Square & Compass Interview with “Tales of Terror” Founder and Horror Reviewer/Author Steve Hutchison
We at Square & Compass Promotions first and foremost love Freemasonry. A close second is our love of the horror genre and/or horror movies.
It’s rare that these two loves connect-although “Sinister Creature Con” is happening in Sacramento's Scottish Rite Center August 2023!
Another area in which these two loves connect: pop-culture.
Occasionally, Freemasonry will find itself depicted in pop-culture; including within the horror genre.
A prime example of Freemasonry being depicted within the horror genre is 2001’s From Hell (one of our favourite movies)!
In fact, Square & Compass discussed From Hell in the first of our “Freemasonry in Pop-Culture” series.
This month, we decided to revisit From Hell with Tales of Terror’s Steve Hutchison. Learn more about Tales of Terror, Steve Hutchison, and From Hell below.
Q: Tell us more about your twitter page Tales of Terror as well as http://terror.ca
- Tales of Terror (terror.ca) was founded in 2000. It’s a gamified horror movie website with over 3400 reviews written by me, as of 2023. The films are categorized into up to 8 moods, 9 genres, 36 subgenres, 64 antagonists, and several more categories. My rating system includes 8 types of ratings, allowing me to offer dynamically ranked lists of films that can be filtered using various variables.
- My Twitter account (@terrorca) is an extension of my website that utilizes all the data and classification system. I post hundreds of tweets every week, using a pool of millions of dynamically formed tweets and hyperlinks. I can compose sentences with random words, form a sentence, and direct people to a list of films on my website that is tailored to the specific sentence.
- One of the purposes of my website’s structure is to extract the data from my database and convert it into eBooks and print books. I publish these books using a streamlined work pipeline. As a film critic, I have published over 500 books. My background in video games and publishing makes this process easier than it sounds!
Q: In your review, you gave “From Hell” 31/2 stars out of 4, writing “From Hell is a romanticized theory of Jack the Ripper’s modus operandi and true identity.” What did you most enjoy about the movie? Have your thoughts changed since the original review.
- From Hell is my go-to Jack the Ripper adaptation. It’s a semi-whodunit that came out in a whodunit era, with a gradual reveal way more complicated than movies released at that time. I remember being disappointed by the “answers” because I was expecting something else, something spoon-fed maybe.
- But it had a cast and a budget. I appreciate this film more every time I learn something about it. It’s probably too layered to grasp entirely in a single viewing. It’s a film that ages with me.
Q: As a non-Mason, what did you think of the Masonic references contained within “From Hell?” Do you think it added to the story or the movie?
After revisiting From Hell since my review, and watching interviews and documentaries on freemasonry, I think it’s just as powerful a hook as Jack the Ripper himself if you know enough about the organization to spot the clues, including the Square and Compasses.
If you don’t pick up on this, then the antagonist of the film is opulence. It’s the elite and possibly the government. There’s an elegance to freemasonry that comes across in this film and adds to its charm. When you’ve seen what the lodges look like, you recognize the interior design.
Q: As a Mason, I always enjoy seeing Masonic references in movies and films. I even enjoy it when the references are “conspiratorial” in nature, as I take it all in good fun. Some Masons though worry that such references can leave audiences with a negative or poor impression of Freemasonry. When you watched “From Hell,” and after you finished and/or revisited the same, did it affect your impression of Masonry?
- The Masons have managed to uphold their mystery, which makes them interesting antagonists. We fear what we don’t understand, and I’m surprised we don’t see more Freemasonry in horror movies.
- The average person doesn’t know if it’s a religious, spiritual, philosophical, ideological, governmental, or sectarian organization or just a boys’ club. There’s nothing like it, and that fuels the imagination.
- We’re all someone’s antagonists at some point in some horror movie somewhere in time. I think there’s limited damage From Hell has done to the Masons’ reputation. This is a Jack the Ripper film first and foremost. I think most moviegoers want a good story and accept fiction for what it is. Personally, I was raised not to believe what the TV says.
Q: We are always interested in finding depictions of Freemasonry in pop-culture. Sometimes, these depictions are as small as a ring (Prisoners, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) or as large as in “From Hell.” Do you know of any Masonic depictions in pop-culture or movies-the more obscure the better!
- I don’t know! Eyes Wide Shut and The Ninth Gate are about secret societies, but I don’t remember them mentioning Freemasonry. There really aren’t that many and I’d like to see more.
Q: I have to ask about a story I adore, the adaptations of which you reviewed in your recent book The Dollar Baby-”All That You Love Will Be Carried Away.” With the exception of The Colorado Kid, that’s probably my favourite Stephen King Short Story. What did you think of the adaptations? With which adaptation would you suggest I begin?
- I’ve had the chance to see seven adaptations of All That You Love Will Be Carried Away. It’s a Dollar Baby film, optioned for adaptation by Stephen King for a dollar. Those films can’t be shown or shared publicly outside of festivals, as per Mr. King’s terms. One of the reasons I wrote this book is to document and review films no one can legally see. In a way, they are or will become lost films.
- Most adaptations of this short story are dramas and not quite horror films, like most Dollar Babies. All That You Love Will Be Carried Away is about suicide and the thoughts and process that lead to it. My favorite adaptation is by James Renner. It stars John Bloom AKA Joe Bob Briggs as the main protagonist. None of these adaptations are easy to watch, but seeing an idol and a better version of me contemplating suicide at length is difficult. Even in horror, the topic of suicide is usually skimmed or avoided.
Q: Lastly, we have to ask, your top three horror movies and top three horror franchises.
- It’s hard to pick just a few! My top three horror movies are The Shining, Gremlins, and Scream. As for my top three horror franchises, they would be A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and Evil Dead.
Check out Tales of Terror’s From Hell review at: https://terror.ca/movie/tt0120681
All opinions expressed are those of Square & Compass Promotions and the guest(s), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Windsor Masonic Temple and/or any Masonic group.