I’m a really big fan of what YouTube stars bring to the table In the horror genre, particularly when they take movies we’re all familiar with and give us something new to look out for.
Zachary Morris, of CZsWorld on YouTube, is one of the digital media icons who’s made a name for himself in dissecting movies like Saw and Misery and letting us know about the things we may have missed. Truthfully, he caught a few things in my favorite horror movies that even I didn’t know about (and honestly, that’s saying a lot).
I was fortunate enough to interview Zach recently about his love for the genre, his favorite filmmakers, and horror iconography in general. If you haven’t checked out CZsWorld on YouTube yet, now might be a good time to do so!
I’m hoping to interview more YouTube horror film buffs in the future, so let me know down in the comments who you’d like us to talk to!
CryptTeaze: What’s the movie that got you into the horror genre?
Zach Morris: Oh man, I don’t know if there’s necessarily one movie that got me into it. But The Shining is kinda the big one for me, because that’s one where I watched it and I thought it was scary, but then I just got more and more into it, looking up different theories about it and different peoples analysis of the movie, and that was what really got me interested in looking at movies as more than just movies and breaking them down and stuff. There were a lot of movies in the mid-2000s that I just became very interested in that got me into the genre, like Insidious, Paranormal Activity, and The Ring.
CT: Now, with The Shining, are you a bigger fan of the Kubrick version of the made-for-TV miniseries that was “closer to the book”?
ZM: I love the Kubrick one, and it’s really my favorite movie. But a lot of people will tell you that the miniseries one, the one that’s referred to as ‘Stephen King’s The Shining,’ is just no good, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think there are some things that it does really well. For example, the old woman in room 237, I really like the miniseries version over the Kubrick one. But the Kubrick one just has so much to break down, and so many subliminal tricks that are played, so that’s the favorite one for me. Of course, the performances are also a little bit better. You’ve got Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall versus whoever was in the miniseries.
CT: Plus, the behind-the-scenes stuff really makes Kubrick’s version more interesting, doesn’t it?
ZM: Yeah, it’s crazy! I’ve looked into it a lot, and I’ve heard a lot of different things. I don’t know if all of it’s true, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff. Like, the idea that he built the sets with the maze as a part of it, so the cast had to go through the maze from where they were staying to get to the main part of the hotel where they were filming. I’ve heard stories that Kubrick would change the maze and people would get lost in it on their way to work, and you’d just hear Kubrick’s laugh bellowing over the set.
CT: Yep, that sounds like something Kubrick would do!
ZM: Yeah, there is stuff that did happen. He definitely made things hard for Shelley Duvall to make her stressed and make her performance that much more real. I mean, Kubrick’s a madman. Clockwork Orange is really good, too. It’s weird for me, because I’ve seen everything from Dr. Strangelove on, but nothing before that for some reason. Like, even though he directed my favorite movie, I’ve never taken the time to go back and watch the first half of his career. But the ones that I’ve seen are the ones that are most talked about. Of course, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. And then, of course, Dr. Strangelove. You’ve got to bring that up whenever you’re talking about Full Metal Jacket.
CT: On average, when you’re making videos where you’re breaking down the details people may have missed in a popular film, how many times do you have to re-watch the film?
ZM: So, I used to do it where I’d do current movies, so I’d try to take advantage of the movie being in theatres and there being a lot of buzz about it, that way I’d hit that trending topic. I used to just watch it in the theatre and take notes, and I’d make a video after only seeing it once. Sometime last year, I want to say early 2019, I started branching out into movies that have already been released for a while. That way, I’d be able to pause as I go through it and rewatch certain parts. When I do that, I probably watch it once for leisure if I haven’t seen it, and then I’ll go through it again to catch certain things. So really, I don’t watch the movie more than twice before making a video, and if it’s a movie I’ve already seen before and I’m already familiar with it I’ll just go through and try to pause every now and then and try to pick out those smaller details. And I think it’s kinda a blessing in disguise that I started doing that, because now there are no movies in theatres, so I’ve shifted fully toward doing movies from years ago.
CT: I think it’s really great how you’ve given the Saw franchise its due respect.
