Richard Christy is a true Renaissance man: writer, musician, comedian, actor, director, and, considering how he sacrifices his bodily integrity for comedy, one can even add performance artist to his impressive pedigree. He has been a vital member of the Howard Stern Show since 2004 providing surrealistic bits, relentless prank calls, and gender confusing stunts for millions of listeners. Richard’s artistic career preceded his contributions to the epochal radio show, and he continues to follow his muse wherever it may take him. Christy’s initial talent was for the drums, lending his considerable rhythmic fury to albums by Acheron, death metal pioneers Death (his drumming for the classic The Sound of Perseverance is legendary), Controlled Denial, Burning Inside, Leash Law, and Iced Earth. His current musical project is Charred Walls of the Damned (named after an exasperated response to one of Christy’s prank calls) who have released two albums of soul destroying immensity. Along with comedy and music, horror completes the Christy holy trinity. A life-long genre obsessive, Richard has acted in an eclectic range of horror films such as Albino Farm, Killer Hoo-Ha!, Adventures of Serial Buddies, Lights Camera Dead, and Booley. He has also directed his own zero budget masterpiece Evil Ned 3-The Return of Evil Ned 2: Electric Boogaloo, displaying his wicked satirical vision that encompasses monsters, rednecks, and ducks. His column for Decibel magazine dug deep into the fertile ground of forgotten, beloved VHS atrocities from the days where all you had to go on was the lurid art of the giant clam shell box. His latest genre project is Majestic Loincloth, a “Heavy Metal Viking Rock Opera Homoerotic Medieval Animated Musical” that can be viewed at Richardchristy.com. A fervent champion of the dark holiday Halloween and pumpkin beer, Richard has been a vocal and passionate proselytizer for all aspects of the genre. He was gracious enough to talk to HNN about his love for all things horror:
HNN: What is your first horror related memory?
Richard: Seeing John Carpenter’s The Fog on TV when I was about 6 or 7 years old. It scared the hell out of me and I LOVED it! Then my parents took me to see John Carpenter’s The Thing at the drive in in 1982 when I was 8 years old and I immediately knew I would be a lifelong horror fan. My mom also woke me up at 4am on a school night one time to watch Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell on TV, I had super cool parents!
HNN: What was it about horror that you connected with?
Richard: I love being scared, simple as that. I’m also fascinated with the afterlife and I love horror that touches on that. I also love Halloween and just anything dark, music, art, everything.
HNN: When did you realize horror was a part of your identity?
Richard: When I did “Show and Tell” in the fourth grade and told the whole plot of Friday the 13th part 4 which my parents had taken me to see the night before. Several of the kids complained of nightmares that night and the next day the teacher had a new rule – No horror movie descriptions for “Show and Tell”!
HNN: Did horror draw you to heavy metal?
Richard: That’s a good question, I think it was my neighbor Larry Beerbower who drew me to heavy metal, he played me Iron Maiden’s Powerslave and Quiet Riot Metal Health and I was hooked. I think I just naturally was into both even though neither of them drew me to the other. I love the movie Trick Or Treat about Sammi Curr, I saw it when I was a kid and I LOVED that it involved horror and heavy metal.
HNN: What are your favorite horror influenced heavy metal bands?
Richard: Definitely Death, Scream Bloody Gore is one of the first horror influenced metal albums I heard and I LOVED it and was lucky enough to join the band in 1997. Cannibal Corpse is another great horror band, I love their album covers too. Macabre is a great horror band, Mortician has some amazing album covers and horror music as well. Wrathchild America has some amazing songs about horror including the song “What’s Your Pleasure?” which is about Hellraiser, it’s a crushing song.
HNN: How did horror affect your musical career?
Richard: Well, when I joined the band Iced Earth I was SOOOO excited when I found out that the first album I would be playing on would be the album Horror Show which is based on all of the classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, and the Wolfman. I also wrote a song on the first album from my band Charred Walls of the Damned called “The Darkest Eyes” that is about my favorite horror geniuses John Carpenter, Stephen King, and author Brian Keene.
HNN: Any specific horror influences on Charred Walls of the Damned?
Richard: Definitely John Carpenter. He is my favorite musician and I WORSHIP his soundtracks. I would probably say that he is my single biggest musical influence and that definitely influences the music I write in Charred Walls of the Damned. Some of the riffs are first written by me on synthesizer and then I transfer them to guitar. One day I want to do an album where I make heavy versions of my favorite John Carpenter songs.
HNN: Besides film and music, what other horror media (fiction, TV, comic books, video games) do you appreciate?
Richard: All of it! I read tons of books, I love Stephen King, Brian Keene, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, JG Faherty, Richard Laymon and many others. I don’t have much time to play video games but I used to LOVE the Evil Dead game for Playstation. I love The Walking Dead comic book and TV show, I love Fangoria magazine and Hauntworld magazine and all of the horror websites like the one I’m being interviewed for right now!
