Tuesday, October 27, 2015

HALLOWEEN WEEK TREATISE ON THE SUBJECT OF HORROR

Back when I was a Professional drunk, my obnoxious term for New Years Eve was AMATEUR NIGHT. Well, maybe Halloween is HORROR AMATEUR NIGHT. Better analogy: just like everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, we're all horror fans on Halloween.

Horror for me is part nostalgia. I was raised on Godzilla movies and The Ghoul and Sir Graves Ghastly in Detroit. It is my connection to my deceased brother. Childhood memories are
intertwined around horror movies, and this continued through my adolescence.

And now, as refined adult and self-proclaimed most interesting man alive, I still love that old time horror, and also find that horror literature has a potential to have the biggest impact of any words I'll ever read. Same goes for cinema.

Unfortunately, people will say "I dont like horror."  What about movies like The Sixth Sense? Oh, that isn't horror, that has Bruce Willis.

Shaking my damn head.

Horror is considered cheap, and to label something horror runs the risk of having it dismissed as unserious art. I don't willingly shun away from the horror label (MILK-BLOOD's sub-title is "A Tale of Urban Horror") but I do think Horror is as much technique as it is genre. 

I enjoy artfully done gore such as in The Evil Dead, and straight-out creative storytelling that is fun and thrilling, but I want my horror to be an extension of the intensity of life. To illuminate the universal human experience. Candy Man is one of my favorite horror movies, and not because of it's hook-for-a-hand monster, but for its story of urban isolation and betrayal. The Exorcist is about our greatest fear of being a helpless parent: that our love isn't enough, that we don't know what we are doing, that we can't really help our child while they suffer, and the forces that have possessed our children are way beyond our reach.

I loved season one of American Horror Story. The horror back then was just a metaphor for the damaged, fractured souls of a hurt family. The past hangs around like ghosts in a basement and stops them from loving one another.  I eagerly watched the most recent season of American Horror Story, and had to turn it off after 45 minutes. Trite, tacky, cliche, with cheap scares. So maybe I'm not a horror fan. 

The Walking Dead isn't about zombies, as you all know, but about finding a moral compass in a savage world that  will eat you alive if you don't pack together. But be careful, for once you find yourself sticking to this moral center as your only guide, you'll be killed. Just ask Dale or Hershel, and now Glen. We're sad he died because we want to believe that people like him will live and thrive. (btw, the trick photography that showed Glen getting supposedly getting eaten was well done, but you are only allowed one of these fake deaths, Walking Dead). We are all infected, we are all the walking dead, and we watch the show not just for fun, but to learn about ourselves since the world it shows us isn't much different from the one we live in. 

Scariest show on TV right now for me to watch is, hands down,  The Leftovers. While not considered horror, the premise is certainly horrific: Millions of people suddenly disappear from the earth without a trace. How individuals, family, and society reacts in The Leftovers is nothing less than the intensity of life turned up. Pressure doesn't create character, it reveals it. While this premise may seem outlandish, it is actually reality. All of us will suddenly have a loved one disappear from our lives, usually unexpectedly. The horror is reality magnified, like good horror is. The result is a chilling portrayl of life in suburbia. One of isolation, fear, mistrust, questions of faith and human nature. One of the main characters is a middle-aged suburbia dad who has to fight to keep his family and his sanity and someone I can closely relate to (though i'm not nearly as hunky).

Perhaps the most popular piece of horror literature out right now is A Head Full of Ghosts ("Scared the living hell out of me" said Stephen King)  I'm 50% done and think its genius. It's not just about a demonic possession, but about the terrifying world of a 8 year old and how moments growing up can have a permanent psychological imprint on our psyche. The author has created an incredible portrayal of those secret pacts all of us had with our siblings. I know i had mine. (We're going to smoke pot in the garage, Mark, don't tell mom and dad and we'll get you a present.) There's also a masterful 'meta-ness' about the piece of work, and a statement on multi-social media. I'm only halfway done, so this is all subject to revision, but so far it's a must read. 

I don't know how much of a horror fan I am, but I know I am a fan of anything that makes me think intense thoughts and feel intense feelings. Fear is at the base of our emotions and human experiences. It's our spine. I don't write horror to scare others, I write it because I am the one that is scared. (and you know what? you are scared too, and so is the last person you talked to, and so is the next person you'll talk to) Fear is the most basic thing to overcome in order to reach the spiritual and emotional heights of being a human, so when it is done right in art, it's the best art there is. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I've Got A Movie Contract!! MILK-BLOOD is Being Adapted to Film (and it's getting a sequel)

I have been sitting on this news for six months. I am incredibly thrilled to officially announce:

My novel, MILK-BLOOD, along with its companion shorty story, The Damage Done, have been optioned by Monkey Knuckle Films for a full length feature film.

No April Fooling this time.

The movie producer contacted me six months ago after reading On the Lips of Children. This novel was their first interest, but after reading MILK-BLOOD, both novels were part of the discussion. Over multiple emails and a phone discussion, we discussed the nature of my novels, and the re-emergence and popularity of horror movies. 

It was like emailing that potential prospect from an online dating site, things were clicking and my hopes were high.

It was a privelege when they  invited me to the set of Elder Island, a movie they were filming in Michigan. I met the potential director and screenplay writers for MILK-BLOOD, and talked to many different folks on the set, including a fairly lengthy discussion with Danny Hicks about the Evil Dead series. 

I left there as one leaves a first date; hoping I would get a call back and that it would lead to something more formal down the line.  

Soon after this, Michigan voted to end tax incentives for films being made in-state, and I feared this could kill the deal since MILK-BLOOD is set in Detroit. Fortunately, interest remained, and two weeks ago, we worked out a contract. MILK-BLOOD is not next on their que, so a timeline is impossible to set out, but one benefit of a smaller production company is a closer relationship with those who are making the film.

Monkey Knuckle Films is a newly created, independent, smaller budget production company, but the founders have worked with famous names in horror movies including Sid Haig from The Devils Reject's and much of the cast of The Evil Dead. Elder Island included both Timothy Quill and Danny Hicks from The Evil Dead, as well as Michael Robert Brandon, The Demon in the TV series Salem. Being on the set with them was just all around good vibes.
  
Huge thanks to Michael Bradford and Darrin James, and the rest of the crew. 

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
I'm happy as hell to announce that the sequel to MILK-BLOOD will be released in early 2016. It's going to be a unique piece of work. I WANT JAWS TO DROP. Cover Reveals. Preorders. All of that is coming in 2016. You want one of 50 amazon vouchers for a free preorder? You can be the first to sign up, by writing me here.

Lastly, I've chatted with some incredible people in this land of independent publishing, and want to thank some of those who have agreed to help me make this announcement. 

Huge thanks to:Cassie Carnage from Bloody Whisper (she's from Michigan!), Rich from The Horror Bookshelf (his blurb is on the cover), David Spell from The Scary Reviews,  Charlene from Char's Horror Corner (David and Char have also agreed to beta-read the milk-blood sequel), Jim from Ginger Nuts of Horror. (Ginger Nuts is legendary.) Also thanks to author Latashia Figueroa, (Go read Ivy's Envy!), and author Julie Hutchings  (Harpy Author by night, and expected editor of the Milk-Blood sequel by day).  

Also want to thank to some who helped bring MILK-BLOOD to life including editor Richard Thomas and cover artist Kealan Patrick Burke, and John FD Taff for random acts of goodness. Last but not least: thanks to my family (wife and chiildren) for dealing with my writing obsession.

Lilly Says: "See you in the theaters."




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