July 23, 2019Updated: July 23, 2019 1 p.m.
When Austin Madget and Ayman Rasul were walking the floor of Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas back in April, they probably looked like a pair of tag team pro wrestlers to a lot of people. Both are over 6 feet tall and carry themselves with a kind of frisky energy that demands attention.
And attention they got, with someone at the horror convention even thinking of them as supermen of some sort. “Horror needs heroes,” he told them after giving them the once over. That’s just how they view themselves in their mission to spread the love of slasher flicks and all manner of blood-curdling movies.
Madget, 38, who trains as a powerlifter and goes by the name Space Viking, often sports a gold mouth grill, while Rasul, who goes by ZainoDaVigi, 39, a former Houston rapper, sports a shock of blonde dyed hair.
And both are very serious fans of horror movies, in all their unpleasantness.
Both men, who are roommates and have been close friends for 7 years, met in addiction recovery. While they are keeping their own demons buried, they’ve combined forces to create and host the “G.U.T.S. Podcast.” It’s the acronym for Getting Under the Skin, a phrase that describes how they want to feel after watching a good horror film. The podcast itself is part horror movie discussion and part interview with professionals in the horror field, as well as Houston rappers. It was an idea that came out of trying to figure out what was missing from other horror podcasts, of which the two are fans.
“ ‘Nightmare on Film Street,’ they’re like the big one, and they were cool. But I just didn’t hear ‘us’. We were looking at that niche for us. We wanted to bring our Houston swag to the horror podcast,” says Rasul.
“G.U.T.S.” is a unique hybrid of an entertainment podcast. Whiles it’s soaked in talk of bloody slasher films and monster movies, it’s also about style and sneakers. Don’t mistake them for serious horror film critics, either. “We’re not deep thinkers, we just want to have fun”, Rasul says with a grin.
They do, however, measure the worthiness of a horror title by their own evaluation system. The first thing they keep in mind is does the movie keep them off their phones. The second factor is what they call “the rip”, and it considers how long it took to get into the horror film’s story (recent blockbuster “Midsommar” get high marks from them).
The third thing, and one of the most important, is the creepy factor, followed by the kills. An important barometer for horror buffs is the kill count and the way that people die in the movie. Lastly, they consider the end of the film, and whether it resonated.
The two men share more than a love for slasher films and zombie movies (their podcast lists 1985’s “Return of the Living Dead” as their number 1 film). Their podcasting endeavor, which has helped Madget and Rasul build a network of like-minded horror film aficionados, started off slowly with one show a month, but has now grown to 17 episodes since November.
Additionally, the duo has started selling merch, such as T-shirts, backpacks and hats with their logo and name represented by a large G.
Their interviews with their more well-known guests are often recorded over the phone. What “G.U.T.S.” lacks in production value, it makes up for with heart and enthusiasm. The hosts ability to land interesting guests who are notable in the horror world is nothing short of amazing, especially for a pair of novice podcasters with no media training.
They already got their blockbuster horror franchises covered after having landed a chat with Deborah Voorhees who starred in “Friday the 13th Part V,” and another actress Brook Theiss who was turned into a cockroach by Freddy Krueger in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.”
Most importantly, the podcast is in some ways an outlet for Rasul and Madget, while they are still in addiction recovery and maintaining their sobriety. “That’s why I love horror movies, I’ve lived through some real scary stuff,” says Rasul.
Madget, the comic relief on the podcast, looks at their show as a possible launching pad to bigger things any way.
“I want to get to where we don’t have to have normal jobs anymore,” remarks Madget. “I would love to do a horror-movie host type show.”
Camilo Hannibal Smith is a Houston-based writer.
Written By Camilo Hannibal Smith