Redman opens up about his love of scary movies, the deep and disturbing films you might have missed, and the definition of true horror, as we lead up to Halloween.
For many artists, hip-hop and horror have long been intertwined. Not only has the horrorcore subgenre captivated emcees throughout the years — with artists like Three 6 Mafia, Tech N9ne, Necro, and Eminem entertaining listeners with darkness and depravity — but classic slasher icons have been referenced in countless punchlines. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface. Each one and their unique approach to bloodshed has inspired rappers time and again.
In the case of Redman, his love of horror stretches far beyond music. During a previous interview on the Breakfast Club, the legendary emcee took great pride in having seen Dario Argento’s Giallo classic Suspiria in theaters when he was a kid. As a fellow horror film buff, the comment caught my attention. Though they didn’t stay on the topic long, it was evident that Reggie Noble was a true connoisseur of scary movies. As Halloween spirit hit the air, it was evident that he’d be the perfect candidate for a conversation on all things horror.
It was no surprise that Redman had much to say on the topic. If you have any interest in horror films — if you enjoyed our previous Top 10 Horror Movies You Need To See article, or our interview with Tech N9ne all about horror — be sure to check out the full transcription of our interview below. You might even walk away with a few unexpected movie recommendations.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
HNHH: Redman, how are you doing? Thank you so much for taking the time.
Redman: I’m here to make it happen. What’s going on with it?
Something you said always stuck with me — I was watching this interview you did with The Breakfast Club a while back and you mentioned that you were quite the horror film buff. Seeing as it’s Halloween season, I thought it would be cool to talk horror with you and hear your thoughts on the genre and culture of horror.
You’ve previously mentioned that you saw the original Suspiria in theaters — that alone makes you one of the biggest horror hip-hop heads.
Oh yeah, I saw Suspiria. And I saw Blood Beach in the theater. For Suspiria, I was very young. My mother went and took me to see that. And I couldn’t understand why she would take me to go see something like that in a theater. But I guess she loved horror movies and we was always up under her, so she had no choice but to take us. I saw Suspiria in the movie theater.
What were your thoughts while seeing it? Did it scare you?
Fuck yeah it scared me! It was weird. It was the noises that scared me, the sound effects that scared me. The whole cloth and fabric of the movie, what it was about — it was about evilness. It just scared the shit out of me, man. It was just something that I would never forget. You know? And I heard they dropped the new Suspiria, I never watched that. I watched that yet. I’m gonna give that a try. I also saw The Brood in theaters. That’s another one. Yes, man.
Watching something like Suspiria must have woke something in you. Was your mom really into horror movies?
She just liked movies, and she had to take us everywhere. So we ended up seeing scary movies. It wasn’t like she was a fan of scary movies — it was something that she liked. Mom taking me to see Suspiria at that age, I don’t know what the fuck that was about. But I went and I saw it, and I’ve been a buck ever since. I used to hide under my covers every night. Not breathing, hoping that The Boogey Man wouldn’t come get me. It was serious with me.
WATCH: Suspiria Trailer
So how did that evolve? When you were first starting in hip-hop as a teen, did you watch horror movies at that time?
Oh, absolutely. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
What were some of your early favorites?
During my teenage years, it was definitely like the Jason movies. Like Halloween, the original versions. It was definitely those verses that stuck with me the most. And back then, I would call them Scary Movie Heroes, because they were like the superheroes of scary movies. You had to like Jason, you know? Who didn’t like Jason or Michael Myers, Chucky, or any of the 90s characters? Even the Scream character was one of the last characters of the 90s that was well known for killing. In our day, in the 80s, and 90s, we had Scary Movie Heroes. And then it moved on to more evilness.
“The Exorcist is one of the top scary movies of all time. Even to this day. I still think nothing fucks with it because of the texture of it. Like the texture of The Exorcist, the way it was shot, the look — everything still holds weight to this day.”
The Exorcist is one of the top scary movies of all time. Even to this day. I still think nothing fucks with it because of the texture of it. Like the texture of The Exorcist, the way it was shot, the look — everything still holds weight to this day. It was the characters for me in the 90s and 80s that I was rooting for. They scared the shit out of me.
