Rue Morgue and Beyond: Talking With Filmmaker And Rue Morgue Founder & Editor Rodrigo Gudino by Owen Keehnen

In 1997 Rodrigo Gudino changed the face of horror and took a big risk by launching the magazine 'Rue Morgue' in which he wanted to explore horror in culture and entertainment. What made 'Rue Morgue' unique was that Gudino wasn't merely reporting and celebrating horror in film, he was investigating it at its root by looking at in the context of other mediums as well. He wrote the magazines editorials from 1997 until 2005.

After years as 'Rue Morgue' editor Gudino decided to branch out and in 2006 he took another risk and began making films. He started with 'The Eyes of Edward James' , a short which he wrote, produced, and directed. His film the following year 'The Demonology of Desire' won the Director's Award for Best Short at The Boston Underground Film Festival. In 2008 he made 'The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow' which was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Animated Short and won the Grand Prize for Short Film that year at The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival as well as Best Animated Short at Sitges The Catalonia International Film Festival. In 2009 he wrote and directed another short film 'Curious Stories, Crooked Symbols'. Now feature films are in his sights (though he wants to continue making shorts) and hopefully the results will be just as terrifyingly terrific.

Recently I was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask Mr. Gudino a few questions in this exclusive interview.


Rodrigo, why don't you start us off with a visual and describe the place where you are answering these questions?

I'm in a former funeral home where I work and live in the back room where they used to display the coffins. Now that it has become the headquarters of 'Rue Morgue', the place is filled with monsters and all manner of weirdness. The pussy faced creature from my film 'The Demonology of Desire' gazes down at me from his perch on a bookcase behind me as I type this.

I want to hear about 'Rue Morgue' magazine. How did that come about and what was your initial intent with the periodical?

I came up with the idea in early 1997 and six months later I managed to squeeze the first issue out. The magazine was very indie at the time; it was black and white and virtually a one man production. At the time genre magazines had not tapped into the culture of horror, most of them were still focusing on films and special effects in film. The idea with 'Rue Morgue' was to explore all the things that were being overlooked: horror in music, comics, games, toys, art, history, even philosophy. Among other things, I think it was this idea that gave 'Rue Morgue' momentum.

As a founding editor of 'Rue Morgue' I've read that you wished to explore horror both in culture and entertainment. So given that premise - what do you feel were your biggest discoveries/conclusions regarding that investigation?

I'm not sure what my biggest discovery could be but I suppose that 'Rue Morgue' changed the way I look at the genre and that has been important for me. I guess when I grew up I really didn't know why I liked horror movies and macabre imagery and now I see that horror is more philosophically rich and psychologically complex that I imagined, not to mention that it carries with it unique political, social and sexual associations. Plus it turns the classical understanding of aesthetics on its head. But really there is a lot to write about this topic, probably a book's worth, so I can only answer you in a very general way.

So now you are making movies. What did you learn at 'Rue Morgue' that has informed your filmmaking?

Quite a lot. From watching and critically dissecting movies either in print or with my peers as well as interviewing cast and crew for eight years I pretty much learned the industry from top to bottom. So I would say 'Rue Morgue' gave me an advantage. Hopefully that can be seen in my movies.

Thus far you have written, and directed four award winning short horror films: the first two 'The Eyes of Edward James' & 'The Demonology of Desire' you also produced as well as your two latest films 'The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow' and 'Curious Stories, Crooked Symbols'. Do you see yourself as graduating from the short film status to features anytime soon?

I have three feature film scripts ready but the one that has gotten a lot of interest is a remake of the 1972 cult western horror film 'Cut Throats Nine' which I am currently prepping. That said, the short film is a legitimate art form that I have affinity for and I think there is a lot that can be done with it that's not being done, so I hope to sneak in a few more shorts and experiments maybe between features.

For the novice filmmakers out there, what have been the greatest lessons you've learned from that multi-hat film process that you would like to pass on?

Don't do what everybody else is doing; set focused goals for yourself; get feedback from people who know their shit because not everybody's feedback is valuable; learn about festivals and which ones to apply to and in what order. Once your movie is completely done you've done half the work, the other half has to do with getting people to see it.

Writer, director, producer - which area do you feel is your greatest strength?

At this point probably writing - that's what I've excelled at since the beginning. The fact that writing is more or less completely under my control may have something to do with my affinity for it.

Do you have any other upcoming projects you want the racksandrazors readers to know about?

Besides the three features and some scattered short film scripts, I am working on a new comic book series which will be very unusual and bizarre. There is also a full chapel deep in the bowels of 'Rue Morgue' and I've toyed with the idea of doing some horror theatre there. I plan on having a very productive year.

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, creatures, aliens, telemarketers...what does it for you horrorwise Rodrigo and why?

Premature burial because it's the experience of death while you're still alive. I can't think of a more perfectly horrifying concept.

What was the first movie to scare the shit out of you?

'The Drop of Water' segment from Mario Bava's 'Black Sabbath' anthology. It was only until after I started Rue Morgue that I discovered what that movie was. Seeing that old lady's face frozen in a rictus of death freaked me out even after all those years. Then again when I was a kid the Count from 'Sesame Street' used to scare the shit out of me. There was something really weird about his eyes, you ever notice?

Okay, we're pulling into the Rodrigo Gudino Drive In. What three horror flicks are on the triple bill for tonight and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

'Taxidermia' - chocolate stuffed cats 'The Exorcist III' - geriatric gumbo and communion wafers 'The Devil's Backbone' - orphan chili

What's the best Halloween costume you ever had?

The one I always have which is like an undefined horror host type guy with a pale face, coat-tails and a top hat. I used to get more elaborate with costumes but after so many Halloweens I've realized that function beats fashion.

What scares you in real life?

Airplanes. I used to have dreams about them all the time and still do on occasion. Fuckin airplanes...