Interview with Camera Viscera Founder: Dr. Jose
Camera Viscera is an awesome new site featuring killer horror swag. After receiving a wonderful order from them, I decided that fans needed to know about this tiny little business and its passionate founder. We’re pleased as pie that Dr Jose found the time to answer some of our queries.
THW: Of all the things that exist in the world, you’ve chosen to peddle horror swag. What were you thinking?
Well, I’m a lifelong gorehound and horrornut, first and foremost. I love it: I eat, breathe, and sleep horrorstuff. I’ve also been big on art and design since childhood, and I’ve always dabbled in my spare time — y’know, doodling, drawing. More recently I’ve been messing around with Photoshop and other similar programs. So the marriage of the two things was kind of a no-brainer.
I never initially set out to make things to sell, though. I was happy and content just churning out written pieces for my site, and also designing the layout of the site — both of which keep me fairly busy. I guess making things to sell came about as a way to expand my audience, reach more people. The first thing I put out were four little 1” pinback rinky-dink buttons; just wanted to test the waters, see what the reaction would be. But people seemed to dig it from the start. Maybe they were just bein’ sweet and protecting my fragile ego, who knows. But since then I’ve made tons more badges, some t-shirts, magnets, DVDs — I even sculpted and cast in resin about 30 little Belial (from BASKET CASE) figurines. I hand painted them and everything, but I haven’t released ‘em yet. Just trying new and different things, seein’ what works and what doesn’t.
THW: Are your friends and family supporting of your horror-themed endeavors?
Surely, friends and family are incredibly supportive. I come from a happy, creative family that always encouraged art, education, imagination. I really owe my interest in horror and art to them. And as for my friends — they always ask me about horror movies I’ve seen and if they should bother watching them, or they’ll ask for suggestions. Being a weirdo who digs blood and guts has never caused any sort of contention or strain in any of my relationships. In fact, it’s sort of been a boon to me, really. What a lucky guy I am!
THW: Can you recall how old you were when you saw a film or read a book that terrified you? What was it?
My fascination with horror started at a very early age due to the fact that my mom was a horror movie lover. She didn’t mind me watching them with her; she was good about making them seem fun and exciting, versus making them seem frightening. When I was very young, my main fears were aliens — which is odd considering we never watched any horror movies with aliens (I was raised on the Holy Trinity of HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.) Still, I was convinced aliens were going to abduct me. As a family we watched a lot of TV, and that included UNSOLVED MYSTERIES — so that’s probably where the whole alien thing started. Anytime there was a segment on alien abduction, I had to leave the room. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time. I had a few other minor terrors as I got older, but nothing matched the cold-sweat, pure fear that I suffered from my earlier panic of aliens.
THW: How much of your scary Camera Viscera stock is made by you?
In terms of conceptualizing, designing, and final execution — it’s all me. From my website, to my pins, to the packaging, I do it all. However, for actual production I do use third party companies. I’ve looked into doing everything completely DIY (or rather, DIM: Do-It-Myself) because I’d love to be able to offer something that is entirely 100% made by me, but it just isn’t feasible. I’m a small one-man operation; being able to pull all of it off (while still writing pieces for my site regularly and working a regular 8 hour day job) would be near impossible.
THW: A guy like you probably has a kickass collection of swag. What’s your favorite piece?
I have a container of THE STUFF — an actual prop from the movie — signed by director Larry Cohen. That’s pretty special. I’m originally from Chicago, and there is a great horror and sci-fi collective there called Movieside; they put on several film festivals a year (sometimes under the name The Massacre, sometimes Terror in the Aisles) where they show original film prints with the original attached trailers, and they’ll have special guests — directors of the movies, actors from the movies — show up to speak and do signings. It’s really spectacular. That’s where I nabbed THE STUFF container (among many other goodies), and where I was able to meet a lot of horror greats.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 10 sheets of original uncut 3D glasses from FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE that I found on eBay for 99 cents. That was a bargain. They were being sold via a thrift store in Canada.
THW: The death’s head moth enamel pin I got from you is badass. I understand that it sold out very quickly. Will you be getting more?
I wasn’t intending to order any more, but the response has been pretty astounding. I didn’t expect it to sell out, let alone as quickly as it did. But the interest is there, so I’ll bring them back eventually. In the meantime, I have a few other designs I want release first. Hopefully those are equally as successful.
THW: My order from Camera Viscera arrived with surprise candy in the package. How did you know I was going to want Reece’s Pieces at that exact moment? Are you watching me?!?
