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Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

Buckle up, Constant Readers, because House of Tortured Souls is paying tribute to the father of contemporary horror - Stephen King. This post won't be as long as one of Mr. King's novels, but you might want to get a fresh beverage and a snack before continuing.
Comfy? Got your drink and snack? Good. Then follow us as we delve into a few of the memories Mr. King has given us. It's not dark here - certainly not as dark as Pet Sematary - but you might want to keep a lamp burning. Just in case.Simpsons Opening-Stephen King / Fair use doctrine.

I'm His Number One Fan! Wait...

By Woofer McWooferson

I honestly can’t remember the details of my first exposure to Stephen King’s work, but I do remember that it changed my life. As a horror fan, I read everything horror that came my way. When someone mentioned this new writer and his book Carrie, I gave it a shot and have never looked back. I tore into everything that he wrote like a werewolf starved for human flesh and finding the tastiest morsel around. My family and friends were thrilled as they now had a guaranteed gift for the freaky kid – anything King.
horror-novel-thestand / Fair use doctrine.When The Stand was released, I was a freshman in high school. I snapped it up fast and read it in record time even for me. Those of you who’ve read The Stand (or seen the mini-series) know about Captain Tripps. You can imagine, then, how freaky it was for me when I caught a cold while enjoying it. Strangely, every subsequent reading also resulted in a cold. That’s a bit trippy, don’t you think? Later, when the unabridged version was released, I also snapped it up – and yes, I got another cold – and enjoyed it even more than the heavily cut original. Many Constant Readers have said they don’t care for the unabridged version as they feel it adds nothing to the story, but I have to respectfully disagree. King is the master of detail, and I found all the extra bits particularly satisfying. The Stand remains my favorite standalone King work.
The Gunslinger trade paperback / Fair use doctrine.And then The Gunslinger was released. My then-boyfriend, Rich, got an advanced release, read it, and passed it along for me to read. We both fell in love with Roland Deschain. Rich was as much of a horror fan as I was, and we shared many glorious King novels before eventually parting as a couple but remaining friends. But it was his gift to me of The Gunslinger that will always be most special. He started me on the road to the Tower and even accompanied me about halfway there. We’ve fallen out of touch, but I still think of him fondly and wonder what he thought of the rest of Roland’s tale. Did he love it as much as I did? How could he not?
Although I’ve read everything King’s written thus far, none have had the impact on me that The Stand and The Dark Tower did. Indeed, King’s influence on me was such that I found myself speaking of him during the oral portion of my master’s exam. I didn’t exactly plan to bring up King, and I wasn’t sure what the panel would think of my comparisons even as I spoke. He wasn’t exactly taught in college back then (at least not much outside of the composition classes I taught), after all, and I nervously smoked outside as the panel discussed me and my answers. Apparently, they found my comments valid because I did receive my MA. Thanks, Mr. King.
Today, I raise a glass to you and wish you the best. May you continue to fuel our nightmares for many more years to come. Happy birthday!

By Scarlett O

I was a mere tot when the adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining came out in theaters in 1980; nevertheless, I was allowed to watch it before the age of ten. How times have changed! It was my very first horror movie, and I can honestly say without reservation that I've never been the same since. Both traumatized and intrigued, the level of terror that this particular movie held for me has set the standard for which I judge all horror movies. Needless to say, that's a pretty high bar that few other horror films have been able to come close to clearing. As an adult, I read the actual book from which the movie is based and like all other good books, Stephen King's The Shining reaches a level of impressive that I couldn't have imagined in my worst nightmares. To this day, large hotels with seemingly endless hallways or hearing “REDRUM” gives me chills. As it should.The Shining - Bloody Elevator / Fair use doctrine.
Though there were clear differences between King’s novel and Stanley Kubrick's direction of the film, such as the main character’s name (Jack vs John Daniel), physical appearances (blonde Wendy vs brunette), preference of cartoons by the boy Danny (Sesame Street vs the Road Runner), and even the hotel room number (217 vs 237), and perhaps the most interesting - that one ended in fire (the book) and the other in ice (the film), it's obvious that readers and viewers alike could appreciate the artistic thrill of them both. Still, it should not go without mention that none of this would have been possible if the one and only Stephen King had not written the infamous novel in the first place.