HNN: Who is in your personal horror hall of fame?
Richard: John Carpenter would be right at the top for me, his music, his directing, his writing, everything about him is genius. Stephen King is right up there too, I don’t know he has so many amazing stories in his head, just incredible. Brian Keene is another author I’m a huge fan of who would be in the hall of fame too. Rob Bottin, Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero, and Rick Baker would be in there too. I grew up in the 80’s when SFX makeup guys were like rock stars and I really look up to all of those guys. Tom Atkins would be in there too, he’s my favorite actor and I love how studly he is in Halloween 3, he drinks, gets the girl, and almost saves the world all in one movie!
HNN: What is your best Halloween experience?
Richard: There are SO MANY! If I had to choose one that really made me a lifelong Halloween fan I guess I would have to choose my Uncle Herbie’s Halloween party in 1984 when I was 10 years old. He rented out the Redfield, KS Community Building, there was about 50 people attending, there was a costume contest and everybody watched Evil Dead on VHS which blew my mind. Then everybody took a haunted hay ride out to an old abandoned house in the country which my Uncle had set up as a walk through haunt complete with chains with hanging meat and his friends in costume jumping out and scaring the crap out of people, it was like heaven for me!
HNN: What would be your dream Halloween experience?
Richard: Luckily I’ve gotten to live out a lot of my Halloween dreams as an adult, I’ve been to haunts all around the country and stayed in a lot of haunted bed and breakfast around the country. I would love to one day visit Dracula’s Castle in Romania, that would definitely be a dream Halloween for me. Really though, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando is my dream Halloween experience, it is like walking through Halloween itself. I always say that if there’s a heaven for me it will be Halloween Horror Nights and I’ll get to enjoy it for all eternity.
HNN: What is your opinion of the current state of horror? What do you like? What do you hate?
Richard: I am very biased because I grew up in the 80’s when some of the best horror films ever came out, so I definitely love the classics the most. There is a lot of great new horror though, even TV has some amazing horror these days. I love The Walking Dead and the show Holliston on Fearnet. It’s really cool that TV channels like Fearnet and Chiller are available these days too, I think that really helps the horror scene. There are some great horror films coming out these days too, I love a lot of the new horror that comes from Europe like REC and Martyrs. I’m not a big fan of the remakes, I think the originals are usually perfect so why mess with them although sometimes remakes can be even better than the original like John Carpenter’s The Thing and Cronenberg’s The Fly.
HNN: Does horror inform your writing and comedic work? (I think Cronenberg might appreciate some of your body-centric stunts)
Richard: Yes definitely, I do some bits about horror films in my standup comedy act and I also love writing comedy bits that involve horror. I’m a huge fan of American Werewolf in London and I think the way John Landis blended comedy and horror was perfect in that film. I used some of the werewolf sounds from American Werewolf in London in a prank call once as a tribute to the great film.
HNN: What are your current horror-related projects? (We’ve heard strange rumors of a film called Jersey Shore Massacre)
Richard: Yep I’m an actor in Jersey Shore Massacre! It’s going to be a really fun movie and I look forward to seeing it, I think it comes out this October. I’m also an actor in the film Pennhurst which was directed by Michael Rooker, who I’m a HUGE fan of. It was filmed in an abandoned asylum and it was a lot of fun to be a part of and it was really amazing to work with Michael Rooker. I’m hoping that the film will come out soon. I also write the music for a really cool event called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Hudson Valley New York. It’s an event where you walk through displays created from over 5,000 pumpkins every October! I write all the music for the event, this will be the second year I’ve done it and they release CD’s of the music too which you can purchase at the event or get on Itunes or at http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze/soundtrack. It’s so much fun to write the music and you’ll definitely hear a big horror and John Carpenter influence in the music. I’ve also written a cartoon called Majestic Loincloth which is a Viking, Heavy Metal, Comedy, Rock Opera and has a lot of cool creatures and horror elements. You can see it on the Rugburn Channel on Youtube and you can get the album on Itunes!
HNN: What is the future of horror?
Richard: That’s a tough one. I think technology is always scary, people’s lives are pretty much run by technology these days so I think technology based horror could be a big thing in the future. Until someone proves that there’s an afterlife I think that will always be a big topic, I know it’s something I’m totally fascinated in. I think the fact that video cameras are so readily available will affect the horror scene, pretty much anybody can make a low budget horror film these days so it’s exciting to think of the talent that will come out of that. As long as there’s a future containing horror I’m happy!
HNN: Thank you Richard Christy for flying the horror flag high and letting your sick genius run wild!