Horror Favourites – Cameron Macgowan

Cameron Macgowan’s Red Letter Day was by far one of the best films I saw at FrightFest 2019 and thanks to Epic Pictures and DREAD the rest of the horror loving world will gte a chance to catch it when it opens in select cinemas November 1st and lands on Blu-Ray/VOD November 5th.

While adjusting to a new life in a quiet suburban community, a recently divorced mother (Dawn Van de Schoot), and her two teens receive mysterious red letters instructing them each to kill or be killed. As the bloodshed begins, they find themselves in a race against time to protect the ones they love from the people they thought they knew.

Red Letter Day recently screened at the L.A.horror hot-spot Screamfest and world premiered at the celebrated Cinequest Film Festival. It’s screened internationally at FrightFest London, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, and both Sydney Underground and Calgary Underground Film Festivals.

The film is the feature directorial debut by Cameron Macgowan, who’s previous work has won awards and garnered critical acclaim at international film festivals across the world including SXSW, Fantasia and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Below Cameron gives us a very in depth answer to what his favourite horror film is:

“My relationship with horror films had a strange beginning. As a child, I would dread having to walk through the comedy section of the video store looking for a fresh romp as it faced the horror section. I would hold my breath while entering the aisle, trying my best to avoid looking at the heinous horror box art while turning to face the affable smiles in the welcoming comedy section. Even with my back turned to the horror VHS, I could feel the ghoulish skeletal grins and screaming faces covered in blood looming behind me.

As a pre-teen, I was invited to an October birthday party which turned into a movie night. I can still feel the anxiety upon realizing that my host was putting in a rental tape of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. 10 minutes into the film, I called my mom to pick me up and take me home with nightmares of Freddy Krueger haunting my dreams that night. After facing the mockery of my friends at school the following week, I knew I needed to face my fear of horror films head-on and skipped school to watch a copy of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that my stepfather kept hidden near his stash of dirty movies. What happened next, changed me forever. Instead of running out of the room or closing my eyes when shit got scary, I embraced and worked through the emotion which ended up feeling quite thrilling. Once the film ended, I was jacked up on endorphins with the surreal imagery and chaotic beauty of Tobe Hooper’s seminal artwork flooding my brain… I was hooked.

You don’t need someone else telling you how amazing Re-animator, The Shining, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead 2 or the aforementionedThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre are so I wanted to use this opportunity to highlight some more esoteric personal favourites of mine that I think you should watch (or re-watch):

Don’t Go in the House: Ed Gein inspired tales about weirdos obsessed with their dead mothers are nothing new in the horror genre but I’d argue that none of them feel as downright grimy and realistic as Don’t Go in the House The main story follows a shy young man whose abusive mother has recently passed away and shaken up by trauma, he murders young women who resemble her with a flamethrower in his basement dungeon. As mentioned earlier, the story itself isn’t exactly fresh but the execution is more in-line with an Italian neo-realistic inspired American indie than a standard horror film. Under the expert direction of Joseph Ellison, this film feels more akin Taxi Driver than Deranged and Dan Grimaldi delivers a heartbreakingly sincere performance similar to those of Ernest Borgnine in Marty or Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers. This is a classic work of horror cinema that doesn’t look down on the genre and instead uses it to enhance the powerful emotions in a bleak character study. Plus, as an added bonus, the film ends with perhaps the most catchy disco song not recorded by Donna Summer – ‘Struck By Boogie Lightning’ by L’Ectrique.

The Collection: I kinda love the Saw films. I love the creativity of the traps, I love their piss-stained aesthetic and I love their goofy mythology. In a perfect world, we would have one new Saw movie every year but in an even more perfect world, we would have one new Collector movie every year. After the success of their scripted Saw installments (and the best of the series IMO) and the outrageously entertaining Feast films, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan were given a chance to direct their own film The Collector; a thrilling film that follows a thief who broke into the wrong booby-trapped mansion. The relative success of The Collector allowed Melton and Dunstan the opportunity to make the sequel The Collection and oh boy, are we horror fans lucky for that! If feels cliché to say but in this case the cliché applies perfectly, The Collection is to The Collector what Aliens was to Alien. A bigger, more badass and exciting film that successfully doubled down on the promise and mythology of the first entry. The booby-trap set pieces in The Collection are unpredictable, exciting and extremely creative, the cinematography is absolutely beautiful and lead actors Josh Stewart and Emma Fitzpatrick deliver phenomenal performances. Don’t get me started on the fucking awesome opening scene, it’s one for the ages.

Tales from the Hood: Horror and Comedy can mix perfectly like peanut butter and chocolate but they can also mix awfully like toothpaste and orange juice. The balance of horror and comedy is a tricky fine line that Tales from the Hood walks perfectly. Every single one of the jokes land perfectly and compliment the thrills of the horror elements. It also helps that this film is one of the finest social satires of 90s and a scathing critique of accepted societal norms in America. The joy of some horror anthologies is that if you’re not enjoying the current segment, it will soon be over and you will soon be treated to a new story but each sequence in Tales from the Hood is perfect and I’m not sure I could pick a favourite. Tales from the Hood has it all folks; hilarious jokes, amazing gore, stunning production value, rock solid performances and is jam packed full of ideas that will linger with you long after the film is over.”

RED LETTER DAY opens in select cinemas November 1st and lands on Blu-Ray/VOD November 5th from Epic Pictures and DREAD. Read our review HERE


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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