06th Nov2019

Interview: Jill & Becky of ‘Don’t Point That Horror At Me’ Podcast

by Chris Cummings

I grew up as a kid of the 80s and 90s, and while I was in junior-school I found a series of books called Point Horror. A range of horror titles for young readers written by a variety of authors, Point Horror became a bit of an early 90s fad and many kids of my age back then were reading them and swapping them. All these years later, I’m still a fan of Point Horror. A good reason for that is the nostalgia I have for the books, but I also have a lot of love for some of the stories themselves too. There’s a real throwback tone to many of the stories, yet there’s some scary, cool and interesting things going on in many of the books. With authors like Diane Hoh, Carol Ellis, Richie Tankersley Cusick and R.L. Stine, who would go on to create the world of Goosebumps, there’s some top quality writing going on, and along with those bloody gorgeous covers, I can’t help myself when I see a used Point Horror book on a used book store shelf. I have to add it to the collection.

When I was doing my monthly whip-around to try to discover some new podcasts, I strolled upon “Don’t Point This Horror At Me”, a podcast in which two friends, Jill and Becky, read a Point Horror book, and discuss it in depth on each episode. I was immediately into it, and have listened to each of their episodes to date. Insightful, funny and entertaining, it took me back to my youth, and it was also cool to know that other folks were still into these books. I approached the two podcasters on Twitter and asked them if they’d like to chat with me for Nerdly about their podcast, about their love of Point Horror books and about the power of nostalgia. So, here it is…

dont-point-horror-header

Hey, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. To begin, could you tell us what “Don’t Point That Horror At Me” is all about, and what made you guys decide to sit down and do this podcast?

J: We read a different Point Horror book every month and then discuss it in depth for the podcast, including plenty of ‘90s nostalgia, calling out the dated sexist bullshit, Point Horror trope bingo and lots of laughs. Becky do you wanna explain why we did the pod, as it was your idea….?

B: Thanks babes! I started out podcasting a year ago when I was a guest on a Halloween episode of the Evolution of Horror podcast and I immediately caught the bug. I wanted to create something myself and Point Horror just came to me! I loved the books so much as a kid, and the prospect of revisiting them and chatting about them to a (hopefully) nostalgic bunch of like-minded weirdos just felt right. Then when Jill said she’d do it with me, it was perfect – I get to hang out with my bestie and make something fun with her!

What memories of Point Horror do you have, and do you have a favourite book from the Point Horror series?

J: We discuss this a bit in the first episode but these books for me are absolutely steeped in nostalgic memories of school book fairs and spending my pocket money in WH Smith on the latest book. I remembered The Babysitter most fondly but when we revisited it for the podcast I realised it wasn’t as good as I remembered haha! Luckily, a lot of the other books we have revisited have been brilliant, notably Fun House and The Yearbook.

B: I loved collecting the books – looking at the new ones advertised inside the covers and deciding which one I wanted next. The covers are so beautifully designed; it was definitely them that would make me want to read a book. And I had my favourite authors, especially Carol Ellis, R.L Stine and Caroline B. Cooney – The Cheerleader is my favourite Point Horror. I also remember being genuinely scared by some of the books!

For me, Point Horror was one of the things that gave me a doorway into horror, and I’m a huge horror fan. Are you horror fans, and if so… what are some of the horror movies you love?

B: Haha you could say that, yes! I’m a huge fan of horror films, and have been, honestly, for as long as I can remember. Personal favourites are The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ringu, The Blair Witch Project, Psycho and The Exorcist, plus Scream and The Cabin in the Woods. We’re in an exciting and prolific time for horror at the moment; more recently I’ve loved Hereditary, Get Out, The Witch, Raw, Climax and Piercing.

J: I love cheesy/comedy horror more than serious horror films, things like the British anthology style films of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors, Tales From The Crypt and Tales That Witness Madness. I also adore The League Of Gentlemen, which was hugely influenced by classics of horror like The Wicker Man, An American Werewolf in London and Don’t Look Now.

