Adam Rockoff – Exclusive Interview

Adam Rockoff – Exclusive Interview
Updated: 07-10-2006

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher is a horror documentary on the horizon, based upon the book by esteemed genre journalist, Adam Rockoff. We had a chance to pick the author's brain about the source material, and got the scoop on what to expect in the documentary, which will air on the STARZ! Channel this fall.




Staci Layne Wilson /  What inspired you to write Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher?


Adam Rockoff: I grew up in the early 80’s during the heyday of the slasher film.  Every week, in the Sunday paper, there were advertisements for films like My Bloody Valentine, Terror Train, Happy Birthday to Me, and all the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels.  Although I was too young to actually see these films in theaters, I stayed up late at night to catch them on cable.  The ones I missed I rented at the local video store.  This was in the days before the large national chains.  The fact that I had yet to reach puberty didn’t matter to the kid behind the counter; my money was just as green as the next guy’s.


Being a horror fan, I devoured anything I could find about the genre.  But while there seemed to be books written about almost every other type of horror subgenre—the Universal classics, Hammer, Corman and Castle—there was a conspicuous lack of anything about slasher films.  I assume most writers found them unworthy of critical analysis.  So when I decided I wanted to write a book about horror films, slashers just seemed like a natural fit.  I loved these films and wanted to give them the respect—or at least the acknowledgement—they deserved.


What has been the reaction from horror professionals to your book?


Adam Rockoff: When the book came out, I sent a complimentary copy to anyone who was kind enough to grant me an interview.  A lot of these guys were shocked that a film, and often a bad one, that they made over 20 years ago was still being written about today.  The big guns of the genre, like Carpenter and Craven, they still get tons of press.  But guys like Herb Freed who directed Graduation Day, I think they got a kick out of the fact that someone wanted to talk to them about their work. 


The reviews of my book were far better than I expected.  Aside from a few scathing reviews from publications that I’m not going to mention because I don’t want to give them any publicity, most of them were very complimentary.  However, one reviewer was kind enough to point out that there was only one problem with the book—the author!


What has been the reaction from fans to your book? 


Adam Rockoff: I guess I’m lucky in that if you like slasher films enough to seek out my book then you’re probably going to enjoy it.  It’s not as if people are going to stumble upon it while waiting for the next selection from Oprah’s Book Club and then be disappointed that a book called The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film isn’t Angela’s Ashes.  A few people were nice enough to email my publisher to say how much they liked it.  I also received an invitation from a university in Scotland to write a thesis on slasher films, an offer which I politely declined.


How were you approached about having a documentary film made of your book?


Adam Rockoff: I was contacted by the producers after they had optioned the book.    


Are you in the doc?


Adam Rockoff: Nope, I think that would seem too self-serving.  And truthfully, would you rather hear John Carpenter talk about how he made Halloween, or hear Adam Rockoff talk about what he thinks of it?


What do you think of horror's resurgence? — Do you think the slasher is still "fallen"?


Adam Rockoff: As both a fan and someone who works professionally in the genre, I’m naturally thrilled about horror’s resurgence.  I can’t say I’m that surprised; after all, all genres go through cycles of varying popularity.  The current cycle, however, is particularly impressive.  It’s been going full steam ahead since Scream and shows no sign of abating.  What’s especially interesting is that it hasn’t been just one type of horror film that has sustained the resurgence.  In fact, it’s almost as if we’ve been going through a bunch of mini-cycles:  post-modern slashers (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend), big-budget studio horror (The Haunting, Sleepy Hollow, The Sixth Sense), low-budget DIY horror (Blair Witch, Open Water), J-horror (Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water), new wave zombies (28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead), torture chic (Devil’s Rejects, Wolf Creek, Hostel). 


Which horror movies have you seen lately that you've loved? Not loved?


Adam Rockoff: White Noise was scary as hell—and I’m being dead serious.  While a few years old, I thought The Mothman Prophecies was one of the most underrated horror movies of the past ten years.  I thought both The Devil’s Rejects and Hostel were huge improvements over House of 1,000 Corpses and Cabin Fever, and I think Rob Zombie and Eli Roth are two of the most exciting horror directors working today.  Out of all the remakes, I liked The Hills Have Eyes the best.


As far as ones I’ve disliked, I’m making a rule never to see another movie based on a video game.  I think everyone would be well served to do the same.


Do you have any new books coming out?


Adam Rockoff: No more books at the present time, although I do write a regular column for VideoScope magazine.  I’m currently producing a feature documentary about Moe Berg, a professional baseball player who was also a spy for the CIA, and just sold a screenplay called Wicked Lake which is an homage to the exploitation films of the 70’s.  In addition, I have a few other horror documentaries in various stages of development and am also working on a couple of new screenplays. 


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