I’ve tried writing this like 15 different times over the last few weeks and this is the first time I’ve actually finished the opening sentence, so I guess I’m doing this. I just want it to be perfect, I want to say all the right things, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do this without having to pause because I can’t see through the tears. I don’t know if I’ll accomplish any of that, but here I go…

After more than 10 amazing years at Daily Dead, and more than 9 years as the site’s Managing Editor, I wanted to announce that I am retiring as an entertainment journalist, which means that my time as part of the Daily Dead family has come to a close. 

While I don’t necessarily view myself to be so important that I have to make any kind of public statement about anything related to my life and/or career, I ended up feeling that maybe it was important to do this simply because of what I wanted to say about the people who have made these 16-plus years possible and share a bit about what’s been going on with my creative endeavors as of late.

In May 2022, I started a full-time position at a day job (thanks to Daily Dead’s head honcho, Jonathan James, so really, this is all his fault—lol) where I was hired to create my employer’s customer service division and begin to put some communication structure in place as we prepared for our launch late in the summer of 2022. To make a long story short (too late!—that’s my Clue reference), one year later, I was moved into our PR/Communication department where now I’m spending my time working on different communication strategies, content, and all kinds of things I really hadn’t anticipated when I joined the team. 

But because of this new career trajectory, as well as the enormous amount of work related to ongoing book projects I’ve had to contend with over the last year or so, it meant I had to take away some of the focus on my work at Daily Dead, which was truly hard for me to do. That meant I missed out on a lot of new movies, that meant I missed out on a lot of great conversations with immensely talented creatives that I admire, and that meant I had to miss out on film festivals and other events over the last year, which frankly, that last part was the hardest just because of how much those experiences helped shape my writing career over the years. The joy of film discovery is one of the best feelings in the world, and I have genuinely missed it so much (and seeing so many lovely people, too).

Anyway, as 2023 flew by, and I got closer to the end of one major book milestone, I began to really think about things because my “me” time was becoming harder and harder to come by as my day job just keeps me that busy. That’s when I realized that perhaps my days as an entertainment journalist—in this capacity—were squarely now in my rearview. And the one thing I had always said is that I would never, EVER leave Daily Dead if it would be a detriment to the site, and the reality is the site is all good, it’s always going to be good, and it’s time to move on so that Jonathan can appoint a new Managing Editor that will help keep the site moving forward.

This is where I’m going to start getting a little ramble-y, and I hope you will just indulge me on everything I want to say here because it’s so very important to me. So apologies if everything that comes next in all my jibbering and jabbering feels a bit disjointed, but it’s just me shooting from the hip because it’s all I can do at this moment.

Back in 2013, I was not in a good place after dealing with all of the grief that I had to take at my previous site, and I was ready to just call it quits on pursuing any kind of writing career at that point. Mentally and emotionally, I was done. But when Jonathan offered me the chance to join him at Daily Dead, and we discussed all of the possibilities of what could come from us working together, I got excited about writing all over again. 

I was so thrilled to be a part of helping to build something special with the site, and I do think that we achieved just that. And to see the work that has been done by everyone at Daily Dead over the last decade or so makes me so incredibly proud. I would never take credit for anyone else’s hard work, but I am honored to have been in these trenches alongside so many other talented writers while I was at Daily Dead, and have enjoyed all of the passion that they have poured into their writing. 

From all of our numerous “Class of” celebrations that we would run every year, to the launch of the Corpse Club podcast, to so many of the themed article series that we hosted on Daily Dead (Gialloween! Heathers of Horror! Monster Kids! So Many Others I Can’t Think Of Right Now!), to our brief magazine run to the ongoing columns created by the likes of Scott Drebit and Bryan Christopher (if I am forgetting any others, I apologize!), and everything in between, there’s no bigger fan of Daily Dead than me, and that’s something that will never change, regardless of my status there.

