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.
In the age of Youtube and iTunes, the world of radio has been a very curious place, one in which there’s a sense of camaraderie amongst the hosts as well as one of the most vicious competitive streaks in the entertainment business. As the marketplace has dropped following the introduction of podcasts and the division between terrestrial and satellite radio, brands have relied on on-air talent to make themselves markedly different and develop audiences that are loyal to the medium. In this regard, many interesting talents have made their way to broadcasting, while those well-versed in the art have adapted to the ways of social media and realized the secret to longevity is self-preservation.
Among the broadcasters who have taken advantage of this rocky landscape is Sam Roberts, who jumps between producing and appearing on the Sirius-XM mainstay The Opie and Anthony Show, making weekly episodes of his own podcast, The Sam Roberts Show Online, filling in as host on several other Sirius-XM channels and even finding himself taking the occasional job at professional wrestling events. Originally an intern for The Opie and Anthony Show, Robert’s on-mic skills and quick adaptation to the dog-eat-dog mentality of the titular hosts earned him recognition amongst the fans and, in turn, a burgeoning fan base of his own as well as the role of producer for the show. However, Roberts is well-versed in the world of horror as well, having discussed his fandom and love for the campy and macabre many times during his hosting stints. Subsequently, Roberts spoke to Diabolique about his love for tropes, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Troma…
DIABOLIQUE: As the host of The Sam Roberts Show Online, as well as a producer/on-air talent on The Opie and Anthony Show and former host of Special Delivery on Sirius-XM, you’ve discussed horror and genre films on several occasions. Have you been a longtime fan of horror films? Did you have a favorite horror film from your youth, or perhaps an “entry drug” horror movie that got you into the genre?
SAM ROBERTS: Growing up, I loved super villains. Any monster that had four or more movies under their belt was good by me; First, Jason, then Freddy and Michael Myers. I mainly liked horror movies because I wasn’t allowed to watch them. But the “entry drug” movie that really sucked me in was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I played my VHS copy of it constantly, found all the sequels- I actually like the third movie- and will never forget one Mother’s Day sitting on my bed, watching it with my mom. It was touching, really.
DIABOLIQUE: Has there been any horror film as of late that particularly impressed you or caught your fascination? Have you noticed any particular elements of the horror movies you enjoyed in the past that are absent from the current releases in the genre?
ROBERTS: I really like when a good story is combined with some kind of cheap shock or gore. I loved the first two Paranormal Activity movies, the entire Saw franchise, and most recently, I really enjoyed The Conjuring. I was never a big fan of the supernatural subgenre until maybe the last 10 years or so.
DIABOLIQUE: Is there any particular obscure or forgotten horror film that you particularly like that maybe not many people know about? Do you think digital distribution and instant streaming has recreated that old video store model of discovering obscure underground movies, in that regards?
ROBERTS: Digital download has made it easier to find obscure films, but also a lot easier and cheaper to make. Not having to use film and make any real investment in a low budget horror film has, I think, hurt things. The magic of pre-digital B-movies won’t ever be duplicated, unless by Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez.
I’ve always loved Troma films. Maybe not exactly horror, but the Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke’Em High series, Sgt. Kabukiman, Surf Nazis; those were all movies I couldn’t get enough of. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, too.
DIABOLIQUE: As a fan of the genre, is there any particular trope or reoccurring moment in horror films that’ll cause you to instantly dislike it? Do you think it’s important that horror films stay subversive to keep the genre fresh or do you think it’s important to embrace those classically inspired tropes?
ROBERTS: No, I really like nods to the audience and bringing back beloved moments, sayings and themes. I really only dislike them when there’s no originality around them. If a movie opens with a group of teens talking about smoking weed, we had better be going somewhere new or at least newish.
DIABOLIQUE: Sometimes, the most horrifying experience you can have at a horror movie can be found in the theater itself. Do you have any particular in-theater horror experience that you’ll never forget, for better or for worse?
ROBERTS: Not specifically, but I think the theater is by far the best place to see a horror movie. I generally like going a couple of weeks after the movie has come out, or on, like, a Saturday morning, so there’s only a smattering of people in there with me. I definitely saw most of the Saw franchise sitting alone in a theater.
DIABOLIQUE: Through your different appearances and hosting duties, whether it be as a moderator at New York Comic Con or hosting the Opie and Anthony after-show, you showcase a very broad and sharp sense of humor. Do you like horror movies that are infused with comedy? Are you more aware of the dialogue of horror films since you’re more inclined to stay on your feet during your appearances on-air?
ROBERTS: Yes, I’m super aware of dialogue. I think deliberate cheese is great. Campy is good because it reminds you of how fun these movies are supposed to be. But lazy dialogue will immediately take me out of a movie. The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, for example, has plenty of repeated themes and plenty of cheesy dialogue, but is a great, great movie that I’ll watch several times a year. The Friday the 13th remake was lazy and uninspired, so seeing it once was plenty.
DIABOLIQUE: You’ve also displayed a wealth of knowledge and intense relationship to the world of professional wrestling in your work. As you know, the Horror genre can be incredibly influential to the world of Wrestling, as some of the most popular performers, such as Kane, Undertaker, Sting and early career Mankind found inspiration within the horror genre. What do you think it is about professional wrestling that can be complimented through horror? Do you think the world of professional wrestling can be explored within horror culture?
ROBERTS: I think professional wrestling and horror have a lot in common. They’re both pure escapism where anything intellectual only exists under several levels of analysis. They’re both silly, fun, and controversial forms of entertainment that people like to hate to make themselves feel smarter than the masses. And by the way, See No Evil, starring Kane, was awesome.
DIABOLIQUE: If you had a chance to appear in a horror film, what role would you most likely want to inhabit? Do you have a particular horror subgenre that you’d like to see more or less of?
ROBERTS: I want to be the dude who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time who doesn’t take his fearful friends seriously and gets one more wisecrack in right before he gets his skull crushed.
I couldn’t be less interested in anything that takes place pre-1950. I like the idea of witches from Salem haunting something in present day, ala Lords of Salem. I hate the idea of actually having to watch people in Salem with pilgrim hats on.
DIABOLIQUE: Do you have any projects coming up or currently available, genre-related or otherwise? Have you ever considered working in genre filmmaking in the future, to any extent?
ROBERTS: I love film, and would’ve majored in film at Syracuse had I not switched to Sociology at the last minute so I could graduate early. I have my podcast at www.notsam.com and have just started doing movie reviews on my Youtube channel. My one goal in broadcasting is to become friends with enough horror film directors that I can make a career out of being beheaded within the first 20 minutes of horror movies.
To hear more from Sam, you can visit his official website, his official Youtube channel, follow him on Twitter: @notsam and listen to either The Opie and Anthony Show from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. EST or download The Sam Roberts Show Online on iTunes or any other podcast hosting application.
Remember, you can learn more about the evolution of horror comedy in Issue #17 of Diabolique, now available for preorder and iPad / iPhone digital download (at the App Store) and will be on shelves and available on other digital platforms soon! Next week in Talking Terror, we speak to The Devil’s Rejects actor Dave Sheridan exclusively at DiaboliqueMagazine.com!
– By Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine and Fangoria 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.