By Michelle MIDI Sayles

On this day in 1947 a King was literally born – Stephen King that is!
It wasn't until 42 years later that I discovered his literary world and my own thirst for horror grew in me, like a beast of its own.
I was 9 and at a slumber party with three other girls watching the VHS release of Pet Sematary. Unlike most girls, I didn't hide under the blankets during the "scary parts" or scream. I just watched with amazement as Gage’s, Church’s, and Louis' antics mesmerized me.Church-Pet Sematary_02 / Fair use doctrine.
I was so enamored with the film that I begged my parents for a month to buy me the novel for my 10th birthday, and I still have that battered and much loved copy to this day (after countless rereads).
From that moment, I was glued to all things King! I spent my teen years on a mere babysitter's budget (choosing that and my studies over flipping burgers part time like most kids here). I would frequent yard sales and second-hand markets to find older but cheaper copies of King's novels so I could stockpile all of his books (one day, when I retire, I will try and read any remaining that I have yet to tackle). I recorded each mini-series and film that came onto my screen to VHS, so I could watch it again and again (The Tommyknockers, The Stand, Children of the Corn -and sequels- etc). I clipped articles about my idol and more recently began collecting merchandise related to his works.
Through bad relationships, schooling, work life, having a family, and even suffering losses, King was my beacon. At any time, I could immerse myself in a book or film of his and just feel centered and at home.
Happy birthday, Mr King, I doubt you understand the impact you have had on many lives, but you'll always be special in mine.MIDI's King collection

By Schock

The horror world wouldn’t be the same if not for author Stephen King. His novels - that seem to multiply like gremlins - and movies that spawned from his narratives have become a staple in the world of horror, terror, and suspense. When we hear the name Stephen King, we think only of monsters and twists that ensue within the stories he’s penned as well as the rich east coast New England area of his mind.
My first encounter with anything Stephen King was Carrie - the movie based on the novel that we have all come to know as an ultimate in psychological (and psychic) terror. I discovered at a young age my love for the underdog, but my apparent blood fetish spawned way later in life. That’s another story altogether... Carrie introduced me to the world of King and I wanted to dig a little deeper. I then discovered other movies based on his novels – Cujo, Christine, Children of the Corn, Thinner, Needful Things, Cat’s Eye, The Shining, Stand By Me, Pet Semetary, IT… The list goes on and on and on. Then there are the King short stories translated to film. My absolute favorite of these is “Sometimes They Come Back”. Obviously, if you can’t tell, I didn’t read a lot as a child; I threw down on the movies, though, and when I got older I discovered that the novels were actually pretty easy to find. So I began the hunt for as many as possible in my area.
Christine was the first book I acquired, and reading the book, I could feel what he was writing more so than the movie portrayed. So I wanted more. I wanted to see how the stories could just put fear and terror into people. The directors of the movies really shined a light on the stories with their films. Some of the novels, though, like IT are thicker than every version of the bible put together. My friends and I use to have an ongoing joke when we would discuss Stephen King movie and book comparisons. He used three pages just to describe the treads on the tires in From a Buick 8. That brings me to something that King inadvertently taught to those of us who are creators of art – whether it be prose, poetry, music, or the visual arts: detail is KEY to making sure you give the audience every inch of what your mind wants to get out. This was a beautiful thing to learn from King’s legacy of horror and terrifying tales.From A Buick 8 / Fair use doctrine.
If anyone deserves to be awarded the title King of Horror or Master of the Macabre, it is none other than Stephen King himself. King’s not a man who walks around mopey and weird as you’d expect a horror writer to be. He’s a regular man, a visionary, and an inspiration – and not only to filmmakers and fans. He has inspired now for decades, generations even, and will continue to inspire for many years to come. When we are all long gone from this earth and some weird alien life goes digging around, they’ll find one (or thirty) of his novels and be terrified at what they read. Let’s hope that one day this happens and Stephen King will be known to these people thousands of years from now as a God.Stephen King-Pet Sematary / Fair use doctrine.

