Thursday, October 25, 2018

Monster Kid Radio: The Derek Koch Interview

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to talk with Derek Koch, the host of Monster Kid Radio, about some of his favorite classic horror movies.  Monster Kid Radio is a weekly podcast devoted to classic horror flicks. It not only contains lots of discussion about famous and the not so famous movies but also has special guests, interviews, listener polls, trivia, lots and lots of old horror movie clips and some very cool music too.

Monster Kid Radio  has won a couple of Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards through the years and will soon celebrate it's 400th episode. The podcast can be heard on iTunes, Stitcher and Libsyn.

CASEY REDMOND:  What is a Monster Kid?

DEREK KOCH: It’s kind of hard to answer.  The term came about
Derek Koch
several years ago when David Colton of The Classic Horror Film Board and the Rondo Awards  wrote an essay that appeared in an AOL chatroom about, What is a Monster Kid?. You know, we are the kids staying up late watching monster movies and making models, things like that. For a long time, it was used to describe people who grew up in the fifties and sixties watching these things and and enjoying these movies. For me, I feel like I’m a Monster Kid.  I stumbled into loving these movies when I was younger and it really just stuck with me and has defined me as an adult. A lot of times, I will call myself Monster Kid X because I am part of Generation X.

CASEY: What's the first horror movie that made an impression on you?

DEREK: I think the first one that really made an impression on me growing up was Poltergeist. One afternoon I was flipping through channels and, at the time, we had Showtime and they were showing Poltergeist in the middle of the day. Not really having any experience with horror movies or monster movies at the time, seeing the guy peel his face off in the bathroom really influenced me and affected me quite a bit.  That's probably my earliest horror movie memory.

CASEY:  Was that the start of your love for monster movies or did that come later?

DEREK:  I think it started a little beforehand with those
Crestwood House books that you find in school libraries, kid libraries.  I think that is probably what sparked everything for me. Growing up, it's not like I could turn on the TV and see classic horror movies. So, these Crestwood House books were pretty much my in. They hooked me from the beginning. I knew who Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi were in grade school. I remember distinctly this paper I wrote in class one day in grade school going off about how people who dress up like princesses are ruining Halloween because Halloween should be about Chaney and Lugosi and Karloff. I was a cocky little kid.

CASEY: Explain for those who don't know, what are the Crestwood House books?

DEREK:  The Crestwood House books was a series of books, I believe they were published in the seventies, designed for young
Crestwood House Book
readers.  They found their way into a lot of school libraries or the kids section of public libraries.  Each book, at first, was about a particular film. So there would be a book about The Wolf Man, a book about Dracula that sort of thing.  Most of the book would be about the film itself with pictures from the film.  I learned later that a lot of those photos came courtesy of Forrest J Ackerman. Then the last quarter of the book talked about who was in the movie, sequals, remakes, influences. I first learned about the silent film, The Golem, from the Crestwood House book about  Frankenstein.

CASEY: So you knew about the movies before you ever saw them?

DEREK:  My parents didn't really encourage me to watch R-rated movies or horror movies, I wasn't allowed to. But for some reason or other, learning about these black and white monster movies that was somehow safer.

CASEY:  When did you finally begin watching the movies?

DEREK:  As a film geek, one of the jobs you could have in the nineties was working at a video store.  During my working career I've worked at four.  Working there and having access to all of these VHS tapes and ordering them, using my employee discount, filled out my collection of classic horror movies and modern horror films too.

CASEY: You prefer old horror movies over newer?

DEREK:  I do.  For awhile, I was all about the zombie stuff and the modern stuff and the slashers and things like that.  But I always had a love for the black and whites and the Hammer's. I even did a podcast about zombie movies for several years. It was called, Mail Order Zombie.  The gimmick of that was that I would cover zombie movies that you had to get through the mail.  Eventually, we ended up covering any zombie movies.

CASEY: Can you still listen to the podcast?

DEREK:  The podcast is still there but we haven't put out a new episode in forever.  I got to the point where they just weren't giving me the enjoyment. I suppose burnt out is part of it. I was feeling like there wasn't a lot of substance anymore, at least for me.  They just stopped speaking to me.

CASEY:  On Monster Kid Radio what is the time frame you cover?

DEREK:  I go pretty much from the silents up through the sixties. I typically use 1968 as my cutoff because that is when Night Of The Living Dead came out and it was a game changer.  But that being said, I do toe dip into the seventies a little bit.  Like I am getting really into Dark Shadows and this December I am going to do a  Dan Curtis themed month where we are doing nothing but Dan Curtis properties. We are calling it, Dancember.

CASEY:  Who are some of your favorite horror movie actors?

DEREK:  We say that we have three patron saints on Monster Kid
Bela Lugosi
Radio; Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and John Agar. Those three are right there at the top of the list. Of course, I can't skip Chaney and I can't skip going over to the U.K and saying I've got a mad love for Peter Cushing.

CASEY:  Are you a film fan in general or mainly just horror movies?

