iHorror Writer Spotlight: Meet Michele Zwolinski

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Our “Get to Know Your iHorror Writers” series continues with Michele Zwolinski, and I’m going to tell you straight away that if you aren’t familiar with this scribe’s work, you need to remedy that immediately.

Zwolinski knows the horror genre backwards and forwards and boasts of an easy-flowing prose which is at once funny, engaging and honest. Otherwise known as a combination impossible to dislike.

With takes ranging from the best fright flicks for date night to what’s so “unspeakably wrong” with “freakin'” Gremlins all the way to horror film snobbery, Michele is definitely the kind of chick you’d want to enjoy some beers and a horror movie marathon with.

So do yourself a favor and take a few moments to get to know one of iHorror’s gems.

redhairskullcakeLet’s wind the clock back a few years, what was the first horror movie moment that left you declaring “I’m all in?”

I think the first horror movie that I fell in love with was A Nightmare on Elm Street. I caught a piece of it on TV right before I was shipped off to this rustic church camp / prison for children for a week, and all I could think of while I was falling asleep in the pitch black cabin at night was the Johnny Depp death scene and I could stop imagining what might have happened next.

This one is a two-parter: What horror flick sits firmly entrenched as your number one and which is the hidden gem that you have an affinity for that isn’t universally loved?

My absolute favorite horror movie is Scream and I’ll never, ever budge on that. It’s a movie that I can watch a million times, but it never gets old to me. I think part of it is that the first time I ever saw it I was pretty young and watching my first “slasher” with friends, and it was just such a fun flick that I’ll always associate it with positive memories. My “hidden gem” would probably be Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010). I get so much shit for how much I enjoyed that movie, but I have a soft spot for monsters or creatures, and Guillermo del Toro can write some scary fucking monster stories.

Beyond iHorror, what keeps you busy? Are there any other sites you write for?

Just life, I guess. I used to be an EMT and volunteer firefighter but quickly realized that I have absolutely no desire to help people. Right now I’m splitting my time between working at a local BBQ joint (which I love because I smell like meat all the time), runnign my own donut delivery service and planning a thru-hike with my husband on the Appalachian Trail next spring. I don’t write for any other sites right now, but I used to write for Cinema Soldier. In fact, I think one of my articles about the upcoming remake of Carrie is the last one every posted on there, so it’s safe to say that one has been dead for a while. Maybe after the hike I’ll be qualified to write for a travel blog or something!

Of all you’ve written for iHorror, which is your favorite piece to date?

Definitely the “What Your Favorite Villain Says About You” piece! That one was so much fun to put together, it’s all pictures of bad guys (and we all know they’re the most fun) and I got to insult people. I wish I could write it all over again.

Other than your own work, which iHorror stories have left the greatest impression on you?

Definitely your Rick Ducommun piece, first of all. I think it really beautifully conveyed how fans feel when someone they admired passes away, and how much of an impact someone you’ve never even met can have on you. And John Squires’ piece on the YouTube short Lights Out turned me on to David Sandberg and Lotta Losten, and now my life is just basically centered around waiting for them to make a feature-length movie. I am a huge fan of all the writers for iHorror, though, and I get excited every time there’s a new article posted. Being involved with a site with so many writers all passionate about the same subject is like finding a virtual home away from home.

We all have them (and if we don’t we’re more twisted than we think), so what is the one horror scene so anguished you simply cannot watch it from start to finish?

I will not — will not — watch a scene where an animal dies. I know something happens to the dog in Evil Dead, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what because I close my eyes as soon as David opens the shed door until whoever I’m watching with nudges me to let me know it’s over. I have missed large chunks of movies because I’ll close my eyes and clamp hands over my ears every time a dog is show, just in case it all goes bad.

For those who write for iHorror, Halloween isn’t simply a fun night to get dressed up and knock back some of our favorite beverages, but a lifestyle. What about All Hallow’s Eve just does it for you?

Halloween seriously might bankrupt me. I start decorating on September 1st and don’t stop until two days after Halloween. I love turning my house into a depraved nightmare of terror for as long as possible. I love forgetting that the giant spider at the top of the stairs is set to lunge out at me every time I head to my bedroom or that there’s a bloody clown face staring at me in the mirror. We have giant party on Halloween and I freaking LOVE watching guests get freaked out by the tiny details that any sane person would overlook — the head in the microwave or the bloody hand soap in the bathroom. I love that it becomes okay to get scared.

Other than beginning the countdown to Halloween at 364, you’ve got some pups. What are their names and what’s the one thing your readers should know about them?

JD (Jack Daniels) is my rottweiler, and Igor is my pitbull. They’re the sweetest, cuddliest dogs in the universe that have probably watched more horror movies in the course of their short lives than the average dog…or 30-year old.

Smurfy. Very smurfy.

Smurfy. Very smurfy.

The personal questions don’t end there. I think I speak for iHorror writers and readers alike when I ask why is Piranha 3D the most romantic movie of all-time?

When my now-husband and I first started dating, it was the first movie we went to see together. He was stationed in Washington and I was living in Michigan, so it was a long distance thing and we didn’t exactly know each other very well before he flew me out to visit him. He suggested going to the theater to see Piranha 3D and I thought, “This dude is just taking a chance that I’m going to like blood and boobs? That’s badass.”

Who is your spirit psycho?

Ghostface, fo’ sho.

You have a passion for ink. How many tatts do you have and which towers above all others as the one you have to show off?

I have eight-ish. One is an unfinished sleeve, and that one definitely stands out the most. It’s got zombies, a dude digging a hole next to a bound and gagged woman (and then him standing over her open grave with a rose), and a guy hanging from a noose while a small child plays on a swing a few branches over. It sounds dark, but the zombie is also wearing bunny slippers, so it’s clearly not that bad.

As a horror aficionado, what is the scariest movie ever made in your estimation? And which was the last you saw that left you frozen in fear?

Gremlins is a fucking scary movie. I cannot watch it…something about those things is just not right. It’s tormented me since I was a child. I’ve tried many times to watch it and I just fucking can’t. Just looking at pictures of those creepy-ass things makes my heart skip a beat. Ugh. The last movie that left me frozen in fear was actually The Collector. I found it in a Walmart bargain bin and watched it with my husband and best friend and we all just got super quiet and panicky about it. It kinda blindsided us with its intensity. We thought it would be a cheesy, bullshit movie that paired well with booze, but holy shit! It got really dark really fast and we were NOT prepared for that. That family was going to get fucking murdered and there wasn’t a damn thing the kindhearted criminal could do about it. Not a light moment to be had in that one, which is actually a little rare in the genre these days.

There are a lot of horror vixens out there, but the three chicks Debra Hill developed for John Carpenter’s Halloween are in a class by themselves. Of Annie Brackett, Lynda van der Klok and Laurie Strode — which one screams “Michele Zwolinski?” And you can’t cop out by saying you’re a bit of all three. Go.

No problem: I’m definitely Annie. I’m not responsible enough to be Laurie, so I can’t even go there. Annie was kind of a brusque loudmouth, and I would’ve unloaded the kid on my friend so I could go have fun, too.

Finally, I’m going to flip my horror interview staple: If you ran into Sid Haig, be it at a convention or randomly on the street, what would be the strangest thing you’d request of Captain Spaulding?

Honestly, I would probably try to think of something clever, or plan on asking him to yell at me about liking clowns, but most likely I’d panic and blurt out something really stupid like “Do you wanna put your tongue in my mouth for a little bit?”