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Letranger Absurde: Interview With A Lego Builder Extraordinaire

Letranger Absurde: Interview With A Lego Builder Extraordinaire

You can find all the vignettes in this album –
Hey horror fans, Horrormadam here with an amazing artist! Letranger Absurde from Romania makes the most creative and innovative Lego displays of our favorite scenes from horror movies! I was so captivated by his work that I had to go on a search to find the man who crafted these true to form pieces. I found him fortunately when I found the Bricktastic Blog where he was in the Builder Spotlight. I reached out to him and he was extremely kind enough to answer my questions so that we here at House of Tortured Souls could take you on a behind the scenes look into the world of Lego building.
House of Tortured Souls: So you are from Romania I saw with rolug (Romanian LEGO® Users Group), is the Lego culture any different than in the US?
Andrei: I can only speak about the US culture from what I’ve noticed through online interactions, so I may be off the mark, but people seem to be more receptive to novelty and pop culture in general, so a hobby like this is easier to accept and get into. Around here they’re more… traditional, for the lack of a better word; the association Lego = toy makes many people frown at the idea and stops them from being able to take it seriously; it also makes adult fans buy them under the guise of buying for their children and keep their passion as a dirty little secret, but things seem to be changing lately – only in the last year our lug doubled it’s number of active members if I’m not mistaken. Another thing I noticed is that people around here (and Europe in general) tend to lean towards Lego technic more – the side of Lego dealing with functions with little care for the aesthetics (remote controlled cars, moving cranes and so on).
HoTS: Why did you choose to make scenes from horror films?
Andrei: I’ve been a horror fan for most of my life (since I was 8 or 9), so it would have happened one way or another. But the decision to make a series was due to the poor representation the genre had in the community. Aside from some builds here and there, mostly dealing with the mainstream, you could find mainly pictures of mini-figures (customs in general) with no focus on scenes and plenty of generic Halloween builds so I wanted to try and change that.
HoTS: How do you choose the scenes?
Andrei: I mostly build what I like, but there are other factors that come into play. I tried to keep a balance between popular and lesser-known movies to maintain the audience’s interest with the familiar ones and hopefully draw their attention to the ones they haven’t seen. Also, no matter how much I like a movie, it needs a scene that translates well both into the new medium and into a purely visual vignette, since horror tends to rely a lot on atmosphere, sounds, lights, music, camera angles and so on – remove all that and you’re left with something very bland and boring in many cases. For example, I wanted to add Halloween to the list, but I can’t find a scene that would make an interesting build. And finally, having close enough mini-figure parts to build the characters, especially the villain; it’s one of the main parts I wanted to get right.
HoTS: Do you custom design any of the pieces or are they all available from Lego?
Andrei: This is one of the bigger divides in the Lego community – altered parts or limiting your self to available ones. I chose to stick with available parts for a number of reasons: It’s the popular choice and the standard for any contests and such; it offers a great gauge to judge the quality of builds since everybody has access to the exact same tools of the trade. Actually, I can’t really give a good reason here, except that it just seems right, it’s Lego building after all and altering parts feels closer to sculpting. 🙂
Also, part use is something appreciated in the community in general, meaning using parts in interesting, unintended ways; let’s take Audition, for example, to stick with the horror theme:
Letranger Absurde Lego Audition
The couch pillows used in here are hats from this painter mini-figure:

And the tablecloth is the ruff from this fella:
Letranger Absurde Lego Shakespeare
Other examples from Evil Dead:
Letranger Absurde The Evil Dead
The Necronomicon is made from the printed eyes of the gorilla:
Letranger Absurde Unaussprechlichen Kulten
And the moose head is made from a brown frog and a helmet decoration:
Letranger Absurde Lego FrogLetranger Absurde Lego Moose Helmet
Not the most exciting or creative examples, but this wasn’t my focus in the horror series; hopefully they give a rough idea on what I’m trying to say; not sure how interesting this bit is for someone outside the hobby.
HoTS: What are some of your favorite horror films?
Andrei: I’ve always had a soft spot for Italian horror (Argento, Fulci, Bava); there’s so much creativity and they have a very distinctive style. Some of the most memorable soundtracks as well. I also love the lavish decors and atmosphere of Hammer films. Although despite my love for hammer, as far as vampires go, Subspecies is my favorite series, proof you don’t need doll vampires to make a proper vamp movie – and that’s coming from someone who likes doll vamps! I have to add The Wicker Man to the list as well, one of the most effective movies I’ve ever seen. As far as slashers go, one of my favorites is The Hills Run Red; sure, it’s got some problems, but it’s best moments are enough to get over the lows. And anything with Vincent Price in it. Won’t bother mentioning mainstream classics like Alien or Exorcist, sure, plenty of them on the list, but I see no point mentioning the ones pretty much everyone loves.
HoTS: What all horror themes have you done and any plans for new ones in the future?
Andrei: I have done other horror related builds over time (some were utter garbage unfortunately, I’ll throw in a few of the better ones) – the Necronomicon and Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Unaussprechliche Kulte would be the German for “unspeakable cults”) books (hoping to add Eibon (Soul Eater: Eibon is based directly based from the sorcerer of the same name from Clark Ashton Smith’s short story “The Door to Saturn“) to the list soon.
Letranger Absurde Necronomicon
Letranger Absurde Unaussprechlichen Kulten
– some Halloween builds, like the witch mosaic, the vampire couple, some busts
Letranger Absurde Boo Bitchcraft
Letranger Absurde Lego Come in for a bite

Letranger Absurde Lego Dracula Bust
Letranger Absurde Lego Frankenstein Monster Bust
– a larger scale build of the classic IT scene
Letranger Absurde IT

Andrei: Of course, I’ll continue building in the genre and I’m going to continue the vignette series soon. One of the things I’ve had on my list for a while is the lobby from Suspiria, but sourcing the parts in the right colors quite difficult and expensive. Plenty of movies from what I’ve mentioned in my favorites are on the list as well.
HoTS: Are they very hard to do, and are they time-consuming?
Andrei: In general neither, but it depends on what you’re trying to do and the complexity you aim for. Size is also a factor, but not necessarily the biggest one; you can spend more time shaping, reshaping and polishing a tiny part of a build than it takes building a castle, so it’s also up to you how much time you want to dedicate to each build. The vignettes I’ve done in the horror series were done in an afternoon/evening; at most spread over the course of 2 days; my aim here was to make them simple and accessible, yet recognizable. The biggest factor is the parts; if you don’t have what you want and have to order them, waiting for them to arrive can extend the project for weeks and is definitely the most annoying bit. But I suppose that’s true for every other hobby when it comes to sourcing the “materials”.
HoTS: I saw that your favorite one is Room With a View, what is your favorite horror one and why?
Andrei: I’m going to go with the crowd favorite here, The Exorcist. Not only was it the one that started it all, it just seemed to flow effortlessly into the new medium. Maybe I’m biased a bit towards the subject as well. Although in a way the series started a year or so before this one with the Predator vignette I’ve done back in 2015, I chose not to make it part of the series as it’s pretty mediocre and isn’t a scene directly from the movie. I’ll most likely redo this down the road.
Letranger Absurde Predator
This is one of the real benefits of working with Lego – you can always take apart a model and redo it – and the parts are there to reuse. You don’t have to deal with consumables. Or you can simply alter a few details. Maybe a new part is released that works better than what you used before, nothing stops you from replacing it. Or your skill grows with time and you figure out a better way to do things. I constantly do this with the models I have on display, I like the fact that it’s all pretty dynamic and keeps things fresh, instead of just shoving them on the shelf and let them gather dust.
HoTS: Legos are pretty pricey, how do you afford to make these?
Andrei: To some, it may seem like I’m keeping everything I do, but the opposite is true; I only have a few smaller pieces on display, the norm is built, dismantle, repeat. I only keep larger builds intact for a longer period if they’re made for exhibits.
Andrei: There are a couple of ways to get your hands on cheap parts, the easiest is buying multiples sets when they are heavily discounted and sell/trade the excess/useless bits, but this doesn’t get you exactly the parts you need. Being a part of a lug also has it benefits, allowing you to purchase cheap parts in large quantities directly from Lego, but you have little room for diversity and it happens only 2-3 times a year. It’s still a big help. The rare and specific parts I get from Bricklink. BrickLink is a venue where individuals and businesses from all around the world can buy and sell new, used, and vintage LEGO through fixed price services.
Andrei: There’s also the opportunity to get parts straight from brand stores, but I have no access to that in my area, unfortunately.
HoTS: Will you ever sell any of your pieces, or do you ever take commissions? Told my boss about you and he now wants a Lego Haunted House like on our logo. ?
Andrei: Neither, although I’ve been getting requests every now and then. I would be open to it, the issue is sourcing the parts; I don’t have the opportunity to get them locally for a decent price, so I have to get most of them from international sellers and the shipping costs alone are overkill on multiple orders. I may end up doing it someday, but for now, I’m happy with it being just a hobby. There are plenty of talented builders in the community taking commissions, so you can pretty much find the right person for any subject; although each of us has our own little touches and style so it’s a good idea to be familiar with their work beforehand.
So I want to give a huge thank you to Andrei for myself and everyone here at the House of Tortured Souls! His answers were very illuminating and insightful and they made me want to go out and start building my own Lego creations. I hope you enjoyed this, readers, and that you will go out and start making your own horror creations!



Posted by Horrormadam in EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED ARTIST, HALLOWEEN, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, STAFF PICKS, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Writer/Director Jared Cohn

INTERVIEW: Writer/Director Jared Cohn

Where we talk Dead AfterLife, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Serial Killers, and Mental Fitness

Jared Cohn We're All Animals - chilling / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Horrormadam here, guys, and I had the privilege of interviewing actor/director Jared Cohn. Best known for 13/13/13, Hulk Blood Tapes, and Feed the Devil for acting and Hold Your Breath, The Horde (which got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes), and Little Dead Rotting Hood for his directing.
For those who do not know yet, Dead AfterLife is a currently in development film written by Michael Joy. And Michael knows horror, he is the CEO of Marketing Macabre, CEO of Joyhorror Entertainment, Director of Marketing for Artsploitation Films (that just released Red Christmas starring Dee Wallace), and Operations Manager for Horrornews.net. I am really looking forward to Dead Afterlife because of its unique and interesting premise. Imagine watching your own funeral as a ghost and then the unthinkable happens, your undead body climbs out of your coffin and starts killing and eating your friends and family. Pharmaceutical Scientist, Donald Conlee faces this conundrum after he’s murdered and is administered his own “Awake”, super drug. His death was only the beginning of his problems. The Gatekeeper has given Donald a time limit to return his Zombie-self to the ground, or else his soul can never gain entrance into Heaven. To complicate matters, he finds out that his murderer is at the funeral and his girlfriend is in grave danger. How can a couple of disgruntled gravediggers and a hearse driver help Donald’s lost soul find the way? Or maybe the real question is how can the spirit world defeat the living dead?

Jared Cohn on Stepmother / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

House of Tortured Souls: Is that an amazing premise or what? I asked Director Jared Cohn about this budding horror film.
Jared Cohn: I am a big fan of Michael Joy and looking forward to working with him, he is plugged into the horror community. Look this is a really cool story we got ghosts vs zombies, we got amazing talent on board to act in this. This project is gonna be a bad ass horror movie, straight up. It’s ghosts and zombies fighting each other, it’s gore there’s lots of blood, there is death and a funeral, it can’t lose.

Jared Cohn working on set / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

And Jared wasn’t kidding about the amazing talent. They just signed on Dee Wallace (Cujo, The Howling), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Bill Moseley (The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses), Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley in Hatchet, and Jason Voorhees from some of the Friday the 13th films), Bill Oberst Jr. (Scream Queens, Priest), David Gere (Bleed For This), Andy Gates (Garden Party Massacre), David Vescio (Hick), Mindy Robinson (Lizzie Borden’s Revenge), WWE wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page( Devil’s Rejects), And first timer professional wrestling legend,The Universal Heartthrob, Austin Idol.
Jared Cohn with William Shatner / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Jared Cohn with William Shatner

HoTS: I was really excited about the prospect of seeing ghosts fighting the living dead on film and asked Jared about that.
JC: I am a fan of practical effects and I would also love to incorporate some CGI to enhance the ghosts visually. Really want to do something cool and a little different if we really want it to be scary and to pay homage to some of the great classics. That would go a long way towards making it look cool, make it look good. But in order to do that, you have to rely on the resources that are available. Which some could consider a cop out answer but it’s true. I would love someone like Vincent Guastini (Under The Bed, Requiem For A Dream, V/H/S Viral, and The Dark Tapes), he does creature suits, ghosts, zombies, makeup. To get someone like him on board would be amazing, but he is not cheap. But he would make amazing looking ghosts and zombies, those are the kind of things you need obviously if you want that big budget look, you need those premium people. We are still waiting on the financing to go through though but it is getting a lot of press so it is just a hurry up and wait game, but I am extremely excited to get going.

Jared Cohn sunlight / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

HoTS: I then had to ask Jared about a film that I saw on IMDB that he is directing that is in post-production called Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash because I am a fan of the band and found this title so intriguing.

JC: I got the movie shot, there are just some legal difficulties going on. Kind of waiting until March to see whats going on with that one. I’m very proud of that movie so I am really hoping it can see the light of day. It happened because of Cleopatra Entertainment, I love those guys. They gave me great opportunities to make movies, big fan of that company. I am going to be doing some music videos for them that I am very excited about. I used to do a lot of music videos back in the day in New York. I like getting back to my roots. I used to do more cinematography, stunts, editing, and camera work and lately I have been focusing on acting and directing but it is so great to go back and relearn everything and expand.

