There are countless films that have been elevated to entirely new levels thanks to their accompanying musical scores. Whether it’s a classic such as John Carpenter’s Halloween or the more recent, dread filled synth of It Follows, a film’s score is one of the most integral parts of it’s DNA. Today’s interviewee, Steve Moore, knows a thing or two about this as he is the man responsible for crafting one of the standout scores of the past few years. 

His pulsating synth music propelled 2014’s The Guest to a whole other level of awesome. Drawing acclaim from fans and critics alike who took note of the effect his Carpenter-esque sounds had on the film, melding perfectly with director Adam Wingard’s striking neon visuals. Steve is not only a composer for various films, but also an accomplished musician who has released numerous electronic styled solo projects, along with the intense work of his band Zombi (along with band mate A.E. Paterra). The great response to Steve’s score for The Guest ultimately led to it being released on limited edition Vinyl, via Death Waltz/Mondo. You can check out a track from that below, as well as the latest track from the upcoming Zombi album due out in October on Relapse records.

 I was thankfully, first introduced to Steve’s music by my good pal Uncle Tnuc who had been singing his praises long before The Guest was ever released. Steve has always been a friendly, down to earth guy whenever we have briefly chatted, So when I reached out to see if he would be interested in participating in our Dissecting Fear interview series, he was more than happy to oblige. Being such big fans of his work and music in general we are honored to be able to get him involved with this discussion. He took his time to come up with thoughtful and interesting answers and we hope you all enjoy reading them as much as we did. Also when you are finished be sure to check out the links at the end of this article to read more about Steve and hear some more of his work!

As a child what horror film and/or horror character scared you the most and why do you feel they had this effect on you?

 Halloween was my favorite horror film when I was a kid (still in my top 5), and Michael Myers was definitely the scariest of the celebrity horror characters. Who is this guy? Why is he doing this? Why is any of this happening? That’s what made it so scary – he had no emotion, no motive, nothing. Most of the other popular slashers of the time looked like cartoon characters in comparison. I thought Freddy Krueger was corny, and he was just mad because he got burned alive (by the righteously angry parents of his mortal victims). Jason Voorhees was also out for revenge, mad about the decapitation of his mother (who was just avenging his death anyway). But Myers showed no emotion, had seemingly no self preservation instincts, and no motive. To me that’s way more frightening. This was the 80’s, pre-Halloween 4, way before all that Dr. Wynn/Thorn business that attempted to explain everything.

Do you have an example telling of an instance or two where this fear really manifested itself and had an impact on you and your behavior?

 No, I’ve never had to sleep with the lights on after a scary movie if that’s what you mean.
 What VHS covers or horror movie posters scared you as a kid and why do you feel the poster or cover had this effect on you? If none scared you are there any you particularly remember that stood out to you for different reasons at the time?
 I remember being creeped out by the “VHS box for Cronenberg’s “Rabid” . Just a terrifying still from the film that doesn’t tell you ANYTHING. Leaves everything to the imagination. And Fulci’s “Zombie”, it was so gross, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to rent it. VHS art worked both ways though – there were boxes like Barker’s “Nightbreed” and Bianchi’s “Burial Ground”, great films that would end up being all-time favorites of mine, but the VHS boxes were pretty bad, I avoided these films for a long time. Looking back, the Burial Ground box is actually kind of great, but as a kid I was suspicious, I always steered clear of films that didn’t have any stills on the box. This was pre-internet, you couldn’t just look up the trailer on your phone. One had to assume that, if there were no photos from the film on the box, it was that way for a reason.

 

What is your definition of “scary” when it comes to modern horror films these days? So many people are quick to say a film isn’t scary, but each person has their own definition of what that means. 

I saw you post recently about Sinister, I enjoyed that one – it’s about the world’s shittiest dad. Without getting too spoiler-y, everything bad that happens to the protagonist and his family is a direct result of him being a shitty dad, and a shitty husband. He’s too self absorbed to realize he’s making the worst decisions – that’s the kind of thing that scares me these days. People making bad decisions, ruining their lives, real talk.

 What do you NOT consider scary or not like in your horror films?

I have two daughters now, so my whole perspective on the horror genre has changed. I am very sensitive to violence against women, even in films I used to like when I was younger.

 What do you look for or to get out of horror films these days? 
 I’ve been into horror films for 30 years now, at this point I’m way more into horror movies that don’t feel like horror movies. Or non-horror movies that feel like horror movies. Basically I just only want to watch Ben Wheatley films. I also really liked Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin – not a horror movie, but had the same level of intensity. That movie made me feel sick. I was relieved when it was over. Another example of disastrously bad decision making with horrific consequences.

What is your favorite recent horror film and why?

 I think It Follows is my favorite recent horror film. It’s smart, thought provoking, and I like that the whole point isn’t that you can simply defeat the antagonist and win, it’s a new reality that you have to learn to accept, and work together with others to insure their safety in order to protect yourself. It destroys the myth of self-reliance that usually dominates the last reel of a horror movie. And the characters were so sweet, at no point did I find myself thinking “oh man can’t wait ’til he gets a machete through his head.”

Do you feel there is a certain way or mindset to have to watch a horror film as far as it being effectively frightening? 

 No – I watched Blue Ruin in the middle of the afternoon and I was shook.

Lastly, being a musician I have to ask, what horror score had the biggest impact on you whether as a child or adult and why? 

 Halloween, no question. That score changed everything, not just for me. Austere and elegant, it fit the movie perfectly, at times functioning more like sound design that what we’d come to expect from a film score.

Thanks so much Steve for taking time out to participate, we greatly appreciate it!

Share: