By RACHEL REEVES
For Alma De León Clarke and her sister Dalia De León, horror movies are a family affair. Providing more than just entertainment, these films sparked discussions and cemented bonds that have kept the pair close through the years. Though long a conversation staple for both, it was only recently that the dynamic duo decided to take their passion to the next level by starting their very own horror-centric podcast called Nightmare on 5th Street. Covering a wide array of titles like Urban Legend, Koko-di Koko-da, The Wicker Man and Hatchet, Alma and Dalia hold humorous and candid conversations that make listeners feel right at home. Also peppered in between this endearing sibling banter are fascinating personal memories, regional stories and engaging tangents that allow the podcast’s unique perspective and personality shine through. Having recently joined the We Are Horror Podcast Network alongside shows like Drinking the Koolaid and The Timber, Rue Morgue sat down with the show’s wonderful hosts to learn a bit more about Nightmare on 5th Street and their personal relationship with the genre.
For people who may be new to your podcast, tell us a little bit about yourselves and what they can expect from Nightmare on 5th Street?
Alma: I love the way that one of our listeners described us by saying that we are a “recap podcast.” We are not critics. We just really love horror movies and we have been watching them since we were way too young. We were 5, 6 or 7 and watching Return of the Living Dead from behind the couch. Nobody stopped us from watching it! (Laughs) Horror movies were exciting to us and fun. Dalia likes to use the word, escapism. It’s a form of escapism and it’s the one thing we can watch that’s pure entertainment. And we can have fun with any style of horror! From the Sharknado movies to A Nightmare on Elm Street to the Saw movies. We’ll watch them all. And the reason we did it together was because we love them together. Any time we’ve seen each other over the years (we haven’t lived in the same state at times), it’s all about movies! Dalia called me once and told me every little bit of The Blair Witch Project. She sat on the phone, long distance, and told me every little bit, but then I went right out and rented it myself. It’s something we have a very unique bond over. As siblings growing up, we always liked movies, but it was this particular genre that we had such a good time watching. So our podcast is not a critical podcast, more of a recap from a horror fan perspective. And also just drawing off of our personal stories that we think of along the way. That’s us!
You mentioned that you both grew up loving horror. What was your introduction to the genre? Did you have friends or family members who fostered that love?
Dalia: It was a little bit of everything. When we grew up we didn’t have cable. It was just 4 channels and, especially the Spanish language channel, they would have movies on there. They were often American movies dubbed in Spanish and a lot of the time they’d have horror movies! So that was fun! That was our entertainment. Also, almost every Sunday my mom would give us a dollar each (I don’t know how it was that cheap), and we’d walk down to this theater called the Rialto where they had a 2-for-1deal. And it was almost always horror. Like, Evil Dead and stuff like that. My mom wasn’t with us and yet they’d still let us in! Of course, this was South Texas in the ’80s so I’m pretty sure they didn’t care. They were like, “You have money? Ok. Give it to us.” That kind of started it. But then when our cousins got a VCR that was it. We were hooked.
You are both obviously diehard horror hounds, but what inspired you to take your passion to the next level and start the podcast?
Alma: That was Dalia. She called me because I’m a bit of a recluse. (Laughs) And horror is something that Dalia and I have in common and we can relax and talk about. She can tell you her side, but she said “I have this idea and don’t be mad at me.” I think that’s how she always phrases it first. “Don’t be mad at me…but I want to do a podcast.” At first I kind of hid on the phone, but then she was like, “On horror. I want to do it on horror movies.” And then I was like, “Ok.” (Laughs) That got my attention. I honestly think she must have thought about it for a while before asking me and thought I might say no, but the fact that it was something that we both love and enjoy was why she approached me about it. And I was “Yay” right away! I think if she had picked anything else, I would have said no. But this is pure entertainment and relaxation and it’s corny to say it, but I always say it’s for my mental health.
Dalia: It is!
Alma: Every week we put it on the schedule and we set times to do everything. It actually makes me feel good that I have something on my schedule that is my relaxation time with my sister.
Dalia: That is exactly how it was. I’d been thinking about it ahead of time and I know that she doesn’t like to put herself out there that much, but I always tell her, “You’ve got to!” She’s so smart and when she talks to people she lights up the room, but she doesn’t see that in herself. I really wanted her to do this with me because she was just the perfect person for it. I love talking to her! I think she’s so funny so of course she was the person I was going to go to. I think when I finally asked her about it I said, “Hear me out.” I knew right away when she said, “I’ll think about it” that I had her. I just kept planting little seeds and finally she said yes.
You two are obviously very close but, have you learned anything new about each other by doing the podcast?
Alma: I think we now understand each other on a level where we really know our comfort zones. There’s a big reason why we bring up things like trigger warnings or content warnings and we’re trying to be really good about that. Not every horror movie is right for someone. We both discussed beforehand, “What are some things that you don’t like?” Or, “What are some things that you don’t want to watch?” That way it doesn’t come up and make us feel uncomfortable. But Dalia and I are very comfortable with asking beforehand. So, it may not have been something that she knew that I was uncomfortable with, but she understands to ask me before. I have a lot of anxiety with real world people groups, but I’m very good at talking to people one-on-one. For instance, this interview is much more comfortable for me than being in a group setting. That keeps the understanding level there. She may have figured some other things out about me, but it’s more to do with the fact that we are now very comfortable asking each other beforehand.