Jared Cohn on set / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

When researching the film, I found that Jared wrote the film from a story by Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle. It depicts the band’s tragic history centering on Pyle and his experiences of the events surrounding the chartered-plane crash on October 20, 1977, that killed original band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, Steve’s sister. An assistant road manager and the two pilots also died in the crash after the plane ran out of fuel over Mississippi after the final show of the Street Survivors tour. Ian Shultis, Taylor Clift, Samuel Kay Forrest and Rich Dally III have been cast in the film and the legal battle continues.
HoTS: Next, I asked Jared about his film Death Pool starring Sara Malakul Lane (Jailbait, Kickboxer Vengeance), Randy Wayne (Hellraiser Judgement, Hold Your Breath), James Cullen Bressack (Bethany), and Shawn C. Phillips (WTF!, Cannibal Cop). I just loved how this film dealt with the whole cult of personality. The premise is this:
Johnny Taylor has a big problem: he LOVES to drown good-looking girls. When he sees water and attractive females together, something in his head begs him to kill – the psychological result of a traumatic near-drowning during his childhood at the hands of a twisted babysitter. Fighting the urge to act on his sinister thoughts most of his adult life, Johnny finally succumbs to his dark instincts when the only work he can find is around water, cleaning pools. Filled with colorful characters, beautiful women and set against the backdrop of the LA party scene, Death Pool encapsulates the desire for fame, the lust for desire, and the urge to kill.

JC: I think that was one of the more interesting movies that I have made, it had a message. Social media, fame, the upsides and the downsides, and the reactions of people to someone who is killing people. There are a lot of serial killer groupies. It’s nutty, but in a weird way it is understandable also. There are many people out there that are contemplating killing someone, not that they go out and do it but it’s the idea. To analyze the psyche behind those people who do these things, those that find that extreme violence is their only outlet is interesting.
Jared Cohn on set with William Shatner / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Jared Cohn on set with William Shatner

HoTS: I also asked him about who his directing influences might be.
JC: I think that Alejandro Inarritu (Amores Perros, Birdman, The Revenant) and Damian Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) have really great style. There are so many great and talented people out there.
HoTS: We then talked about what he is doing for 2018:
JC: I am keeping positive, focusing on mental health, and spirituality. You can be the busiest and most successful person in the world, but if you are not feeling great mentally, physically, and spiritually, you cant get your best work done. So I am trying to raise awareness, you know, help people who feel like they could use a boost in life. I would like to give back rather than just make movies. I would like to help people. Many people are suffering quietly, and I want them to know that they are not alone. If I can do something in that regard, it makes me feel better. Not that this is about me, I just want to give back. I’ve made some mistakes. I have some regrets, so I understand the challenges. It is good to talk about, doing interviews, and talking about various movies and being able to bring awareness to the problem of people’s mental health.
Lastly but cool as hell is the fact that Jared became a licensed FAA 107 certified drone remote pilot for taking absolutely stunning aerial shots for filmmaking and commercial use. Check out Drone-Shots.net to find out what’s available. He is also a Pro-paintballer and a black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate.

Jared Cohn with drone / Image: Jared Cohn - Instagram

Please check out more on him at:
Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, EXCLUSIVE, FEATURED CONTENT, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

You may not know his name, but if you are a horror fan, you’ve seen his work. Bart Mixon is best known for creating the now iconic makeup for Tim Curry’s dancing clown Pennywise. Among the other movies to his credit are RoboCop, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Rings, and the Netflix film Bright. Bart, along with Heather A. Wixson, Steve Johnson, Michele Burke, Gabe Bartalos, Tom Woodruff, Jr., Jennifer Aspinall, John Goodwin, and Rick Lazzarini, will be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies this Saturday, and I was granted an exclusive interview with Bart Mixon about his epic career.
House of Tortured Souls: I read in an interview that the hardest part of the job is just getting it. With your amazing resume, does the work ever just come to you now?
Bart Mixon: When I did that interview, I owned my own shop so I was trying to bid on shows, and I think that was more in reference to that. Lately (in the past twenty years), I have been doing mainly set with application work for other guys, such as Rick Baker on The Grinch, Planet of the Apes (2001), and Men In Black 2 and 3, so I’m not key in the show as much anymore. But yeah, I get work from a lot of my friends these days. Like I was just doing Bright a year ago, but it just came out, and I got that job from a friend Chris Nelson whom I’ve known for twenty years. When he got that show, he was like, “Hey, wanna help me apply it?” So it does seem like a lot of it these days is more either contacts I’ve made or I guess I have enough of a reputation that the work comes to me. It’s not to say if something cool is going on that I won’t make a few phone calls or make a few suggestions, but yeah, it doesn’t seem like I have to beat the doors down like in the 80s or 90s.
HoTS: How much interaction with the directors do you have? For example, you just did Guardians of the Galaxy II by former Troma alumni James Gunn. I could see him being a fan of your past work.
BM: Actually I didn’t have much contact with him. Depending on the show I’m working on, for example on Men in Black 3, I was doing the main villain Boris for Rick Baker, so I was with Rick and Barry Sonnenfeld and others. But a show like Guardians, I was on it for about 12 weeks or so but pretty much I was just doing midground and background characters, so I really didn’t have a chance to interact with Gunn that much. I mean, Legacy was in charge of the prosthetics for part two, and they put the teams together for who was doing the Nebula or Drax. By the time I got on set, I was just doing mid ground characters. But no, I didn’t have much contact with Gunn. However, in that same vein, when the new IT came out, Chris Nelson (who I did Bright with) was doing a virtual reality promotional film for the film (IT), and he (Nelson) asked me to apply the Pennywise makeup. Then, when the director heard that one of us had done the original Pennywise, he was very interested in talking with me. He was a fan of the original and was like, ‘Oh cool you worked on the first one’, so I showed him my notebook with all my Pennywise photos – that sort of thing. So in that instant, he was a fan and that was flattering.
HoTS: Your first big project was A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Where you did the Freddy coming out of Jesse’s body? Do you recall how long that sequence took to pull off?
BM: I think we had about 11 weeks from start to finish – when we did our first meetings and storyboards and what not to when we shot. Most of our effects were shot were on the last two days of filming the movie because it was all the Freddy bursting out of Jesse, and we had so much to build that we basically told him that it had to be the last stuff they shot because we needed every day that we could get. I recall staying up 40 hours straight getting everything ready for the first day of that two-day shoot.

HoTS: Did you work on anything else or just that scene?
BM: We also did the mechanical tongue that Jesse has when he’s making out with his girlfriend, so things like that we did earlier in the shoot, and there might have been one or two other little things that worked prior to that transformation, but 99% of what we built was that sequence.
HoTS: You’ve worked on bigger budget films and lower ones. Would you say having a bigger budget is easier or do you have more freedom in the small production?
BM: Defiantly on a small shows either time or money can certainly be more of an issue, but I guess you have to be a little more creative, like when I was doing stuff in Texas before I moved to LA, I might have known the right way to do something, but I maybe couldn’t either find the material or have the money to do it that way, so I would have to come up with an alternatives. I guess it forces you to be more inventive and resourceful, but sometimes too if they don’t have the time or money to do it, then it doesn’t get done at all and that can be frustrating. I think I’ve become a little spoiled working on the number of Rick Baker shows that I did because he always saw to getting things scheduled and having the time and budget to get do the project right. And, of course, after you get used to doing things the correct way and you get thrown into other situations where you don’t have that luxury, it can be frustrating. For example, the prosthetics that came out of Rick’s shop or other shops, like Vincent Van Dyke, they make beautiful prosthetics, and when you are on set applying their stuff, 99% of the time it’s going to be a nice piece, whereas, and I can’t name any names (laugh), but some other shows things might not be good such as the edges might not be what they should be or whatever and your kind of like, ‘Why is this made this way?’ And that can be frustrating – like being handed a pile of ‘whatever’ and trying to make it work. Like I said, I don’t want to name any names because a lot of these guys I’ve worked with are my friends and whatnot. But sometimes that’s due to budget and sometimes it’s just how things are designed, and you don’t always have input on how things go together. That was one of the nice things on Bright. You’ve seen Bright?

Bright (2017)

HoTS: Yeah. I really liked it.
BM: Oh good, I did too. Well, the initial test that they did on that, everybody wants to do everything in silicone these days. That’s just like the go-to material. But it would have been very impractical to do that movie with silicone, and when Chris did the first test, he made the prosthetics out of silicone and quickly realized that this was going to be more of a headache. Then whatever advantage you might have been getting from silicone, which I don’t know if there really was any. So after that first test, they decided that foam latex would be the better way to go, so thankfully the shop listened and that’s what we did. So when you get into a show early enough and where you can have input on the ways things should be executed, that’s always preferable. Again, some shows will afford you that luxury and other shows don’t, quite frankly. So, like on Bright, there was enough time to retool their thinking to go to foam latex and, again, when we did a couple of tests, for example, the way we were doing ears on Joel [Edgerton], we changed those after the second test just to make them more user friendly. They were very concerned about not getting the makeup applied in a certain amount of time, so we came up with suggests which would expedite it whereas the makeup might not have been originally designed that way. So some shows you know you have the schedule and budget to try things and rethink things and other shows you don’t.
But in general, yeah, it’s great to have a budget. Another example: I had the job of (the character) Vision on the new Avengers movie, and we had the time and the budget to rework the cowl that Paul Bettany wears because there were some comfort issues on Civil War that we were able to address in this new Avengers movie. But, then again, some of the most fun I’ve had, like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, were smaller budgets – especially compared to things I’ve worked since then (laughs). Or the Rob Zombie movies with Wayne Toth. I had a pretty good time because I was working with friends.
HoTS: Speaking of iconic 80s films, you worked on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. How did you get hired for that job?
BM: I was part of Tom Savini’s crew and I was living in Houston at the time. I had been corresponding with Savini since before Creepshow, so I was trying to get on the show but wasn’t having much luck. But my brother was living in California at the time and knew some of the people on Tom’s crew, and they’d already been in Austin for a week or two setting up, and I believe it was John Vulich who suggested that, “Tom isn’t going to hire you over the phone, but if you go to Austin and have a meeting with him, he’ll hire you”.
HoTS: What specifically did you do for that job?
BM: By the time I came on, which was a week or two into it, the main characters like Chop Top had already been doled out to various artists, so I was doing lab work. I ran a lot of foam latex, made some molds. In the film, somebody gets their hand cut off. We did a prosthetic on an amputee, and we sculpted the pieces for that. The guy had recently lost his hand, so when John Vulich applied the severed stump to him, the guy freaked out and literally ran away so we weren’t able to shoot him for the movie. I also helped Shawn McEnroe  apply makeup to Chop Top, and I also did a lot of set work. Probably the most visible thing I did in the movie was on Leatherface, doing work above his eyes and mouth before we put the mask on him. I was mainly watching set, so I would do the day to day makeup like the sores on his lips. That was like an out of the kit makeup, this material which is like a scar plastic you can build up wounds and stuff.

Tobe Hooper on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

HoTS: This was the first and, I believe, only time you worked with Tobe Hooper. Any special memories of working with him?
BM: I remember he said I looked like Stephen King. I thought that was cute (laugh), and at the time, just the length of his hair and goatee, I thought he looked like Rick Baker. So we were like, “Hey, you look like Stephen King” and “Oh, you look like Rick Baker”. I remember I was removing the Chop Top makeup once, and I was working a brush under the prosthetic to loosen it, and Tobe was there, I guess talking to [Bill] Moseley and watching what I was doing. And I remember poking the brush through the prosthetic and it looked like it punched through the skin, and Tobe was kind of grossed out by that. I was like, “Really? Out of all the stuff we are doing in this movie (laugh), this seems odd that this would affect you.” I also remember there was this one shot where we were doing a scene where the girl (Caroline Williams) was tied to a chair at the end of the table and her makeup artist was coming in and giving her water in between takes because she was screaming so much. She left a cup of water on the table for one of the takes, and Tobe was really pissed off, understandably, about that. I remember him telling the script supervisor, “Make a note to the editor that his preferred take was the one with the cup in it” just to emphasize how displeased he was with it left in. I try to remember anything else, nothing more specific. I remember Dennis Hopper had a birthday on the set, and the little cake and a mini chainsaw that he was cutting the cake with was spitting oil all over the place, and nobody wanted to eat the cake because it had oil all over it. I think Dennis Hopper might have been a little high once and awhile. I remember the makeup girl trying to do his makeup, and she comes at him with the sponge and he flinches like kind of recoils, and he said “What are you doing?” and she was like “I’m doing your makeup”. He was like, “Oh, okay” and settles down. And she goes to do it again, and he flinches and again said, “What are ya doing?” and again she says, “I’m doing your makeup” (laughs), and he’s like, “Ohh, okay”, and this must have gone on for 15 minutes. (Laughs) I was thinking, ‘Yeah Dennis might be smoking something before he came to the trailer’ that day. But yeah, Tobe was a cool guy and seemed to know what he wanted. I was impressed with him and how he handled the set and whatnot, so it was defiantly a good experience.
HoTS: Now the thing you probably get asked about the most is designing Pennywise for the 90s miniseries. I read you started designs before Curry was cast?
BM: Yeah as much as I could. I mean, once I read the script, I started just kind of doing some doodles and some rough conceptual stuff. I know there are some pictures that showed up online of some of my early sketches. But I quickly found that without having the actor’s face that you are working on, it was kind of pointless at least in terms of specifics. I think I might have gotten some board strokes before Tim was cast, but a lot of that, especially a makeup like that, much is dictated by the actor’s face. So you can sit there and draw for weeks, but once you get your actor, you’d be like, “Okay, this isn’t going to work on him”. Again, I did a few just board strokes, concept type things, but luckily they cast Tim fairly early on, and I was able to focus my attention on making it work which is the features.
HoTS: And Curry wasn’t the first choice if I am remembering that correctly?
BM: Tommy doesn’t remember this, but maybe he wasn’t yet on board, but originally this was going to be a three-part six-hour miniseries, and at that time, I remember going [to] Fantasy 2 and asking who was going to be Pennywise. I remember at the time saying it was either going to be Tim Curry, Malcolm McDowell, or Roddy McDowall being considered. Tommy has since said in interviews he doesn’t recall that, but again it might have happened before he got on board. But certainly, I never did any design work for anybody but Tim Curry.

Bart Mixon concept art for Pennywise in 1990 IT miniseries

HoTS: Curry was not a big fan of prosthetics from what I read?
BM: He previously did the character Darkness (for Legend) and wore more prosthetics. I guess, yeah, he probably wanted to keep it as simple and as little as possible. I know at one point he was saying that he wouldn’t mind just having a rubber bald cap instead of the foam latex cranium that I had for him. I guess his whole concept of Pennywise was a little different than mine. For example, he was okay with the edges showing on the bald cap, like he was a guy wearing a clown makeup. But for me it was never a guy wearing a makeup; it was an illusion this creature was projecting, so it didn’t make sense to me to include flaws like that. The makeup that we used in the movie had a headpiece and a nose, and then, in additional tests there were cheekbones also. We tested both of those, and I could tell that Tim wasn’t too thrilled about wearing the cheeks, and again in hindsight I think it was the right decision, but I thought he looked good with them in the test. At the time, I sculpted the battery acid, he was going to be wearing those, but once we tested, we decided not to use them. And we didn’t have time to re-sculpt the makeup, and, for a while, they weren’t going to use it anyways. So yeah, he wanted to wear as little as possible. We had to have the headpiece on him, and plus I wanted the light bulb head, and Tommy Wallace wanted that, too. So we needed to build up his head a little bit. Also, to his credit, the whole battery acid look… we almost didn’t shoot that. When we did principal photography, we didn’t have time to put it on him, so we shot the scene without it and used the regular Pennywise look, and then Tim expressed some disappointment and said, “Well, you did this beautiful prosthetic. It’s a shame we aren’t going to be able to use it”, so they scheduled a day of additional photography at Fantasy II and Tim said if we could get it all in one day, that he would wear the battery acid look so we could do the inserts for that sequence. So it wasn’t that he was totally flat against prosthetics, otherwise he wouldn’t have volunteered to wear that, and the only reason that’s in the movie is because he graciously offered to wear it for that day. And I am forever grateful to him for that and, of course, that is a very memorable piece in the movie. Its almost as iconic as Pennywise himself, and that came very close to not being in the movie. Tim was a great guy, and I cannot say enough nice things about him. I’m glad they choose him.

Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT 1990 miniseries

HoTS: Had Curry not minded a lot of prosthetics, would you have gone another direction in the look?
BM: I did three designs, or what we call clay sketches, once we had Tim cast. Then we did a head cast of him, and I did three different designs. One was very heavy and almost covered his whole face. It was almost like one of those tramp or hobo clowns with the sculpted frown, and it had a lot more character in the face. The second was the one that we went with, and the third was somewhere in between, and just in conversations with the director, we choose the one we went with. Of the three looks, that’s the one that was picked, but it was originally supposed to have cheekbones to the chin. It was like a stylized Lon Chaney from The Phantom of the Opera, which is what I was going for. So had Tim been more open, we would have gone with the cheek and the chin, but we already eliminated the heavier makeup in the design process.

 

HoTS: King, I heard, wasn’t on set.
BM: I don’t know why he wasn’t on set. I’m not sure if nobody invited him or he didn’t want to go. And I know he was around The Stand and some of these other miniseries of some of his books, so I’m not really sure why he didn’t show up on ours. Maybe he was busy at that time. I don’t know.
HoTS: Did you meet him prior to IT?
BM: I never met him.
HoTS: So, I am dying to know what you thought of the new IT and the design of Pennywise.
BM: It was cool. I’m certainly fond of mine, but I thought they did a nice job. I did get to apply that one day for the promotional thing, and there were certainly some similarities to my makeup which probably couldn’t be avoided [with] it being a clown, but I thought it was different enough. I don’t envy [Bill] Skarsgård just having to follow Tim Curry. That must be a pretty daunting task for him, but yeah, I thought it was interesting as a makeup. I’m glad they did their own take on it, that they didn’t just copy mine even though I have friends that thought they copied it a little too much. I guess it has the bulbous head like mine, but that’s where the similarities end. Just as a movie, I thought they did a pretty good job. Mine was a TV movie from 1990; theirs is an R-rated feature in 2017, so obviously they can do stuff we weren’t allowed to do. For what I did, I think it was about three hours and five minutes long. By the time they do part two, it will probably come into about four and a half hours to cover the same territory, so I am kind of envious that they got another hour and a half to tell the same story and they are not restricted by the 1990 TV censorship as I was. But I’m really looking forward to part two. I got a lot of crap on mine for the spider at the end of ours, so I’m kind of curious to see what they do or if they are even going to do a spider, or if they are gonna chicken out and not do it at all. (Laughs) I have a feeling with all the references to the turtle in the first one, we are going to see the spider and turtle fight. That was in the book. So I wish them luck with that, but yeah, I’m looking forward to the second one. Actually, after the director met Chris and I, he said, “Oh maybe we should get you to do part two”, and I was like, “Hey you know where to find us”. So [we] will see, but I thought they did a good job. Some of the visuals in there I thought were really cool, like the scene with Georgie in the flooded basement and he’s standing in like ankle deep water and Pennywise comes up out of the water, which I thought made a nice supernatural element since obviously the water wasn’t deep enough for him to be completely submerged and yet he was. Or like when he was working Georgie like a hand puppet or when he ripped Georgie’s arm off – which is a scene we could only hint at. In our version, he is missing an arm but you can’t really tell.
HoTS: You’re doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies on Jan 13, 2018. The book is entitled Monster Squad about the art of monster makeup. Is this going to be a reunion for you with the other guests?
BM: Well, it depends. I’d have to look at the list to see who’s on there. Like I think Tom and Alex from ADI are going to be there, and I just saw them recently at Creature Features for a promotional thing. But most of these guys I’m certainly casual friends with but, unfortunately, with everybody’s schedule, we probably don’t see each other as much as we would like to. Certainly, there are some people that I’ve seen more recently than others.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

You can meet Mr. Bart Mixon at the Dark Delicacies book signing Jan 13, 2018.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross - Sleep Savannah SleepAlistair Cross, acclaimed author of such works as The Crimson Corset and his newest novel Sleep Savannah Sleep and co-host of Haunted Nights Live! a radio program broadcast on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network with the equally amazing author Tamara Thorne, was kind enough to do an interview with me for my home here at House of Tortured Souls. Before I get to the interview, though, I would like to tell you more about his works.
Alistair Cross - The Crimson CorsetAbout The Crimson Corset: Welcome to Crimson Cove a cozy village in California where Cade Coulter, our protagonist, moves to live with his brother hoping for a peaceful life. Everything is idyllic until the sun sets and the little tourist town begins to show more night death than nightlife. At the very edge of town sits The Crimson Corset known for its crazy soirees and licentiousness, where people can indulge their every fantasy no matter how depraved or unacceptable. The only thing is is that the place is owned and operated by a vampire.
The owner, Gretchen VanTreese, wants to take out the Old World Vampires that also exist in the town so that she can be free to create a new race of vampires that she will rule. And Cade Coulter will have to fight this wicked and enticing vampire, even give up his own humanity to save the town and everyone that he loves.
I loved this book. There is nothing better than a great story infused with blood, violence, and gore. Let me show you some of the reviews so you can get an even better idea:
Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset-a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.
—Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion and Lucid.
Alistair Cross’ new novel The Crimson Corset…is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, Uncle Silas) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.
—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Saint-Germaine Cycle and the Chesterton Holt Mysteries.
Very nice heavy hitters for a debut book!
Alistair Cross - The Angel AlejandroHe has also written The Book of Strange Persuasions, The Angel Alejandro, and the aforementioned Sleep Savanah Sleep. Alistair has also collaborated on many books with the sensational Tamara Thorne as Thorne&Cross. Some of their joint titles include The Cliffhouse Haunting, Mother, The Witches of Ravencrest, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Which brings me to the next bit about him. Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne started their own radio show called Haunted Nights Live! where they talk all things horror to some of the biggest names in the business. Featuring such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, and Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels.
So, now that we have established his illustrious credentials, let’s ask him some questions.
House of Tortured Souls: So, Alistair, what would you like people to know about you?
Alistair Cross: I am not a morning person: no, I will not help your sister move…and I prefer cats to most people.
HoTS: When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed on his website that in 1987 – He saw Carrie and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, wrote more stories (most of which featured an unmanageably extensive cast of talking cats). So sorry I missed that readers.
Next question Alistair: What are your horror influences?

AC: Stephen King, of course, who was my introduction to the genre back when I was barely 8 years old. I am also influenced by Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty, just to name a few.
HoTS: What did you do with your very first advance for a book??
AC: I just stared at it. A lot.
HoTS: What was your first scary movie?
AC: The first movie I remember being absolutely terrified by was Cujo. It still makes me a little uneasy.
HoTS: How do you write what you want without worrying about how your subject matter will be taken?
AC: As a horror author, I consider it my duty to shock and offend. There are few subjects I won’t touch on, animal cruelty for example because it’s not necessary and it’s too easy. But I don’t think about reader reaction when I’m writing. I write the stories I want to read and figure it is likely others out there will want to read them too.
HoTS: What is your spirit animal?
AC: Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.
HoTS: Has anything in your books ever happened to you?
AC: While I’ve certainly never been lured into an underground lair of a seductive blond vampire or found an amnesiac angel in my koi pond after a violent storm, some of the events in my writing do come from personal experience. All fiction is rooted in truth, but I never set out to chronicle my own experiences. It’s about the characters and their stories, not mine. The only exception is Five Nights In a Haunted Cabin, a real-life account of an experience I had with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne.
HoTS: How did you and Tamara become writing partners?
AC: It’s an unusual story that began in the late 1990s when I came across Tamara’s novel Moonfall. I liked it so much, I got all of her books and began stalking her website via AOL dial-up because in my day we had to practice patience when we stalked people online. Several years later, after my first book was published, I began a blog dedicated to interviews with authors. Tamara Thorne was one of the first people I asked to be on my blog. She said yes and we hit it off enough that she asked me if I’d like to write a short story with her. That short story became a full-length novel, and that led to the next one and the one after that, and the rest is history. Writing with Tamara is one of the easiest, most natural things I have ever done and, at the risk of sounding corny, I believe it was simply meant to be.
House of Tortured Souls: And readers I thought it was only fair to reach out to Tamara Thorne and gets some fun stuff on Alistair from her:
Tamara Thorne: I love collaborating with Alistair. We spend our days working on Skype and when our cats start climbing us, we turn on the cameras. Alistair’s kitty, Pawpurrazzi, truly abuses him. I love watching the way she gives him kisses, then shoves her butt in his face. Those two are madly in love.
We write together in the Cloud and rarely recall who wrote what. After each day’s work – or after completing the first draft – my job is to read our words aloud. When we’re in edit mode, reading for hours can be pretty grueling, but my collaborator knows how to keep things lively. He moves ahead in the manuscript and adds lines so outrageous and rude that I fall apart – so does he. We relish our giggle breaks more than I can say. Once in a while, we leave an obscenity in to amuse our editors. The reactions are varied but hysterical.
So I cannot recommend these authors enough and I also cannot thank them enough for taking their time to answer some questions and share a few laughs. Below are some links for you to get to know and experience more of Alistair Cross and his partner in crime Tamara Thorne. And definitely, check out their radio broadcast.
Posted by Horrormadam in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, PARANORMAL, PODCAST, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

One of the Hardest Working Women in the Business

-Scream Queen, Amazing Actress, Author-

Hello readers, and thank you for joining me on another part of my series on celebrating the Gifted Heroines of Horror and Women in Film! I had the honor, joy, and just great time interviewing the most wondrous Scream Queen Brooke Lewis. When I say she is hardworking, I feel that I may be using that phrase inadequately. She is an actress, scream queen, Certified Life Coach and Dating Coach, Author, singer, producer, columnist, voice-over artist, has her own talk show/ web series, a clothing line, upcoming make-up line, and is also a hugely altruistic philanthropist. She makes me tired just thinking about it. One of my favorite things about her that we talked about is that she has a wonderful distinction in horror in that she has never been killed in a  horror film…yet.
Brooke is an award-winning actress who has starred in such films as the thriller iMurders (2008) with Gabrielle Anwar, William Forsythe, Tony Todd, Frank Grillo, Billy Dee Williams, and the amazing Charles Durning. Sinatra Club (2010) with Jason Gedrick, Danny Nucci, and Michael Nouri. And one of my new favorite shorts Sprinkles (2010).
House of Tortured Souls: Knowing she’s acted along such greats I asked her what some of those experiences were like I was especially interested in her work with Charles Durning known for being the King of Character Actors.
Brooke Lewis: You know I did five films with god rest his soul Charles Durning, yes I used to dine with the man. Adults really get it, Oscar-nominated for Dog Day Afternoon, When a Stranger Calls, TootsieCharles Durning. I mean are you kidding me? I have worked with Michael Pare: Eddie and the Cruisers, Streets of Fire, and The Philadelphia Experiment, he’s my friend. The legendary Billy Dee Williams: Mahogany, Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. I am not sure if the younger generation understands the magnitude of that. When I was a young girl, I was in high school and I was obsessed with Candyman and then I found out I was going to be starring next to Tony Todd, someone has got to be kidding me! I was so scared to be going on set but he is so great! The celebrity and fame have never changed him, he has done so much acting, even on Broadway. Tony is really more than meets the eye. Its crazy, I have gotten to work with both Costas and Loius Mandylor. Saw for Costas and My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for Louis.The thing is that they are just brilliant actors. One of my dearest kindred spirits is The Hills Have EyesSuze Lanier-Bramlett. She is like my soul sister. She was Bambi on Welcome Back Kotter, you know Barbarino’s girlfriend. We sit and talk about yesteryears, her life as an actress, being young and in Hollywood vs my experience and it is so scary. I don’t know if the younger generation of moviegoers will be able to distinguish between real stars of that era vs Youtube sensations with no real acting chops.You cant just get together with a few friends and spill ketchup on your boobs film it on your phone, dub yourself a Scream Queen and call it horror. Horror fans are way too intelligent for that. To know and understand the careers of people like Charles Durning or Billy Dee Williams or Margaret Colin and Larry Hankin from Home Alone may be out of their purview.
HoTS: I next asked Brooke about being a woman in horror and being a Scream Queen.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis
BL: I embrace being a Scream Queen. I earned it! I am very proud to be on any lists where the greats like Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, and Dee Wallace along with the newer generation like my girls Felissa Rose and Debbie Rochon and the list goes on and on. As far as acting in horror, anything I have done in the horror genre is by choice. I am committed to a certain standard. People come up to me and are like but you did a film like Slime City Massacre? Yes, I did and thank you very much it won me the 2010 Golden Cobb award!

HoTS: And readers that was a hot year for horror! I checked her competitors that year and they were impressive. For BEST SCREAM QUEEN:
Debbie RochonSlime City Massacre
Victoria MauretteBulletface
Kristina KlebeZone of The Dead
April Monique BurrillChainsaw Sally
Brooke LewisSlime City Massacre
BL: People can say what they want, it was an ultra-low budget sequel to the cult classic “Slime City” (1988) and I had to make a decision, a choice when I made that film. When Greg Lamberson came to me and said you are one of the new IT girl Scream Queens of 07-08, read my script and see if you want to get involved. Look at any of the roles and maybe you wanna come in and produce in some way, and we bonded right away. That man is one smart man and he is an amazing writer and a great director. If you see the movie, the undertones and the subtext is amazing it covers drug addiction, gentrification, politics, US vs Canada, abortion, and it goes on and on. There are so many smart messages underneath the campy, gory, fun stuff, that I was inspired to do it. I am so glad I did because it became one of the horror films that I am most known for. Horror embraces strong women. I am a short, curvy, voluptuous, ethnic woman, horror embraces that pin-up look which I have always been grateful for. Horror always embraces outside the norm, I am not the typical Hollywood starlet look and horror does not discriminate. Not like most movies where you have to look like a supermodel in order to get naked, in horror real people have sex.
I can only speak for myself and some of my peers, I choose to be a powerful woman in horror. I don’t just act in horror, I have done Broadway, and thrillers, and mob movies, I just wrapped an amazing dramedy called 1/2 New Year, I do it all because I am an actress but the stuff that I have chosen to do in horror and I am very proud of it. I feel like I have got to do some great stuff, made some great films with some really great people.
HoTS: I then wanted to find out about the Ms. Vampy talk show/web series, But before we get into that, let me introduce you to Ms. Vampy. Ms. Vampy is America’s funniest, sexiest, sassiest and most extraordinary board certified Life Coach and Vampiress! Her personality is as big as her hair and is often described as Betty Boop meets Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. She has two books, Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk and Coaching From a Professed Hot Mess. I have read them both readers and cannot recommend them highly enough. Ms. Vampy gives sage advice and does so in such a relatable and entertaining way.

BL: What do I get cast in usually in the mainstream? Hooker, stripper, because I have big boobs and big hair and I wear high heels because I am short so naturally…the hairstylist, the guidette, which I love and that’s how Ms. Vampy was born. I looked at the body of my biggest work and at that point in time, ten years ago it was mobster movies, it was comedy, big hair and guidette roles that I used to play like in Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding where I got my start  on Broadway which I love, then add horror to the mix. It came to me that this had never been done before and it is a lot of what my horror fans embrace about me. And I thought why not? Ms. Vampy is a Brooklyn, big-haired vampire guidette with a heart of gold. On the teen talk show, we talk about everything from the LGBTQ community, to racism, to sexism, to bullies and it was very important to me to get this done. It needs to be made and I will not stop till it is done correctly. She is from the Vamprelli crime family, killing people and drinking blood is declasse so she eats everything else that is red. So everything needs the suspension of reality because she has a heart of gold and tons of positive messages. She’s my alter-ego. She talks about everything that I have experienced in my life. Also there is the teen smash hit TV/talk show/web series Ms. Vampy’s Tween Tawk, Teen Tawk & In Between Tawk, which won the Honolulu Film Awards 2012 SILVER LEI AWARD, the coveted 18th Annual Communicator Awards (2012) AWARD OF DISTINCTION for Social Responsibility and Los Angeles Film Awards May 2017 INSPIRING WOMAN IN A FILM AWARD .

I wanted to bring to your attention readers three of her new projects. Psycho Therapy (2016) a short film was written and directed by another great woman in film and horrorStaci Layne Wilson. It has won twenty-one awards already, including awards for Brooke and her production company Philly Chick Pictures. Philadelphia is her hometown hence the name. The other is a film she already mentioned called 1/2 New Year which is in post-production so make sure to keep an eye out for it. The last was the aforementioned Sprinkles short film which has twenty-five wins also for Brooke and Philly Chick.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis

Brooke also has partnered with Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle Company Metal Babe Mayhem to brand and launch their ‘Rock Your Hot Mess’, ‘Ms. Vampy’ and ‘Scream Queen Brooke Lewis’ clothing lines. She was also branded with the hypoallergenic Makeup and Skincare Company TASH Cosmetics to launch their ‘Profess Your Hot Mess’ and ‘Ms. Vampy Girl’ makeup lines. I told you this woman was busy!
As far as being a columnist she has the distinction of writing for the Huffington Post as a contributor which she started in 2012. With such great articles as “Ask the Drama Queen”, “Hollywood Darlings Let Their Light Shine With Anti-Bullying Campaign”, and “Ageism and Heterosexism in Hollywood.”
And if you were wondering about the singing she signed with Tazmania Records/Metropolitan Records and released the freestyle dance hit “Get Me Off Your Mind”. Released in 2009 and on the album Tazmania Freestyle In-motion vol. 13.
Brooke strongly believes in charity work that empowers women and young adults. She is active in several charities that support Breast Cancer and Anti-bullying and can be found feeding the Skid Row homeless at the Los Angeles Mission which I saw when she showed a few pictures at Christmas, best looking Santa’s helper out there. She is also a proud Breaking The Chains Foundation (BTCF) Celebrity Ambassador. Brooke is a proud member of Women In Film and Film Independent. She was also the Hot Hunks of Horror Hottie for 2009 and the co-captain of Dread Central’s Bowling for Boobies.
She also told me that people would say to her, with her cleavage, high heels, big hair, and makeup how did she expect to be taken seriously as an intelligent woman?And she would say to them really? She has more degrees than six of them combined. For her naysayers I will say this, she majored in rhetoric and communications, she minored in both theater and criminal justice. She was also Inducted into ‘Outstanding Filmmakers Of The Year’ at the first Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival 2017 and for me to list all of her awards and accolades, I would need to get new hands after typing because mine would fall off!
Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Brooke Lewis on the web:

So for myself, Horrormadam and everyone at the House of Tortured Souls I want to say thank you so much to Brooke Lewis and also huge congratulations on her fiancee’s proposal on September first (her birthday) 2017. Brooke is such a sweet, intelligent, and kind woman and she deserves all the best. And as she and Ms. Vampy would tell you. Be you…And be fearless and definitely Vamp It Out!
Metal Babe Mayhem: Scream Queen Brooke Lewis (SQBL)
Discount code #BROOKE16 to receive 20% OFF!
Posted by Horrormadam in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, FEATURED CONTENT, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, WOMEN IN HORROR, 1 comment
Artist of the Month – December 2017: Tony Blake

Artist of the Month – December 2017: Tony Blake

I found December’s AotM because of my love for The Walking Dead once again. 🙂

And even though this was one of the most horrible occurrences on my favorite show, Steven was impressed!

One of the reasons Tony Blake’s art stands out is the fact he uses color pencils! You guys should know by now I love different. 😉

Here is his brief bio:

Tony is from Great Yarmouth in the UK. He is a full-time freelance artist and is currently studying for a degree in art. He is 41 years old. Married with three children.

Our Q&A:

House of Tortured Souls: How long have you been into horror art?
Tony Blake: Always loved horror art from a young age. First ever character I drew was Freddy from a t-shirt my dad brought me.

HoTS: Did you have a teacher or go to art school??
TB: I’m self taught.

HoTS: Who is your favorite monster?
TB: Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).

HoTS: Do you have booths at conventions or any art galleries?
TB: I do comic cons across the UK and my art was featured in the Z-Nation exhibit at the Spokane Museum of Art.

HoTS: How old were you when you started drawing?
TB: Probably about 5. Once I went to school. It was all I could do as I had problems with reading and writing, I’m dyslexic.


HoTS: What is your favorite method, pencil, charcoal, the blood of innocents?
TB: I use Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils for the last two years love them.

HoTS: Do you have a fan page? Twitter? Instagram?
TB: Yes!

antblakeart
@TonyBlake76
@tonyblakeart

HoTS: Do you do commissions?
TB: Yes always doing what the customers want.

HoTS: Are you working on something now?
TB: Currently drawing Bill Murray as Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters.

HoTS: What advice would you give anyone interested in starting this career?
TB: Best advice I can give is practice, practice, never give up and always try new styles, and if that doesn’t work sell your soul to the devil.

Throughout the month of December, Tony is selling original pieces $80! :-O #Floored!!

Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, FEATURED ARTIST, FEATURED CONTENT, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: The Blair Witch Legacy Creator Jason Hawkins

INTERVIEW: The Blair Witch Legacy Creator Jason Hawkins

This is a fan-made film and will not be available for purchase or digital viewing.
I had an opportunity to discuss some elements of The Blair Witch Legacy with Jason Hawkins. Hawkins also has aspirations to make his own Friday the 13th fan film and says he has it “if people got behind it…….I already worked out how it would go”. As The Blair Witch Legacy is a fan made film, Hawkins and his crew cannot gain financially from its release. However, as you see in my candid interview with Hawkins, he has plans for the film.

House of Tortured Souls: The Blair Witch Legacy is a ‘fan film’, are you a fan of the Blair Witch franchise (this would include all 3 films currently released) and/or the Blair Witch folklore?
Jason Hawkins: I am a fan of the Blair Witch films. I saw the first one in theatres when, like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure if what I was watching was legit or not. I suspected not, but the film was so well put together, and the marketing campaign so well thought out, that I was able to suspend disbelief enough to get caught up in the story and really enjoy it. As a child, I had seen a lot of the docu-films like The Legend of Boggy Creek and such, so I think I was ready for a film like this. I’ve revisited The Blair Witch Project multiple times over the years and find that it still holds up well. The second film Book Of Shadows my hopes were high. I think I’m one of the few people who thought the film was decent. It’s not excellent, and there’s a lot going on that misses the point, but I thought (when I was watching it as a stand-alone style film) that it holds up in a video store rental kinda way. The third film…I was curious. More than I was excited. I think the reaction to the second film really hurt the release of the new one. I didn’t enjoy the third film in the way I hoped I would. To me, they erred in making it a ‘Hollywood Movie’ filled with the same type of things horror fans complain about on a regular basis. The premise was solid, the idea was there, but the execution was not. I felt it was ‘Oh look, pretty teens go into the woods….oh look the cliché black best friend character…oh look” it was filled with things that took me out of the realism. There was never any doubt that we were watching a ‘Hollywood Film’ from the beginning. It was missing that ‘what if’ factor of the original film. It should have come off as a raw Indie. I think that’s the major differences between the original and the follow-up films. We love the original because of what it is- the underdog's story. The filmmakers were not Hollywood cookie-cutter characters. They looked, acted, felt like real people - because they were. In our film, we wanted to get back to basics, back to a film that feels like it could have been shot with regular people on consumer level equipment – because it was. We embraced that and worked to make it feel exactly like what it is …. a found footage film.

HoTS: Being a fan of the film, how did you produce the budget for the film? Was there an Indiegogo campaign? Investors?
JH: We actually worked with a pretty small budget, even by Indie standards. Being a fan film, we knew we couldn’t profit off of it, and we’ve done our best to be very respectful of the intellectual properties, which would have made going to an investor difficult. With limited options, we decided to make this film directly out of our own pockets and funded all aspects of it ourselves. There was talk of an Indiegogo, but we felt with the right people and the right approach we could pull this off ourselves. The money hunt, particularly for indie artists, is a constant struggle. It’s very, very difficult to get films made, even when you have a solid track record and I didn’t want to wait 5 years…… 10 ….maybe never making this film. I’ve seen too many filmmakers with great ideas wither on the vine and never get their made because they don’t have the budget. We worked with what we had, took advantage of our skills and decided to make the film with a budget we had.

HoTS: Where did you find your 3 lead actors – Samantha Marie Cook, Cody Epling, and Jason Reynolds- and what was it like working with them?
JH: We originally posted the project under a code name The March Project intending to cast and shoot in spring. Record rainfall flooded a lot of our locations and caused some conditions that we decided might be hazardous, so we delayed. We had begun the audition process by accepting video auditions. From those we culled the list down to the top 2-3 we wanted to see them in person for each character. We bought these actors in and really put them through their paces. They still didn’t know what they were auditioning for, what the film was about or anything. We narrowed down our choices and invited the actors to join the film, finally telling them what it was and what our goals were. Sam was our first choice and Cody had actually auditioned for a different character but came on as the character we see in the film. (In fact, most of the characters you see in the film had auditioned, didn’t get the role they were after but were offered a chance to come back and be in the film and its supporting character). Jason I had known for a while, having worked with him on a few other projects and training MMA with him. He’s a friend and I wanted somebody who was comfortable in the deep woods and also they were familiar with the way I work. Working with them was hell on earth – I’m kidding of course. We had multiple meetings before film dates, to get everybody comfortable around each other and to work on building the sense of camaraderie that you hopefully see and feel in the film. The characters came together well, and once the weather cleared we moved to shoot. The first few days didn’t go as smooth as we wanted, but it was a great bonding experience and we decided to start over, scrapping the first few days of footage. The trials and tribulations of filming a project like this brought them together in a stronger way, and when we started again, they were on point. It’s hard to believe now that none of them had ever met before we started casting, they seem like old friends.

HoTS: You shot on location in both Oregon and Maryland, was the Burkittsville location welcoming of another Blair Witch film?
JH: Soooooo…..we didn’t actually go to Maryland. We wanted to sell the illusion that we did, much as they sold the illusion of the ‘Black Hills’ in the original. We went to the airport, whole bit, but never actually went to Maryland. I had scouted locations for a few months and done my best to match them up with some of the towns woods in Maryland. We put that in the credits just for fun, and to see if anybody would know the difference. Is that a spoiler? I’m not sure, but it’s a factual statement that the people of Burkittsville have come out with negative responses to the Blair Witch films- in our movie when Sam says “I know, it’s all on the Thrillist website”, she’s telling the truth. The Thrillist website does cover the negative reactions of the people of Burkittsville about The Blair Witch Project. A lot of what we did was very meta –we heavily mixed in fact and fiction. In fact, sometimes you’d hear statements on set such as “wait, is this real real or film real?” and sometimes the answer was simply yes, yes it is.

HoTS: What other film projects can I observe your work in?
JH: I like to stay busy and am almost always working on something, or developing the next project. Over the years I’ve done multiple feature films, including All American Bully with Adrienne King (from the original Friday the 13th), 15:Inside The Mind of a Serial Killer (which is getting re-released soon), and The Devil Knows His Own with Eileen Dietz (from The Exorcist and many more), as well as several short films. Like a lot of indie artists, we’ve had ups and downs with distribution. My films can be found on Redbox, iTunes, Amazon, Walmart and many outlets around the world. Many would call that success, and I suppose it is, but getting distributors to actually pay you for your work is another story entirely. In fact, that’s an entire article unto itself…

HoTS: What is the plan for The Blair Witch Legacy? Will you be submitting it to festivals?
JH: This is actually a pretty complex question. We knew going into this that we couldn’t profit off of someone else’s intellectual property. We are not the copyright holders, and our film is able to exist through the grace of Lionsgate. They have allowed people to play with the Blair Witch universe in the past – these are dozens of fan shorts, fake documentaries, etc, much the same as fans have been allowed to play in other rich, layered, universes such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and so on. So, knowing that, we made the film by fans, for fans. We have submitted to multiple festivals and conventions, where we’ll be showing exhibition screeners of our film. Currently, there are close to a dozen that will be showing it or trying to work it into their schedule. However, I try to make sure every move I make in regards to film and my career is with a reason. I like to say “No move without purpose” and try to make sure every move is to advance and with purpose. I didn’t just make a fan film. I made a fan film in a popular universe to draw more attention to what we do, and send up a flare in the direction of Lionsgate- “hey look at us. We love the franchise. There is hope for it. Let US make the next one.” How cool would it be to get their attention and have them look at our project? I’ve already worked out most of the details for a sequel, and I really believe the franchise can be given new life and reach new audiences worldwide. And I want to be the one to do it. No move without purpose.

Keep up to date on screenings and festivals showing The Blair Witch Legacy, through their Facebook page and watch for future projects from Jason Hawkins.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

INTERVIEW: Death House (2018) Director Harrison Smith

“The Only Way Out… Is Down”

I had the great privilege of interviewing the superb director Harrison Smith on his newest film Death House. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about the film.

Death House poster.There is a Fed-Max subterranean government prison that holds humanities worst criminals known as the Death House. It serves as a medical, psychological, and parapsychological research center aimed at eradicating evil. Two federal agents are granted a tour of the center. While on the tour, the unthinkable happens. There is a power outage that releases all of the prisoners, and the agents must fight their way through all of the horror and violence to try to survive. They soon discover that they are being herded down to the lowest depths of the facility. In those depths are a group of supernatural evil beings known as The Five Evils and they may be the agents’ only chance at salvation.

Cody Longo in Death House.

Cody Longo in Death House.

The movie sounds and looks amazing but before I go on I just wanted to say that the media and many articles have labeled the movie, “The Horror Movie genre of The Expendables“. I have to disagree with that. If it were The Expendables we would have a movie with Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs et. al. Which, to some, may sound interesting but it would lack any substance. The stars in this movie are so much more than their individual roles that they have portrayed, they are true actors who excel at their craft. Let me tell you some of them:

  • Adrienne Barbeau: Escape From N.Y., Creepshow, Swamp Thing, The Fog
  • Kane Hodder: Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th films and Victor Crowley from The Hatchet films
  • Dee Wallace: The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
  • Michael Berryman: The Hills Have Eyes, The Devils Rejects
  • Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next
  • Sid Haig: The Devils Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Kill Bill
  • Tony Todd: Candyman, Hatchet, Final Destination
  • Bill Moseley: The Devils Rejects, Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Vernon Wells: The Road Warrior, Weird Science
  • Lindsay Hartley: Nightmare Nurse
  • Cody Longo: Piranha 3D, Nashville
  • Cortney Palm: The Dark Tapes
  • Felissa Rose: Sleepaway Camp
  • Vincent Ward: The Walking Dead

Whew, that is a LOT of talent in one film!

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA.

Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, PA. The place had a built-in horror film setting, full of dark history and eerie vibes. It really acts as a functioning character in the film.

IMDb provided a great quote:

This is a solid horror piece, dark, nasty and gore-soaked; not satire or tongue in cheek.

And like Harrison told me, he was writing in a local bar when the ad for Jurassic World came on and it hit him that this movie was “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Jurassic World without the dinosaurs”. So… great actors along with an exciting script and skilled direction. Then throw in stupefying makeup and effects by the Roy Knyrim (Sinister 2) and SOTA FX, and a soundtrack by John Avarese that sets the perfect ambiance. We will finally get what we paid for at the box office!

Death House - Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Death House – Cody Longo and Dee Wallace on set at Holmesburg Prison.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

Cortney Palm in Death House.

House of Tortured Souls: My first question for Harrison was why the horror genre?
Harrison Smith: My first film, The Fields, was based on what really happened to me when I lived and grew up with my grandparents on their farm. The farm came under attack for a short period of time by an unseen presence. We never understood what caused it and we never understood what ended it, so I had personal experience. But also my grandmother and I used to watch horror movies and the old horror TV show Dr. Shock who hosted Saturday morning shows like Scream-In, Horror Theater, and Mad Theater. The movies were captivating. I loved finding out there was a sequel to Frankenstein and that he didn’t die in the burning windmill. There were more like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man that continued on the story of Lon Chaney. Like when they killed Lon Chaney in the original Wolfman I was like, “Why? He was a nice man, he didn’t want to be The Wolf Man“. I loved it. They were like Saturday morning soap operas. I loved them as a kid, but that time is gone. That is why I like Tom Holland’s Fright Night. I was watching in the summer of ’85 and knew it was a Valentine to an era that was quickly fading and disappearing. At that time, the threat was coming from cable television and the home video revolution, so Peter Vincent was this aging icon of an era long gone trying to stay relevant. Tom Holland got it, and Fright Night works on many levels. So horror movies, for me, were a real escape from the actually really scary shit that happened to me.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

Kane Hodder in Death House. Set piece by PCND/fx.

HoTS: Then I asked him about the abundance of horror movies and shows seem to be throwing back to the ’80s. Movies like It Follows and The House of the Devil and shows like Stranger Things all reflect that age in horror, and Death House has many actors from that era. Why do you think it is a niche we all still enjoy?

Dee Wallace in Death House.

Dee Wallace in Death House.

HS: Director and actor Eli Roth said that the have-sex-and-die concept behind many of the ’80s slasher films was not as relevant today because millennials look at it and don’t get it. There was a study reported by the L.A. Times in an article by Melissa Batchelor Warnke saying that the millennial generation is the least sexually active, so that concept does not translate well. But at the time when Friday the 13th came around, it was a perfect storm of both liberal and conservative values. We had a very conservative administration with Reagan and yet, at the same time, we were known as the party generation. It was a weird flux of things coming together. So Friday the 13th had fun and parties with lots of boobs and tons of gore but with a moral lesson. See what happens when you fuck in the woods? Jason was like a walking STD. So the ’80s made us nostalgic for the ’50s, and now we look back to the ’80s. We are nostalgic for when we grew up. That is why, when making Death House, we always remembered that we were handling peoples memories and that is very important. The new generation gets to fall in love with it like we did. And with regards to the actors in Death House, they were all smart enough to choose great directors and projects that were just starting out, and their careers flourished from those collaborations so they are all still relevant today.

Death House - Kane Hodder arriving on set.

Kane Hodder arriving on the Death House set pictured with Harrison (dressed as an extra for the ward scene). The guy over his shoulder is producer Rick Finkelstein.

HoTS: I did some research on Holmesburg Prison, where you decided to film the movie. Some extremely monstrous things went on there. Any ghosts try to break into acting for the film?

HS: No, I did not experience anything myself. There were a few reports of the cameras acting wonky, but it was really cold there which probably contributed to that. The place itself was perfect for the mood though. There is a great book called Acres of Skin: Human Experiments At Holmesberg Prison 1998 by Allen Hornblum that tells all about the medical experiments and tortures that went on inside the prison. It really lent itself to what we were shooting. I remember when they gave us a tour and brought us into the warden’s office where he had his throat slit. Nothing paranormal happened but everyone was in tune with what had happened there. Dee Wallace said that it was sometimes overwhelming knowing that you were walking by cells where so much abject misery and torture had taken place. It is a building built on misery.

Harrison also wanted to make sure and give a shout out to the administration and the City of Philadelphia and especially the Philadelphia Police Department, who were more than gracious and just all-around wonderful people.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

Death House set design by Joshua Reale.

HoTS: My next question for Harrison was, as a director, what directors influence his work?

HS: Growing up, John Carpenter: Halloween, The Thing, They Live and Tommy Lee Wallace: IT, Halloween III, Fright Night II were major influences on me because they were accessible to me. I used to read Fangoria Magazine all the time and got a subscription to it. I used to read and devour the interviews and not just because of the pictures and oh! there making a sequel to Halloween and I want to see the blood and gore. They did an interview with John Carpenter and he talked about how he made movies and about finding a good crew and sticking with them. And I noticed for the first decade of John’s career he used a lot of the same people in front and behind the camera and that really made an impact on me because Carpenter was very much the founder of the guerilla film movement — that you get a camera, you go out there, and you shoot. That’s what you do, and that really inspired me as a filmmaker. I had a Super 8 silent Kodak camera, and I was learning. I was learning from those interviews in Fangoria and got a really strong base of knowledge. So if you look at my catalog of work so far, you will see many of the same faces. And if you read the credits, you will see a lot of the same names return time and time again. I bring them back because it is like putting the band back together, so to speak, which works for me because it becomes like production shorthand. I would also say Tom Holland of Fright Night and Psycho II fame was another influence because Psycho II made a big impact on me because of the script. I think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made and is very underrated. I wanted to hate it, but 30 minutes into the film I just fell in love with it. When it was over I walked out, called my family to let them know I would be late and went in to see it again. My film Camp Dread is a tip of the hat to Tom Holland. It was more like Psycho II than Friday the 13th.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

Barbara Crampton in Death House.

HoTS: What is the theme for Death House?

HS: The whole pretext of Death House is evil is evil and good is good, but do they need each other? Because when you try to eradicate evil you are, at most, canceling out good as well. There is no need for good if there’s no need for evil. Bill Mosely has a great line in the film, “True evil is nothingness”. That is true hell. If we were to remove the Holocaust from history we would need a litmus test. Dee Wallace’s and Barbara Crampton’s characters think what they are doing is good. Look at the Nazis during the Holocaust. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil. Dee is like Nurse Ratched. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as a social horror film was a snake pit. Louise Fletcher played it so well because there are real nurses like that. That is the banality of evil. How a modicum of power gives rise to abuse of said power. Are The Five Evils in Death House really evil compared to Dee’s character or Nurse Ratched? They aren’t Cenobites they are regular people like you run into in everyday life. How many times in your own life might you have come into contact with real killers? The Five Evils are normal looking people.

Death House - The Five Evils

Death House – The Five Evils: Vincent Ward, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Lindsay Hartley, Michael Berryman.

The original script for Death House was penned by the incredible Gunnar Hansen, who is best known for playing the mentally-impaired cannibal Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Gunnar left us on November 7th, 2015, from pancreatic cancer. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, brought producers Rick Finkelstein and Steven Chase of Entertainment Factory to the screening of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard to meet Harrison. Another writer had taken a stab at rewriting the script, but it turned into Texas Chainsaw meets Friday the 13th meets Saw, but that was not what Gunnar wanted. He did not want torture porn but a high concept horror film. Gunnar liked what Harrison did with it, so Harrison finished writing and then directed it. The actors were all there for their friend Gunnar and with Harrison collaborating with Gunnar before his death, I like to think of this as a love letter to an amazing man and actor that we lost too soon.

Gunnar Hansen, 4 March 4, 1947 – 7 November 2015

I was extremely honored to speak with Harrison Smith and pick his brain. To read more on Death House, I have included some links that come straight from the horse’s mouth. Harrison Smith’s Road To Death House articles.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Harrison with stunt coordinator Jaye Greene and his team.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

Sean Whalen and Felissa Rose on the Death House set in LA.

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this film. It has already won the audience choice award along with best feature film from the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO). MPAA said it was gritty, claustrophobic and a hell of a lot of fun. Harrison said it is like a roller coaster ride through a funhouse, and Kane Hodder said it was his favorite film he has worked on. So horror fans get ready for the ride of your life!

I have also included a link to a petition if you want Death House to come to a Regal Cinema near you. It is going to major theaters but I would like to see it in all of them.

So, from myself and the family at House of Tortured Souls, thank you again to the great Harrison Smith and everyone involved with Death House! And just remember readers… “Hell isn’t a word…it’s a sentence.”

Death House - Harrison, Yan Birch and Lauren Compton after filming in LA.

Harrison, Yan Birch, and Lauren Compton after filming Death House in LA.

Posted by Horrormadam in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Houses October Built on HoTS LIVE!!!

The Houses October Built and the recent follow up release, The Houses October Built 2, are two of my favorite films! Let's face it. With the abundance of horror films being made either through Hollywood budgets or Indie fan-funded projects, there's a shit ton of mediocre to bad horror being produced. Since October is the month for horror and scares and with Halloween just around the corner, the options for viewing are endless. During this season I try to stick with Halloween-themed films.
In 2014, I first viewed The Houses October Built. It instantly became part of my personal top five horror films! And, in keeping in with my Halloween-themed films, it's about a group of friends who travel from haunt to haunt in search of the extreme. Now, I ask you: what can be more Halloween than haunts?
Then 2017 came, and the crew released the follow-up, The Houses October Built 2. This sequel answered questions that had left audiences pondering in the closing frames of the original, kept the viewer's Halloween spirit engaged, and ended with an entirely new set of holy-shit-what-the-fuck questions.
After viewing The Houses October Built and launching House of Tortured Souls, I had been trying to get in touch with any or all staff for a written interview. However, once I tracked down the right people through social media, there were always scheduling conflicts. Time went on, and I had resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen. Still, I proudly supported the films and helped out the best I could on social media by sharing their posts.
It was this past Thursday, October 19, 2017, at approximately 2:30 pm EST when I figured what the hell and sent an email to them in hopes of setting up an interview sometime within the next few years. With part 2 only having been out for a few weeks, I knew they would be busy, but I also figured why not give it a shot? Within an hour, I got a response asking if I was available that day. Long story short, within two hours, both writers/directors/stars of both The Houses October Built parts 1 and 2, Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, were staring me in the face live through a House of Tortured Souls LIVE video podcast.
We had a great chat, and it was a thrill to have met them and an honor to have them on the show. The guys discuss the origins of the film, working together, haunts, and even dabble in what may be next! So join me as I bring you my afternoon with Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews of The Houses October Built!
Keep It Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
SPOTLIGHT: Justin “Schock” Terrell

SPOTLIGHT: Justin “Schock” Terrell

It is a great honor for me to introduce next HoTS 'In the Spotlight' Artist: our own Justin Schock!
Justin has done a tremendous amount in the background for House of Tortured Souls this year, so he well deserves this title - and much more! As with many artists, his talent spills over in more than one genre. He records metal music!
Here is a brief bio of Justin "Schock" Terrell:
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-jackolanterns-300x300
Schock was a nickname given as a stage name in the early 2000s and kind of just stuck with me all these years... I was born in 1982. I was born and grew up in Anderson, IN. I still live nearby but try to disassociate with the town. Haha! I have one kid, a daughter, who is 9 years old and acts like she's 14. Kids... I'll tell ya. Currently, my normal day job is the Loss Prevention Supervisor for Kohl's in Anderson, IN.
And now for our Q&A:
House of Tortured Souls: When did you start drawing?
Justin “Schock” Terrell: I started drawing at a young age, like stupid young. I can remember drawing at 3 years old or so.
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-beardskull-300x300
HoTS: What was the first picture you remember doing?
Schock: When I was younger, I would draw comic strips like Garfield and Peanuts while attempting to mock the style. I then moved on around, 4 or 5 years old, drawing Spiderman and Wolverine mostly before developing my own techniques.
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-jason-300x300
HoTS: Who inspired you when you began?
Schock: I just started drawing things always utilizing pencil only. I use to not care for markers and such. The traditional look of pencil appealed to me. I honestly can't say if I had anyone influence. There were, of course, comic books and cartoons, but I never got the names of the artists. My uncle, Mike Ball is an amazing traditional artist. I mean he doesn't use computers. He was always showing me tricks as a kid, and I admired a lot of the work he did.
HoTS: Who do you follow now?
Schock: Now that I'm older and pay attention to things, some of my favorite artists are James Rowe, Alex Ross, Nikki Bruin, and Scott Anderson. Then there is this one dude, not sure of his real name, but his store is called Electric Zombie. And Ghoulish Gary is hands down amazing, as is Jason Edmiston. Really, there are a lot of insane artists out there.
HoTS: Do you have a favorite creep?
Schock: Favorite creep...hmm well I'm always all over the monsters. It's hard to pick, ya know? Ever go shopping and you see Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein stuff everywhere, but then there's that one off Leatherface item, so you're torn? Do I pick up the traditional monster thing? Or get the slasher? I'm a horror fan, and it's just too hard to pick.
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-lollipop-300x300
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-ballerina-300x300
HoTS: What is your most prized piece?
Schock: I have a couple pieces that are prized. One is a full pencil/colored pencil piece I did of Reagen from The Exorcist, and the other is a non-horror pencil drawing of ballerina legs/shoes. Both of those are amazing to me because I didn't know I could produce such work.
HoTS: Do you do art shows, comic cons, or any vendor's markets?
Schock: I have never done any of the cons or markets namely because it takes a lot of money to get started and I totally don't have that kind of loot. But, one day, I will be all over it. I have never done an art show. The art world is a cruel mistress. Fun fact about my region of the world, er, the city: I was told by an artist collective here I was not allowed to join their little club of artists because of my work being mainly horror-influenced. And I went from traditional pencil and paint to almost all exclusively digital coloring, even using Wacom pens to draw without paper. Very snobby artists here. So art shows would only happen, again, if I had the money for it, and if I was more well known.
HoTS: Are you working on something now?
Schock: As of now, I am working on some watercolor paintings, the annual Drawlloween pictures which I'm doing all pencil this year, images for HoTS. As well as working on my next record. I make hardcore/metal music also. All written and recorded by myself called xSCHOCKx, which can be found here: xschockx.bandcamp.com I jump around mediums, drawing, painting, music and even writing. Working on a collection of short stories with a friend. No title yet, but its very X-rated and scary all at once.
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HoTS: Do you do commission work?
Schock: I do, indeed, do commission work. I'm always open to anything graphic design in advertising, drawings, logo design, the list goes on and on. A list of services and prices can be found on my site (listed below), and it does not have to be limited to horror works. That's just my thing. I've done stuff for the MS people, Diabetic Youth Foundation, and even random churches. A good artist doesn't limit his focus.
HoTS: Do you have a fan page? Twitter? Instagram?
Schock: I am all over the social media and Internet. Heres a list:
Damn that's a lot. Nah, but I do a lot of different things artistically and sometimes they blend together. I use my nickname for both my artistic and musical endeavors, so that it’s easy to promote both.
Folks, be on the lookout for more of Justin. He is amazing, and we here at HoTS plan on keeping him around for many moons to come.
horror-artist-inthespotlight-justin- schock-lady-300x300
Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, FEATURED ARTIST, FEATURED CONTENT, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Rick Styczynski of 13x Studios

INTERVIEW: Rick Styczynski of 13x Studios

Rick Styczynski of 13X Studios Talks Camp Blood Celebration 10/13/17

"His name was Jason. And today is his birthday."
-Pamela Voorhees
Jason Voorhees has been a household name since the 1980s. From the moment he emerged from the lake and made Camp Crystal Lake his home, he has terrified us, and endeared himself into the hearts of every horror fan on the planet. We all know his signature hockey mask and weapon of choice: the machete. No matter your favorite film of the franchise, whether you prefer "walking Jason" or "running Jason", Jason on land, Jason in space, or Jason in New York City, it is guaranteed that this slasher will live on as a legend.
One of the greatest parts of his fandom is the unique, one of a kind art created by the people who know and love Jason best. Rick Styczynski is no exception. His company, 13X Studios, creates specialty one of a kind hockey masks celebrating our favorite force of nature. Whether the theme is sports, horror, music, and yes even serial killers, Rick can create just about any mask that you can think of. The sky is the limit.
For most of us Jason fanatics, Friday the 13th is just as a big a holiday as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Rick feels the same way. And with the help of Gods and Monsters, a fantastic shop filled with collectibles/comics/toys and even a bar, we will all be celebrating Friday the 13th Camp Blood Celebration in Orlando Florida! The event will have it all! Fan films, cosplay, trivia and celebrities. It will not only be a place to wish Jason a "Happy Birthday", but proceeds from the event will benefit both 13 Hearts and Give Kids The World charities.
13X Studios has teamed up with Matt Allen and me, owners of Freakshow Designs and Sideshow Sauces, to create a brand new hot sauce that will be making its debut at Camp Blood this October! We're calling it Hodder Than Hell. The greatest news is that Kane Hodder himself has personally given his permission to use his name on this heavenly concoction of scorpion pepper and pineapple. We are extremely thrilled and grateful to Kane for his support on the newest addition to our hot sauce collection.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Rick to find out about all of the incredible things that made his business flourish, and what we can all expect from the Friday the 13th event!
House of Tortured Souls: It's very obvious you're a "Jason Guy". Tell us how that fandom began and how it influenced you to start 13X Studios.
Rick Styczynski: After Halloween this past season, I put a few pictures of me cosplaying Jason on Instagram and someone contacted me about buying an outfit and guess a lightbulb went off.....13X Studios was born. I started messing around with masks and just went with it. It started with Jason and Friday the 13th but that also lead me into Pop Culture Custom hockey masks. In 10 months as a new business, I have sold over 1000 masks, sold out at 3 conventions, and have my masks in retail stores Gods & Monsters in Orlando, Florida, and Halloween Megastore across the US. The coolest thing that has happened is that my Silent Bob mask was noticed by Kevin Smith, and I got an exclusive deal at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. This is only the beginning of 13X Studios.
HoTS: What is your hottest seller?
RS: My biggest sellers are all the Jason and Friday the 13th masks. Because of the affordable price and great quality/detail, they hands down sell the most. Outside of the Jason world, My best sellers of pop culture are: Joker, Deadpool, Freddy, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, and Punisher. I love making new styles as it changes everything up for me as a artist. One day I'll do Jason. Next day I'll do pop culture.
HoTS: Everyone is looking forward to the Camp Blood Celebration at Gods & Monsters. What can the attendees expect from the event?
RS: One day I went to visit Todd at Gods & Monsters and told him I wanted to do a Friday the 13th event. It took a pitch of 8 seconds for him to be part of it. I wanted to bring a celebration to the event where all of us horror fans can come together. I really have been just going with the flow and have been adding fun stuff daily. We will be having artists/vendors, contests, cosplay meet up, movie screenings, Friday the 13th themed bar and menu... Again, I'm just going with it. The buzz on this event is huge!! We just added Jeremy Palko from The Walking Dead for pictures and autographs. You don't want to miss this event. For more info just search: Friday the 13th Camp Blood Celebration on Facebook.
HoTS: You've recently partnered up with Matt Allen at Sideshow Sauces for your name to be on a Jason themed label. How were you inspired to reach out and how did you feel after hearing that Kane Hodderr himself gave his personal thumbs up to distribute the sauce using his name Hodder Than Hell?
RS: Back at Spooky Empire in April, I was across from Matt with Freakshow Designs. I know he has a sister company with Sideshow sauces. As my mind is always creating ideas, I came up with a cool hot sauce idea with Jason and 13X Studios on a label. I brought the idea to him and he said that Kane Hodder could be involved. So from there it just took off to bring you Hodder Than Hell sauce. Having your name and Kane Hodder's name on the same product is so cool. Kane Hodder is the biggest name in horror. He changed the game. And seeing how he is with fans is why you love this guy even more. I have known Kane for almost 16 years. As I said above, he changed the game. And very happy to be involved with Matt and Angie from Freakshow Designs. This is just the beginning. I'm sure we will come together many more times in future.
HoTS: What are your plans, future state, for 13X Studios?
RS: As I grow my business, I will start looking for more things to add. We just started a podcast called Spitting Blood. Our second episode already got 11,000 views, so I'm on the right track. Next episode will be Sept 6 at 9pm. Jeremy Palko from The Walking Dead will be a guest. We do a Facebook Live Podcast (you can add me Rick Styczynski). For my masks, my goal is to get into many more retail stores. What's cool is that most think this is more of a Halloween business. Actually it's a year round business with all the conventions. I wake up every day and smile knowing that this is my job now. I have no idea where this will bring me in life, But I will give my all no matter what. You can check my online store at www.13xstudios.com and my Etsy store.
13x Studios - Hodder Than Hell / Photo: Sideshow SaucesKane's Hodder Than Hell sauce, as well as many other handcrafted flavors can be found on Sideshowsauces.com. And as always, skull lamps, baby groots and other fun items can be found on our site Skulllamps.com. As Rick stated above, you can find his masks on www.13xstudios.com, and be sure to find him on Facebook and enjoy the Spitting Blood podcast! Stay tuned for my coverage of Friday the 13th Camp Blood: The Aftermath. For now, stay freaky! Much love from your Lamp Lady and I'll see you soon!
Posted by Angie Calabrese in INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Dakota Bailey

