Jovanka Vuckovic Talks Zombies, The Captured Bird, Horror Lit, and More!
DC: Since your brilliant tenure as editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue magazine, you have become a well-respected expert in the horror field as a whole. What is your opinion on the current state of horror?
JV: The genre by nature is cyclical. What’s popular right now won’t be in a few years, but it will definitely be back. So right now it’s zombies and vampires, but it’s not the first time these creatures have been de rigueur. It come and goes in waves. Unfortunately I think genre is at one of its low points, oversaturated with far too many remakes, 3D sequels and even the last gasps of the regrettable “torture porn” movement still linger. That is not to say all remakes are bad or that the remake is even a new phenomenon, because it’s not. There are just a lot of shitty mainstream remakes. At the same time, there are always some choice cuts available underground while the mainstream is busy gorging itself on the tripe. Take Let Me In for example, a film almost as good as its foreign counterpart – almost. It absolutely tanked at the box office, which isn’t good for filmmakers with original ideas unfortunately. As long as people keep flocking in droves to see films like the risible and inexcusable A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, the studios will keep churning out indigestible pap.
Then there’s the endless flow of needless violent crap that stoops so low it makes the whole genre look bad. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Horror films aren’t going to get any respect unless we start treating them with respect. In other words, it’s not necessary to approach stories in any way other than the telling of a good story – this is why Let the Right One In is so good. In the hands of the wrong filmmaker, it might have been adapted with the kids wearing KISS t-shirts and Journey pumping through on the soundtrack. I hope filmmakers aren’t too scared off by the dismal performance of the remake because it really is a very elegant, thoughtful horror film.
DC: Are there any recent or upcoming horror films that you recommend horror fans see at any cost?
JV: We need more films like this (Let the Right One In) and Never Let Me Go – another gorgeous example of a genre film that doesn’t feel like a genre film. In this case it’s a sci-fi period piece. That’s my favourite film of last year. I say this because I think people need to expand their horizons and sink into this darkly poetic, dystopian thriller.
DC: What about horror literature? Who are your personal favorites, and what books, fiction and non-fiction, would you recommend be on every horror fan’s bookshelf?
JV: Since this interview is about zombies, I’ll pick just one to keep it simple: If you haven’t read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, you must do so immediately. It’s one of the most important contemporary pieces of horror literature in existence. And it ages really well. I’m still waiting for someone to do that story justice in film.
DC: In addition to your new book (and new and adorable baby, Violet), you are also at work on a short film called The Captured Bird. Would you care to share any information about the film and when audiences will be able to see it?
JV: We are just putting together the last chunks of financing for the short, which is really expensive and ambitious for a six-minute film. We should be shooting in May or June. Probably June. I’ve been chronicling the whole experience on the film’s website, TheCapturedBird.com. It’s my first movie so it’s sort of my film school, and I’ve been sharing every step of the process with readers and backers on the site. It’s exciting for me because I love learning and trying new things. We’re going to start scouting for locations soon and working on creature designs – which will be a mix of practical and visual effects. It’s an extremely visual film so it’s a long way from finished. We’ll likely have months of post on it as we beg and plead with visual effects shops to help us with all the complex shots we’ve boarded. But hopefully we’ll be able to submit to festivals by the fall. Fingers crossed!
DC: How difficult, or not, has it been juggling motherhood with your new book and film? You seem to be involved in so many projects.
JV: I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you like not sleeping. I have definitely taken on more than I should, but it’s just the way it worked out. I got the ball rolling on the film before I got pregnant, and I have to see it through now. So I definitely have my hands full all day, all night. I’m exhausted all of the time, but hopefully it will get easier as the baby gets older. I’ve recently started a new book project with my publisher, but for right now I am completely focused on being there for my baby and prepping The Captured Bird. While I’m thrilled to be busy, I do miss sleep very, very much!
DC: What is one thing no one knows about Jovanka Vuckovic that you think they should?
JV: I think love is the most important thing a person can have in life. If you have love, you are truly rich. As Oscar Wilde said, “Who, being loved, is poor?”
DC: Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on a wonderful book!
Look for a review of Jovanka's Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead soon. To keep up-to-date on what she's up to in the meantime, be sure to befriend Jovanka Vuckovic on Facebook.
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