Horror in her blood: an interview with Shannon McGrew

If you’re a regular on the horror scene, then odds are you already know the name Shannon McGrew. If you don’t know the name, you certainly know the website she runs. Nightmarish Conjurings is one of the leading horror sites in the game today, thanks to McGrew’s tireless determination for the site she’s created, a staff stacked with horror fiends and quality content daily.

McGrew was raised on the good stuff, with bookshelves loaded with Goosebumps and films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space and The Thing shaping her into the horror aficionado she is today.

Like most self-made horror enthusiasts, McGrew manages Nightmarish Conjurings and has been a part of some incredible experiences at interactive events and horror conventions all while maintaining a day job that makes you wonder just where she’s finding the time (or energy) to make this all happen.

The answer is simple, however- it’s the deep affinity for the genre that McGrew has grown to love since she was a child. She’s a horror fanatic, through and through, and her passion comes out of her articles, posts and photos like few others.

Before she made her voyage to this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Shannon was kind enough to take a few minutes and chat about Nightmarish Conjurings, her favorite recent horror flicks and who a few of her horror inspirations are.

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MANGLED MATTERS:  Nightmarish Conjurings has quite the following and has really grown into a must-follow horror site when it comes to breaking news and the like. When (and maybe even why) did you decide to start your own site?

SHANNON MCGREW:  Thank you so much for saying that! The site started almost four years ago as nothing more than a one-person blog. I loved talking to my friends about horror movies and haunts; however, not all my friends loved both of those and suggested it might be a good idea to start a blog. I did that with no intention of it going anywhere – I figured I would write reviews of horror movies and books and if anyone wanted to read them (meaning close friends and family) then great! At the time I was living in New Jersey and I wanted to become more involved in the horror community so I attended a Grindhouse Movie Marathon where I met indie filmmakers. As the saying goes, the rest was history!


MM:  As the owner and founder of Nightmarish Conjurings, how do you go about managing the team and the site itself? I’m sure there have been some obstacles along the way (coming from my own experience). Running your own site is truly a second full-time job.


SM:  Nightmarish Conjurings wouldn’t be what it is without the amazing team that I have. Everyone that writes for me is on top of their work so it makes managing the site really easy at times. We’ve definitely run into obstacles but I tend to make sure any issues come to me and me alone as I don’t want my writers to have to deal with any of the negative sides of the business. It’s been a huge learning experience for me and there have been times when, as a site, we have done something we weren’t supposed to do and I’ve made sure to bring that to the attention of the team so we don’t run into that issue again.


MM:  With a background in interior design, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that you’d like to create your own unique and original horror attractions one day. Of all of the haunts you’ve visited, what are a few of your personal favorites and which ones have inspired you most?


SM:  My love for haunted attractions and immersive experiences run far and wide. Growing up in Massachusettes I used to visit a haunt called Spooky World with my family. It brings back a lot of good memories when I think about it. On and off for the last 6 years I’ve been going to Halloween Horror Nights – Orlando which I have huge love and admiration for. The creative team at both Orlando and Hollywood have inspired me to want to design haunts one day. My favorite haunt in recent years has been Freakling Bros. in Las Vegas which is much more intense than theme park haunts. You do have to sign a waiver for one of their attractions – and there is definitely a thrill with that!


MM:  It’s a fantastic time to be a horror fan. We’re getting stellar output from bigger studios and the indie scene is always cranking out gems. What have been a few of your favorite films over the last, say, three years?


SM:  I feel like my favorite horror films in the last three years have been films that a lot of people have disliked. Horror is such a broad umbrella and everyone is always arguing about what is truly classified as a horror film or not. Recently films like HEREDITARY, THE WITCH, and MOTHER! have truly blown me away. But I also love THE CONJURING 2, ANNABELLE: CREATION and IT. That’s what is great about the horror genre – there are so many sub-genre’s to choose from!

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MM:  If you could pick two horror icons to chat with, past or present, who would they be and why?


SM:  My number one pick is Guillermo Del Toro because that man is a master storyteller and a visionary director. PAN’S LABYRINTH is one of my all-time favorite films and I would love to just pick Del Toro’s brain about all the nuance designs that he incorporates into his films. I would have loved the chance to interview Wes Craven. I was devastated by his death and I owe that man a lot as his films were a staple in me becoming a horror fan.


MM:  Can you reveal any upcoming goodies that we can expect to see on NC? What else are you currently working on?


SM:  Currently, we are doing reviews for the Fantasia International Film Festival which is one of my favorite film festivals. Then we will be gearing up for SDCC and Midsummer Scream. I’ll be heading to North Bend, Washington next month as I’ve been asked to be a juror for their film festival and before you know it, haunt season will be upon us! I do have a few other things in the work but I can’t speak to what they are yet, but I think people will be really excited once the information comes out!

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Check out Nightmarish Conjurings for all of your horror needs!

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