INTERVIEW: Dakota Bailey

Dakota Bailey is well known within the independent cinema circles for his gritty and often all too realistic take, on true identities of people within the chaotic worlds that he envisions. Drawing from the modern day epitome of drug sub-culture and with a penchant for horror since his childhood, Bailey has been building a following through his films and his name is steadily on the rise with R. A. Productions.
Since 2015 Bailey has progressed from short films into creating lengthier features. First we were introduced in 2016 to My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence, a drug laden romp through three interlocking short tales of the macabre.
Then (also in 2016) Bailey released American Scumbags, a nastier tale told from varied angles, which is a more fluid film regarding some uncertain elements and their spiral into madness.
Now we sit on the edge awaiting Bailey's release of his long anticipated third film The Acid Sorcerer. In anticipation of his latest film creation, Dakota Bailey answered some questions for The House of Tortured Souls ahead of the official release in August this year.
House of Tortured Souls: As a fan of the horror genre, what are your influences and favourite horror films, icons and filmmakers?
Dakota Baley: I am influenced by everything from silent horror film like Noseferatu, The Golem, Haxan, and Faust, to classic films like The Exorcist, underground extreme films and SOV films like Black Devil Doll From Hell. As for my favorite filmmakers I would have to say Sam Raimi, Jose Monica Marins (Coffin Joe), Marian Dora, Jorg Buttgerit, Lucio Fulci, Chester Novell Turner, David Lynch, Mario Bava and many more. For horror icons, my favorites would be Reagan from The Exorcist or Michael Myers from Halloween.
HoTS: What inspired you to create My Master Satan, American Scumbags, and The Acid Sorcerer?
DB: The idea behind My Master Satan was to make an anti-film. Meaning, that I just wanted to make a film that was extremely unusual and had absolutely no mainstream appeal whatsoever. I purposefully degraded the footage and filmed it on VHS but at the same time I kind of wanted My Master Satan to be kind of like an evil heavy metal Cheech and Chong type film. After My Master Satan came out, I developed the characters for American Scumbags. My intentions were to make an epic sleaze/trash/crime film. I just drew inspiration from real life people I used to know or people I had seen on the streets. I think American Scumbags is an important film because not only does it show my growth as a filmmaker but the film also has some really good characters in it such as Billy and Wheelin' Deals. For The Acid Sorcerer I basically wanted to make an extremely dark, depressing and hateful film that was about a set of characters embracing their inner darkness. I wanted to make a film that was similar to David Lynch's Eraserhead but at the same time I wanted to make a film that was highly original and I think we accomplished that. The Acid Sorcerer is a very strong film in my opinion.
HoTS: It's clear to see your evolution as a filmmaker, how do you feel about your films new and old?
DB: I think the evolution of myself as a filmmaker is fascinating. Every time I work on a new film I sit down and watch all my older shorts such as Satan's Coming for You or My Master Satan and I study them and I still enjoy those films and the immature degenerate feel of them. But I think it's kind of strange that I made those films and went on to make a film like The Acid Sorcerer. With each film I kind of feel like we change our style and that our films may deal with similar subject matter but each film is its own entity and each film has its own style.
HoTS: What's next on the horizon? Anymore films? Will we see familiar faces?
DB: We are currently working on a film called The Life of an American Scumbag that is a sequel to American Scumbags. It will be out before the end of this year and it is being shot in color as opposed to black and white like our other films. And then I plan on making a sequel to The Acid Sorcerer. I can't say too much about it because I am still coming up ideas and new characters, but it is definitely going to be an extremely dark film. As a matter of fact, I think it will be darker than the first Acid Sorcerer. As for more familiar faces ― yes, you will continue to see all the main actors such as Darien Fawkes, Nick Benning and myself, but with each film we introduce a few new actors or actresses, so it's not always the exact same people in all of our films.
HoTS: Who has been your favourite character to create (in any of your films)? And why?
DB: I love all the character in my films but if I had to pick only a couple I'd have to say Smoke and Leach from The Acid Sorcerer. I play the main character Smoke who is a serial killer/drug addict with multiple personality disorder and he has his other half called Leach that is his darker and philosophical side that compels him to murder. It was a strange process to film scenes involving Smoke and Leach. Darien Fawkes (who plays Leach and Crawdad in The Acid Sorcerer) had this black hood he'd wear that concealed his face. He would recite the lines and monologues that I had wrote for Leach in his normal voice and I would then take the footage we did and slow it down making his voice deep and droning sounding. It was actually powerful to see the footage transform. Another character I really like in The Acid Sorcerer is Eyevin, a sadistic drug dealer played by my friend Brian Knapp. Eyevin is a drug dealer that enjoys toying with drug addicts and enjoys watching snuff films that he commissions. Brian did an excellent job portraying him and he really captured the essence of the Eyevin character and what I wanted to bring to the screen. What I enjoy most about Eyevin is that almost in every scene of him he is always doing or saying something hateful or in bad taste. As far as characters from other films I would definitely have to say that Billy from American Scumbags is one of the best characters I've created so far. Darien Fawkes really captured the essence of the character and brought exactly what I wanted to the screen, but I can't leave out Alister and Bubba from My Master Satan. I just really like how they are kind of like an evil heavy metal version of Cheech and Chong. I just really enjoy the degenerate and immature feel of the characters.
HoTS: What can fans expect from The Acid Sorcerer?
DB: They can expect something a little different, but like I mentioned previously with each film we kind of change our style and we continue to grow and get better. I think that if fans enjoyed our previous films then they will definitely enjoy The Acid Sorcerer ― I consider it our best film yet.
HoTS: Musically you always seem to have something fresh for the scores of your films, any favourites?
DB: Music in my films is extremely important and finding the right music is imperative to my films. Whenever we start working on a new film, the first thing that comes to my mind is the soundtrack. The Acid Sorcerer features a soundtrack by Ramesses ― the film has three songs off of their album Possessed by the Rise of Magik. The soundtrack is very powerful and gives The Acid Sorcerer a dark and almost spiritual feel. As far as what film soundtrack is my favorite, I would definitely have to say Ramesses. I am a fan of theirs and it was an honor to get to use their music in our film. However, I also enjoyed the sound track for My Master Satan that came from my friend Daren Peterson and his band Luciferian Insectus. I think in particular that 'Ode to Darkness' at the end of My Master Satan was very powerful.
HoTS: What has been the highlight of your film career so far?
DB: I would have to say our films getting played at festivals like Cinema Wasteland; Shock Stock is a highlight, but also getting to use three songs off of Ramesses' Possessed by the Rise of Magik album. Another highlight is that with each film we get new fans and more recognition.
HoTS: We all have to start somewhere - childhood, schools, relationships, etc - who is Dakota Bailey?
DB: I am from Denver, Colorado; I developed an interest in films at an early age and eventually started making films with a battered camcorder and eventually I progressed into what I am. I consider myself a film fan making the kind of films that I want to see, but at the same time I do consider myself an artist and I consider each film a serious artistic endeavor.
HoTS: Anyone you want to thank for making you who you are today?
DB: Yes, my mom and dad for all the support and for letting me do whatever I wanted to while I was growing up and for letting me pursue my interests whether it be films or music.
Dakota Bailey currently has three features available for pre order (The Acid Sorcerer) or purchase (My Master Satan and American Scumbags).
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in INTERVIEWS, 2 comments
INTERVIEW: Mitch Hyman

INTERVIEW: Mitch Hyman

My Interview With Satan!

