Interviews Movies

Celebrating Halloween One Movie at a Time With John Gallagher Jr.

I watched 31 horror films in a month and a half in 2016. Even though I grew up watching these type of films as a young child, I still have to watch something incredibly cheesy to fall asleep afterwards. I know they’re movies. I know they’re not real, but I still get scared, and I can tell you that seeing as many horror films as I saw in that short amount of time was not good for my anxiety.

I could blame the actor John Gallagher Jr. for this, as it was his horror movie recommendations that I watched, but he never said nor implied to watch all of them at once. He merely suggested these films to his Twitter followers during the month of October. I’m the dumb one that added the challenge. He was excited when I told him about it though.

John Gallagher Jr. | Photo courtesy of John Gallagher Jr.

“That’s amazing. Thank you and also, I’m sorry,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher usually announces on October 1 that it’s time for his annual horror movie tweet-a-thon. Every day in October, he recommends a new horror movie on Twitter. His rules are simple. He has to have seen the movie and he can’t repeat movies from the previous years.

He vividly remembers how the project started. It was the fall of 2012 and he was on his way to set for the film, “Short Term 12,” when he learned that they were filming near the original house from “Poltergeist.” After he mentioned his love for horror movies to his fellow passengers, a production assistant shared her yearly tradition of having a Halloween quote every day in October. That made him think what he could do to step up his game to celebrate the spooky season.

Thus began this Twitter project.

Since its inception in 2012, Gallagher has recommended a combination of new, classic and cult films, at times blurring the genre lines, with a short film description in 280 characters or less. He skipped 2013 because he forgot (“My head wasn’t in it.”). To date, he’s recommended 217 horror films.

“It’s funny because I was a big wuss as a kid,” said Gallagher. “By the time I was in second or third grade, kids were coming to school and talking about how they’d seen ‘Candyman’ or ‘Dr. Giggles’ and ‘Child’s Play’ and all these early ’90s horror movies, and I was frozen in fear and couldn’t understand how kids my age were able to watch those things.”

That all changed when he watched “The Shining” a year later. It petrified him but also gave him the itch to watch more movies like that.

“It’s a little bit like going on a rollercoaster. Like I didn’t want to, but I felt like I had to,” said Gallagher.

As he got older, he started watching more horror movies. He watched “The Exorcist,” the original “Halloween” and “Psycho.” He went back to see some of the classics that were referenced in the 1996 film, “Scream.” He streamlined more movies when he joined his high school friends to rent five movies for five nights for $5 at the local video store in Delaware.

Because of his Twitter project, he finds himself thinking more about horror movies outside of Halloween. With this being his seventh year of movie recommendations, he has gotten a bit more organized about it.

“For awhile, I would scroll all the way back on my Twitter to read through what I had and hadn’t recommended, and as I got further and further away from the first year, that became too hard because I couldn’t even access those years,” said Gallagher.

He requested his Twitter timeline and used it to create a masterlist of all the films he’s recommended which he keeps on his phone’s notes app. He also has a list of films he wants to see.

“I do definitely think more about horror movies throughout the year now because if I want to keep this thing up, I have to watch more horror movies because there’s only so many of them in the world. After six years of doing this, I must admit that this year’s been kinda tough because I’m running out of movies. I’m actively having to watch more this season,” said Gallagher.

Incidentally, when he revived the project in 2014, Gallagher was filming “10 Cloverfield Lane,” a sci-fi psychological horror co-starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a sequel to “Cloverfield.” It was the start of Gallagher’s string of acting in these type of genre movies.

When he started the horror tweet-a-thon in 2012, he was fairly new to Twitter. He just finished season 1 of “The Newsroom” and some Broadway work. Dan Trachtenberg, the director of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” followed Gallagher on Twitter while they were filming in 2014 and would sometimes comment on Gallagher’s movie recs, which attracted more followers. As Gallagher did more acting projects, he noticed his follower count grew. He also noticed in the last four years that simply announcing that he’s going to start his horror movie recommendations brings the likes.

“My fear was that it was just gonna be annoying. I was going to lose all my followers. People’d be like ‘ugh, this guy won’t stop with the horror thing every year.’ But it’s seems like people dig it. I don’t know,” said Gallagher.

He does check in and read the comments and what they are saying about it, and to him, it seems that some of his friends and followers are really into it every year, which makes him happy. He admits that he knows he’s not doing anything groundbreaking in this age of listicles and Top 10 lists, but he likes doing this project.

“It’s a fun way to play with the genre and connect with some fans,” said Gallagher. “I like to make sure that I stay a fan.”

The movies he won’t recommend though are the ones he’s in. Even though people have suggested “10 Cloverfield Lane,” “Hush” and “The Belko Experiment,” it’s an unspoken rule to Gallagher that he won’t include those on the list. He feels there’s enough self-promotion on social media, because after all, he started his Twitter account in 2009 as a way to promote shows he was playing with his bands. He continues to promote his shows as well as his latest film projects. He wanted to keep his horror movie project free from his own self-promotion.

“Part of me would feel weird if I was like, ‘And the number one recommendation is my movie. Go watch it,’” said Gallagher.

Even though he’s admitted that this year has been tough for him to stay on top of this self-imposed duty, he’s going to take it year by year to see if he’ll continue. He welcomes the challenge to discover new movies to recommend though. It forces him to step outside the box a bit and dive deeper into the horror movie genre. 

“It makes me excited to see what new stuff comes out and what old stuff I get to rediscover or discover for the first time. But I don’t know. I’ll just do it until I run out of movies,” said Gallagher.

You can follow all the fun on John Gallagher Jr.’s Twitter.

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Featured image credit: “10 Cloverfield Lane” | Photo credit: Michele K. Short © 2016 Paramount Pictures

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