Happy Birthday to the *King* of Horror

By Tammie Parker

horror-novel-firestarter / Fair use doctrine.I read Firestarter when I was 8! That truly did raise the bar pretty high for all trying to scare me from then on out. I had a tough childhood, this was written for me! OH, to have the power to set shit on fire!
A truly odd fact is that we read IT in English 101 in my 8th grade class!! A bit of an odd book to use to teach all about grammar, huh? We even watched the original movie right there in class.   horror-movie-it-original / Fair use doctrine.Although the monster at the end disappointed me, I loved the story and the build-up. I loved the goosebumps, the hair-raising, eye-bulging, hanging onto the bed rail, it's-way-past-my-bedtime words!
After IT, (a few years down the road) I fall in love with Misery. horror-novel-misery / Fair use doctrine.The cockadoodie potty language definitely had me cracking up. Stephen King taught me how to find out when someone was going into my private stuff!
horror-novel-doloresclaiborne / Fair use doctrine.And then Dolores Claiborne. I truly loved the character Dolores! Having personally gone through 10 years of molestation, this novel was tough to read. However I wanted to read it through, I was certain I would be ecstatic with Dolores' settling this chaos. I love how simple it is to travel into the story, Stephen completely takes you there. There is never a question of the color of the sky, the scent in the air, especially the creepy thing lurking around the corner.
Then came The Stand, which very rapidly became my favorite book.
horror-novel-thestand / Fair use doctrine.Stephen is probably the source of my love for dystopian horror. The Stand opened my eyes to so much! Scenarios I had never thought of before. Human characteristics and how we would react, and what we would become if/when something happens.
After that (again a few years down the road) Dark Tower novels, WOWZA what a story!!
I have YET to see the movie, but I love the cast! And the trailers look absolutely amazing!

I have read Desperation, The Dead Zone, and, well, it is safe to say Mr. King is my most read author. During my research, I found out that Stephen and his wife Tabitha actually stayed in the real Stanley Hotel as he wrote the novel! I fell in love with him all over again. What a true badass! And what a wicked imagination 🙂
Happy 70th, Mr. Nightmare Maker!

What Stephen King Has Meant To Me

By Dixielord

Stephen King's Full DarkI discovered Stephen King sometime around the mid 80s. I don't remember exactly when, about my senior year in high school or maybe my first year in college. I remember a high school friend/acquaintance was reading Christine, and me, to my utter shame now, thought reading a book that big was the nerdiest thing in the world. How things change.
Christinebecame one of the first King novels, probably THE first novel, that I read. I think Night Shift was the first book, followed by Skeleton Crew, as I fell quickly in love with his short stories. I devoured his short stories rabidly, as quickly as I could get my hands on them. Then I started on the novels – Christine, Carrie, Firestarter, everything my college library had to offer, including the non-fiction Danse Macabre. It was through Danse Macabre that I became aware of H.P. Lovecraft.
Is it fair to say my life was changed? It was changed, dear readers. I had transformed from someone who laughed at readers to a voracious reader, from a man who had never heard of Lovecraft to a hardcore fan of the Cthulhu mythos and the unspeakable horrors from beyond.
Out of college I continued to follow him, buying his books when I could afford to, checking them out of the local library when I couldn't. I built up a nice collection of hardcover King over the years. After his near-fatal accident, his stories changed, and my life changed as well. I lost my mother to cancer, and his books started taking on a more depressing (at least to me) tone. The recurring theme of God demanding a sacrifice started to wear thin on me, and I just recently realized why. Don't get me wrong, his writing was still top notch, but I couldn't take the new stuff. I stopped reading King altogether after Desperation. I still cherished my King collection, though, and it nearly killed me when I had to sell them.
Sell your King collection? Blasphemy! Sadly, life doesn't always go as planned, and losing my job with no employment in sight meant I needed money. Of all the books I owned, I hated putting up my King collection for sale. But someone offered me too much money, and I needed money too much. I said goodbye with tears in my eyes.
I came back to King, and I'm still coming back, going back for the books I missed and grabbing the new ones as well. Now, new fans are discovering Stephen King, and old fans are rediscovering him. IT is in the theaters, reinvigorating horror in general, and putting the master's name back on the lips of everyone. The Dark Tower is just out of theaters. All of this has brought me back to my books, thinking about reacquiring the ones I had to sacrifice. King changed my life. Stephen King gave me a life, he gave me books and made me a reader. He opened worlds after worlds.