I definitely get that. I remember you had that “Cereal Killer” track with Meth on the Blackout album. I know you’ve referenced a lot of these horror heroes. I know you had a good Hannibal reference on “Redbull” on The W.
Absolutely. I say Hannibal all the time, I say Jason all the time.
LISTEN: Method Man & Redman – Cereal Killer
So the slasher films were definitely a big one for you. I know you starred in Seed Of Chucky. I was wondering if you had a chance to work with Brad Dourif, the iconic voice of Chucky.
I didn’t work directly with him. Because when I was doing my scenes around the dolls — being around the dolls and seeing the way they move, how much machinery is hooked up to them to do certain things — it’s phenomenal. Like they have a whole two-person, three-person team operating them. One person operating the eyes and mouth, and the other person operating the hands. It was interesting to see that. But when I was doing my scenes I think that their voices were already recorded, so every time they would press play it was like a recording coming from their voices. I wasn’t actually right there when [Brad Dourif] and Jennifer Tilly — Miss Chucky — were doing it live.
Rolf Konow/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images
That makes sense. Speaking of Brad Dourif, I don’t know if you’ve seen The Exorcist III — I’ve never seen The Exorcist II and I heard it wasn’t quite so good — but The Exorcist III is amazing. I would really recommend you watch this movie if you like The Exorcist. Brad Dourif actually plays the main villain and it’s a great, underrated horror movie. I don’t think many people have really given it a chance. Part three of a series can be hit or miss, but if you’re looking for something to check out, I would recommend that one.
I know there was a three, but wasn’t there like a remake of The Exorcist with extra scenes in it? Now that was scary.
I think that might actually be the Director’s Cut.
Oh, yeah. The Director’s Cut with the chick crawling on the wall?
Yeah, exactly. The spider-walk down the stairs. That’s one of the most famous scenes.
Did they have that back in the day or did they do a new version of something and edited it to make it look like some unseen version?
I might be wrong, but I don’t think the spider-walk was in the original theatrical version. I think it was filmed at the time, but they didn’t put it in the original cut. That movie must have been pretty controversial when it came out. I wasn’t around but I remember reading about how members of the Academy for the Oscars didn’t want to include it at all. Certain members threatened boycotts if The Exorcist got nominated for Best Picture. Fuck that, it’s a great movie.
Right. Wow, that’s crazy.
WATCH: The infamous “Spider-Walk” scene from The Exorcist
Do you have top-five horror movies of all time?
My top five scary movies — as far as classics, one is The Exorcist, two is Suspiria. Three is the first Friday the 13th. Four is the first Halloween and the first Amityville.
“My top five scary movies — as far as classics, one is The Exorcist, two is Suspiria. Three is the first Friday the 13th. Four is the first Halloween and the first Amityville.”
That’s a great list.
I even like that Jason remake, like the last version of Friday the 13th. That’s the one where he’s running. He is very vicious in that movie.
Very vicious. I like the first version of Halloween that Rob Zombie did. Matter of fact, if we’re going to get to classic newer movies, I definitely like Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. We want to get into some real horror, we’re going to talk about Devil’s Rejects. We’re going to talk about Dead Silence. Dead Silence was a beast.
I guess those dummies really get to you, eh?
Yes, they do man. They do.
The Strangers. That will definitely have you on your feet.
For me, the movie that scared me the most when I was younger — I guess it would be equivalent to Suspiria for you — The Ring. I saw that in theaters and it was almost traumatizing.
The Ring was alright. It was alright to me. But you gotta see The Brood. I actually want to buy the rights to that and shoot that over.
Nice, really? I’ve never seen The Brood — what’s it about.
It’s about a lady that actually gave birth to some baby monsters. She was reproducing baby monsters and these monsters would move on her feeling. They would attack depending on how she felt. I seen this when I was a kid. She had a daughter and then after that she had monsters. And the monsters had yellow blond hair like her daughter. This movie was weird, bro. It’s really interesting. I want to recreate that over. I want to like shoot that over myself. I would love to just get it in with that and give it some new light. I don’t think that movie got enough recognition — even though it was a classic, I don’t hear anyone really talking about it.