Dalia: For me, I think it was also that. I knew she had anxiety because I also have it, but I didn’t know it was to that level. You know how you can kind of push someone and think you’re motivating them? I now know how far I can try to motivate her and how I can’t let it go too far. Before I probably would have been, ‘Come on Alma! Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it!’ But now I really understand, ‘Ok. I need to back off.’ If she’s not 100% comfortable doing something, we won’t do it. So that’s what I’ve learned. I see the limits now before me. Because as she said before, we haven’t always lived together in the same state. This is the first time we’ve lived in the same state just in the past couple of years so, to see it in front of me, is something else. And I think it’s a good thing so I can apply it to other situations in general.
What are some of your favorite episodes that you would recommend for new listeners to check out?
Dalia: I’d say Attack the Block because it’s one that I had to get Alma to watch. It is a mix of different genres; sci-fi, comedy, horror. And, Alma doesn’t like sci-fi. I love sci-fi. But she read the description and gave it a chance. After she watched it she really liked it, right?
Alma: Yeah, it was really good!
Dalia: Afterwards she described it as a monster movie, not an alien movie. I really liked that one because it obviously has a lot of social commentary in it, and also because it’s a movie that people don’t typically think of as a horror movie. And I got to convince my sister of the same thing! That it is horror and it’s fun!
Alma: It was really good and I didn’t expect that. I know I didn’t watch it on purpose because it looked like a sci-fi movie. (Laughs) But then I loved it! I also really like our Night of the Comet episode mainly because of nostalgia. Dalia and our family were really into that movie. We actually first caught it on TV probably a few years after it was out. We loved it so much and the two final girl characters so much that it kind of overshadowed the fact that we were actually impressed when we first watched the movie because we saw another brown face. Now, my brother brought that up. It was my brother that was like, “Dude! There’s a brown guy in the movie!” That’s why he liked it, but we were more taken aback by the…
Dalia: The feminine power behind it.
Alma: That cheerleader, big sister-little sister energy was really why we loved it. But, we all liked the movie. It’s a great movie and I think that’s why I like that episode so much.
What are some of the podcasts out there that you’ve found yourself tuning into lately?
Alma: I love podcasts. And the only reason I started listening to podcasts was because of Dalia. She was always traveling in the car and listening to either an audiobook or a podcast. Thankfully, because of Dalia reaching out, when we first started the podcast she said “Let’s listen to some of these smaller creators and see what they’re doing and what they’re doing differently.” I started with Girl, That’s Scary. I love listening to those women. I’m sitting there and I get so excited to listen to each one. Nightmare on Fierce Street is another one. I love them! Also, Afro Horror. I think each one of these podcasts bring something different. I also really like Unsung Horrors. They only watch movies that have less than 1000 views on Letterboxd and I think that’s really cool. Espooky Tales is also a really good one! They just did one on La Isla De Las Muñecas [Mexico City’s Island of the Dolls]!
Dalia: That’s the one I was going to mention too! I saw they did one on La Isla De Las Muñecas and we are going to Mexico City which is actually near there. I’m thinking maybe we’ll go there! That might be fun. I know my older sister will want to do that. She likes to do that and spooky types of ghost things.
There have been so many big horror titles that have been pushed back, delayed or rescheduled this last year. Which one are you each most excited about coming out?
Alma: That’s her favorite movie!
Dalia: It’s my favorite movie! It really is! I love that movie and I want to see what they do with it. I’m just so excited.
Alma: A Quiet Place Part II. I’m actually starting to get annoyed with that one. (Laughs) We knew they were going to have a Part II for the longest time, and the whole of last year, I don’t know how many times I brought it up. I would have paid $30 already to have just rented that movie at home. It’s just a different style of movie. My husband really liked the first one and the kids really liked it too. And I think that’s why I’m excited because we actually all really enjoyed it together. And that one was really fun to watch. I like jump scares a lot.
Dalia: She does. It’s weird. (Laughs)
Alma: Please, throw an extra one in there just so I can go, “AHHHHH!”
Dalia: I kind of forgot about that one. I know when the first one came out it was a big deal because Millicent Simmonds is deaf and I have a deaf five-year-old. We use American Sign Language in our home so it was a big deal that it was an actual deaf actress that uses American Sign Language and everybody learned it on the set for her. I live here in Austin where there is a big, big deaf community and it was a big, big deal here in Austin. Now we finally get to see the new one here soon!
What’s coming up next for Nightmare on 5th Street?
Dalia: So what we’ve decided to do for Season 2 is to only do movies by BIPOC creators. And we want to talk more about movies that people don’t necessarily know about. One that’s kind of throwing me for a loop here though is, I want to find a movie from a Hawaiian creator. Hawaii has some beautiful stories, but they also have some scary ghost stories. So, hopefully we can find a movie from a Hawaiian creator about one of their ghost stories. I would love to see a movie from Hawaii.
Nightmare on 5th Street is part of the We Are Horror Podcast Network. You can find more about the show by visiting their website, HERE.