ZM: Yeah, I’m not a really big ‘gore movie’ guy, so I was never very interested in those movies when they were coming out, because I’d hear everyone say it’s just gore porn and there’s not much else to it. But, when I actually sat down and watched them, I saw that outside of a few uncomfortable gore scenes, it’s really more of a police procedural thing. I think the characters are really interesting, even if there tends to be some sillier stuff down the line as you get into the later sequels. But there’s a lot of stuff I really like. For example, there’s one scene in Saw VI in particular that’s one of the most suspenseful scenes in the series, but people underrate that movie because it’s one of the later sequels. In addition to having some creative traps, they’ve very good suspense movies. Saw II and III are really good, and Saw VI is right up there with those.
CT: Funny enough, the first one is my least favorite of the series.
ZM: I agree. I think the twist ending is really cool in part one, but it’s definitely one of the weaker ones overall. I love Leigh Whannell as a writer and director, but there are definitely some silly moments in his performance. Darren Lynn Bousman really made the series what it is. If you were to watch two through seven, and then watch the first one, you see two completely different types of movies. One of my favorite parts about the Saw series is the dedication to continuity, because if you look through all the long-running horror franchises, they really mess up their timelines and do all these different ‘what if’ scenarios, and Friday the 13th really goes to some wild places. But the Saw movies really respect their own continuity, and that’s one of my favorite things about the series. It takes itself seriously enough.
CT: Why do you think your channel’s connected so well with horror fans?
ZM: I think what I bring to the table is that I take movie analysis that you might see in film school, and that sort of ‘film snobbery,’ and I make it palatable for general audiences.
CT: There’s a shirt in your online store with Amanda from the Saw franchise dressed in the pig mask with ‘OhmyGodOhmyGod’ printed behind her. What’s the story behind that design?
ZM: So there’s this YouTuber called Shane Dawson, and he’s been on YouTube forever doing comedy skits, and recently he’s done these conspiracy theory videos. But he has this shirt that he always wears in his videos, and it’s a picture of a regular pig with ‘OhMyGod’ printed in the background, and he said he wears it because it reminds him of himself, and it’s really become a part of his character. So my Saw shirt is actually a parody of that shirt, and I just replaced the normal pig with the Saw pig, and I feel like that kinda gives it a new meaning, like, “Oh my God, this Jigsaw disciple’s coming after me!” My friend Andy is the one who designed that, and he did a good job of bridging the silliness of the original design with the creepiness I was going for.
CT: What horror franchise do you think is underrated and people should give a second chance to?
ZM: That’s a hard question for me, because I don’t necessarily pay attention to what people think of a franchise. I’d say one of my favorite is the Rec series, though I’m not sure how underrated that actually is. It’s something not many people know about because it’s a foreign film, and most people just know the Quarantine series. Happy Death Day is one I would consider underrated. There was supposed to be a trilogy, but the second one just wasn’t well-received.
CT: Here’s an oddball question: If you could interview a villain from a slasher film, who would it be and why?
ZM: Well, I’m not going to interview Michael Myers, because he doesn’t seem like he has much to say. I think Hannibal Lecter would be interesting. Anyone who has a psychological edge to their killings would be interesting to talk to. Maybe Zodiac? I don’t know if he’d be considered a slasher, but he’d definitely be an interesting guy to talk to.
CT: Yeah, but you’d have to interview him through the newspaper, though.
ZM: Right! Or have him call into the show for twelve seconds at a time, I guess.
CT: With Halloween 2020 being a little different, how do you plan on celebrating this year?
ZM: I think what we’re going to have to do is have a sort of subdued Halloween this year, and keep it at home. But then next year, we could have two Halloweens. I’ve been tossing this idea around in my head for a while now. You’d want the second Halloween to be somewhere in the Fall, maybe August, because the leaves are still falling but it’s just far enough away from Halloween in October.
CT: Yeah, I suppose if you’re doing Halloween in the dead of Winter, you’d have to dress as post-hedge-maze Jack Torrance.
ZM: Which would actually be a great idea for a costume.