That was released in the 70s?
The 70s or 80s, yeah. It came out when I was young, maybe 13 or something like that.
Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives
It’s crazy that they didn’t remake that. They remake everything, basically.
Look at The Wicker Man. The original was incredible, I liked that movie a lot. But then they had this Nicolas Cage remake where he’s swarmed with bees — it’s not a good look at all, really. Remakes can be pretty bad. That’s the problem.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Leave it a classic If you ain’t going to do it no justice. That’s how I feel.
Are there any remakes that you feel are actually worth checking out?
Oh my God. First of all, when they started getting Jason into space and all that, I was like, you know what? And they did that with Freddy Krueger. They just really tainted their brand and they had to make a comeback. Especially Jason. They had Jason in space, Jason at Disney World — they had Jason every-fuckin-where. [Laughs]
How did you feel about Busta Rhymes whooping Michael Myers’ ass in Halloween at one point?
I liked that version! With him and LL. He was security. I wasn’t mad at that one.
I’m always down to see Busta Rhymes too. I guess Michael Myers kind of met his match there.
But he survived! He got his ass whooped by Mike, but he survived.
He was an instrumental part of defeating Michael Myers in that movie.
Right? Yes, he was.
Is there one classic slasher hero that you would feel would be the hardest to survive against? Like Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers…
Listen, when you watch the last Jason movie that was made — I forgot who directed that, but they did a great job. Because Jason wasn’t moving slow no more. He was actually running, and this motherfucker was vicious in his movie. You gotta watch it, don’t take my word for it. And they’ve got some new styles of killing that he was doing. The last Friday The 13th movie was classic to me. It was vicious — very fucking vicious. Just like when Rob Zombie did Halloween over. I liked that Rob Zombie Halloween. But when he made Halloween 2, he made Michael Myers too vicious. His killings were very vicious in that movie.
You know what other movie scared the hell out of me when I was young too? Dressed To Kill. Dressed To Kill is not even really a horror movie, but it kind of is. It was scary as fuck seeing that movie at a young age. It was scary as fuck. Dressed To Kill, big facts.
I don’t know that one, I’ll have to check it out.
Dressed To Kill is very vicious — not so much with the killing, but the look. At that time, it was like wow.
Speaking of vicious — did you see the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre around the time that came out?
How could I forget about that! That’s classic! The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of my tops, I gotta add it in my top five. But then again, they started tainting it too. They started tainting Texas Chainsaw Massacre with different versions of it. I didn’t like some of the versions that they came out with.
I know what you mean. The first remake they did was pretty good. But I feel like they made Leatherface almost too vicious in a way. He’s vicious in the first one, but he’s like a child with a chainsaw. In the remake, he seems like a psychopath. It works, it’s still scary, but I don’t know…The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre was just so weird. And it looks so realistic, I imagine when that came out in theaters, people were pretty terrified.
People were scared as hell, especially they promoted it like it was a real story. Remember they said it was supposed to be a real story or some shit like that? That’s what makes it scary.
Monica Schipper/Getty Images
Yeah for sure. It’s so low budget that it looks like found footage the way they shot that. I wonder how these movies were received when they come out. Now everyone talks about them like they’re classics, but I’m curious if the critics were so kind to these horror films when they first dropped. The Oscars took a stand against The Exorcist, and now it’s considered one of the best movies ever made. I don’t get that shit. I really don’t. I think people just have this bias against horror — or they did. I think that’s changed today, because everyone wants to make horror movies now. There’s some good stuff coming out. Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Ari Aster’s Hereditary…
Get Out was cool. It wasn’t scary to me. I thought it was a brilliant idea, but it wasn’t scary. Hereditary was fucked up too. I liked that, I fuck with that.
On the other side, are you a fan of horrorcore hip-hop?