It’s funny you mention that: I had no plan or system when it came to doling out treats to people. I had just bought some bags of candy for Halloween (and for me to snack on, naturally) and figured, why not throw some in with the orders? But like I said, I hadn’t really planned it out, I was just grabbing whatever was near me and stuffing it into the tiny envelopes. Some people got more than others, and some didn’t get any at all because I ran out after awhile. My question to you: was the candy melty at all? I forget where you’re located, but after I’d packed all the envelopes I started thinking about how the orders going to Texas and Florida and California might not fare so well. Ed note: I’m in Michigan and experienced no meltage.
THW: What subgenres are you most fond of, and why?
Home invasion and hillbilly horror are my two favorite subgenres, bar none. The home invasion genre has many facets that make it so terrifying: first, it’s real. I mean, it could really happen to you; it happens to people all the time. Break-ins, robberies, sometimes worse. And the thought of some stranger invading your home, your privacy — it’s an eerie, unpleasant thought. Plus, home invasion movies take place in one location, so it’s often very claustrophobic feeling. We watch these characters try so desperately to break free from the place they’d normally be happy to spend all of their time in. Also, home invasion usually involves family members protecting and defending each other, which makes for a more harrowing watch — especially if something happens to one of the characters.
As for hillbilly horror: THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is my favorite movie and was probably my first introduction to the “creepy, murderous, inbred clan” trope, one that I quickly took to and have loved ever since. I don’t know what it is that does it for me, but I can’t get enough of it.
THW: Please tell our readers more about the products Camera Viscera has available.
I’m still fairly new to the whole “merch” thing, so I don’t have a wide variety just yet. I have mainly pins available, currently. The standard 1” pinback “badges” that everyone and their grandma sells. I have a few magnets (I don’t know what I was thinking there, but they’re kinda neat actually.) I have a few of these mixtape DVDs that contain old commercials and movies and other retro bits that I threw together. And now, in light of the success of the Death’s-head Hawkmoth pin, I have a new 1.25” enamel lapel pin releasing this Tuesday.
THW: Are you watching any horror shows currently running on TV?
Since I don’t have access to any network channels, I don’t usually watch TV shows when they first air; I wait until they’re available to stream and then play catch up. I recently watched the first season of THE STRAIN on HULU. I really liked it, I definitely want to check out the second season. I’ve seen some of DARKNET, which is pretty good but nowhere as amazing as the similar-yet-far-superior BLACK MIRROR. And I’ve heard good things about PENNY DREADFUL, so I want to check that out. I’m also eager about the upcoming ASH VS EVIL DEAD. But to be honest, I’m really not big on current TV horror; I find most of it to be junk. Even something as gory and thrilling as THE WALKING DEAD has become an exercise in tedium, y’know? HULU streaming has a bunch of old shows — Alfred Hitchcock Presents, One Step Beyond, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, X-Files — the list is pretty endless — and I’ve never seen a lot of those older ones, so I’ve been catching up on them. Some of them are really fantastic with great twists.
THW: If you could carry any type of horrific merchandise in your store, Camera Viscera, what would it be?
I wish I could carry my own stock of T-shirts. It’s so simple and so common, but t-shirts. I have offered a few t-shirt designs via Teechip and Teespring, which to me is the most cost effective way to design a shirt — get it printed and shipped, and in the hands of the customer the cheapest and fastest way possible — but it’s obviously not the same as having an always-available cache of shirts on my site.
The problem is that printing t-shirts is so expensive, and there’s no real guarantee that they’re going to sell — especially if you’re just starting out. And even if they do sell, it’ll probably be more of a slow drawn out trickle instead of an instant wave of sales, so you wouldn’t be able to break even on the cost for a long time. And even then, in the end, you’ll still be left with a handful of Smalls and XLs that aren’t moving, and you’ll have to offer them at discount.
Sure, if I sold the t-shirts for $25 each, I’d make my money back in no time, but that’s way too much for a t-shirt. To me, t-shirts should be 10 bucks, 15 bucks. To be fair, the shirts I’ve “designed” haven’t had a lot of colors or crazy intricate artwork — so I can understand why, in those instances, artists choose to sell their shirts for so much. Maybe as the site becomes more established and builds a bigger audience, I can invest in my own stockpile of shirts.
THW: What’s the best way for fans to reach you? How can we find out when you’ve got new products out.
You can find everything on my website, cameraviscera.com. I’m also always posting stuff on the Camera Viscera Facebook page daily. I also use Twitter. And finally, Instagram — I think that just about covers it!