“Speak All Evil” podcast hosts Dave Gutter, Kevin Kennie, Cat Smith and Trent Gay. Photo by Nick Dean

In the most recent episode of the Maine-made horror movie podcast “Speak All Evil,” one of the hosts, when discussing the much-maligned 2014 Kevin Smith body horror flick “Tusk,” sums up horror fans with admirable insight. “You’re going to a very judgmental audience in horror people even though we consume some of the worst trash ever put on film.”

The four hosts of “Speak All Evil” – Mainers Trent Gay, Cat Smith, Kevin Kennie and Dave Gutter (of Rustic Overtones fame) – intimately understand that seeming contradiction, having grown up immersed in the dark, the disreputable and the sometimes-despicable world of VHS and DVD horror. Listening to the quartet’s very first 2020 episode, “Love and Horror,” is to hear four people explain how horror movies got their hooks into them at a young age, thanks to the blessed inattention of bad babysitters and lax parents. And, to this aging horror fan, that episode serves as a beacon that “Speak All Evil” is going into my rotation of go-to movie podcasts. (Alongside Portland’s own “Fun Box Monster Podcast.”)

For the four now-adult friends, the now 140 episode-strong podcast mutated out of their daily text chain, in which the hosts-to-be shared reviews, recommendations, and gripes about their favorite and least-favorite horrors.

“We’d all worked on different things before, and this seemed like a fun, rewarding, and maybe more productive thing to do with our time,” said Gay.

Added Gutter, “We got together on the first day and mapped out the spiel, which hasn’t changed since then. It was just so natural because we knew what we wanted to do right from the beginning. The show can be a little meandering in scope because it’s just us talking to each other.”

Smith also noted that the enforced downtime of the pandemic spurred them along. “The pandemic forced us,” he said, “There was nothing else to do, and we were bored out of our minds, so we thought, why not get weird with it?”


Indeed, listening to Gay, Smith, Gutter and Kennie talk horror movies is akin to, as Kennie said, “recording conversations we have at (Westbrook pub) Profenno’s on a Monday night.” And truly, “Speak All Evil” is a conversation any horror fanatic with a taste for lively debate, insightful commentary, and a great sense of humor would be happy to join in on.

Preparing for my interview with the hosts, I did the last-minute, high school book report method of catching up (first episode, last episode, two in the middle) and was hooked. The four hosts are thoughtful, spirited, incredibly well-informed, have seen literally everything, and come at each week’s films with an eye toward the unique rewards – and limitations – inherent in the genre.

“I’m a film fan first, but horror happens to be my favorite genre,” said Gay. “Now I’ve come to appreciate the constraints of the genre. I like the limitations, it’s a folk music kind of thing. It’s passed down, and used as these sort of storytelling moves. People take those limitations that seem constraining, and they can do anything with them, from the powerful to the emotional to the cheesy.”

Chiming in, Kennie added, “When you’re younger, watching horror movies is about testing yourself, proving your mettle. As you get older, real life gets more scary. Horror movies become more of a comfort food.”

Guster added, laughing, “Now you’ve got bills, but at least it’s not a guy with a chainsaw.”

In addition, Gay notes that, for young filmmakers, horror is often a way to break into film, allowing them to show what they can do. “Sometimes they stay in that genre, and sometimes they break out and do other things. But some of those early horror films are the best.”


All four hosts share similar origin stories of early horror movie fandom. Kennie points to his family’s allegiance to the books of Maine horror icon Stephen King as his gateway, with Gay adding how the King connection and Maine’s singularly spooky stretches of unexplored wilderness and eventful and often bloody history add to the allure.

“Maine is folk horror through and through, right back to colonial times,” said Gay. “It lends itself to a lot of very old, very scary stuff. We can really flex on any other state when it comes to horror.” Added Smith, “By proxy, King makes the state scary forever. There’s a pet cemetery on Mackworth Island, for crying out loud – you just know that thing is haunted.”

Loving horror is a complex pleasure. Certain genre rules have to be followed, but kicking against the limitations placed upon them is one way for an artist to explore the unexpected. Truly delving into horror films is, as the hosts admit, to endure a lot of junk. But it also means striking out into the unknown, to the fringes along with the filmmaker. And that’s where, sometimes, truly original and wonderful things can be found.

I asked each of the “Speak All Evil” experts for a lightning round of the most overrated and underrated horror movies, the resulting debate sparking with the podcast’s signature blend of obscure genre pulls, good-natured ribbing and thoughtful, original insight. Their picks, for the record, are as follows.

Smith says 1981 slasher “The Burning” deserves more attention, while she’s never quite gotten on board with “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” (“Kevin’s going to kill me,” she joked.)

Kennie calls the original Japanese “The Ring” “massively overrated,” while sending curious fans toward the 2019 A24 offering “Saint Maud.” (He also says that 2008’s “The Ruins,” directed by Mainer Carter Smith, is unfairly overlooked.)


Gay picks “every ‘Halloween’ sequel” for the overrated bin, while singling out the aforementioned “Tusk” as unfairly maligned. (He also says that horror fans who ignore foreign horror are sorely missing out.)

And Gutter puts “Scream” in the overrated category while championing the utterly bananas 1981 flick “Possession.” (Seconded – you just have to see that one for yourself.)

Podcasts are everywhere these days, with movie-related content making up a huge slice of the podcast pie. Finding a great podcast means zeroing in on not just a subject that interests you, but a host (or, in this case, four hosts) on your wavelength, whose sensibilities line up with yours while simultaneously challenging your perceptions. And making you laugh.

Maine’s own “Speak All Evil” is a great horror movie podcast, mixing humor, encyclopedic knowledge, and a relaxed but lively chemistry among the four hosts and friends that’s as comforting as your 100th rewatch of John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” (You know who you are.) It’s like being at that bar with the friends who really get you, and who share your love of the dark, weird and sometimes wonderful.

You can tune into “Speak All Evil” on Spotify.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: