Q: The last time I spoke with you, you were working on getting the vampire script NIGHT LIFE produced as well as your zombie graphic-novel, CONTAINMENT. What is happening with those?
Still working on setting 'em up.
Q: Is there anything that you can talk about?
I have a project called THE DEVIL'S DEFENSE, which is based on a novel by John Farris. He's a great horror novelist who wrote the original book of and the script for THE FURY. This was based on his book SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT that was sent to me a while back which I really fell in love with. It's basically a court-room drama about a young lawyer who is defending a man who killed his girlfriend while possessed by a demon. The demon wants to go to trial. So basically, the protagonist has the devil for a client and has to find out a way to save the guy who is possessed and exorcise the demon as well. It's just a gang-busters book. What I like about it is that it's a classic courtroom drama like THE VERDICT and ANATOMY OF A MURDER but with horror. It's also an utterly convincing story of demonic possession. You don't know what's going to happen. It's a big book, over five hundred pages, so I had to break it down into a manageable length. It has great characters and great manifestation sequences. It's one of my front-burner projects.
Q: You've been doing a bit of fiction writing lately.
Yes, I have a story in WEIRD TALES and DARK DELICACIES III and have one out in an issue of CEMETARY DANCE. So three of them have been published this year.
Q: What's prompted the writing?
Oh, I love it. I'm a huge fan of horror short stories and I started to do it as a break from movies and I really enjoy the hell out of it. And I'm finishing up a book of collected short stories.
Q: There's also a freedom in writing fiction that you don't have with movies...
A script is a blueprint for a film, it takes actors and cameras and film and editing, the whole circus to be realized. The liberating thing about writing short stories or fiction is that when it's done it's done. There's nothing between you and the reader but the prose. What's also cool is that they bring their own pictures. In a movie you are supplying those pictures but in a book or story something people bring their own images to what you do. Plus, there's no censorship and no politics. You're telling the story as best as it can be done. It's pure.
Q: Talk about your on-line serialized story, THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE...
It is a werewolf western that is a cross genre tale. I thought it would be a fun experiment to serialize it online like the old pulp novels and we did so earlier this year. A wonderful graphic designer/production artist, John Gallagher, did three covers for the chapters which channeled the whole 1930's pulp novel thing. The online serial was well-recieved and I will certainly include that in my new book anthology. There's some extreme graphic gore and sex in the story that was true to the school with these particular werewolves who are really savage beasts that would be tough to film without an NC-17 rating. But when I do a short story I don't hold back. It's what's required of the story. It doesn't need to be tempered. That said, THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE is a very classic Western story about a group of flawed gunfighters who find their heroism. It falls right into the Classic heroic mold.
Q: Yeah, if you took out the werewolves the story still works...
Yes, but it would not have had that tasty cross genre flavor of fur and cordite.
Q: The graphics of the werewolves in THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE looks like the werewolf from your movie BAD MOON.
Well, that's a surprise.
Q: You also do reviews, under ERIC RED RECOMMENDS. What got you involved with that?
Well, AITH site ownerJohn Fallon is a close friend of mine and one day he suggested me doing a column on the site. I enjoy doing this regular internet column on his site at Joblo.com and have for about 5 years now, although I notice recently some of my colleagues have been getting into the act. When I was doing 100 FEET we did constant press releases while we were shooting. The horror fans are smart, passionate and enthusiastic and are without question the most connected film fans on the internet. They really get involved and follow the moviemaking process which keeps things very immediate and vital. So with 100 FEET I kept a blog with the film and kept it on everyone's radar. That film was the 22nd most searched movie on the IMDB in August of last year. That was without any distribution at that point. So it's an important way to reach out to your fans.
Q: Is there anything that you are writing now that in the back of your mind you might adapt it as a movie?
Every since I was a kid I was a tremendous fan of horror anthologies like HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, VAULT OF HORROR, the original TALES FROM THE CRYPT and NIGHT GALLERY. I've always wanted to do a horror anthology. So writing short stories, while they are stand alones, in the back of my mind it's becoming a more concrete plan that I want to do a horror anthology now.
Q: That would be very cool.
It might be a stand-alone film or a pilot for a series. It's called TWITCH and I've adapted a number of the short stories into a full-length screenplay. The standard convention in modern horror anthologies is to do every story at a half an hour. And I think when you read good horror stories they can vary widely in length. So the story lengths are going to vary in TWITCH. Some will be five minutes, some thirty minutes. Stories like IN THE MIX, which is in DARK DELICACIES III, is about a rapper who kidnaps a famous rap producer in a bad part of St. Louis to record a record and gets his comeuppance. DO NOT DISTURB is about a housekeeper who gets overly curious about a "Do Not Disturb" sign that's constantly on the door of one of the rooms. And THE BUZZARD, which was just out in WEIRD TALES, is about a mortally wounded cowboy pursued by a relentless vulture. All of those are perfect for a horror anthology film. I like the old tradition in EC Comics where there's a moral to each of these stories. You deal with a character who gets his comeuppance for certain things. That's a fun formula.
Q: I remember that the old NIGHT GALLERY episodes would have stories that varied in length. It made the episodes unpredictable.
You definitely want to play against predictability. I may decide to do the book anthology as a comic series and also as a film.