[Interview] James Buddy Day for BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR
Courtesy EPIX

In BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR, this five-part series is the definitive retrospective on the horror genre from the company regarded as the driving force in the horror renaissance. BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR revisits the shocks and scares from our favorite iconic cinematic horror moments from the 1930s until today, featuring insights from some of the best and most influential filmmakers, producers, and actors working in the genre, as well as experts and historians. The series, narrated by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), reflects how quintessential horror films have revealed and reflected the real-life scares of the world to the audience, uniting us with shared understanding, catharsis, and entertainment.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew chatted with Showrunner/Executive Producer James Buddy Day (Fall River) about BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR. During their chat, they discussed everything from what sparked the idea for the series, the importance of a narrator, and what separates BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR from other documentary series.

It’s so great to speak with you again, James! To start things off, what spurred the idea of making the series, and what was it you were hoping to explore on a deeper level?

James Buddy Day: The idea of the series came from the idea that Blumhouse is leading this horror renaissance. They wanted to reflect on how fear has evolved over the decades and how that’s reflected in horror movies. Jason Blum, in the series at one point, says the world’s always coming up with new scares that we can create horror movies out of. And that really was the thesis. How do these historical events reflect in the movies? And then, how do those movies become kind of this cathartic event for horror fans to explore their fears in a safe space?

The man himself, Robert Englund, is the narrator of this series. Why was it important to have a narrator as opposed to just talking heads?

James Buddy Day: That’s a good question. When we were putting together this series we had a vision. We wanted to convey this idea of horror movies as cathartic, as horror movies as expressive of fear in the culture. And those are some big ideas. We wanted a way to celebrate these movies, tie in this kind of thesis, and at the same time acknowledge the filmmakers that made these horror movies.

The idea came up pretty early that we wanted to have someone who’s really passionate about horror movies be the narrator of the whole series. Robert was just a natural choice that came together really quickly. He’s an amazing performer, he’s a great voiceover artist, and he’s part of this iconic horror franchise. Working with him was a dream. He was awesome. We’d give him this dialogue and he would just knock it out of the park. He was so into it and had a ton of insight into the movies. It was great.

Karyn Kusama in BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR | Image courtesy of EPIX

When diving into this project, what was the research process like? And was there anything you found to be surprising that you weren’t already familiar with?

James Buddy Day: There were lots that I wasn’t familiar with. It was an extensive research process. The production window on the series was close to two years. It was a long production and we went really deep. It was everything from normal research to extensive background research on these movies, the interviews we did, talking to people off-camera, and just really trying to curate a celebration of horror movies. That was a difficult task because there are so many wonderful horror movies out there. Deciding what to focus on was challenging in a good way.

The series features everyone from OG horror folks to those new to the genre. What was the process like in finding the right people for this?

James Buddy Day: We really wanted to find people who are influential in the horror genre, obviously, filmmakers, actresses, actors, writers, directors, experts, all people who are just really passionate about horror. Not just those that say, hey, these are great movies, but people who had the insight that only a horror fan could have. It was such a treat to interview people like Patton Oswald, Kevin Smith, Robert Englund, Bruce Campbell, Jason Blum, all these people who just had such incredible knowledge of horror movies but could speak to why they’re relevant and really break them down and give insights.

What was your personal introduction to the world of horror?

James Buddy Day: I grew up a horror fan. I’ve always been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. I remember sneaking downstairs when I was 12 or 13 and watching Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors on TV and it blowing my mind. I remember seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theater and not knowing if it was real or not, thinking it was [Laughs]. I remember seeing the re-release of The Exorcist in the theater and being on the edge of my seat.

So, I’ve always been drawn to those movies. I’ve always been drawn to that genre. From the time I was 8 or 9 years old, I can remember going down to the local video store and going into the horror section and loading up my arm with all these titles I’d never heard of and taking them home and binge-watching VHS before that was a thing [Laughs].

In what way does BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR separate itself from other docs that came before?

James Buddy Day: I think we really wanted to put together something that was elevated, that had this incredible insight into horror movies and not just reiterating this movie happened, then this movie happened, then this movie happened. We really wanted to put together something that was meaty, that had a lot of sustenance to it that you could really say oh, I didn’t know that about Dracula. I didn’t know that about Frankenstein, and I didn’t know how they all connected. So we really tried to put together something that would not only appeal to the average horror fan or the average fan but something that true horror aficionados would watch and really enjoy and get something out of it.

You kind of already answered my next question, but is there anything else you hope people will take away from BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR? 

James Buddy Day: At the end of the day, it’s a celebration of horror and I hope people who are into the genre who love horror as much as I do, really watch it and see something they didn’t realize. And I hope people that are not really into horror but just kind of fall upon it and watch it come away and go and watch some of these movies they’ve never seen.

BLUMHOUSE’S COMPENDIUM OF HORROR is now streaming on EPIX.

Shannon McGrew
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