The Evolution of Horror

Podcaster. Producer. Maestro of horror movie analysis. If Mike Murcer sounds like someone who would be found deep in the depths of Banshee Labyrinth with a pint and a good book, The Evolution of Horror will only reinforce that rather pleasing image.

Each episode sees Mike and his guests discuss everything to do with horror movies. Much like evolution itself, the series is a slow burner – the second podcast is one of ten dedicated solely to slasher-horror films like Halloween. The conversations he has with his guests pierce into the heart of a genre which has experienced some memorable moments of cinematic brilliance (A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example).

Conversely, horror has also fallen victim to too many cash-in sequels destined to plague their superior originals (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – even the Wikipedia synopsis is dire). Good or bad, Murcer covers them all.

This particular podcast sees Mike introduce discussions about slasher movies, their origins and how they have developed into their modern form. Joined by guests from the BFI and horror-film feminist group The Final Girls, Murcer expertly guides more than an hour of talking and interviews that details exactly what make slasher films tick.

It’s a feast of information that has the intellectual power to pull listeners in, without becoming too complex in its explanations. The amount of detail fitted into about 70 minutes is deeply impressive, but also avoids feeling like an overload of banal facts.

Beyond this incredible level of detail, The Evolution of Horror sadly offers little in the way of entertainment. It is okay to have a discussion based show – not everything can be a fresh and funky comedy, nor should it be – but Murcer’s writing and delivery comes across as a bit soulless.

There is little humour. Everything seems formal, and there is nothing to smile at. It is very difficult to enjoy hearing Murcer speak, even if what he is saying is interesting. The style is more befitting of a lecture than a podcast. A good lecture, for sure, but podcasts should be more engaging than that.

For those already interested in horror movies, this is the realisation of a delirious fantasy. An unashamed and intelligent nerd-out can be broadcast into the ears of avid fans, who can admire Murcer’s collection of facts and opinions. Everyone else, however, may prefer to choose something with a bit more personality.

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