DEREK:  Yes, I thought I was going to be a filmmaker when I grew up.  I went to film school for a little while and did a ton of video production classes at a community college.  I love movies.  I was a Star Wars kid.  I loved science fiction and then I got into horror movies and I was doing special make up effects and making myself up as various monsters. I set myself on fire for a movie once, much to my mother's dismay.

CASEY:  Tell me about your writing.

DEREK:  I started writing in grade school. I thought I was so clever writing these one page things about a guy who ate so much pizza that one day the pizza ate him. Just stupid stuff. Then as I started writing scripts for little movies that I thought I would shoot stop motion style with my G.I Joe action figures. I remember writing this huge sprawling saga where G.I Joe and the Cobra figures are fighting each other and there were death scenes and funerals and sacrifices. I don’t know whatever happened to that stuff. I was always interested in reading and that led to an interest in writing and creating my own fiction. I started writing horror in high school. Hardly any of that exists anymore. My mother never saved any of that stuff.

CASEY:  It probably scared her.

Derek: Or concerned her. (laughing)

CASEY:  Do you still do fiction or is it mainly non-fiction?

DEREK:  For a little while, I fell away from fiction. Which is sad because I love writing fiction. Recently I was, to use their words, separated from my job. I was working a day job.  It was a pretty toxic environment and it really did a number on me mentally.  I think it really impacted a lot of aspects of my life. You know, stress levels, lack of sleep, overall mental health and writing.  It really impacted my ability to be a creative writer.  As I’m away from that now, I’m getting back into it.  But I have written non-fiction for magazines. I am a columnist for Strange Aeons Magazine and my first column is available at I have also done a few things for Scary Monsters over the years and other places here and there.

CASEY: What projects do you have coming up?

DEREK:  Monster Kid Radio is going strong and I don't see it stopping anytime soon.  We launched it in 2013 and with the exception of one week, when I was recovering from some health issues, we've always had an episode out.  We have episode 400 coming up.  I am really excited that we are going to hit the 400 mark.  We have Dancember coming up.  In December, we will have nothing but Dan Curtis media.  I don't know if we are going to talk about every single episode of Dark Shadows, I don't think that's possible.  But we will give it a good talking about. And I am working on the Plan 9 By 9 Podcast.

CASEY: What's going on with that?

DEREK:  I was asked to be a guest on a podcast that talked about the movie, The Adventures Of Buckaroo Bonzai Across The 8th
Dimension. It was a lot of fun.  What they did is they take a five minute chunk of the movie and do an episode about it and then
take another five minute chunk and do an episode about that.  I thought that format just sounded fun and I wanted to apply it to what I do on Monster Kid Radio.  So, we have created the Plan 9 By 9 Podcast. We take Plan 9 From Outer Space nine minutes at a time. We have at least two special guests lined up and it is hosted by myself and Scott Morris who's been on many many shows over the years. The first episode is available at, After this is done we are targeting a few other ugly so called "so bad it's good" type movies.

CASEY: Halloween is right around the corner, so can you give us five movies we might want to check out.

DEREK: The Crestwood House books are so important to me because they introduced me to the Universal movies so, of course, a Universal movie would have to be in there and I am going to go with, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  I know it doesn't have Karloff, which is probably the one missing ingredient, but it's got Lugosi as the monster and that's still pretty good.  But it has one of the creepiest monster resurrection scenes in the very beginning and that scene by itself makes the movie.  Now are you familiar with the Inner Sanctum films that Universal did?

CASEY:  No, I'm just familiar with the radio show.

DEREK:  Universal did a handful of movies inspired by Inner Sanctum and Lon Chaney was in all of them.  It was probably the closest Chaney ever got to being the leading romantic man. He was in one called Weird Woman. It's my favorite of the Inner Sanctum films. Evelyn Ankers is in that too and she plays against type. She is not as goody-goody as she normally is in other films. I would recommend that too. For Halloween, I always try to pick something that has a fantastical element.  Space aliens are great but that is not spooky the way Halloween is. So, I want to have something that is supernatural like, Thirteen Ghosts.

CASEY:  I like that one, William Castle.

DEREK:  I was actually just watching that last night. It's wonderful. And then I love my Hammer movies, so I would probably do either Horror of Dracula or Brides Of Dracula.  Peter Cushing is in both of those films as Van Helsing but he is a little more "action-heroey" in Brides Of Dracula. That one kind of gets me going.  Then for my fifth, I'd probably go with something outside the classic era and pick up, The Monster Squad.

CASEY: I vaguely remember that.

DEREK: The Monster Squad, with exception of one little thing that kind of reminds you that it's in the eighties, I feel it holds up and
it's fairly timeless. It's just a romp. It's The Little Rascals Meets The Universal Monster which is how Fred Dekker pitched it when he was trying get money for this movie he wanted to direct.  It's got one of the best on-screen Dracula's I've ever seen, it's got a Wolf Man design that's fantastic. It's got a little bit of comic element to it but it's scary, I mean it's a horror movie.  I think it's a pretty good flick.

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