Get To Know Chuck & Karama, Hosts Of The ‘Pop Paranormal’ Podcast
Karama Horne and Chuck Collins discuss why horror interests them, their favorite films, and share some of their hottest takes.
Partners Karama Horne (aka @TheBlerdGurl, culture critic parked at the intersection of pop culture and diversity) and Chuck Collins (comic book artist, podcaster and horror connoisseur) host TRVL’s Pop Paranormal podcast, a horror and TV podcast that dissects horror and paranormal classics, deep cuts, and current faves that have left a lasting impact on pop culture.
Karama and Chuck team up to discuss things like the differences in the movie and book versions of The Shining, the 80s pop culture references in Stranger Things, and how Close Encounter of the Third Kind inspired Jordan Peele’s movie Nope.
Learn more about how the “geekiest couple you know” got into the genre, what their favorites (and least favorites) are, and lessons they’ve learned from it all.
This interview has been edited for length.
Could you both tell me a little bit about yourself, a little bit of background and how you ended up hosting a podcast talking about all things horror and paranormal?
Karama: I'm a huge geek. I tell everybody I'm a professional geek. So when I started "THEBLERDGURL," it was really all about talking about geekdom as a whole — all genre content — so comics, horror, anime. And TRVL Channel had reached out and said, hey, we'd love for you to do a horror podcast. And in the meantime, I was already trying to pitch a podcast with me and Chuck. So it was sort of serendipitous because Chuck, as many of you know, is my sweetie. He's always trying to get me to watch more horror movies. And the funny thing is I watch them, but I'm more of a thriller/zombie fan. So zombies, thrillers, cosmic horror I'm really into. Non-stop slashers and gore, I wasn't into all that. But he watches that all the time. So it was kind of like a running joke. So when they asked me to do the podcast, I was like, y'all need to meet Chuck because he is the horror connoisseur, literally. He's got a knowledge of horror that I don't have. I come from a critic’s perspective. I write reviews for The Wrap and Rotten Tomatoes and things like that. So I'm looking at the medium from a filmmaker's perspective. He's looking at it from, like, he knows who the special effects people are — he knows who put the blood on Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and what they're doing now in The Walking Dead and stuff. I don't know that. He knows that.
So, Chuck, were you always interested in horror? How did that start?
Chuck: I mean, it all started, I guess, when I was a kid. I grew up Haitian in Brooklyn. And I used to hear all kinds of urban legend stories of things that used to happen in Haiti. You had, like, Mètminwi, which was the keeper of midnight. If you were outside past midnight, this long, lanky, 13-foot person would come and grab you. I used to hear all the other superstitious stuff, like if you bury somebody, and they have shoes on, and you hear their footsteps during the night, that's why you don't bury anybody with shoes on. And also, curiosity got the better of me as a kid. I was watching stuff I had no business watching. You know, when the adults weren't around, I'm like, ooh, what's this movie?
What would you say that someone could expect from a typical episode of Pop Paranormal?
Chuck: I would say, first and foremost, fun, comedy, our own takes. I'd like to think that one of the reasons why we have so much fun doing this podcast is all of these movies that we talk about influence the way that we move in our regular consumption of pop culture. So, like, all of the movies, especially a lot of the classics, I like to think back as to how they made me feel the first time I saw them. So I think that the podcast is definitely – you get it from the perspective of two people who take in the genre, love it for what it is. And we give you our own takes based on our own experiences and what it's done for us as far as inspiration or whatever is concerned.
Karama: I also think that wherever you are in being a horror fan, you can find something in the podcast because that was very important to me because I think many times in genre, there's a lot of gatekeeping. And I don't have any time for that. So I definitely wanted to make sure that everyone who listened felt welcome, whether or not you've seen the movie a million times, you've never seen it, you just saw it. And I'm sort of Scully to his Mulder. I like doing all the deep digging and the little research and things like, you know, did you know Rod Serling had stage fright?
Chuck: I like the human element to a lot of these stories. A lot of times, she's like, that's not physically possible. And I'm just like, but, babe, it's a movie. So the physics in that world make it work like that. So I'm like, I will dispel all belief — like, natural physical law. And she'll be like, no, we need to apply real-world physics.
Karama: There are subgenres within horror. And just like — I tell people all the time, just as there are many different flavors of wine, there's that many types of horror. And you don't have to like all of them. And saying that you like one over another does not mean that you're not an authentic horror fan. There’s a lot of that and it's just frustrating because that's not what brings people to the medium. So just making it more accessible, that was our big thing. I have friends who were like, “Oh, my god, I can't watch half the movies you're talking about, but I can listen to the podcast.”
Is there a topic that you haven't had the chance to cover yet on the podcast that you would love to dive into?
Karama: Yes, horror anime. I want to talk Chainsaw Man, Junji Ito, Ajin, and Devilman Crybaby. Because I do know that my friends that have a hard time with like, live action horror, can watch horror anime no problem. Because there's that disconnect because it's an animated character. Anime is a different medium. But for some reason, that disconnect, more people can get into.
Chuck: I actually want to take a kind of a deep dive into the Hellraiser series. Well, Hellraiser I, II and III. The rest after that, were kind of hokey. And also, one of my favorite horror lines of all time from Laurence Fishburne, who played the Captain in Event Horizon. That movie I would love to analyze. That line we'd use all the time. He just goes “we’re leaving”.
Karama: Yeah. It's probably the most iconic thing.
