BY: GABY MORENO
Hello Hip Hop Heads and Horror Fans,
Today I will be sharing a spooky interview I did with FearScale! I came across Joe and Leah’s platform via Instagram. I found their page and website very unique and fascinating! I was intrigued at how they were using heart monitors to rate the heart rate when watching a horror movie! It is a very unique concept and I loved it! I reached out to them via social media to see if they would be open to answer some interview questions. Joe responded quickly and was open to it! Please read below to learn more about FearScale and what they are contributing to the horror community! Read below if you dare!
1. Please introduce yourself for those who might not know who you are? Where are you guys based out of?
Hello there! My name is Joe and along with my wife Leah we run FearScale, a review site based on the heart rate monitoring of horror movies. We are located in Orlando, Florida.
2. How did Fearscale get started as far as the inception of it? Who runs your page is it a group of people or individual? I think it is a very dope idea to measure heart rate/ calories burned when watching a horror movie. Very unique concept.
First, Thank you! That’s awesome to hear. I run the page, create the posts and concepts and do the monitoring of all the films. Leah will help me edit the articles, be a model sometimes, and is our main test subject when we review older films. We take volunteers and recruit non-horror fans for theatre reviews. The inception of FearScale came from an idea I had with a friend of mine years ago. We wanted to create a television show where contestants were wearing heart monitors and walked through haunted houses. The production crew would build sets designed to scare them at certain moments. If they could keep their heart rate below a certain number, their cash prize would go up. Unfortunately, life got in the way and our location fell through so we had to part ways. I always loved the idea of using a heart monitor to measure fear. I understand people have varying degrees of fear but when I was reading reviews online, they were so drastically different. I thought FearScale would be an excellent opportunity to get accurate and objective results for precise moments in a film that our truly frightening.
3. What made you fall in love with the horror genre?
My Aunt and Uncle were in charge of babysitting my sisters and I one night when I was about 6 or 7. They were huge Halloween fans. They thought it would be fun to put on Halloween, which had been released a couple years prior. I was glued to the set. The music and that white masked stranger terrified me and I loved it. If that wasn’t enough, when the film ended, my Uncle came from another room wearing a mask and chased us around the house with a butcher knife, a real butcher knife. Not the best babysitting decision upon recollection, but from that moment on, I loved being scared and watching people get scared. I grew up loving Halloween, not only the film, but the holiday. When all of my friends went to parties I would be the loner who would hang back in a Myers costume, sitting on my porch and scaring the little ones. All in good fun of course.
4. What are your top 5 favorite scary movies? Why?
Well, Halloween (1978) of course. After that initial release I was at the perfect age when 80’s slashers began littering the big screen. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) haunted my dreams for weeks. I remember building a Freddy glove out of aluminum before they made replicas. I’d also have to say Scream (1996). Wes Craven was a master of horror, and to be able to torture different generations of fans was truly remarkable. Scream reignited the slasher genre in a time when they seemed to be fading away. Poltergeist (1982) would be on my list as well. I have an unhealthy obsession with the paranormal and that film had so many unsettling images. A more modern film that has crept its way into my top 5 is Trick R Treat (2007). Everything about the film screams Halloween and it has created another famous icon for the holiday. While I can appreciate the creative artsy horror films, I prefer a hard rock, bloodcurdling screams, and a murderous icon.
5. You guys rate new horror movies and sometimes throwbacks. Any movie from back in the day that you have yet to rate, but it is at the top of the list? If so why?
Scream! I would love to monitor Scream, but trying to find a person who hasn’t seen it has proved to be quite difficult. I have a feeling the long chase scenes and intense finale would seriously affect the heart.
6. What has been your favorite film to measure the heart rate to?
Surprisingly it has been the found footage sub-genre. These movies, love them or hate them create a visceral emotional impact. The dark, out of focus shots keep viewers guessing what’s around the next corner. Grave Encounters (2011) was an excellent one to monitor. It kept a 79.16 average heart rate even though the film took a bit getting started and had a runtime of only one hour thirty two minutes.
7. Where did you get all the equipment used to measure heart rate/calories burned? Who does the analyzing? Is it pretty fast process?
We tried several different heart monitor chest straps in the beginning, but we weren’t getting true readings while a person was not active. Plus the chest strap was just plain uncomfortable when seated. I found a portable heart monitor on a hospitals website that uses a pulse/oxygen measurement from the finger. It was extremely accurate and the visuals were great for photos. I do all of the analyzing and I would have loved to simply dump the recordings onto a computer and upload for all to see, but there are so many factors I didn’t take into account when watching a movie. Crossing and uncrossing your legs for instance, or a sneeze, would both show as momentary spikes in a pulse. So I watch the readings while the subject watches the film. I write down any spikes that aren’t movie induced to remove later. It does take away my enjoyment of the film which is why we didn’t monitor Halloween (2018) in theater. That was too important of a film for me! For most monitoring’s, we are able to get the results out the next day.
8. If you could be any horror villain or icon who would you be and why?
Geez, how do I say this without sounding like a complete psycho. Haha. Probably Sam from Trick R Treat. He’s simply protecting the rules of Halloween. It’s what I do each year anyway, yell at those disrespecting tradition. I’d be the first one to slice a throat with a pumpkin lollipop if they changed the date of the holiday from the 31st.
