I’m not sure exactly when it was that I began watching YouTube reactors. I know that it was sometime in the last year. What I didn’t realize when I opened that Pandora’s Box is just how many people were out there reacting to films and music. It would be easy to say they’re a dime a dozen except that every so often, I discover someone who just knocks me for a loop. Alanda Parker did exactly that so much so that I decided I had to track her down to find out just who she was and why she does what she does.
Thankfully, Parker graciously agreed to an interview, and it was one of the most enjoyable half-hours I’ve spent talking horror in a very long time.
Born and raised in South Carolina, the reactor was always attracted to storytelling and she naturally found her way into theater and acting as a part of that journey. When it came time for college, she found herself faced with a huge decision.
Her dream was New York and NYU, but the price tag on tuition proved more prohibitive than she bargained for, so she settled in closer to home attending university in Charleston. While it was not her first choice, Parker says, it ultimately paid off.
“I had a lot of experiences I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone to Charleston,” she said as we settled in to chat, “It made me tune more into the aspects of storytelling which is what I think makes it enjoyable for me when I’m watching these movies and I’m getting into the story. It’s not just the script and the characters. It’s the costumes; it’s the shots. It’s every little aspect of storytelling. That’s really been my whole life, pursuing ways to interact with people about the stories we tell each other and how they affect us.”
That pursuit ultimately still led her to New York where she now lives, and also brought her to YouTube.
It isn’t only Slashers for Alanda Parker. She enjoys a good creature feature as well!
Parker had long been a fan of The Walking Dead, AMC’s zombie drama now in its eleventh and final season. She’d grown up watching the series, but not many of her friends were into the show like she was. Then she discovered Skybound Reactions on YouTube.
Produced by Johnny O’Dell, the channel features compilation videos of reactors from around the world who all loved the show the way she did. In a way, it was like finding her community.
“I started watching these episodes and they were like the rush, the experience of watching something you love all over again,” she said., “but getting to experience it with people who love it as much as you do, who know the story as well as you do, who are picking up on things that you didn’t notice. Those videos were really kind of a revelation to me. I was watching them all the time.”
When the pandemic reared its ugly head in 2020, Parker found herself with more time on her hands than usual and her roommate suggested they start a reaction channel of their own. After a while, that’s exactly what she did, beginning with The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead before branching out into films.
Parker has covered a wide range of films on her channel and along the way has discovered films like Arrival and Kung Fu Hustle. Still, despite her love of all things zombie, she had never really gotten into the horror genre much, a fact that she says grew out of an experience with her great-aunt when she was very young.
For many horror fans, it was a seeing a film that terrified us way too early that set us on the path to all things dark and gruesome. For Parker, it had the opposite effect.
“When I was really little, my great-aunt would watch a lot of sci-fi and horror and stuff like that but not usually around us,” Parker explained. “I remember one time when I was over there, she was watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Oh my god…I was young, dumb, and scared as hell. I had never felt that way in my life before. That fear stayed with me until the point I decided I was moving to New York, and I couldn’t be afraid of birds because there were pigeons everywhere.”
After that, the reactor shied away from most horror only occasionally watching if she was with a group of friends. Watching alone never really occurred to her much, she says, because she would become too immersed in what was going on in the film and it felt like it was happening to her.
When a ton of horror recommendations began coming in for horror movie reactions on her channel, she had yet another big decision to make. Thankfully for all of us, she chose to dive into the genre we love.
Since then, she’s finally watched films she’s heard about her entire life. Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Alien and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre have all been featured on her channel, though that last title was almost too much.
“It’s hard for me to put into words what that was like,” Parker said. “Like coming out the other side of it, I have so many good things to say about the movie, but it nearly wrecked me. I’m glad I had the comfort of other people being there. It was like a team sport. I could rally which is why I can do it for the channel, I think. I hear everybody else’s voices and comments about a scene while I’m watching it. So, I don’t feel like I’m sitting here alone., and I’m not afraid that the chain saw is coming for me!”
I’ve easily watched Parker’s reaction to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre a half dozen times and it’s enjoy every time!
It’s precisely for those fans that the YouTuber continues doing what she’s doing, especially with the time and energy it takes to watch and edit the films, a process she says can easily take 15 hours as she goes through a two-step editing process to produce the videos so that the narrative of the film isn’t lost.
It’s a quality over quantity measure for Parker, and that time and effort shows in her videos. For me, personally, they’re the first thing I look for when I wake up on a Sunday morning. In fact, it was in talking to Parker and watching her videos that I was finally able to put my finger on why I watch YouTube reactions.
It’s easy, when horror is such a huge part of your life, to get bogged down and forget why you watch those movies. It’s easy to forget the joy of discovering something for the first time. Parker, and other reactors like her renew that joy, allowing us to relive those moments “for the first time” in a way that we may not have in quite some time.
And, Parker is not going anywhere anytime soon. The reactor is continuing her journey through the genre while also jumping into others in her YouTube journey.
“I want to keep that revolving door open to horror,” she said. “This is the first time in I don’t even remember how long that I have a huge body of work that I can pull from. I’m learning this world and the language of this world and that’s the most fun thing. I’m definitely going to keep doing horror.”
To find more Alanda Parker goodness, check out her OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL. You won’t regret it!