Like any good horror, Unearth introduces you to the grotesque in the gentlest way possible: by letting the innocence of a child take you by the hand. The child leads Dr. McCommick, Dr. Reyes, and Lt. Morris to the abominations that have developed from a mysterious flesh-eating disease. The mystery of the disease leads the science/military expedition to a cave where even more terror awaits.
Described as the X-Files meets Annihilation with the mounting terror of Stephen King, Unearth is written by Cullen Bunn and Kyle Strahm, with art by Baldemar Rivas, and lettering by Crank! Rivas and Bunn took a moment to chat with WWAC about the horror genre, what scares them, and the chills we can expect from Unearth.
What does horror mean to you?
Bunn: Horror is primal. It’s a quickening of the heartbeat. It’s hairs standing on end. It’s that feeling that all is NOT right in the world, and it’s all going to come crashing down around you at any moment. Strangely, horror has always been (for me) about hope. I’ve always had this idea that the characters (or victims) in horror stories are struggling against incredible odds. They may not survive, but in the best tales of terror, they’re trying. Even if it’s trying to fend off a werewolf with an old frying pan—they’re trying! And I like the idea that there’s always a chance to fight back, despite the situation.
Rivas: For me, horror has always been psychological. The character’s mindset through a horror story is what I always look for.
What was your first experience with the genre? How did it make you feel and how has it stuck with you in your life?
Bunn: As a kid, I would sneak into the living room when my brother and sister were watching the late, late horror show. I remember watching Hammer horror movies, and they terrified me! Maybe even earlier than that—and I mean when I was very young—I watched Quartermass and the Pit, and the implications of that movie, which I didn’t quite understand, scared me terribly, too. Hell, I was also fascinated by The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and ghost stories and Bigfoot and witches. I guess I was really just a messed up little kid. Thank goodness I never grew out of it!
Rivas: When I was a youngin, my parents rented the Night of the Living Dead 1990 remake. The movie scared me to my core. The most fascinating part was how the people were handling things under these situations. Showing both sides of humanity and I loved it. I also learned to always be wary in a cemetery.
What kind of horror do you like best?
Bunn: Such tough questions! Because I love it all! From cosmic horror to splatter-punk, from quiet horror to balls-to-the wall bloodbaths—I’m a fan. Cosmic horror ranks pretty high for me, but neck-and-neck with it is any kind of horror that has a sense of fun. Not necessarily comedy (although I like that, too) but a feeling of adventure and excitement and liveliness. Those two branches of horror might seem very different, but I think both are evident in Unearth!
Rivas: Oh Dang, I’m a sucker for psychological and monsters! Something about a person turning into a monster always makes my skin crawl.
What scares you most in real life?
Bunn: As a husband and father, the idea of anything bad happening to my wife or son freezes my blood.
Rivas: The man.
What is the inspiration for Unearth?
Bunn: In our earliest conversations, Kyle and I both wanted to tell a story that showcased our love for cosmic horror and survival action horror. We wanted to introduce a really cool cast of characters, and then make them suffer wildly in the most awful conditions! This story came together over a few months, with Kyle, Baldemar, and I talking a lot about the elements of horror we really liked. I remember several “ah ha!” moments that helped to shape this story into something you haven’t seen before. Of course, I can’t tell you what those revelations were. You have to read the book for that!
What would you do if you stumbled into the disturbing ecosystem discovered in the caves of Unearth?
Bunn: Survive or die trying! Of course, knowing what horrors await in the darkness of Unearth, it’s likely that it’ll be the latter. I mean, it’s bad down there. Really bad.
Rivas: Oh, that would suck! I would try to do a speed run and not stop running!
Unearth #1 is available this month from Image Comics.