9. What has been the highest heart rate and what horror movie was it?
We have kept a leaderboard of movies we reviewed. From the fifty movies we have monitored so far, The Conjuring (2013) has held the top spot. This film knows how to stretch scenes and build anxiety. The average beats per minute of the one hour and fifty two minute runtime was 83.44. That’s 20bpm over our subject’s resting heart rate sustained! Though the movie received mixed reviews, the Netflix film Birdbox (2018) produced our highest peak with our subject hitting 106bpm.
10. If you could make your own modern horror movie survival rules what would they be?
Be a good parent. If you’re a drunk or you beat your kids, they’re ultimately coming back to kill you when they get older. Also, even in the modern age of technology, don’t bother setting up cameras. You’ll get killed before you get a chance to review it. Don’t go on vacation. Sweden, hostels, cabins…in the woods. You’re safer just staying home.
11. You are a guest contributor with the Nightmare on Film Street podcast. That is awesome! How did you guys build that relationship and how has it helped your platform grow?
Honestly, we had only monitored two or three films with less than hundred followers when NOFS reached out to us. They loved the concept and knew immediately that people would get a kick out of this unique way of reviewing. I had been a listener of their podcast before writing for them and love their banter. Jon and Kim are amazingly funny people and it is great to be supported by a website that has such dedicated followers.
12. What does “Fear” mean to you, or how do you define it? Why do you think horror fans enjoy the feeling of being scared?
To me, fear is a motivator. If you’re afraid of something, it means you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. It means you’re living and not watching life pass you by. I think horror fans enjoy the trill of leaving their comfort zone while in a safe environment.
13. If you could be any scream queen or final girl who would it be and why?
Not to be completely predictable, but I have already expressed my love for all things Halloween. I would be Laurie Strode. Like her, I come off as reserved, but when push comes to shove, I can hold my own.
14. How has the horror community embraced you? Any advice or words of encouragement for those entering the horror creative community?
I began FearScale in February of 2018. Before that I wasn’t engaged on any social media platforms. I started like I start anything, just to see If I can. I didn’t realize there was this entire horror community on social media. I’m amazed at how many people have reached out and wrote us words of encouragement from the beginning. I’ve made some truly great friends. I didn’t realize there were so many fans like me that love the art of the scare. For those just starting out I can only say do it for yourself. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish, nobody else will either. In the end, if you have 1 or 1,000 followers it won’t matter because you’re having fun.
15. What do you wish to accomplish with your platform? What does your brand mean to you?
I’m simply a fan of my own concept. Haha, I love the idea as much as everyone else. I would love to take FearScale on the road. Monitoring in haunted houses and rating them based on beats per minute would be a great promotional tactic for any company. My ultimate goal would be to get a screener for a new release so I don’t have to bother guests in the theater with my heart monitor and bright lighted pen! Haha
16. What is your favorite horror movie sub-genre and why?
I’m a huge fan of the supernatural. A film that doesn’t need to rely on gore but can still get under your skin. The first half of Insidious is a great example of this. The music alone is terrifying.
17. Do you believe in the supernatural? If so have you had any supernatural experiences you can share?
I do believe in the supernatural. Actually, I have been on ghost investigations with GhostStop in St. Cloud Florida. They have an amazing team and have been responsible for creating some of the fun tools you see on the television show Ghosthunters. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any truly spine-tingling experiences.
18. Do you feel like the horror genre is finally receiving the recognition it deserves or do you think it is getting close to that?
I think horror will always be the bastard child of cinema. There have been a few new releases that I thought could win prestigious awards, Toni Collette’s performance in Hereditary for example was outstanding. But horror will always be an experiment and I think the powers that be are afraid to recognize the impact it has and are scared to admit that it turns them on.
19. What is the horror film you are anticipating to watch this year that has not yet been released in theaters? Why?
It should be IT: Chapter 2 or Doctor Sleep because I’m a huge King fan but it’s actually Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell. There’s something hardcore and raw about a Zombie film that makes you feel like this s**t is actually happening. You never know what the f**k is going to happen next. He’s unpredictable and I love it.
20. Any shout outs to platforms or specific people?
Leah of course! She’s put up with so much of this craziness and will never let me quit even though she’s subjected to more horror than she cares to be. The Nightmare on Film Street podcast for seeing the potential in FearScale before anyone else did. And Derek @horrorjunkie103178 on Instagram. He and I started around the same time. We have shared thoughts and encouragement, motivating each other along the way. Even though I have never met him in person, I consider him a true friend… and that my readers is how a horror movie starts.
To keep up with FearScale please see links below:
Thank you FearScale for your time and being available to respond to my interview questions! I truly appreciate you and what you are contributing to the horror community! I gotta visit Orlando, FL soon to meet you guys in person and thank you personally! To my readers and supporters hope you all enjoyed reading this interview. Go give FearScale a follow @fearscale ! Until next time horror fiends and hip hop heads. While you’re at it please feel free to follow my blog on social media @7octoberz Instagram and Facebook! Also follow me on Spotify, Itunes, Anchor.fm/7octoberz, Google Play Music to listen to my audio interviews under: “Nightmare on Sedgwick Avenue“.