Chuck: It's the Blackest thing that you'll ever hear in any horror movie. It's true. Just to let you know, there's a scene where the horror becomes revealed to the people in this spaceship. And Laurence Fishburne is the Captain that finds all this information. And then, the scientist that was supposed to be investigating what happened was like, "Well, we have to analyze that." Laurence Fishburne turned around and looked at him and was like, “We're leaving. We're out.”
So have you learned any lessons from your experience diving into this kind of content?
Karama: I already knew Chuck was brilliant and I've always known that he's been a huge fan of horror and he's got a lot of knowledge about it, but his ability to be able to really relate it to real world situations, I'm so impressed by it. Because we've talked about it, but it's like we do a lot of these. There's a lot of hours of research and stuff that goes into it. And I'm like, wow, babe, this is really your thing. So I would say that. I'm so happy that he's my co-host on top of everything.
Chuck: Oh, man. And likewise. I'm happy that you're my co-host, too. You know, working with Karama, just to see her brilliance shine through, with her organizing the way that we break things down, the questions that she asks. I am happy to be working with her, as well. I couldn't have asked for a better co-host. She's amazing. And she's an amazing life partner.
What do you think the biggest misconception about horror/paranormal content is?
Chuck: I think one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about horror is that it's just an excuse to make up monsters, and scare people and everything else. But I think, genuinely, some of the things that I've seen in reality have been more horrific and scary than any horror movie I've ever seen. I think that we, as human beings, you know, we tend to ignore the shadows of ourselves, or we tend to ignore the darkness of society. We kind of shove it under the rug. But if that darkness didn't exist, we actually wouldn't have evolved to the people that we were now or the society that we are now. And I think what horror does is, uses certain storytelling methods in order to introduce us, or show us, that darkness that we always try not to face.
Karama: I think that the biggest misconception about horror is that it is all gore porn. And it's not. Because it's a misconception that I had a long time ago. And the other misconception is that it's sort of lowbrow. I think horror should be given, along with the rest of genre entertainment, some of that same credit. And a lot of people, especially on TRVL Channel, have a lot of great stuff on paranormal. But I think what's really funny about our podcast is that when we're talking about horror movies, there's stuff that we see on paranormal shows and paranormal podcasts, we're like, yeah, we would never do that. Ever. I had a conversation with the Ghost Brothers. I'm like, better you than me. I am never doing that.
That's interesting. So there are certain things in the paranormal space that are more scary to you than horror?
Karama: Yeah. The reality of the paranormal is way more scary to me than the movie.
Chuck: Well, yeah. I've had a few paranormal experiences, myself, that, yeah — they're not fun. Well, also, you have to think about that Karama and I grew up in a weird mix of American and West Indian culture. So a lot of these things with people like, you know, ghosts in your house and everything, that's just grandma. I'm not scared of that.
Karama: There’s certain things we accept. If something falls off a shelf repeatedly, we’re like “Oh okay, that’s probably my uncle.” That would probably freak people out. I just don't want other people's ghosts in my house.
Chuck: When it comes to the paranormal, I used to work at a museum in New York City and it was outside. So we worked there late at night, the shift started at around 9:00 at night. Everything's dark. And yeah, we would see random things. There would be things running at us. Weird smells. And not to mention, the moment you get off of the train, you walk down there, the air just becomes as thick as soup, no matter what temperature, no matter what season it is. You just feel it. And yeah, one time, something followed me home. It was a memorial and people like to leave stuff for their loved ones. But it can't stay there all the time. So there's like a place that we have to put that stuff and I usually did that at the beginning of the night. But we got so busy, I just didn't think about it and I left it in my pocket. And it was a nice little chain or whatever. I didn’t think anything of it until I wasn’t sleeping. I'm like, there is something in my house. I couldn't sleep. It just constantly felt like there was somebody in a room with me. And when I found the chain, I knew immediately what it was.
In your podcast intro, you promised to give us hot takes so I'm wondering if you can share a hot take that both of you have?
Karama: I know what he's going to say. You were going to say Urban Legends, aren't you? We stayed dragging that.
Chuck: We're talking about the trilogy from back in the day. That was proof that sometimes Hollywood got no business trying to make something into a franchise. Stop. Just stop. So you got urban legends, you know, which is a very heavy topic, because there's a lot of them. And you managed to make a movie with that title and did nothing with it, but made up a slasher movie that was a fake version of Scream, where every character that you had in the movie, you didn't care about.
Karama: Also from Urban Legends, I would say Loretta Devine's character. Because they left her like, stabbed, shot, at the end. The funny thing is, she survived. Well, first of all, she was the only campus security on the entire campus, which didn't make any sense. And then in the second movie, she's in a completely different school. She survived that ordeal. She goes to a completely different school, is campus security again. It's like, no, this is not the job for you, ma. You need to get another job.
Is there anything else you want to share with your audience?
Chuck: I just want to thank everybody for listening. I want to thank everybody for participating and just hearing our crazy takes and you know, listening to my bad jokes. And you know, this is a genre that means a lot to me. And it's always something that's been fun just to watch and take part in. A lot of good memories of friends watching and discovering these movies for the first time or us having our comedic little — this is what I would have done, you know, conversations, if it was us.
Karama: I will say, the community of people listening, also, it's like they're watching these movies with us. And that's also a lot of fun. Like, hearing people say things like, “I didn't think about it that way. Oh, my God, I have to go back and watch this movie again.” So that's also been really incredible.
You can stream available episodes of Pop Paranormal now.