You can’t really talk about indie horror without talking about Dr. Rebekah McKendry. She has become synonymous with the genre, first as a journalist, then as a podcaster, and now as a filmmaker with multiple shorts and two features, All the Creatures Were Stirring and Psycho Granny, to her credit so far. She is what those douchier than myself might refer to as a “tastemaker” or an “influencer”—a lifelong fan of horror with a large platform from which to educate and enlighten. She’s a rare breed in the genre, both a creator and professional appreciator, deeply entrenched in all aspects of the genre. She has been and continues to be one of horror’s greatest champions.
Her debut feature, All the Creatures Were Stirring, a Christmas horror anthology co-written and directed alongside her husband David Ian McKendry, might as well be called “Indie Horror: The Movie,” seeing as it stars the most recognizable cast of names and faces in indie horror this side of Tales of Halloween: Morgan Peter Brown, Matt Mercer, Jocelin Donahue, Stephanie Drake, Mark Kelly, Amanda Fuller, Jesse Merlin, Chase Williamson, Brea Grant, Graham Skipper, and more, and even features cameos from indie horror filmmakers like Chelsea Stardust, Axelle Carolyn, and Mike Mendez. It’s a celebration of Christmas horror, of horror comedy, of anthologies, and of the DIY indie horror spirit—the kind of movie that could only be made by someone who lives and breathes the genre.
McKendry’s follow-up, Psycho Granny, was shot for MarVista Entertainment and made its debut on cable’s Lifetime network. Like Creatures before it, the film is very self-aware, leaning into the “Lifetime movie” camp of it all, often bordering on comedy with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. Both of her films so far require a certain level of sophistication—an awareness and understanding of the ways in which each plays with its respective subgenre—to be fully appreciated. Heady stuff.
In addition to her work behind the camera, McKendry has helped shape the horror genre for nearly two decades in her position as a journalist for Fangoria, as the Editor-in-Chief of the former Blumhouse.com, and as co-host of multiple hugely successful horror podcasts: first the Rondo Award-winning Killer POV, then Shock Waves. Both were among the biggest and most influential horror podcasts online—they were The Beatles of horror podcasting—and helped fans such as myself discover countless obscure titles and indie gems like The Battery that might not have otherwise seen the light of day. I've heard some podcasts that approach horror films academically and I've heard some that approach horror films as enthusiastic fans, but McKendry’s shows consistently do both better than any other podcast (and I've listened to a lot of them). Depth is never sacrificed for the fun of talking about horror movies, nor vice versa.
Now a professor of film at USC, McKendry also co-hosts the bi-weekly Colors of the Dark podcast, a deep-dive show into various horror topics and careers, alongside her Shock Waves and Killer POV host Elric Kane; the pair also host a spin-off show, Deep Cuts, available to Patreon subscribers. Everything from Italian horror to aquatic horror (McKendry’s favorite subgenre) to new releases are discussed in detail with the same reverence and enthusiasm as their previous collaborations, and the result is a show that loves and celebrates horror in a manner that’s infectious and informative. McKendry’s contributions aren’t just behind the camera or behind the podcast mic, either. She co-founded the Stephanie Rothman Fellowship for Female Filmmakers to help give a voice to women, another of the countless ways that McKendry supports independent horror. The genre just wouldn’t be the same without her.
Here’s to Dr. McKendry, a filmmaker and multi-hyphenate horror fan who makes us all better horror fans. Here’s wishing her all the killer bug movies, nunsploitation, and Lovecraftian sea monsters she could ever want.
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