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Emerald Siam's Kurt Ottaway on Films and TV That Scared Him Growing Up

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When Scream was released in December 1996, just in time for Christmas, it revitalized genre-horror cinema and the career of director Wes Craven, as well as launching its cast to stardom. For the screening of Scream at Red Rocks this Thursday, July 7, Film on the Rocks organizers chose two bands that they felt fit the tone of the evening: Sunboy, with its psychedelic rock and summery mood, and Emerald Siam, which will provide appropriately darker atmospheres.

Emerald Siam singer Kurt Ottaway has fronted some noteworthy bands in Denver since the late ’80s, including Twice Wilted, Tarmints and Overcasters, but this marks his first time playing the legendary venue. In May, Emerald Siam began a project of releasing one single per month for a year, available at emeraldsiam.bandcamp.com. We sat down with Ottaway and asked him about some of the TV shows and films that scared him growing up.

Jonny Quest: When I was really tiny — I must have been five — I saw a Jonny Quest episode that had gargoyles. That scared me for three days. That was the first thing that ever really scared me. I thought the gargoyles were going to crawl up in the window.

The Legend of Boggy Creek: Dude, I've got goosebumps right now. Anything that had to do with the fact that there was a monster that big cruising around an everyday neighborhood? The sounds and the atmosphere and the reality of the neighborhood?

They never showed the monster. A window broke while a guy was on the toilet. I couldn't go in the bathroom for a week because of that. I was just a little kid, man. We saw it in the theater, and I sat there all the way home going, “Dad, how far is Fouke, Arkansas, from us?” [I calculated] the distance, knowing my window was going to break at midnight and that I was going to get sucked off into the swamp. Your imagination is so powerful when you're a kid. It's how you fill in all the gaps. [David] Lynch does the same thing. He takes a neighborhood and fills it with subtle horror that your open mind uses to fill in the blanks. When they actually show the monster, it's never as scary as what's in your mind.

You have these people from the ’70s living their life, and all of a sudden there's an ominous presence and you don't know what it wants. You don't know if it's intelligent. You don't know if it's animalistic or malevolent. It's just out there in the dark.

Salem's Lot: The creepiness of the vampire society. When he tried to stake the master in the cellar? Pretty creepy. Danny Glick coming to the window tapping on it and his little brother lets him in? There's a certain amount of sadness there. Your older brother is damned, and now you're going to be damned, too. It's always that family connotation, but brother vampires? Who does that? You just have this evil force that does not care. You're not going to get fixed and turn back into a normal human. It's just viral, and you're done. Kill the master vampire in Salem's Lot? There are still vampires, just not as many.

Film on the Rocks featuring Scream, with musical guests Emerald Siam and Sunboy, Thursday, July 7, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, all ages.

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