was the biggest challenge transitioning from one position to the other? 

MCDONALD: Well, I was on-air quite a bit [on Ron & Fez], so I was more of a producer / on-air personality and the transition wasn’t all that hard. Before Ron & Fez, I was actually on-air for two rock stations in New Jersey. One thing that people don’t know about me is that I actually had three on-air radio jobs before Ron & Fez: I worked for the two rock stations and Westwood 1, which is the News and Traffic for the surrounding areas. I loved being on Ron & Fez, and I loved being on the air with them, so it was all good.

DIABOLIQUE: Even though The Davey Mac Sports Program keeps a sport slant on everything, you and the crew behind the show really work in a multitude of subjects into the discussions. You talk about movies, music, your lives and experiences, but always wrap it around to sports.

MCDONALD: You should write our description on our Sirius-XM page! I don’t know who wrote what-the-fuck, but they said we’re “somewhere in the space between sports and pop culture, and this guy punches you fist-first!” I was like, “What the fuck?! This sounds like Mortal Kombat!” It’s the weirdest thing. I didn’t write those descriptions! You should write the descriptions and I’ll give you $3.00 for each.

DIABOLIQUE: What is it about sports that you think is a great platform to use to jump off into these other subjects, which sometimes includes horror? 

MCDONALD: Well, listen, America’s a very competitive place. I know that we get the wrap of being lazy and we’ve got lots of fat people, and those are very, very true. But you’d be surprised. Even those lazy, fat people that Europeans talk about work hard, and sometimes harder than other countries in the world. I think sports are a good micro-chasm of America.

I love sports, and I’m passionate about it, but you don’t need to take them so seriously. Sports has all kind of people, including white people and black people. It’s got entertainment value and shit like that. It’s good because you can go off on any kind of tangent, and it’s a good launching point to talk about whatever. I always tell people that it’s a comedy show disguised as a sports show. Maybe it’s just an American show disguised as a sports show. Maybe I’ll say that, because really, that’s what we talk about the most. 

DIABOLIQUE: There’s always a sense of theatricality that’s been involved with sports since their inception, whether it’s the halftime show or even the celebratory victory dance. What is it about sports that requires that element of spectacle?

MCDONALD: People want to see Ray Lewis dance around like a maniac; they love seeing that shit. I mean, c’mon, everyone wants a show! This is why football will never, ever, ever, ever get beaten by golf in the ratings. Golf doesn’t have that [spectacle] or any theatricality, and as a result, they get decent ratings if Tiger is playing on Sunday and he’s close to winning the Masters. Golf is never going to compare to football, in that regards.

Even with the Yankees in baseball, Mariano Rivera, who is a stoic guy, comes out to the Metallica song. Sports fans go nuts, and they scream and get upset, but they know it’s all silly showbusiness. So if its showbusiness, they should put on a fucking show! Am I right?! Come on, baby!

DIABOLIQUE: It’s funny that there’s not many horror movies about sports, although you think it would lend itself to the genre: increased body count, the various locations and instruments people could be killed with. Do you think sport institutions consciously try not to be associated with horror films? Is there any sport-theme horror movie that you’d like to see?

MCDONALD: I think it’s that nobody has thought of it! For Christ’s sakes, you’ve got a million dollar idea and you’re letting it loose with Diabolique Magazine when for fuck’s sake you should be putting pen-to-paper and write yourself a screenplay. This is a great idea! I guess The Fan, with Robert De Niro was somewhat of a horror movie but it was more like a thriller with suspense, because he’s stalking Wesley Snipes and kills his dog and everything. Listen, Hollywood isn’t that creative! You just thought of the idea, now go make the movie!

Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

DIABOLIQUE: Is there any conventions or tropes of the horror genre that take you out of the movie so bad that it’s essentially a “dealbreaker”?

MCDONALD: I don’t like when they’re eating, and this is for movies in general. If you look at the guy, they’ll take a bite and they’ll be chewing and chewing and chewing. I’ve eaten a sandwich before, and I take about two bites before I swallow and go on to the next bite. But this guy is taking 10-15 minutes with one bite, and they’re just chewing! Watch any horror movie where there’s a guy eating and you’ll go, “That’s preposterous how long that guy is eating the same food. What does he not have teeth?”