While it hurts my heart to be finishing this chapter of my life that has meant so much to me over the last decade or so, what’s been even harder is finding a way to put this whole aspect of who I am to rest after working so hard to be a genuine champion of the horror genre for more than 16 years. And while I would never claim that I am the best horror journalist out there—I could easily name 10 other people who are way better than I am or ever was—what I can say is that I put 150 percent of myself into everything I have ever written because I just loved doing it that much.

When I set out in this world in 2007, I quite literally had no idea what I was doing, but I was determined to do it and set out to carve out some kind of name for myself as a writer. Living in the Chicago burbs so far removed from the industry, I never really had any expectations for what I could achieve, so every little milestone I have been able to celebrate throughout my career has meant the world to me. Sure, getting quoted on big movies is always fun, but I’m just as proud of my very first quote, which landed on Boogeyman 3 back when I was still working at my first site, Terror Tube. I cannot even tell you how much I cried over that (and you know what? I still stand by that quote 15 years later—the movie is fun!).  

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate throughout this run to have been able to get to know and celebrate so many amazing figures in the world of horror, from people that I grew up admiring to creatives who have been making a name for themselves in this modern era of horror to so many of the brilliant folks working in this field alongside me. I don’t know if there was a day that went by where I didn’t pinch myself because I was surrounded by so many other people who were just as genuinely passionate about horror as I am. Every day felt like a gift, and I know how lucky I was to get to be even a small part of this world for the time that I was given.

Another dream that came true was getting to write for FANGORIA over the course of several years, for both the website (thank you, Angel!) and the magazine, which is something I never believed would ever happen (thank you, Phil!). I was even lucky enough to be able to have the honor and privilege of writing the cover story for Ti West’s X, which still feels like a ridiculous thing for me to type out, but it did indeed happen, and I regularly look at that cover with great pride because 10-year-old Heather who used to go into Crown Books to buy the latest FANGO and the newest Babysitter’s Club book each month would never believe that something that cool would ever happen to her (she still doesn’t).

Beyond writing, I was also incredibly fortunate to have been a part of so many other endeavors, too. I spent many years at Flashback Weekend as a fan while I was still living in Chicago, so getting to return there in 2011 as a co-host was a dream come true. I loved being a part of the Flashback family for nearly a decade and have so many wonderful memories there (including the year all of us from Daily Dead were able to meet up there in-person, which was incredibly special). 

Something else that I got to do, thanks to Mike Kerz at Flashback, was starting my very own film festival, CineMayhem Film Fest, which was tied into another creation of mine: Indie Horror Month. In what feels like another lifetime ago, horror sites generally ignored indie horror (I’m beyond happy to see how that tide has shifted—yay!), so every March, I busted my ass to celebrate independent filmmakers, writers, and other genre creatives for the entirety of the month, which led to CineMayhem, where I got to showcase so many great indie features and short films. What’s cool is that another huge career highlight came about in that first year of CineMayhem when I got to show Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s Resolution as part of our lineup, because that movie and their talent just floored me (everything that those guys do still floors me to this very day). 

CineMayhem may have only lasted one more year (Beyond Fest came around during the second year and they did it better than I ever could, so I just let CineMayhem go the way of the dinosaurs very quietly), but those experiences helped shape the next decade of my career in such huge ways. 

I’m also incredibly proud of Daily Dead’s Holiday Gift Guide which I first spearheaded back in 2013 when I realized that it could be a fun thing to do for all my fellow horror fans out there (or those who have to shop for them each year). Our extensive annual HGG’s gave me the opportunity to geek out over all sorts of fun horror-themed apparel, collectibles, books, movies, artwork, and more, which was so awesome and made the holiday season so much more fun for me personally. But more importantly, it allowed me to be able to provide a platform for a ton of indie companies and creators for nine years, which I think is pretty rad, too.

I also had the thrill of being a producer on the first installment of the In Search of Darkness series, which went far beyond me just getting to gab about horror as a talking head—I was able to connect with quite a few folks to bring them on board the project and put a lot of work into promoting that first doc, too, which is why I jumped at the chance to be able to co-write the ISOD book, because I’ll never get tired of celebrating ’80s horror, and I was eager to take on this enormous challenge in my own way. 