Not really. First of all, here’s the thing. I still believe that if you made a whole horror film with black people in it, I wouldn’t believe it. That’s just me. I can’t believe that Black people will be scared. Because we deal with so many adversities, who are we to be scared of some horror? It’s fucked up to say, but that’s how I feel, yo!
“Here’s the thing. I still believe that if you made a whole horror film with black people in it, I wouldn’t believe it. That’s just me. I can’t believe that Black people will be scared. Because we deal with so many adversities, who are we to be scared of some horror? It’s fucked up to say, but that’s how I feel, yo!”
I watched this great documentary called Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror, and it covers the original Night Of The Living Dead. The documentary explained that it was one of the first movies to show a Black man taking charge in a predominately white cast, and people were surprised by that at the time. There was so much racism, but audiences came to identify with that character. He wasn’t really scared and definitely came through in that situation. Me, I’d be scared as hell if that happened.
Zombie movies are more realistic because it can happen. Here’s the thing about Zombies that people got to recognize. There is a difference between zombies and the infected. Zombies are the classic slow-moving characters. They’re supposed to be like the zombies out of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Out the ground, dead, walking slow, groaning. Those are real zombies.
The zombies that they’ve been making lately that are running fast, biting muthafuckas and eating them — those are called infected. They’re not zombies, they didn’t rise out of the grave and start eating people. These are motherfuckers that’s been bitten by something that’s been infected and started a pandemic. Definitely. So I wish there would be more clarity on that. Oh, there’s another zombie movie? Nah, these are infected running around biting people.
28 Days Later did the infected well.
28 Days Later was scary as fuck.
They fast as hell too, they were sprinting. I don’t know — If there was ever a zombie apocalypse the 28 Days Later zombies would get the job done the most effectively.
Yeah, or the zombies that were in World War Z.
They’re fast too. But I think the slow zombies are even scarier. You’re sitting there while they’re just eating you. They’re so slow, they probably eat pretty slowly too. They’re taking their time. You’re probably conscious for at least part of it.
But here’s the thing– the slow zombies, I’ll kick their ass. [Laughs] I’ll run their ass all over, I’ll run their ass over with a motorcycle. They ain’t doing nothing. But the infected, those are the ones got to watch out for.
WATCH: The Infected in 28 Days Later
If I’ve learned anything from the classic zombie movies it’s that it’s not the zombies who get you, it’s the people. Once everyone gets used to the zombie apocalypse, it’s the crazies who really start to take over.
You know what was a movie I thought was very interesting. It wasn’t horror, but it was almost like horror. The Happening with Mark Whalberg. I don’t like movies where you already know what’s going to happen at the end. Who’s gonna win, who’s gonna lose. You know how you can just start off a movie and you already know how it’s gonna be? He’s gonna be the one, they’re going to get killed. With The Happening, it was very interesting. Very fucking interesting, yo. It’s the first time I saw nature be the killer. It was a message on how we’re destroying the planet so bad that nature is now speaking.
Unpredictable movies. Those are big for you.
Yes, definitely. I ain’t going to lie, the first Scream was was a shocker to me too. And Paranormal Activity, that scared the shit out of me. The first one all the way to the third one. Especially the third one. The third one was scary, too. But after that, they started losing me a little. But the first Paranormal Activity, I was shitting in my pants. I was like, Yo, this is very interesting. Because they don’t take much. What got me was the way they shot it. Shooting someone filming themselves and filming the horror. It was good!
It was one of those classic things — a movie that probably cost $15,000 to make went on to become a multimillion-dollar franchise. The Blair Witch of its time almost. That was a scary one.
I was about to say that too. The first one was scary to me. The first one was fucking scary to me. It was like What the fuck? And then seeing them in the basement with they eyes…with the witch turned around and…
[At this moment, Redman’s phone connection begins to fail. His voice becomes distorted and unintelligible]
Your phone’s kind of sounding like a horror movie right now.
[The connection drops. Redman’s team worries that the rapper has disappeared entirely. Though logic suggests that he merely went through a tunnel, the possibility of something else certainly lingers]
Redman: I’m here! I’m here. Was going through a tunnel.