By Brenda Wilder Antlitz

Carrie-Sissy Spacek-John Travolta / Fair use doctrine.I was first introduced to the King, Stephen King that is, in the winter of 1976, the year that Carrie, came out. I was 12 at the time and in junior high school, which meant that 1) every girl was in love with John Travolta, and 2) I was too young to see it in the theater. So after hearing all of the cool kids telling us about the movie, especially the ending when the hand comes out of the ground, I knew I had to see it! But what was I going to do? And then I knew. I would do the next best thing: go to the bookstore.
The bookstore experience was just as exciting - walking down the aisle of the horror section, smelling the scent of new books under the incandescent lights, and looking for the name Stephen King. Even his name sounded grand! As I walked, I looked and looked, then and there it was: Carrie. I quickly opened it up, flipped through the pages, my hair flying back, as I watch the words fly past me, and I then floated to the register where I paid and become the proud owner of my very first (but certainly not last) Stephen King novel!
When I got home, I got a bottle of Coca-cola and went straight up to my bedroom (my safe haven), and I began to read Carrie. It was in the early afternoon when I began reading, and I only stopped to go to the bathroom, which I did with all lights on of course! LOL. But I simply could not stop reading it... I could relate Carrie White. Completely.
I felt as if Stephen King saw through me and wrote this character about me (except that I did not have special psychic abilities nor a crazy, religious fanatic for a mother). I was a very shy loner, misunderstood and bullied so bad that my only escape was through books, TV, music, and movies. And so, because of Carrie White, I became a horror lover and not just of the Friday the 13th kind but of the psychological kind. The kind that makes you think - and question - EVERYthing!!
After that, I was hooked on The King of Horror!
Stephen King became known not only for his novels and their adaptations to the big screen but also for the works that made it to the small screen, TV. You have to realize that back then we only had a handful of TV stations. Cable was new (we did not have it), and VCRs were just starting to come out although few could afford them, yet. So when there was a movie of the week, or better yet a mini-series, it was a big deal! An event, even.
'Salem's Lot / Fair use doctrine.The first major Stephen King-based mini-series was a two-night event, and it's still talked about to this day. 'Salems Lot, staring David Soul and Lance Kerwin, debuted on 11/17/1979, and it was something we’d never seen before. A second 'Salem's Lot mini-series (remake not sequel) debuted on 11/19/2015 and starred Rob Lowe, who played Nick Andros in the mini-series of The Stand. If you ask people what they remember about it, they will tell you that it scared the crap out of them.'Salem's Lot mini-series remake / Fair use doctrine.
I could go on and on with the list of books and movies, that Stephen King has written, but there is not enough time or room.
All I can say is this: there are writers who affect only a few, and Stephen King is not one of them. Stephen King has affected generations! He is the reason why most of us became fans of horror/thrillers, became writers – authors, even - readers, and film fans. For me, not only did he do all of the above, but he also was an influence on my becoming a paranormal investigator.
I guess all that is left to say, besides "Thank You", is happy birthday to The King of Horror, Mr. Stephen King!!
From House of Tortured Souls to you, Mr. King, fangs for everything.horror-stephenking / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, EDITORIALS, HORROR HEROES, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
Happy Birthday Blacula Director William Crain

Happy Birthday Blacula Director William Crain

The name William Crain might not be familiar to a lot of horror or exploitation fans; however, his short but intense filmography has left a lasting mark on pop culture. Before Crain rolled an inch of celluloid, he broke ground on the small screen as the first African American to direct episodic television. The show in question was the ultra groovy hit The Mod Squad, then in its third season. Of course it wasn’t easy to break into a white dominated profession, but with hard work and grit, William made his dreams a reality. Shortly after his small screen debut, Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures came knocking with an idea - an African American twist on a classic movie monster. William wasn’t thrilled with the title, Count Brown is in Town, but with a title tweak and a stellar cast that included Shakespearian trained William Marshall in the title role, Blacula was set to go before in the cameras. With a blend of genuine horror, humor, and lots of seventies groove, Blacula thrilled audiences and AIP had an unexpected hit on their hands. After Blacula, surprisingly Crain returned to the small screen to do Starsky and Hutch, SWAT, and The Rookies. He finally returned to the big screen with yet another blaxploitation horror hybrid entitled Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde. To date it was his last feature film.
I had the extreme pleasure to do several interviews William for an upcoming book and I found him to be a witty, smart and interesting person. He shared many great stories about the making of his cult classic as well as hinted at a return to the big screen. While he only made two feature films, their lasting legacy in pop culture is undeniable, so I raise my glass of blood to you, Mr. William Crain, on your birthday!
Below is a complete filmography.

