It seems that honest-to-gore horror movies are too often few and far between on TV. You can flip and flip, and come up with dozens of dumb reality shows, hoary old sitcoms, and endless explorations on house restoration… but where’s Frankenstein or Freddy when you really want them? Well, they actually are on the tube, 24/7, on a channel devoted entirely to horror. Sound too good to be true? It’s not -- MONSTERS HD launched last year as part of the VOOM high-definition satellite service and anyone, anywhere in the U.S., can get it.
David Sehring, the creator of AMC’s beloved MonsterFest, is now the senior vice president and general manager of the high-definition network MONSTERS HD. What a great job that is: Watching horror movies all day long! Horror.com caught up with David for an exclusive interview, and we learned a lot about how this unique channel came to be, how it works, and how you can get it.
Sehring has several spooky events planned with genre fans in mind for October (just in time for Halloween and those cold, dark winter nights!) and wanted to let all the fans at Horror.com know what’s coming down the pike. "We are doing something really fun this year called ‘Howl-ween’ with the Howling series, plus An American Werewolf in London, Silver Bullet, Ginger Snaps, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and Werewolves on Wheels.” More October offerings will feature a night of films hosted by Cabin Fever writer/director Eli Roth, a documentary series focusing on horror fans called Monsterama, a festival of 1980s stab-n-slab flicks, and the world broadcast premiere of the 2003 cult hit Bubba Ho-Tep. Here’s a little more about what you can expect.
How do horror fans get the channel? Is it a subscriber service, and do you have to buy or rent any special equipment?
It’s actually part of the new satellite service called Voom. Voom was launched in October of 2003, as did Monsters HD – the HD stands for high definition. Monsters is a 24 hour, commercial free, uncut, high-def horror and creature feature channel. It shows about 200 hundred movies a month, all uncut and commercial free. In order to get it, it’s only on the Voom satellite service at this time, so yes, you need a Voom satellite receiver, a Voom satellite dish, and optimal viewing is obviously with a high definition TV set. It’s another HDTV platform and it actually offers more HD than DirecTV or EchoStar or cable combined. It offers about 40 different high definition channels, and at the moment it is the exclusive home of Monsters. It also carries other standard definition channels, like AMC and TNT. VOOM’s another satellite player with the caveat that it offers more high-def programs and channels than any other provider.
Is Voom available all over the U.S. or only in certain regions?
Voom and Monsters HD is available all over the United States.
I understand that in your previous career, you were in charge of the programming for AMC’s MonsterFest – I love that. I watch it every year. That must have been a really fun job to have, and a great springboard for your work with Monsters HD.
I was the head of acquisitions for AMC, and started MonsterFest, having been a movie lover since I grew up as a kid. My interest in monster and horror movies basically got me into the entertainment business. I’m sure a lot of baby boomers have this story – or even kids still today – but my older brother used to wake me up to watch horror on late night TV. I grew up with the Universal classics, some of the AIPs, and all the Vincent Price films ... I also used to go the drive in, so my experience with movies and getting into the movie business, was pretty much thanks to the old horror films that I saw on late night. My interest in movies blossomed from there. Basically MonsterFest came from yours truly, who loves old horror flicks.
I’m sure that a lot of your job entails actually watching these movies again, to see if they ‘make the cut’ so to speak.
Watching a lot of good ones, and a lot bad ones; but that’s what’s fun about horror movies and monster movies. You can still appreciate them if, you know, the strings are attached. I love the Godzilla movies and I love movies like Octaman, but at the same time, I appreciate some of the classics and even some of the newer independent films for daring to be different and trying to come up with something scary and original. But I think they all have their archetypes and they fall back on some of those classics we all like.
Does Monsters HD have theme nights, where you’ll have all vampires, all werewolves, or what have you?
Yes. We actually have a festival in October called Vampire Batty. It’s shows everything from Italian horror flicks like Slaughter of the Vampire to Scars of Dracula with Christopher Lee, and the Subspecies trilogy. We also have something called Zombie-Thon, where we show everything from Dead Alive (Peter Jackson’s early film) to Night of the Living Dead, Last Man on Earth, Dawn of the Dead, and so on. So yes, we do package our movies up. We have an H.P. Lovecraft Fright Festival with everything from Reanimator and Bride of Reanimator, to The Unnamable, The Resurrected, Die Monster Die. So we do marathons and theme nights, and I think it’s an effective way to communicate to the viewer, what we have. MONSTERS HD has quite a variety of creature features and monster movies. We like to consider our movies as having everything and anything to do with a monster – and that includes human monsters, whether they be the serial killer in slasher films, from the Nightmare on Elm Streets, the Friday the 13ths, to Hannibal Lechter in Silence of The Lambs to the Texas Chainsaw Massacres. We also have our prehistoric monster movies – the Godzilla movies, in particular. We also have the Gamera movies. Then we have our alien monsters as in creatures from outer space. Plus supernatural creatures, whether they be demonic like the ones from Night of the Demons to The Amityville horror series, and The Exorcist. We program our movies under those categories – that’s what makes them monster movies.
It sounds like you have a lot of obscure titles to round out the known and loved crowd pleasers. Do you also have original programming?
Yes, we do have original programming. We’ve actually created an original short-form series called MONSTERAMA that air between our movies and they’re about 10 to 15 minutes each. We shoot them in high definition. We’ve done pieces on KNB Effects, and interviewed folks like Greg Nicotero and see a number of KNB’s props; it’s a mini documentary on the effects company. We’ve also done pieces on Todd MacFarlane and his monster figurines and Spawn toy line. MONSTERS HD also did a piece on Stan Winston and his effects shop. This October, all five hours’ worth of MONSTERAMAS are going to be shown in a mini-marathon. They are really nice and unique pieces. They look at everything from collectibles to the special effects artist. We’ve done stories on Aurora model kits, so you get to see the whole line in high definition. You can see all the plastic Aurora monster figures built up and beautifully painted. MONSTERS HD has also done a piece on Sideshow Collectibes; Ray Harryhausen; Paul Blaisdell; Rick Baker… It’s fun to see all their props and figures in high definition. In the piece with Rick Baker, you get to see him operating one of the props from Men In Black, and you get to see him with the giant figures from Might Joe Young, as well as some of the American Werewolf in London prop-heads. Seeing them in high-def is truly eye-popping.
Are the ones that were filmed in widescreen presented in their original format on your channel?
How would interested horror fans sign up for this? Do they call, go to a website, or…?
There’s a website, http://www.voom.com/vhdo/mnst/index.jsp that has information on how you can get it. It’s available at Sears, I know. And I also know that you can call 1-800-GETVOOM.
(by Staci Layne Wilson)