OMG, WTF, It’s The TWABM FAQ

Over the past six years, as That Was A Bit Mental has continued to grow I’ve been getting a lot of messages, both from regular readers and people who’ve stumbled on the site completely by accident. This FAQ, then, aims to answer some of the more common queries that are thrust in my email inbox.

WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Well, that’s a fairly aggressive start. My name’s Chris Scullion and as my ‘proper’ job I’ve been a video games journalist for the best part of eleven years (having written for the likes of Official Nintendo Magazine, Nintendo Gamer, CVG, Official Xbox Magazine, Official PlayStation Magazine, Red Bull, Vice and GamesMaster).

WHAT’S WITH THAT WAS A BIT MENTAL THEN?

It’s just my hobby, something I can do in my spare time to keep experimenting with writing techniques and generally say things I can’t say when writing for a video games publication. Swear words, for example. And stuff about films, obviously.

Here's what the site used to look like back in the day, before the redesign
Here’s what the site used to look like back in the day, before the redesign

WHY DID YOU START THE SITE?

Glad you asked. As well as being an avid gamer I’m also a huge, huge movie buff. While I’ll happily watch any genre of film put in front of me, I’m by far at my happiest with a horror film, especially if it’s either hilariously cheesy or absolutely insane. It’s my love for these films – the films that offer something a little different – that caused me to start That Was A Bit Mental.

YOUR REVIEWS ARE WEIRD. THEY’RE NOT REALLY WRITTEN LIKE THE ONES I READ ON PROPER FILM SITES.

That’s because I’m not a proper film critic. This has only ever been a bit of fun and, being honest, I’m more eager to entertain in my film reviews than I am to inform. I’m not the snobby type to give a film a low rating just because it’s cheaply made: if a film is atrocious but it makes me laugh then chances are it’s going to get a high score.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHAT’S WITH THE JASON MASKS INSTEAD OF STARS?

That actually isn’t Jason. It’s Trevor Moorhouse, the killer in the brilliantly terrible Scream Bloody Murder. I’ve been a horror fan for a long time but when I first saw Scream Bloody Murder back in 2001 that was where my love for shit ones really began to develop. So in honour of that utter pile of shite I’ve made its killer the star of my scoring system.

trev_newtrev_newtrev_newtrev_newtrev_new

I NOTICE MOST OF THE FILMS YOU REVIEW GET AT LEAST THREE STARS AND NOT A HELL OF A LOT GET LOW SCORES. ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE ‘EVERYTHING IS AWESOME’ PRICKS?

Not really. Because this is my own personal site and not, say, a traditional film site in which the aim is to review as many new films as possible, I get to pick and choose which films I watch. And, being a sensible human being, I tend to pick the ones that I think I might like. Usually I do, but on occasion I’ll get it wrong: hence the bad scores that pop up from time to time.

I HATE HORROR FILMS. THEY MAKE ME WANT TO BE SICK IN MY MOUTH THEN OPEN MY MOUTH AND DROP THAT SICK ONTO SOMETHING, MAYBE A RAINCOAT OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. IS THAT ALL YOU REVIEW?

Nope. While the majority of my reviews are indeed horror films, I do review non-horror films from time to time and mark those films with a “non-horror” tag. If you simply can’t stand to look at horror reviews, here’s a version of the site filtered to show only non-horror films. Since most of my reviews are horror films though, expect fewer updates on that one. The ratio is roughly three horror reviews for every non-horror one.

YEEEAAAHHH, it's Celtic Bear on the far left. Keep fighting the good fight, brother
There’s even a review of The Care Bears Movie on the site. No, I’m not joking

WHAT’S WITH THE SECTIONS LISTED UP THERE AT THE TOP?

Glad you noticed. As the number of reviews on the site continues to grow into the hundreds, I thought it would make sense to maintain a few index pages to help you find what you’re looking for.

The Review Index is a full list of every film reviewed on the site. It’s just like the list on the left-hand side only it’s split into two categories – horror and non-horror – and each film has a short description so you know what it’s about.

The Hall Of Fame only lists the reviews that got five, four and a half or four Trevors on the site. If you’re only looking to find the films I loved, that’s where to go.