And speaking of which, to be able to co-write that book alongside my Horror BFF, Patrick Bromley, is just so freaking cool, and I’m so thrilled I was able to bring him aboard for what became a massive undertaking, but there’s no one else I would have rather had working with me on it. It’s also pretty cool that this career of mine in horror allowed us to reconnect after the genre first brought us together as kids, and that’s just one more gift that I’ve been incredibly grateful to have received during this time as well (especially because Patrick has dealt with endless nonsense from me for over 10 years now—he is a saint).

The work that I have done as a journalist also led to me becoming a published author, where I’ve been able to celebrate the lives and careers of so many different special effects artists who deserve nothing more than endless love and appreciation from us fans. All of that came about because of my different editions of Stan Winston Week—first at the site I worked at prior to Daily Dead, and then during my time at DD. It all happened because I wanted to do an article that celebrated Stan as a mentor to all these amazing artists. During one of the interviews, I remember one person saying to me, “You know, no one has ever asked me about this kind of stuff,” and that’s when it hit me—it was time that someone DID take the time to get to know these people beyond their work, and I set out to do just that. 

Three books later (and two more to come, as I’m already more than halfway done with Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume 3 and have nearly all of the interviews completed on MM&E: Volume 4), I have been completely humbled by the array of talent who have trusted me with their stories. I still get goosebumps when I go back through every interview—it’s pretty rad if I’m being totally honest, and I never imagined in a million years that I could one day type my name into Amazon’s search bar and see any kind of results. That’s just so bananas for me to even contemplate.

I’ve even had the honor of being able to celebrate so many films and filmmakers that I love for different home media releases from the fine folks at Second Sight and ARROW, many which have either been released or announced thus far (The Changeling, May, and Possessor) and a few more that will probably get announced in the coming months. Those opportunities have meant everything to me, and I do hope maybe more will come my way in the future because those creative challenges are something that I enjoy at this point in my life/career.

There’s so much more I have to say, and I realize now that this has rambled on long enough, but there are a few more things I just wanted to mention before I wrap this whole self-indulgent mess up. The first is the story about how Jonathan and I met (and hopefully I’m not embarrassing him by sharing this, but I think there’s an important lesson in how everything happened). When I met Jonathan at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012 at the press conference for the Silent Hill sequel (If I’m misremembering the year, apologies Jonathan!), I was pretty stoked to get to know him just briefly during that time. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ll just spark up a conversation with anyone (which is weird because I have crippling social anxiety—go figure!), and because I had started following Daily Dead’s work in 2011, I saw his badge and thought it would be cool to chat with him. And it was. 

The next year, Jonathan and his wife, Christy, came out for Flashback Weekend and I got to hang out with them even more and just thought they were so fun and engaging and enjoyable to be around, which is how I ended up landing at DD when things went awry in 2013. What I didn’t know until my time at Daily Dead began was that at SDCC 2012, it was Jonathan’s very first year covering the convention, and that I was the only press person who even made an effort to talk with him the entire time. That blew me away, and I knew in my heart that I always wanted to be the person who made space for others, especially newcomers. I never wanted to be that closed off where I couldn’t or wouldn’t take the time to get to know someone new in this world. I’m not that cool, and I’m certainly not above anyone else in this game. 

So if there’s just one takeaway from all of this gibberish it’s just this: always be open to others, especially those who may just be starting out. Just one simple act of being a good human being can yield amazing results, and I think that my career is a testament to just how beneficial that approach can be. 

The other thing is this—and it sounds cheesy, but my high school journalism teacher/mentor said this to me back in the day and it has always stuck with me: everyone has a story. I know it seems like such a cliché (and it probably is), but that was always my mantra as a writer from day one. I wanted to tell other people’s stories. I wanted to celebrate that philosophy in everything that I did, which is probably why I set out to do the work that I did throughout my career. I didn’t take any kind of easy route at all—I walked away from a marriage (there wasn’t much to walk away from at that point, though) and the only life I ever knew to come out to Los Angeles in 2009 so I could pursue my writing more seriously and follow my dreams. I had to sell so many personal belongings just to afford to attend my first Sundance (without a press badge, I might add), and even more when it came time to move. 

