I've been sitting on this interview for a couple of weeks now and been meaning to post it - this is the perfect opportunity, as, in light of some recent events, it's nice to spotlight a woman in the horror field in a positive fashion - tonight's guest is one of the busiest women in the field and a super cool chick to boot...
Greetings Fright Fans!! I was first introduced to tonight's interviewee through the Rue
Morgue Radio podcast, where she was a guest. She was discussing her book
on the Sociology of Zombies in mass culture. Since then she has become
involved in a number of other creative endeavors, so I thought I’d catch
up with her and talk a little about what she’s been up to… Welcome
Andrea “Lady Hellbat” Subissati.
Doc G - Hello Andrea! Great to speak
with you! I see you’ve been really busy lately, with a number of
creative irons in the fire, so to speak.
Andrea - No kidding! I never
would have guessed there was so much a person could do with their love
of the horror genre: from freelance journalism to lectures to podcasts.
In the past few years I’ve become connected to so many talented and
inspiring folks in the industry (including you, Doc!) and there’s no
shortage of interesting things to do in horror!
Let’s start with
your book, When There’s No More Room in Hell: The Sociology of the
Living Dead (2010) - Tell me a little about it and how that whole topic
I was working on my Masters degree in sociology in
2010 when the ‘new wave’ of zombie movies (like the Dawn of the Dead
remake and 28 Days Later) were starting to mark a resurgence of the
subgenre. As a horror fan and a sociologist, it was interesting to me
that there were ‘trends’ in horror film. When I went to the school
library, I found several books on the history of horror films and how
they reflected societal anxieties of the time. There were lots of books
on vampires, aliens and monsters but strangely, not a whole lot on
zombies. There were great books out there, of course (Kim Paffenroth’s
Gospel of the Dead was an invaluable resource in particular) but there
wasn’t much formal academia on the subject. I took this as an
opportunity and decided to write my thesis on why zombies were so
popular in the 70s and why they appeared to be making a comeback.
What has been the reception of it now that it’s in book format?
went with an academic publisher because I suspected that as the genre
grew in popularity, more and more schools would be offering courses on
the topic and would be interested in stocking my book in their
libraries. The downside of that decision is that the book is rather
expensive and it reads like an academic dissertation. I’ve sold quite a
few copies at my book launch party and at my Black Museum lecture, but
When There’s No More Room in Hell isn’t the kind of book you’re going to
find on the shelves at your local Chapters.
I thought about
rewriting it for a wider audience but by the time I was ready, a zillion
books on zombie culture had sprung up and I was eager to move on to
other topics. I do still love doing research and writing academic
essays. I contributed a chapter on Hellraiser to a book called The
Undead & Theology which was nominated for a Stoker award this year,
and I’m always on the lookout for more projects within academia.
me about your latest endeavor, THE FACULTY OF HORROR. I find it
interesting to hear a female perspective on movies that exist within a
heavily male dominated genre. Have you enjoyed stepping into the world
Have I ever! The Faculty of Horror podcast was
largely the brainchild of my friend and co-host Alexandra West, who also
writes for Rue Morgue, Famous Monsters and her blog,
scare-tactic.blogspot.com. I love how podcasting gives me the
opportunity to tackle smaller topics and bounce my ideas off someone
else, especially a fellow female fan! Since we started the podcast last
January, Alex and I have had the opportunity to network with several
great horror/film podcasts (like The Projection Booth and 6ft+) and
we’re thrilled to be making an appearance on a horror podcasting panel
at the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear this summer.
I was also amazed
at how easy and inexpensive it is to create a podcast. Really, all you
need is the time and the inclination; you don’t need fancy software or
equipment at all. I do spend hours editing and sourcing out clips, but
we record The Faculty of Horror on freeware (a program called Audacity,
if you’re interested) and a mic made for the Rock Band video game on
Tell me about THE BLACK MUSEUM lecture series.
Black Museum was inspired by the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies
out of Montreal. I became aware of the Miskatonic when I was a guest on
the Rue Morgue Podcast about my book: Stuart “Feedback” Andrews was
prepping to teach a course on zombies and he filmed my interview to use
in his presentation. Feedback and I kept in touch, and toyed with the
idea of starting something similar in Toronto. The same idea had
occurred to Paul Corupe, another Rue Morgue scribe who also runs
Canuxploitation.com. Feedback introduced us and between the three of us,
the Black Museum was born!
The Black Museum has run two
semesters now, and has welcomed the likes of Vincenzo Natali and Steven
Kostanski of Astron-6 as guest instructors. Some of our most popular
lectures were about horror posters, mad scientists and zombies, of
course! We’re gearing up for semester 3 right now, and we’re looking
forward to announcing a stellar fall lineup at the Rue Morgue Festival
of Fear in August.
You’ve also done some freelance writing lately too, for Rue Morgue Magazine?
sure have! I approached Rue Morgue to sponsor my book launch party and
I’ve gotten to know them well since then. Rue Morgue has such a great
staff who are truly committed to keeping on top of the genre and giving
hardcore fans what they crave. They are the print authority on the
subject and I feel very fortunate to live in the same city they’re based
out of so I can attend their events and bug them for assignments!
journalism is a bit of a departure from the heavy academic writing I
used to do, so I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of writing about
different topics to appeal to different audiences. I think the variety
has really strengthened my writing skills and expanded my knowledge of
You are also heavily involved in roller derby. That’s
where you got the Lady Hellbat moniker, I believe. Talk about that a bit
and are you still in the ring nowadays?
The flat-track, you
mean! Sadly, between a compound injury last year and increasing time
constraints I’ve decided to hang up my skates. I’ve got so much on the
go, I can no longer devote all the time and energy to the league that I
used to, and it’s not the kind of thing you can do part-
had a great time with it though; I was MVP for my first bout and I was
even on a poster once! I consider myself a Gore-Gore Rollergirl for life
and I wouldn’t part with those memories for anything.
next on your agenda? Any projects you’ve been dying to tackle that you
haven’t tried yet? Another book in the works, perhaps?
Black Museum is slowly growing and we’ve talked about some strategies to
expand our reach outside of Toronto. The Faculty of Horror keeps me
busy, and I’ll be doing a mini-encore presentation of my Black Museum
lecture called Unearthed: The Cultural History of the Zombie at the
Festival of Fear this summer!
As for other literary projects, I could tell you… but then I’d have to eat your brains…