The Scariest Thing Podcast Extra: An Interview with V/H/S/99 Cinematographer Alexander Chinnici

ATMOSfx! Woo!

For those of us who experienced the ’90s, it feels like just a mere moment ago. But technology has changed a lot since then. The advent of HD 4K digital film, smartphones, and wifi were quite a ways out from development. The leading recording technology of that time were CD’s and VHS tape recordings. The V/H/S franchise has been nursing that nostalgia format for ten years now, and ironically, even the technology from 2012 now seems rather archaic. V/H/S/99, the latest edition places a very specific time marker down for its anthology.

Alexander Chinnici, the cinematographer for the segment “Suicide Bid” joined Liz and Eric to discuss the production of V/H/S/99. It is an important contextual note that The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999. It was the release of the found footage floodgates and highlighted the power of the point-of-view zero-budget film. Naturally, the aesthetics of the segments in V/H/S/99 echo this breaking trend and fill the shot environment with easily identifiable ’90s imagery. And, a definite and deliberate low-res approach to the film quality.

After a long run of ’80s nostalgia in horror media, it is refreshing to get some of the ragged grunge feel in the film. The age where Xtreme was the theme plays out here, from skateboarding shenanigans to goopy kids’ TV obstacle course wackiness, you instantly get that familiar reaction.

There is a Mountain Dew-soaked manic energy to that era, and that gets married easily to each of the segments. This is a highly caffeinated group of shorts. This is Gonzo comes to horror anthologies. This really is V/H/S in its natural state. The series all along has been about the documentation of fantastic horrific occurrences on film, left waiting to be seen by a later generation. And now, with 1999 as the benchmark, the theme arrives at the apex of the found footage movement.

Ally Ioannidis endures a real spider in the segment “Suicide Bid” in V/H/S/99

Chinnici also goes in depth as to how this anthology came together and how the through-line, and what the trickiest things about his particular shoot came off. “Suicide Bid” a story about a sorority girl pledge hazing moment that went terribly wrong was intended to be a hand-held camcorder, with the POV of one of the sorority members. And in a way, he had to remove some of his professional tendencies, to make it feel like an authentic amateur shoot. It also was a bit oddly freeing for him as well.

Want to know what it feels like to be buried alive? Give this episode a listen, and hear Chinnici talk about some of the unique adventures that he got to experience shooting this segment. Interestingly, he had not done much in the way of horror, but after this shoot, he is now fascinated with the genre, and is ONE OF US!

Melanie Stone in the Segment “To Hell and Back” in V/H/S/99 (2022)
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