There’s a joke/meme I’ve seen a lot online that if you leave three millennials in a room together for more than five minutes they’ll start a podcast and some days I’m not sure they are wrong. That is not the case with the crew from Candy-Coated Razor Blades however. For starters, they’re not all millennials, but their story began with co-founder Bob Green.
“It started as my blog. I had a blog where I did horror movie reviews and once a week did the whole trope-fest thing which is where my book came from,” Green explained as I sat down with the crew for an interview for Horror Pride Month, “I just yanked all those things off the web and published them. From there, my ex-roommate/ex-partner Alex was like, ‘You should totally do a podcast.’ We got my other roommate Andy in on it, and that’s where it started.”
They’ve had a few line-up changes along the way in their mission to, as their Facebook page says, “expose horror for the wondrous thing that it is…and to make fun of bad movies.” Currently, Green co-hosts the show with R.C. Ackerman and their newest member Stephanie Hayslip who started out as a fan of the podcast before joining.
“I came from being a fan and listening first,” she explained. “I was living in Los Angeles and then Portland and then I moved back to Columbus to take care of my parents. So, one day I saw a post on the CCRB site and said they were looking for a co-host and I was like, ‘Well, all right. I’ll send them a message.’ The rest is history.”
“It’s funny,” Green chimed in. “I don’t think we ever told you Stephanie but we made you go through the whole interview and test episode process and nobody else did.”
“I don’t think anyone else even responded!” Ackerman added.
Regardless of how she came to be a part of the group, there seems to have been an instant chemistry between them and the addition of a woman’s voice to the podcast has definitely broadened the conversation.
“Something that made me want to co-host on here specifically was there just aren’t as many female voices in horror and especially queer female voices in horror,” Hayslip said. “I was having trouble when I was looking for podcasts to listen to at work finding a podcast that wasn’t just two bros bro-ing out while talking about horror movies.”
“When it comes to what really sets us apart,” Ackerman said, “I think it’s the sheer range and depth of our separate backgrounds in it. We’re all horror fans but Stephanie and I both work haunted houses. Stephanie has a background in acting and performance and can speak about these films from that perspective. Bob has done so much research on tropes like he mentioned. I’m way into found footage and supernatural stuff. Bob hates all of that!”
“I don’t hate it!”Green exclaimed laughing. “I just don’t exactly seek it out…except for found footage. I will actively destroy found footage.”
One of the highlights of working together has been attending festivals, performing interviews on-the-spot after filmmakers have just screened their films and taking in the reactions of their audience. It is exciting, but was especially overwhelming during that first outing to Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
“We lucked into Nightmares the first time and that was mostly because of Alex,” Green said. “Alex knew Jason Tostevin who runs Nightmares and he had us watch his short and in doing so, we decided to open our Event Horizon episode by doing the weird Satanic chant from Born Again because it worked so well. Jason heard it and said ‘I want you guys at Nightmares.’ Then we got there and we had that tiny little table and it was so much fun. Then we got there this year and they set us up in this lounge area. And we just sat up there and had a party all weekend.”
That festival opportunity expanded this year when R.C. and Stephanie took the show on the road to Georgia to attend the Women in Horror Film Festival which Hayslip called an “amazing experience.”
While they enjoyed their trip to the festival and seeing all of the amazing work written by, directed by, and starring women, one filmmaker in particular stuck out to both of them. Her name is Stacey Palmer, an amazing filmmaker and VFX artist who just also happens to be trans.
“Stacey Palmer gets shit done,” Hayslip said with no little amount of awe in her voice. “We hadn’t even gotten checked in yet and Stacey was introducing us to people and telling us everything we needed to know. At one point, she pointed at a guy who had a lanyard on and said, ‘Press.’ Then she pointed at her own lanyard and said, ‘Filmmaker. We should talk!'”
Unfortunately, Green was unable to attend the festival with them.
“I thought, ‘It’s okay. They can do this,'” he said. “I really wanted to meet Nancy Langenkamp, though.”
“Did you just say Nancy Langenkamp?” Ackerman asked.
“Heather Langenkamp,” Hayslip corrected.
It was at that moment that I realized we had really kind of stepped into the Candy-Coated Razor Blades environment. Was I still running this interview? I thought so, but it was anyone’s guess really.
Another thing that sets the show apart from some other podcasts is that they’re not only all three on the queer spectrum, but they are all three neuro atypical, something that is important to them to discuss but also adds a layer of perspective to their analysis of films.
For all of those who groan that horror is just horror and anything with social or political themes is something new, they’ve missed some of the finer points that horror has made from the beginning.
“I think the reason I love horror so much is because it’s so much deeper than people give it credit,” Hayslip said. “The public thinks it’s just there to scare us. That’s all they want. They get it and they go home and they’re happy. For some of us it’s good to dig deeper. Why did it scare me so bad? It’s very therapeutic for me.”
The mental illness in horror conversation has come to the foreground in recent years. For decades we’ve had horror films that began with someone escaping a mental asylum, but very little time is spent on why they were there to begin with. This person is insane and was therefore locked away.
Considering that at one point all you really had to be was gay, a person of color, or a woman who spoke her mind to be locked in an asylum, that’s not nearly enough.
Films like Hereditary and more recently Daniel Isn’t Real have dug deeper into those underlying issues and that’s something the Candy-Coated Razor Blades team are all about.
As our time together came to an inevitable close, I could not help but reflect on the real comradery of these three. They might have different points of view and different tastes in horror but they’re here for their communities–both horror and LGBTQ–completely and helping highlight the intersections of the two.
And that is the very essence of Horror Pride Month.