Meghan: Hi, Joe. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Horror. This is your first time here so thank you from all of us for taking time out of your schedule to join in our frivolities. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Joe: Even though I’m a horror writer, Halloween has always been more about dressing up in a funny way as opposed to being scary. The last few years, my daughter has decided that my family should dress up in themed costumes for Halloween. A few years ago we were all characters from the show Phineas & Ferb, last year we were Winnie the Pooh characters (I was Winnie the Pooh of course—I do a pretty mean Winnie the Pooh impression) and this year we will be doing Curious George characters. My son, who is going to be 16 even plays along every year so recently that has been a lot of fun.
Meghan: Do you get scared easily?
Joe: Not really. Things that scare me the most are real life things as opposed to books and movies. If I was going to say one thing scares me the most it is something happening to my family. I do like when books, movies or TV shows make me feel uncomfortable and that’s the feeling I go for when I write something. If I make someone feel uncomfortable, or if they are cheering for the hero (Or hoping something terrible happens to the villain) in one of my stories then I think I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?
Joe: After saying movies don’t usually scare me, I will saw Jaws is probably the movie that sticks with me the most. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent many summers on Cape Cod. Jaws was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard which is just off Cape Cod and there is always that little thought in the back of your head when you’re in the ocean there when you think a shark could come up and rip you in half. That is certainly and uncomfortable feeling I was talking about earlier.
Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?
Joe: I could go with Jaws again, but another of my favorite horror movies is Hellraiser. The death of Frank at the end when he has the hooks attached to him and they are pulling him in all different directions and stretching his face out always stuck with me as particularly brutal.
Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?
Joe: No. I was actually never a big horror movie fan when I was younger (though I’ve always read a ton of horror) so I find that now that I’m older I’m trying to go back and see the horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s that I never saw.
Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
Joe: I’d have to go with Beetlejuice here. If I was going to be stuck in a scary movie, at least this way I’d be entertained at the same time. Also, who wouldn’t want to be a ghost?
Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?
Joe: Defintely Danny Torrance from The Shining. Obviously there would be some trauma I’d have to work though, but at least I know I’d survive and then I’d have this incredible superpower for the rest of my life.
Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?
Joe: One of my favorite books of all time is It by Stephen King. I love the cast of characters and the fact that we get to see them as children and as adults. Pennywise has long been my favorite monster in movies or in books. What could be better than an evil clown with cosmic powers beyond anything most people would be able to comprehend?
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Joe: As I mentioned before, it’s a newer tradition, but themed family costumes has become my favorite thing about Halloween.
Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?
Joe: Its not necessarily Halloween-themed, but there is a song by Aerosmith called Voodoo, Medicine Man and it always gave off some creepy vibes for me. I listen to that song a lot when I’m trying to get in the mood to write a certain type of scene. The song is dark and starts off slow but builds to a loud, fast-paced ending that I always loved. The intro to the song was creepy as hell too.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Joe: I always have the same answer to this question and it’s a fairly newer book. The Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is always going to be at the top of my list for questions like this. I can’t put my finger on one specific thing about the book that cause this to happen, but I read it in two days and the night after I started reading it, I couldn’t sleep. I kept falling asleep and waking up thinking about that book. The premise was great and the characters were so well written I think it just stuck with me like only a few other books have ever been able to do.
Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
Joe: I wasn’t alone, but I was driving home from high school late one night for some reason. I was with a friend and we had to drive by a church in my hometown, which is directly across the street from the town common. It was probably around 7 or 8 at night, it was dark and cold out. Ass we drove by, I looked over into the common and there was a kid—maybe 6 years old—kneeling in the middle of the grass just staring up at the church. There was no one else around. I was so freaked out I made my friend turn around to see if the kid needed help. We hadn’t gone that far and when we got back the kid was gone. We would have been able to see him if he’d got up and left, he just disappeared. That creeped me out for a long time—still does.
Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?
Joe: I don’t know if this counts as an unsolved mystery or not, but the existence of life on other planets is fascinating to me and it always has been. The more we learn about just how large space is and how much stuff is out there, the more likely it becomes that there is other intelligent life somewhere on one of those planets. I hope in my life time we get some definitive proof of life outside of our little planet. Even if we do, it will continue to fascinate me. Of course, there might already be definitive proof that the public just doesn’t know about. 😊
Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?
Joe: I can’t think of a specific one, but any ghost story that is based in reality I find so interesting. Just like I want aliens to be a real thing, I would love if there was some way to prove that ghosts exist.
Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
Joe: I don’t think I’d be able to kill all the zombies in a zombie apocalypse, so give me a good bomb shelter with plenty of food and water and plenty of books and I think I’ll be ok for a while.
Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?
Joe: Vampire, 100%. Who wouldn’t want to be a vampire?
Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Joe: Alien invasion. Put me right up front.
Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?
Joe: I hate putting gross things in my mouth, even the thought of it makes me gag a little. That said, I could drink zombie juice like a shot and I’d have to chew up the dead body before I ate it, so give me those zombie juice shots all day.
Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?
Joe: Poltergeist house.
Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?
Joe: I love spicy foods so I’ll take the melon with chilies.
Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?
Joe: That’s a though one, but I don’t know what that witch is going to try to do to me, might turn me into a rat or something, so I’ll take the spider web cotton candy.
Boo-graphy: Joe Scipione lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two kids. He is the author of Perhaps She Will Die, Zoo: Eight Tales of Animal Horror, and Decay. His novellas, The Life & Times of Edward Morgan and Justice, are due out in 2023 from D&T Publishing. He is also a Senior Contributor at HorrorBound.net. When he’s not reading or writing, you can usually find him cheering on one of the Boston sports teams or walking around the lakes near his home.