Director

  • 2016 Nothing as It Seems (Short)
  • 1990 Designing Women (TV Series) (1 episode)
  • 1984-1985 Matt Houston (TV Series) (2 episodes)
  • 1979 The Dukes of Hazzard (TV Series)
  • 1976 Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde
  • 1974-1975 The Rookies (TV Series) (3 episodes)
  • 1975 S.W.A.T. (TV Series) (1 episode)
  • 1975 Starsky and Hutch (TV Series) (2 episodes)
  • 1971 The Mod Squad (TV Series) (1 episode)

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

  • 1971 Brother John (intern director - uncredited)

Producer

  • 1976 Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (associate producer)
Posted by Mike Vaughn in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, 0 comments
Hail To The King: Happy Birthday, Bruce Campbell

Hail To The King: Happy Birthday, Bruce Campbell

What a groovy day it is to celebrate the day of birth of "El Hefe" himself: Bruce Campbell. Born on this day (June 22) in 1958 in Michigan, Bruce was an unconventional aspiring actor by the time he started high school.
If you are a horror fan and don't know who Bruce Campbell is, you must be a "primitive screwhead" (lol). He is one of the most notable B-movie actors thanks to his portrayal as Ash Williams in The Evil Dead (1981) and the sequels that followed. Bruce didn't audition for the part of Ashley "Ash" Williams, he's actually was one of the main reasons the film got made at all. Raising money for production, working behind the camera as well as, of course starring in the role that was written specifically for him.. At the age of 20, while attending WMU, Campbell along with high school friend Sam Raimi wrote and filmed a short Super 8 version of Evil Dead called Within the Woods.
Within the Wood was intended to showcase what they were capable of as filmmakers and, they hoped, get them noticed by anyone willing to invest in them. The short film did get noticed, by none other than Stephen King who endorsed the film and helped get the names of these young film makers out there to colleagues in the movie biz. A couple of years later Campbell, Raimi and another friend Rob Tapert, having raised the money themselves, began shooting The Evil Dead.
With an endorsement from non other than Stephen King, the film began to get noticed and eventually became a cult classic and was followed by two sequels Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992). Ash, for me, is his most memorable character, but he has worn many hats and worked on over 100 films and TV series as an actor, voice actor, writer, director, producer, and more. Bruce truly is a man of many faces. So many that, in fact, I’m only going mention some of my favorite roles: Police Officer Jack Forrest in Maniac Cop (1988) as well as the sequel Maniac Cop 2 (1990), a descendant of Van Helsing, Robert Van Helsing, in Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat (1989), and a lawyer turned bounty hunter in the the old west in the 1993 TV show The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
He also played Autolycus, The King of Thieves, in both Hercules: the Legendary Journeys (1995-99) and Xena: Warrior Princess (1996-99). Heck, he even played The King himself, geriatric Elvis Presley, in Bubba Ho-Tep (2002). He played astronaut Dr. Ivan Hood in the Sci-Fi channel original movie Alien Apocalypse (2005), a business man turned mad science experiment William Cole in The Man With the Screaming Brain (2005) - which he also directed, the womanizing boozehound and former Navy Seal turned P.I. Sam Axe alias Chuck Finely in the 2007 TV series Burn Notice, and himself in the self-directed supernatural spoof on his career My Name Is Bruce (2007).
He even played Winkie the Gate Keeper in Oz The Great and Powerful (2013) and Santa Claus in an episode of The Librarians (2014). Then, in 2015, dreams came true for Bruce Campbell fans. Over 20 years after his last battle with evil, Bruce picked up his boomstick and modified chainsaw and hit the road to battle deadites once again in Ash vs Evil Dead.
Fair use doctrine.
Hail To The King, Baby,
and a Very Happy 59th Birthday, Sir!
Posted by Tabitha Harvey in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, 1 comment
BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: Scream Queen Linnea Quigley

BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: Scream Queen Linnea Quigley

"Do you ever wonder about all the different ways of dying? You know, violently? And wonder, like, what would be the most horrible way to die?"
All true horror fans know this quote by heart and the petite beauty who said it--------Trash from the 1985 cult classic Return of the Living Dead. This memorable role was played by the gorgeous Scream Queen Linnea Quigley.
Linnea was a small town girl from Idaho, but I imagine she always knew she was not quite your average Idahoan. After moving to LA with her family, she started modeling and had a few roles in B movies like Stone Cold Dead and Fairy Tales. In 1985, she was snagged up to play the role of Trash in ROTLD and cemented herself in horror history and secured her title of America's Scream Queen.
Since ROTLD, she has continued to act and even produce films such as Ceepoziods. Linnea is a devoted animal rights activist and can always be found with her beloved pets. One of the most popular celebrities on the convention circuit, you will always find her offering a smile and a hug. I had the great opportunity to meet and hang with her at the 2016 Days of the Dead festival in Louisville, KY. So sweet, petite, and full of life. I could have talked to her all day.
Let's wish a big happy birthday to Barbara Linnea Quigley! I hope all her day was a scream.
Happy Nightmares!
ZombieGurl
Posted by ZombieGurl in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, 0 comments