Meanwhile, since plenty of people love reading a review where a film’s given a proper tanking, the Hall Of Shame lists all the films that scored one and a half, one or a measly half a Trevor.

And then there’s the Proper Mental List. If you came to this site expecting the That Was A Bit Mental name to be a bit more literal, these are the films you’re looking for. These are the sort of movies I had in mind before I expanded the site to include a wider range of films, so in a sense this list is the true That Was A Bit Mental site.

AND THE OTHER TWO?

Christ, this is getting pretty comprehensive. Series Overviews are when I’ve reviewed every film in a series: I then make an overview article in which I list every film, give a paragraph summing it up and link to the full review. I’ve already done it with the likes of Jurassic Park, Scream and Child’s Play.

Meanwhile, Features do what they say on the tin: occasionally I’ll write a feature rather than a standard film review. This could be anything from a list of Christmas horror movies to the weirdest film posters to come out of Ghana.

Like this one for The Spy Who Loved Me
Like this one for The Spy Who Loved Me

NICE. SO, WHAT’S THE SCARIEST FILM EVER MADE?

So many people ask me that and it’s difficult to answer because it’s subjective. What scares me might not bother you. I’m personally not bothered about films with “boo” scares and zombie films generally make me laugh, but psychological stuff and films with ghosts and the like can freak me out if handled properly.

So, personally, I’d say [REC], The Eye and The Exorcist are films that immediately spring to mind as being particularly creepy, but I recommend reading this article I wrote on what scares people for a more detailed view on the situation.

WHAT’S WITH THE AMAZON LINKS ON YOUR REVIEW? DO YOU GET PAID FOR THEM?

I’d like to think that, on occasion, someone will read my review and decide they want to see the film for themselves. For those situations, I provide Amazon links (where possible) so they can buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Yes, I do get commission for each film sold through the links, but that commission is essentially a couple of pence per sale. All money made goes straight back into the site – paying for more storage space, or to eventually afford the ability to completely customise the site template, for example.

Basically, if you like the review and want to buy the film, I’d be very grateful if you buy it through the site so I can get a few pence for bringing it to your attention. It doesn’t cost you any more money to order through a link on the site, all that happens is some of Amazon’s profits go to me instead.

If you’re concerned that I’m more interested in making money than writing reviews however, don’t be: as I write this the site is six years old and I’ve earned a grand total of £28.25 in commission. I’m not exactly bringing the world’s economy to its knees.

CAN I WRITE SOMETHING FOR THE SITE?

Without trying to sound selfish, I generally like to write my own reviews for the site. My job (at least until recently) has involved writing articles for a magazine and website publisher so it’s nice to then be able to write something different in my free time that’s for me and me alone.

From time to time you will see guest reviewers write stuff for the site (such as the excellent Death Watch review by Ronan Martin) but those will by and large be written by friends of mine. By all means, if you’d like to contribute something feel free to drop me an email and ask me anyway, but please don’t be offended if I turn you down.

TWABM ebookWHAT IF I BECOME SO OBSESSED WITH THAT WAS A BIT MENTAL THAT I CAN’T EVEN BEAR TO BE AWAY FROM IT WHEN I DON’T HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION?

That seems unlikely (and a little concerning), but just in case I recommend my two ebooks, That Was A Bit Mental Volume 1 and That Was A Bit Mental Volume 2. Combined they contain the first 200 reviews from the site packed into over 750 pages of wordy goodness.

DO YOU TAKE REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS OR REQUESTS?

Absolutely! I’m doing this site so people can read and (hopefully) enjoy what I’m writing, so if there’s a film you want to see reviewed, please don’t hesitate to email me and let me know, or post a comment at the end of this article and I’ll be sure to get it. I’ll do my best to acquire and review every film that’s recommended to me, though obviously it may take a little while.

FINALLY, WHAT REVIEWS ARE YOU PLANNING NEXT?

My list of films to review is ever-evolving, so I’ve put up a rough list on this Google Doc, which I’ll continue to change over the coming weeks, months and (hopefully) years. This is by no means a definitive list – occasionally I’ll just be in the mood for something different that isn’t on the list – but it’s a rough guide on what to expect.

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One thought on “OMG, WTF, It’s The TWABM FAQ

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