DoT EP79: Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola Discuss 2018 Horror Films and Their Latest, Clickbait plus New Music from Whispering Sons

Happy New Year’s Eve! This is a special edition of the Department of Tangents Podcast, a look back at the year in horror films with filmmakers, musicians, and writers Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola, who released their own horror film in 2018 called Clickbait. We talked about the best, the most disappointing, and a few mixed reviews, including bigger releases like Hereditary, A Quiet Place, Halloween, Sorry To Bother You, the Suspiria remake, Annihilation, and Mandy, as well as some indie releases like the Kane Hodder documentary To Hell and Back, the video game-themed Livescream, the generically named Horror Movie: A Low-Budget Nightmare.

We also discussed some larger questions about the genre, whether we’re in a horror boom at the moment, and why there’s still a stigma involved in calling your work “horror.” Mike and Sophia have no qualms with the term, which you already know if you listened to episode five of the podcast when they discussed their Hammer-esque film Blood of the Tribades. They believe the term applies to their latest, Clickbait, which is about a viral video star who is stalked by a killer. But the movie is also a comedy and a satire, with a wonderful through line of commercial parodies for radioactive toaster pastries called Toot Strudels. Epstein mentioned a term he quite likes that is found more often in the European film world – Cinema Fantastique, which implies a kind of wild spectacle. And if you love the idea of Toot Strudels, you can actually buy t-shirts emblazoned with three different flavors on Amazon.
Clickbait (2019) – Trailer from Launch Over – Cacciola / Epstein on Vimeo.
A note about this episode, it was supposed to come out several weeks ago, but I was knocked out of commission for most of December with an illness. I’m on the mend now, and new episodes are on the way, but there will be another short break of a couple of weeks before the show picks up again. I want to thank you for your patience, and wish you a happy and healthy New Year. I’ll be back soon with more music, comedy, and horror to inform and delight you, including several episodes I recorded at this year’s NorthEast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza.

This episode’s featured track is “Alone” from Whispering Sons, a post-punk outfit from Brussels, Belgium. It’s from their first full-length album, Image, which they recorded after moving to the big city as a group. That accounts in part for the recurring theme of feeling out of step with your surroundings. One of the refrains here is, “They move so slowly when they’re not afraid/And I just keep moving at a different rate/It’s a kind of stillness, I can’t relate.” Juxtapose that with the moving pulse of the bass and drums and the stuttering, glassy-sounding guitar. The press materials mention the music is for fans of The Damned and Joy Division, and that’s applicable. But frontwoman Fenne Kuppens’ glowering low-register vocals remind me a bit of Nick Cave. See what you think.

You can listen to and download the podcast from the player below, or subscribe/review on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. Enjoy!

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