Has it always been good? Nope. But in the end, none of that matters because what I choose to focus on now is all the things I have to celebrate about these past 16 years. Like, I got to dedicate myself to celebrating the best cinematic genre there for such a long time—how wonderful is that? I’m the luckiest Horror Chick in the world. 

So, what comes next? Well, I have this fantastic day job that I’m still going to be working my butt off at (the 45–50 hour weeks are rough, but worth it—I genuinely enjoy my work, which is a pretty rad feeling), and I’ve got those aforementioned MM&E books that I need to wrap up over the next 20 months. But I’m also excited to reveal that I'm embarking on my very own documentary project this month, which is part of the reason why I realized that it was time to do a bit of reconfiguration when it came to my life because I just kept running out of time to do anything. 

This documentary is something that I’ve wanted to do for a decade now (maybe longer), and I finally feel like, after all these years, I’m in a place where I’m ready to create what I hope is an incredible celebration of “something” that means the world to me. I don’t want to say too much more about it at this point (that’s the journalist in me—never pre-announce anything because life can happen and thwart even the best-laid plans), but I am hopeful in a few months I’ll be in a place where I can start talking about it more openly. But it’s just something I need to do, and I’m so freaking stoked and terrified about what’s to come.

There are so many people I need to thank for being a part of these amazing 16 years, but the biggest thank you would be to Jonathan James. Jonathan, you helped me fall in love with writing all over again, you believed in my passion, you gave me the chance to help you build something special, and you supported all of my zany ideas over the years and allowed me to represent Daily Dead in so many different capacities. Thank you for being the best boss I’ve ever had, but also an amazing friend, too. You changed my life and I will always be grateful.

I need to give a shout-out to Derek Anderson, too. Derek came on board at DD a few months after I did. He started out as an intern and he became not only an integral part of Daily Dead, but he’s also my trusted editor for the last eight years, and I owe you so much for all of your hard work, Big D. There’s no one I trust more than you. Thank you.

I also wanted to say thank you to those who I had the distinct pleasure of working alongside at Daily Dead over the years: Scott Drebit (buy his new book!), Bryan Christopher, Tamika Jones, Monte Yazzie, Emily von Seele, and like more people I’m probably forgetting because I’m old and a bit tired after typing out all my yammering here. 

The one person I didn’t mention on purpose in that list was my Horror BFF, Patrick Bromley, because he also deserves a special mention. Patrick, you are genuinely one of the best people I know in this entire world, and I appreciate you indulging me in our different podcast projects (and I absolutely adore your wonderful family, too). Also, lots of love to the rest of the F! This Movie fam—y’all rule so hard.

And here are just a few more folks who I must thank for being a part of my journey: Fabian Ricard (for giving me my first shot at writing about horror), Luke Thompson (for letting me geek out over professional wrestling in my writing and helping me find my focus as a writer), Rob Dean (who invited me to write a few things for his site, Neon Splatter), Ed Peters (the first publicist who ever worked with me and took a chance on an aspiring writer), and pretty much anyone else who has ever taken the time to chat with me during these last 16 years, whether they were people I was interviewing or all my fellow writers and/or horror fans out there who have ever been kind enough to let me geek out with them in conversation, as well as anyone out there who ever took the time to read something I wrote. I appreciate you all more than you’ll ever know.

There’s probably so much that I’m totally blanking on right now, and if there is anything (or anyone) that I have overlooked, I pre-apologize. This kind of turned into something way more than I expected it to be, but I appreciate anyone who made it all the way through to this point in all of this nonsense. 

In the end, I am just so appreciative for every opportunity that I was afforded throughout my career as a horror entertainment journalist, and while I’m sad to be closing this chapter in my proverbial book (so to speak), I’m very excited for the future, too, even if it’s not the future I had imagined all those years back when I first set out to write about horror.

With all the love in my horror-loving heart,

Heather Wixson 

(Forever “The Horror Chick”)

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.