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Playing Favorites is an interview series where creative people pick a topic and tell us their five favorite things about it. Opinions expressed in this series are those of the interviewees and do not reflect the opinions of S.W. Lauden or The Big Takeover.
Jan Radder was a misfit kid growing up in 1980s Connecticut when he discovered two passions that shaped the rest of his life: horror movies and punk rock. He first worked with Gorman Bechard as a fifteen-year-old production assistant on the cult-favorite Psychos in Love, followed by two more B-movies, Galactic Gigolo and Cemetery High. Radder also played bass and sang in the punk bands, Mutual Assured Destruction, Pet Waggin’, Ice-Nine, and Mi6 in the late ‘80s and early ’90s.
After an extended break from filmmaking, he again partnered with Bechard in the 2000s on the documentaries Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements, What Did You Expect? The Archers of Loaf Live At Cat’s Cradle, and Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart (Full disclosure: I interviewed Radder about Hart for my essay collection, Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming).
Radder’s relatable stories about how horror movies and punk rock saved his life are chronicled in the excellent new coming-of-age memoir, Immature Loser Punk. It’s Halloween season, so I asked him to share his five favorite horror movies.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
After miserably failing to convince anyone at school with a car to take us, I asked my mom if she would take my friend and I to see A Nightmare on Elm Street, which she kindly did. Matt had lost one of his contacts earlier that day and his glasses were broken so he watched the movie with one contact in and his hand over his contactless eye. Even with one eye covered, the movie did not disappoint. Sleeping over at Matt’s house that night, we were too scared to sleep as we imagined dozens of different scenarios where Freddy Krueger might murder us in the night. I hadn’t been that scared since I was a little kid worried about monsters lurking under the bed or hiding in the closet.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
For a film whose title includes both a chainsaw and a massacre, there is surprisingly little blood or gore in this film, which is surprising to many who have seen it because so many of us swear we witnessed not just some but a lot of blood and gore. Despite the lack of blood and gore (or maybe because of it) it’s still one of the most disturbing films I’ve seen and it leaves me shaken each time I watch it. The power of this film is in how realistic it feels and how it uses the imagination of the viewer to fill in what it doesn’t show and place ourselves in Sally’s and Franklin’s lives, which is what the best horror does.
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