Johnny Butane’s name is not really Johnny Butane. It’s Joshua Siebalt. But when someone is running a horror connoisseur site, well, Joshua just doesn’t cut it. That’s why when you log on to Dread Central and see a positively glowing review of, say, the recent indie Underbelly–about the terrifying goings on of a strange, backwater town–Butane’s the name he attaches to it. And that’s what you can expect most of the time from Dread Central: an enthused response to some of the genre’s oddest fare. “We’re a horror site that talks about the kinds of things we care about,” Butane says. “We’re not necessarily concerned with what’s cool and what’s hip and what everyone is going to the multiplexes to see.”
That doesn’t mean you’ll only find news and reviews for films like Colonel Kill Motherf******. (Yes, it exists, and was given 4 out of 5 bloody knives on the site.) To the contrary, Butane has kept the focus as broad as possible. “It’s important to make sure you’re hitting absolutely every kind of fan you can,” he says, “to make sure it’s not just the 16-year-old kid that’s just discovered Halloween.” Butane and his staff of seventeen like-minded buffs keep tabs on almost every aspect of horror, from mainstream to fringe, from novels to comics. He even has an entire section devoted to themed toys and action figures. “There’s a place for all of it,” he says. “That’s the beauty of this genre.”
His strategy appears to be working. Dread Central has the biggest MySpace presence of any horror site on the Internet: over 52,000 friends. This March, the website is co-hosting its second annual Fear Fest convention in Dallas, Texas, which will feature Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Robert Englund, Doomsday‘s Neil Marshall, and Grindhouse‘s Electra and Elise Avellan to name a few.
In addition, the site now hosts two podcasts. Dinner for Fiends is, according to Butane, “just four or five of us sitting around bullshitting about whatever horror movies are coming up or horror movies that we like.” Dread Time Stories is geared to the genre’s literature. “There’s a lot of good horror books out there,”he says, “and it just doesn’t get the kind of attention it used to. So I ask horror authors to come on the show and read their short stories.”