Into the Pit: The Shocking Story of Deadpit.com is just that: a documentary about the website and horror online radio program borne of Aaron “Uncle Bill” Frye and Wes “The Creepy Kentuckian” Vance’s Deadpit.com. Started in late 2005, Deadpit.com was originally, like so many internet programs and podcasts, just two friends talking about a subject they were supremely passionate about. In this case, that subject is horror films, and over the years the Deadpit.com boys have seen their Prestonburg, Kentucky-based show blossom from just two guys with opinions shooting the shit to two guys getting to travel to various horror conventions, interviewing the horror icons they’ve adored and finding their place as respected horror aficionados.
Prior to watching this documentary, I had not heard of Deadpit.com. This is not a value judgment on the site or the program, but for all the horror films that I’ve seen, I am not as deep into that community as many of my friends (who, no doubt, probably have heard of Deadpit.com). However, the hardcore horror fanatic is a special breed of fandom, one encompassing all walks of life and brimming with an insatiable passion for all things horror. To be among that crowd is to be among a community that praises even the smallest of film roles, and obsesses and thrills over the smallest of details. Sometimes it can be inspiring to behold; to see someone care that much about anything is powerful. Other times, it’s confusing and overwhelming. Why obsess over such things, to that degree (asks the guy writing about movies on the internet)? Still, with the universal need to belong hiding in us all, I’ve often found myself more appreciative of the horror film community than the films themselves.
And while this documentary focuses specifically on Aaron Frye and Wes Vance, the real undercurrent that drives it all is that sense of community. For various reasons, the two embraced horror, almost anonymously in their home town, while that horror community embraced them. While the internet and various horror conventions, creators and fans may know who they are, for the most part they go about their business quietly under the radar. Life in the religious South doesn’t necessarily gel that smoothly with the world of the horror fanatic (even if the subject matter, arguably, is very similar; crucifixion as torture porn, for example), so it’s best to just keep your appreciation to yourself. In that sense, the film captures the dichotomy that exists with many niche online businesses: the level of notoriety shifts when you’re no longer in the context of your niche.
Which brings a small bit of drama to the film, as Aaron is going to school and working towards more than just being a part of Deadpit.com, while Wes is the opposite. Depending on your outlook or perspective, either is the way to go: treat it as a side hobby or treat it as main business. I’m partial to whatever makes it work best for you, for the business and keeps it fun. In the end, labors of love always work best when the emphasis is on the “love” and not the “labor.”
So all that rambling aside, how is the documentary? The story is definitely relatable, and an example about how making your own way in this world, focused on your passions, is definitely an option nowadays. Obviously I appreciated that quite a bit. I do question the timing a little bit, however. Deadpit.com is almost 6 years old, and I wonder if it is too early to be making a film about the site. It definitely offers a unique perspective, but there’s more about the history of Prestonburg, Kentucky, Aaron and Wes than there are bits about the program itself, and I wonder if it’s because there hasn’t been enough history amassed by the site yet, or if it’s hard to translate a radio program to the screen. Then again, maybe that was never supposed to be the focus; the radio program only works to the extent that it does because of its hosts, so they’re ultimately the story.
For fans of Deadpit.com, this cuts through some of the potential myth-making out there to give an honest glimpse of where it all came from. For those who have leaned in the DIY direction but never fallen fully into the stream, this could be the nudge to help you realize your own passions, your own way. For everyone else, it’s an entertaining slice of life about two guys who appreciate the cinematic life of body part slicing.
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