When I was into Point Horror books as a kid, I was one of many in my class, and many of those were female readers. I have read, many times, that Point Horror books were “for girls” and I never quite understood limiting any sort of art or literature to gender. How do you feel about this? I mean, some books are more feminine in tone, and others just feel like neutral horror tales, to me.

J: Totally agree, it’s an outdated opinion and we think Point Horror is for everyone!

B: We’re really lucky to have listeners that don’t fit easily into any one box, and I that seems to be reflective of the massive spectrum of Point Horror fans.

What is something you guys would like to do in the world of podcasting that you haven’t yet? Do you have plans for the future of “Don’t Point That Horror At Me” or another project that you can tell us about?

J: We only started in January this year so I think we are just enjoying the one-book-per-episode format for now. We have all the books planned for the rest of the year but we are bouncing around some ideas for changing it up a bit in 2020. Plus we’d love to get more listeners and keep spreading that Point Horror love!

B: We’ve always planned for our first season to end in December and then we’ll take a bit of a break. But we’ll be back for season two next year; hopefully with some guests and definitely with some classic Point Horror books on our reading list. Personally, I want to keep learning about sound editing and getting better at it. And I’m hoping to launch a new podcast in the New Year about the ‘90s TV show Eerie, Indiana – so watch this space!

Aside from the horror side of Point Horror, there’s a certain nostalgia that comes along with those books. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and love delving into the 80s and 90s, be it in movies and TV, books, toys or music. What decade is your nostalgic decade, and what are some of the things you still love from back then?

J: Absolutely 100% the ‘90s. I think everyone has the fondest memories of the decade when they were a child but I firmly believe the ‘90s had the best music (see my Nostalgic Number Ones feature on the podcast for evidence), movies, TV and fashions. I still love Brit-pop, The Spice Girls, Trainspotting and of course Point Horror!

B: I’ve got so much nostalgic for both the ‘80s and ‘90s. I’ve always been really into pop culture so like you, I’ve got lots of favourite films, TV and music. I find nostalgia really fascinating; it’s so emotional and I’m definitely guilty of getting mad at people for not having seen something I love or not having heard of one of my favourite artists. I think it’s because we connect with these things so strongly in our formative years, so it can be unthinkable that someone else doesn’t feel the same way!

Do you think Point Horror would work today? Is there a market for an updated version of these books, set in 2019?

J: They’d be very different for sure! The world has changed so much in the relatively short time since the books were written that I’m not sure they’d have the same innocence. Also a lot of the scrapes they get into in these books would absolutely not happen now everyone has a mobile phone and the internet!

B: I think if they were updated, they’d have potential – people have loved scary stories for hundreds of years, and kids love horror! But I don’t really know any teenagers so I’m not sure whether they’d be interested – maybe it would need to be in a different format. I think they’d make a fantastic anthology horror for kids, like the recent Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie.

What can we expect from the podcast in the remainder of 2019?

J: We’ve just done a two-part Halloween special on R.L. Stine’s Halloween Night and its sequel, because we LOVE Halloween so much. We try to theme the episodes appropriately for the time of year so the next books will have a winter vibe. There will of course be more additions to the Nostalgic Number Ones playlist on Spotify and more artistic recreations of the iconic book covers for our competitions.

B: More fun, more dramatic cliff-hangers, more pizza, more villain monologuing, more creepy isolated houses, more sleepovers, more obvious red herrings…

Finally, where can we find you on social media, and where can we listen to “Don’t Point That Horror At Me”?

We’re @pointhorrorpod on Twitter and Instagram, search for Don’t Point That Horror At Me on Facebook and find the podcast on Apple, Spotify and most other podcast places.

Thank you again, Jill and Becky, for taking the time to talk with me for this Nerdly interview. Good luck with the future of your podcast and long live the 90s!
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Thanks for reading, folks. Please head to the place you get your podcasts and check out Don’t Point That Horror At Me, it’s a blast.

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