We were mildly concerned there for a second you know, given the nature of the conversation.
I’m in traffic and I’m rolling out the tunnel now. I hate fucking driving in New York. Shit. You know what’s the fucking horror film? The traffic in New York and LA. That’s horror. That’s real horror. [Laughs]
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
I think you might be onto something there.
But you know what is horror to me? Because I’m in the Carey tunnel — that’s the tunnel that leads around to the FDR from Manhattan around the Twin Towers, where they used to be. The biggest horror to me was actually watching that whole event. I never worked in the morning, but the morning of September 11, 2001, my boy was like yo, let’s just work till the morning. So we literally work till 7:45 or something. And the way we get home, we have to ride past the Towers every morning. I drop him off in Brooklyn, then I go back to Staten Island.
So we literally roll past the Towers like no more than 15 minutes before the planes hit. I’m on the highway, and one of my boys say Yo man the Towers on fire! I was like you a damn liar, I just rolled past the Towers and no Towers were on fire. And where I live at there’s like a little shore where you can see the whole city from Staten Island. I get to Staten Island and I sit there and I watch this whole event go down. I’m watching the Towers burn to the ground. I’m looking in amazement and hearing people screaming and shouting. We’re in disbelief at what we’re seeing. I cannot believe the horror of somebody making this happen.
Actually seeing a plane run into a building and seeing buildings fall down the way they do. It wasn’t fuckin’ scripted, it wasn’t effects, it was actual life. It was actually happening in real-time. I swear that sticks with me till this day, so much. After that day, since I watched it — I have 9/11 syndrome. Anytime I’m doing something and I happen to look over, it’s 9/11. It has not stopped since that day. And it always makes me feel good about the souls and the lives that were lost that day.
It’s a profound experience. You can watch all the movies you want but seeing violent, horrible things happen in real life. It’s different, seeing it in person.
You wouldn’t want to have seen that in person. It would never leave your mind. Seeing something that tremendous going down in front of your face. I was recording on VHS at the time, and I remember seeing footage from that day — some they don’t even show any more. Just hearing how that plane was so close to the ground, how it was revving to run into that building. That is straight fucking horror to me. Knowing lives are in that building, on that floor. I think about the people. What the fuck they were probably seeing and thinking being in there. That had to be horror. That’s the real horror. I can never get that away from me.
I can imagine. Those things really stick with you. There aren’t words. It’s traumatizing.
It’s fucking traumatizing…But yo, back to the movies. I didn’t mean to get, you know–
No, you’re absolutely right though. That is definitely horror. It makes you think about the way people gain enjoyment from horror movies. We love horror movies so much, we love being scared — but being scared in real life is so different from being scared of a movie.
I think of H.P Lovecraft — he was a big influence on horror. He pioneered this horror of the unknown — these otherwordly beings that are so vast that if humans saw them they would go insane. It’s the fear of something you can’t put into words. When you see something in real life that really sticks with you — movies can’t really capture that, it’s almost impossible. We’re so scared of movies, but it’s so different from actually being scared in real life!
It’s like that movie The Entity. That was pretty scary. It was supposedly based on a true story. It’s an old-school movie, an eighties movie.
I haven’t seen it, but I read that Martin Scorsese said it was one of the scariest movies he’s ever seen.
I was like damn. I don’t know how it was a true story, or what the woman was doing for it to be a true story, but I was like wow, that’s interesting — a spirit that will fuck you.
Look, you’ve given me a bunch of recommendations here — I’m going to have to catch up on a few, that’s for sure. Thank you so much for taking the time. It’s been a pleasure talking horror with you, and it’s always an honor to speak with a hip-hop legend.
Thank you for having me, brother!
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
MOVIES REDMAN MENTIONED:
Blood Beach (1980)
The Exorcist (1973)
Friday The 13th (1980)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Brood (1979)
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Dead Silence (2007)
Friday The 13th (2009)
Dressed To Kill (1980)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
28 Days Later (2002)
The Happening (2008)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Entity (1982)