Screaming in Analog

Two Decades of Shot-on-Video Horror

by Steve Carlson

They didn’t have money. They didn’t have many resources. They often didn’t have a whole lot of talent. What they had was moxie, a consumer-grade video camera, and the freedom that comes with making a work unburdened by expectations.

When discussion of independent movements in motion picture filmmaking occurs, the curious subgenre of the shot-on-video horror film never comes up. Yet, in terms of true independence and the myriad ways that independence can lead to results both productive and otherwise, the SOV field is fertile ground. Titles like Splatter Farm, Death Nurse, Zombie Bloodbath, Black Devil Doll from Hell and Caress of the Vampire seem unpromising on paper, but their existence says unique things about filmmaking both as labor of love and as commercial product. Screaming in Analog follows the genre from its stumbling first forays on to the halcyon days of the VHS format and through the mid-to-late ‘90s, cumulating in 1999, where The Blair Witch Project brings the genre into the mainstream just as digital video starts to make it obsolete. Through in-depth looks at several significant titles, this book shows how what initially was loose and disparate managed to coalesce into a genuine microcinema movement – and where the movement’s influences can be seen today.

Coming October 2015

Steve Carlson has been writing about film on the Internet in various forms for well over a decade now and in that time has gained a reputation for being knowledgeable about horror and exploitation films. (Jim Ridley of the Nashville Scene once called him, “the lonely Magellan of modern-day disreputable genre cinema,” and he thinks that’s the nicest compliment he’s ever gotten.) In the past, he has written for Buzzfeed, In Review Online and Blogcritics; nowadays, he writes mostly for himself. He cohosts a podcast, The Bad Idea Podcast, with noted New York City-based critic Simon Abrams; also, with Paul Clark, he co-created and has since 2009 served as the co-head of The Muriel Awards, the Internet’s greatest movie-awards ceremony named after a guinea pig. He has a supportive wife and a beautiful daughter. He knows more about wine than you’d probably expect.