DIABOLIQUE: As someone who is well-versed with the comedy genre, do you like horror films with an element of comedy or do you prefer them with just straightforward horror? 

MCDONALD: I don’t mind comedy! I thought the first two Scream movies were really good. You can put comedy in there; it’s alright with me. For Davey Mac, it’s all about whether it’s a good movie or not. You can put in a bunch of gimmicks and stuff, that’s fine and great, as long as it works. If you’re trying for humor and it doesn’t work, then it’s a risk that you didn’t need to take because if you’re making a horror movie, the one aspect you must get right is the horror. So it’s adding extra difficulty onto your job if you want to make people laugh, but if you can pull it off, then by all means. The first Scream had some excellent moments in it. I’m not adverse to that. It’s not like that chewing, which, I’ll tell you something: it’s driving me nuts.

DIABOLIQUE: Is there anything from the past of horror that you would like to see make a comeback, whether it’s a certain character, subgenre, etc?

MCDONALD: Do we have people going around like Jason in Friday the 13th anymore? I like those guys. I liked when the old horror villains were basically the all-stars in baseball playing cards. You’d have a Michael Myers movie, you’d have a Freddy movie, all of that nonsense. But maybe that’s what we need: a big, dumb guy who we can go to for horror. I always liked the supernatural element to my horror, ala Poltergeist. I also like that kind of stuff. 

DIABOLIQUE: If you ever had the chance to appear in a horror film, what kind of role would you think best suits you?

MCDONALD: I’d like to be the camp counselor who, in his backstory, was probably inappropriate with one of the kids and got what was coming to him.

DIABOLIQUE: Now, your show definitely ventures into edgy humor frequently, especially recently from the appearance of a certain Asian puppet that your producer, Chris “Pepper” Stanley can’t stand…

MCDONALD: Well, I think Pepper’s a goddamn racist! He’s got to look himself in the mirror and examine his obvious hatred for Asians, or, at the VERY least, Asian puppets. That’s what I think the issue is. He needs to do some soul-searching, because I don’t understand why he doesn’t like the puppet. He’s so nice, and he’s always apologizing! You can print that! Put that in the paper!

DIABOLIQUE: Do you have anything coming up in the future, Dave?

MCDONALD: Goddamnit, I don’t know. My show, The Davey Mac Sports Program, now releases on Riotcast.com and iTunes on Tuesdays, and we’ve been releasing it online as a podcast for three years ago. People may not know this, but we were just awarded as the best sports program on iTunes by the iTunes editorial team. We’re very proud of that. We’re also on Sirius-XM every Saturday on The Opie and Anthony Channel at 7:00 p.m. EST and this week, I’ll be appearing with Bob Kelly for a Riotcast Comedy Night at the New York Comedy Festival, but I don’t even know what I’m going to do for that.

Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

For more from Dave McDonald, you can visit his official website, his official Youtube channel and follow him on Twitter: @EastSideDave. To listen to The Davey Mac Sports Programyou can download and stream episodes here, and you can hear episodes of The Davey Mac Sports Program XL on Sirius-XM every Saturday at 7:00 p.m. EST. You can also listen to the Davey Mac Sports Program, which releases weekly on Tuesdays on iTunes, BeyondPod and other podcast hosting services, and you can follow it on Twitter: @DaveyMacShow. You can purchase tickts for Riotcast Live! at the New York Comedy Festival, featuring Dave McDonald and previous TALKING TERROR interviewees Robert Kelly and Jim Florentine here. Next Monday, TALKING TERROR gets legendary as Diabolique talks to genre veteran Lance Henriksen!

PREVIOUSLY ON TALKING TERROR:

Matt Weinhold
Stacy Chbosky
Jim Breuer
Tom Papa
Jonathan Coulton
Robert Kelly
Dave Sheridan
Sam Roberts
Jim Florentine
Joe DeRosa
Graham Elwood

About Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Fangoria Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on several screenplays spanning over different genres and subject matter, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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