Death is an interesting and recurring theme in the life of Emily Whitehurst. Which is why it made lots of sense to center her new Survival Guide album, deathdreams, around this eerie topic. Due for release on October 19th via Double Helix Records, the record was inspired by several dreams that Whitehurst had been having that involved her death. It’s been something that has oddly repeatedly come up in her life over the years. Her family owned a funeral home in the Northern California town she grew up in. Sadly, her older brother also died young of cancer. There is a lot of imagery and feelings that arise when we contemplate and discuss death. Listeners are often attracted to darker or more ominous subject matter, so it made a lot of sense to make it a focal point of these songs.
Whitehurst is the solo catalyst behind Survival Guide. Her fourth proper full-length, deathdreams, was produced by Bob Hoag (Dear and the Headlights, The Ataris). Originally from Northern California, she has grown a lot as an artist over the years. You may know her as the frontwoman behind punk band Tsunami Bomb, where she was known as Agent M. Since then, her sound has slowly moved towards synthpop and electronic indie pop, which is where Survival Guide lies. Whitehurst views music as being necessary to her survival, one part of which inspired the Survival Guide name.
Considering the background and motivations behind deathdreams, we just had to do something spooky-themed with Whitehurst. Today, she joins us to countdown her Top 10 favourite horror movies of all time.
“My upcoming album is called deathdreams, so there’s a little bit of a dark theme throughout (even though the music may not sound that way). For the first single, ‘Blood Perfume,’ the video team created a great little horror film that I got to star in since I’m a horror fan! There are so many amazing horror movies; it was really tough to choose a top ten. My list would probably fluctuate depending on the day. These are not in a super strict order:”
1. The Shining
“This movie is a definite list-topper for me; everything about it is creepy. Of course Jack Nicholson’s acting is amazing and terrifying, but there’s also something about 1970s horror (or 1980, in this case) that’s so ominous. Even the way the colours are seems creepy! And let’s not forget the blood elevator. I watched this when I was probably too young, and had a hard time sleeping afterwards because I kept picturing Jack Nicholson’s silhouette at my bedroom door with an axe.”
2. They Live
“This is my favourite John Carpenter movie. It’s got a bit of a slow start, but I love the concept of the story. Rowdy Roddy Piper finds some special sunglasses that reveal the way elitist aliens are keeping humans under control. Also, the fist fight is comically long! It’s not a very scary horror movie, but such a great one.”
3. Evil Dead 2
“I feel like this one would make my list because of the hand scene alone! If you haven’t seen it, Bruce Campbell does an amazing job of fighting off his own possessed hand, which eventually gets replaced by a chainsaw. It’s campy, full of great one-liners, and practical effects. A staple for any horror movie list!”
4. 28 Days Later
“Probably the most stressful movie to watch on my list, 28 Days Later might be my favourite zombie movie. These zombies run fast! It’s very dark and not at all cheesy, as some zombie movies can be. Be prepared o feel tense the entire time!”
“This one starts calmly then becomes an insanely violent revenge movie, but it’s more than just that! It’s got a really unique style too. The colouring, editing, the way animation is incorporated, and even just the way it’s written. I love Nic Cage in this film; there are so many iconic scenes! And Cheddar Goblin! I also love the cult aspect. That always adds a specific type of creepy. I love this one so much that I’ve been Mandy for Halloween!”
6. Cabin In The Woods
“In case you haven’t seen this one, I won’t spoil it for you. It starts out exactly how you’d think a movie called Cabin In The Woods would start. But it takes a really inventive turn, which is what puts it on my list! It’s just a fun take on horror in general, and I love the way they incorporated both a unicorn and a terrifying merman!”
7. Lost Boys
“A quintessential ’80s vampire horror movie. A must-watch for the saxophone solos. There’s an extra layer of nostalgia for me in this one, since it was filmed at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This is a place my family and I used to go every summer when I was a kid. Carnivals are creepy already, so why not throw some stylish vampires into the mix? Also, the takeout box of maggots is etched into my brain.”
8. Dead Alive
“So much blood. So much blood! The best zombaby scenes in any film, plus the best lawnmower scene. I love knowing that this was one of Peter Jackson’s early works. It’s insanely ridiculous.”
9. Rosemary’s Baby
“It’s a classic, so it’s definitely not gory and there are no jump scares, but when I watched it I was so impressed at how unsettling this movie was without really showing us much of anything. I also feel like the vintage colouration somehow gives it a creepy edge (much like The Shining).”
10. Event Horizon
“A haunted satanic abandoned sentient ship in outer space. What more could we want?”
Runners up: Hereditary, Carrie, Barbarian, The Sixth Sense, In the Mouth of Madness.