Attention Hulu subscribers!
Bubba the Redneck Werewolf is now available to enjoy! In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with the lovable hairy beast Bubba, I am here to enlighten you. He started out as a glimmer in the eye of Actor/Comedian/Writer and all around funny man Mr. Mitch Hyman. Back in the 90s Bubba was a very popular comic. In 2014, Cracker County was under attack by The Devil himself, and it was up to Dog Catcher Bubba Blanche to defeat the enemy, save the town, and win the heart of his love Bobby Jo. But, not before he made a deal with said devil and became Bubba, The Redneck Werewolf in the hit film now available on Hulu!
Bubba the Redneck Werewolf poster / Fair use doctrine.
The popularity of the film has been on the rise since its premier, and with over 11 million viewers on Hulu, ol’ Bubba has reached celebrity status! He even has his own souvenir caps (Mohawkcrew.com), hot sauce, (Sideshowsauces.com), and coffee (Coffeeshopofhorrors.com)! Another character that has made a pretty big name for himself is the Devil, played by Hyman. Since then, there have been many requests to see the fallen angel in his glory. This included an appearance in full make up at December’s Spooky Empire event at the Orange County Convention Center.
In May of 2017, Satan struck out solo on his very own YouTube show, Coffee Time With Satan! This is the epitome of irreverence and shock, and NOT for the faint of heart. Angie, your “Lamp Lady”, had the rare opportunity to discuss the show with Satan in his lair.
House of Tortured Souls: What was your inspiration for Bubba the Redneck Werewolf comics back in the day?
Mitch Hyman: Well, it all started on a week - long binge in Bangkok…Seriously, that did happen, but back to Bubba. I loved werewolves as a kid, and Halloween was my chance to be one. So, when I owned a bar many years ago, I wanted to go to my own party as a werewolf. Now, I knew some make up techniques, so, some latex and rubber mask grease made the face. The hair was tough. So, I put on a trucker hat, and then decided that Lon Chaney, Jr.’s wolfman had clothes, cause no one needs a naked lycan running around as we all learned in American Werewolf. At the time, overalls and flannel shirts were popular and so…Voilà! One cigar-chomping, booze-carrying redneck werewolf was born!
HoTS: Tell us about Satan. How did this lovable character come to life on screen?
MH: There is a horror con in Florida called Spooky Empire, and I have been part of it since the first year it was open, now about 11 years. Great show run by awesome folks. A real family feel too. I was a guest writer and another writer I knew, Kevin Ransom, wanted to do an Apocalypse panel and asked if I could do Satan as part of it around 2006. I first just got some horns from my buddy, make-up artist Michael Davy, who was Dick Smith’s personal protégé, and walked in with a briefcase and said I was the prosecuting attorney for humankind. Later, as the years went on, Mike put me in the red make-up and so there it was! Later, when the film was being put together, the writer I hired to do the low budget script, as my original idea would have cost at least a million to produce and I needed someone to do schlock as I just wasn’t that kind of writer was deathly afraid of my Satan character (and Satan in general), had seen the shows. My comic origin is much different, but I figured comics and movies always are. So, I wrote most of my own dialogue and ad-libbed the rest and wrote most of my scenes to my taste, like the devil montage and the final battle with Bubba. I had to as I was the guy who started this whole insanity fest. I love being him as I get away with the craziest stuff when I am in the red paint, and who would not want an alter ego so heinous and hilarious? People love the character and walk up to me now on the street and offer their souls to me. I turn them down, of course. Well, unless they want to throw in a beer too. LOL!
HoTS: The film has been getting a lot of hits on Hulu, and Bubba is even going to Cannes, you must be proud!
MH: Yep! So proud! We are now global, and for an Indie film of the budget I was able to work with, this is huge. I only had $25,000 to work with and some behind the scenes shenanigans from a few contractors I trusted took me to $19,000. But I have been running a comic for 21 years on very little and have been a stage tech, recording studio owner and performer for years, and knew the biz and how to make it work. Plus, I had so many good friends in the business who pitched in to help and just my actors, make-up, and longtime friends came in to see this dream come true as I said it would be good for all Indie film folks and [would] prove my theories I taught when a college scripting and writing instructor. It was up to me to lead by example. I was floored when Bubba made it to the most popular on Hulu. Thanks to MVD and Gravitas distribution! Also, One Eyed Jack distribution in Europe. After we were shown at Sitges Spain at the world’s biggest film fantasy fest as a featured guest item, the audience knew a winner when they saw one. Cracking the European market with a redneck American werewolf who was all about acceptance made me so damn proud! Then, to be vended at Cannes? Formidable!
HoTS: What do you think has made this film so popular?
MH: It’s just goofy fun like the comics have been all these years. Bubba is all about the little guy getting his chance to prove himself. We all know a Bubba in our lives or are one. We try and do the right thing, and it seems like the world never gives us a break. Friends turn on you, bosses are never seeing your potential, other people don’t see us as good mates or friends because they are all about appearances or all about dollar signs. But a true underdog, no pun, always fights for what is right and sacrifices his wants and needs to do the right thing. Sometimes, giving up your wants to help another can actually take you to the place in life or your heart that will get you even further because you gave of yourself. I wanted Bubba in the film to be like my comic version in one important respect…To be the quiet hero we all need in our lives. To be the person who at 4am will show up if the aliens have your cows, the zombies are in the house, a bully or scumbag is harming you or yours, or you just need someone to be there when all others ran off ‘cause you don’t have much. As long as you are a good person, Bubba will see this and show up. Plus, a few beers won’t hurt either. Just sayin’. LOL!
HoTS: Let's talk about your new YouTube show, Coffee Time With Satan. Episode one is out there, with episode two on the editing floor. How did the idea come about?
MH: The character became so popular that people would just walk up to me at shows and on the street and tell me their problems and wants. I figured that Satan was easier to talk to about your troubles as he was probably to them the cause or someone who understood angst. Fallen Angel and so on. But I played him very snarky and like a used car salesman up to no good, and people felt at ease as they do with comedians. We get life in a way most don’t. We make fun of fear and those who instill it in us. You laugh at pain and bigotry and inhumanity and make it easier to take the steam out of that crap. Make fun of ourselves, too. Plus, we’re brave and crazy at the same time to societal rules. We’re like the kid in the fairy tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes; we tell you the straight truth of living. [That’s] why royalty always had the court jester to keep them humble. So, I wanted to do a talk and variety show that was like the stuff I saw in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Laugh In, SNL classic, National Lampoon and so on. Pryor, Carlin, Brooks… All my heroes. Since we now live in times like those, I thought we needed to go back and learn from history, not repeat it! I was also a freelance writer for CRACKED magazine and fires Donald Trump way back in 04. I think I am still on the enemies list. LOL! Now, I have an amazing ensemble cast of crazies who are brilliant and fearless. So, the show is not PC and meant to shock and amuse those with the courage to look within themselves and grow stronger and resilient to face a world on the brink and laugh at the all the damn “emperors” out there.
HoTS: What can your viewers expect from the show?
MH: Just this…Fun! It’s a great way to unwind and think a bit. We may be goofy, but we are being very intellectual. The show is a group effort and we all write bits and so on for it. A community for sure. But the ladies rule and rock this show! Myrtle, Momma Mary, Lilith, and now others coming on board. And this is girl power to me. I know how tough and strong women have to be in a misogynistic and prejudiced world and I turn them loose! I simply sit back, react, and applaud it all. I instigate lot of it. I want people to have a voice who are always told to shut up. A smart man knows that smarter women can multi task and get shit done!
HoTS: What was the inspiration for the characters that appear on Coffee Time?
MH: I have all these wonderful friends who are educated and have been doing either stand-up or other things that put them in the public eye, for one. The others are just those people at parties or at work who have the whole place laughing or are courageous to stand up for themselves. So, I just figured out ways to give them personas for the screen that celebrate who they are in real life. The ultimate cosplay as it were. I am a producer and we look and polish talent till they take off on their own like my crew has. Like being Den Mother and Father to a crazed troop of merry makers.
HoTS: How was Coffee Time cast?
MH: Again, by looking around my life and seeing those who have talent and want to try a risky idea. Brave souls, all! That’s show biz! And they are truly sweet people in real life.
HoTS: How did you decide who would be on your hellish team?
MH: I needed those who could put on costumes and make-up and become these personalities I needed for the show. Like I did for the casting of the Bubba movie. I spent months looking around my group of friends and seeing others at cons and shows who stepped out and could handle being in front of a camera. A lot of people think this is easy. Well, sorry, it’s not. Try it some time. Go to a store and just start being funny, REALLY funny, not just silly or stupid, to the crowd at the supermarket who are stuck behind the 80 year old with an expired coupon, or the twenty something who can’t get their apply pay to work, or the guy who is hitting on the check-out person and who doesn’t give a shit that you’re late for work or your kid is throwing up in the shopping cart ‘cause you have no one to watch them and you had to get their medicine, or you just pulled double and just want to get home before you pass the hell out. You help them to endure and they are happy you showed up, and then you, my friend, have just made the world a better place. Or at least the checkout line and may have prevented someone from going postal later. We all need a laugh and to be part of something. I was in a supermarket shooting once and after the police got the bastards, I walked around trying to calm and make folks smile ‘til the all clear was called and we could go. True story.
HoTS: What are your hopes, future state, for Coffee Time With Satan and Bubba?
MH: Well, to not get deported, even though I was born in the USA, or lynched mostly for either. LOL! Actually, I want to see Coffee Time evolve into an interview show for the first half as I talk to celebrities about their more decadent and evil side, you know, what we really all enjoy about living and doing something more than make money and ego. and then turn the ladies loose as a round table of REAL women, not a bunch of over privileged millionaire celebs who might have been from humble beginnings but have lost touch with the real day to day life. I have stood during production and heard them talk about clothes, movies, men, women motherhood, family and so on and was fascinated at how right and down to Earth they saw things. This show could teach men how to really understand women and others in the world around us. As for Bubba? I am scripting the second movie now and am going to be proposing it soon in California as having a studio or Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix on board would be a ticket for this one to go theatrical and even though we did great in DVD, VOD, streaming, and so on, and I am grateful as hell, I want to go further. I am wanting it to be filmed in Florida like the last one and I know that the LA crowd can be worked with and we Indies need to respect them not be adversarial. Hell, like anyone needs anymore enemies in life? LOL! Cooperation is key!
My state is diverse in culture and location. Plus as we proved to the world after the PULSE shooting, we get along and when family is needed we all are. Florida Man is a pain in my ass as most are transplants from elsewhere who just don’t get into our lifestyle. I was part of the film and TV scene here in the 1990s and it was greedy politicians and the fear from LA and NYC that we could be a threat that took it away. I am watching Atlanta closely and I got a vibe that it is just another Hollywood East that could implode or be used up fast as they are not as experienced as we down here. We down here have been there and done that. Our current governor does not like the entertainment biz from cutting state incentives. BUT! We are the makers of lifetime dreams come true. We have talent, techs, and support to not just take you into a fantasy world for two hours. We can take you to stories and places that you’ll tell your grandkids about. Plus, I and some others in film down here have gone county to county and city to city and found that being truly Florida friendly, as what we true locals call it, can do much! So sunshine is in our hearts and our handshake. I made Bubba happen because of just that. But, ya gotta be sincere, responsible and play fair, cause that phony smile and BS goes just so far if you are not a true believer.
If you’d love to see Satan and all his pals do their worst, check out Coffee Time With Satan, now on YouTube!
Posted by Angie Calabrese in HORROR COMEDIES, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, SATANIC/DEMONIC, WEREWOLVES, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE: A Few Minutes With Robert Mukes (Video Interview)

EXCLUSIVE: A Few Minutes With Robert Mukes (Video Interview)

So a few weeks ago I ran into Robert Mukes. Actually , if I had literally ran into Robert Mukers, I doubt I would have have got up off the floor yet... The man is a mountain! I had contacted Robert previously and had arranged an interview with him as he was a guest at the Baltimore tattoo convention a few weeks back. Since Robert was gracious enough to accept and grant me some time for the interview, I made sure I got there early.
Fair use doctrine.
Robert Mukes at the 2017 Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention
Robert Mukes, aside from being a towering giant of a man (he stands 6'10”), is, by far, one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is very friendly, accommodating, professional, and just a great person over all. I do apologize for the back ground noise as the convention hall itself was made entirely of concrete, so everything echoed. A lot.
Regardless of the sound quality, I hope you enjoy this quick interview with Robert Mukes as much as I enjoyed interviewing him. If you're a convention goer, Robert often frequents them as a guest, so be sure to stop by and say hello. And when you do, be sure to tell him that John from House of Tortured Souls sends his best! Thank you, again, Robert!
Keep it Evil...

Posted by John Roisland in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
Artist of the Month – June 2017:  Matthew Zip

Artist of the Month – June 2017: Matthew Zip

Once again, this artist was introduced to me by a previous AoTM. I am thrilled to wear the Artist Interview pin! This guy has amazing talent, and the detailing will blow you away. It does take hella skill to create these sketches, but also passion and drive. And boy, does he have all of that!Creature From the Black Lagoon / Artist: Matthew Zip

A Brief Biography

Matthew Zip was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. He now lives in Houston Texas and is a tattoo and fine art artist. He has been with his lovely wife Amanda for over ten years, and they have been married for four of those. They have one son, Jacob.
Be sure to check out his website.

The Interview

Let’s begin the interrogation!
Otis from The Devil's Rejects and House of 1,000 Corpses Otis from The Devil's Rejects and House of 1,000 Corpses / Artist: Matthew ZipHouse of Tortured Souls: How old were you when you started to draw?
Matthew Zip: I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil or a crayon.
HoTS: Where did you learn to draw? Did you take classes?
MZ: Myself, mostly, until I got into high school and got into a good art class there with a very supportive teacher. After high school, I continued my education and got an associates degree in fine arts. That's where I really started to learn a lot, in college.
HoTS: When and why did you fall in love with horror art?
Matthew Zip: I've always been in love with the horror genre. Ever since I was a kid in the 80s, my dad would take me to video stores, and I would just stand there in the horror section and look at all the different covers. They were so beautiful and horrible at the same time, and they really captured my imagination.
HoTS: Do you draw in lead, charcoal, or the blood of innocent souls?
MZ: 😉 All of the above!
Image: Matthew Zip
My dear friend Jamie Dietz will melt when she sees this one!
HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster?
MZ: If I did it would probably be Nathan Grantham from Creepshow ("Father's Day" story) or Chop Top from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
HoTS: Do you post in galleries anywhere or do a booth at comic cons or art shows?
MZ: I have done comic cons and art shows, no galleries as of now.
Freddy Kruger smiles in A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Kruger sneers in A Nightmare on Elm Street
HoTS: Where can we find and purchase your work?
MZ: A few different ways, either through my Instagram or Facebook or you could go to my Etsy store.
Alfred Hitchcock / Artist: Matthew ZipHoTS: Where can we find and purchase your work?
Skeleton Moth from The Silence of the Lambs / Artist: Matthew ZipMZ: A few different ways, either through my Instagram or Facebook.

HoTS: Do you have any fan pages or a Twitter account so we can keep up with your work?
MZ: Yes!
My Instagram is @zip_tattooist
My Facebook is Matthew Zip Howard
Batman's The JokerHoTS: Are you working on anything right now?
MZ: I just finished up seven pieces for one person, all of them sketches and all of them classic Universal monsters.
HoTS: What are some of your past-times outside of drawing?
Regan from The Exorcist / Artist: Matthew ZipMZ: I have no real hobbies outside of art, unless you count more art is being a hobby! Haha, I do painting, sculpting, tattooing, and I'm trying to get into special-effects make up more.
Star Wars isn't actually scary, but I am still a nerd after all and these are frocking amazing!
Yoda from Star Wars
Darth Vader from Star Wars
Boba Fett from Star Wars
Darth Maul from Star Wars
And this tribute to Snape has me in my feels!
Posted by Tammie Parker in ART AND VENDORS, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MUSIC REVIEW: Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom – Another Confession (2017)

MUSIC REVIEW: Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom – Another Confession (2017)

Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom / Fair use doctrine.
Another Confession / Company: Ukulele Horror Records
  1. 1. Dance With The Devil
  2. 2. Wolfman Chuck
  3. 3. They Pray, My Prey
  4. 4. When You Die
  5. 5. Another Confession
  6. 6. Gore To The Whore
  7. 7. Rotten Pumpkins
  8. 8. Lucille
  9. 9. Ballad Of Ronnie
  10. 10. Yup, It's Rape Again!!!
Promoter, host and musician are just some of the words used to describe the Massachusetts based Wolfman Chuck. Whether leading his band of Brimstone Boys or working solo, this genre staple has made a career out of crafting music based around his morbid sense of humor. Chuck has previously unleashed two full length albums and a slew of split EPs on his label Ukulele Horror Records. With the Brimstone Boys, Chuck focuses his sound on a heavy punk and metal feel, but with the “spookalele” he tends to stick closer to love songs filtered out through his twisted mind. Chuck spent most of 2016 working to unleash The Brimstone Boys, his full band project, with Dave Sage and Zack Zombie, to the world but managed to find time to write and record his best effort to date. Titled Another Confession, Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom bring 10 haunting, dark tracks to the table in an album that entertains from start to finish.
The disc opens with “Dance With The Devil” a track that helps set the album’s overall darker tone. In a conversation regarding the writing process, Wolfman Chuck explained that this album would contain more personal tracks than in previous recordings and, from the start, there’s a noticeable difference. Continuing with the theme established on the previous song, Chuck segues into “Wolfman Chuck”. With a nod to the Brimstone Boys and boastful lyrics about his preference of women, alive or dead, Chuck portrays himself as a repulsive and diabolical deviant through a hauntingly mellow track ripe with his standard gore and violence.
Track three, “They Pray, My Prey” sticks out as a song that expresses Chuck’s ability to add depth and layers to music consisting only of a man, his beard, and his ukulele. A uniquely haunting and distant opening riff leads into a mid-tempo track about the sinister woodsman toying with his victims in lyrics like, “You can cry all you want, but you’re mine.” Track four is the most outright hostile track on the disc as the Wolfman barks lyrics like, “what you see is what you get, I’m not a fake motherfucker like you” and “I’ll be there when you die. No angels gonna cry." "When You Die" is a comfortable norm for longtime fans of Chuck, poppy, friendly riffs with aggressive punk vocals. Tracks like this prove the Wolfman can be a well versed artist while maintaining loyalty to what got him immediately recognized. The macabre mountain man is a master at his craft, successfully fusing the stark contrasts of violent lyrics over the top of a happy and upbeat ukulele. The album’s title track, “Another Confession” is the standout of the bunch. Packed with emotion and a long build up to an incredible chorus, this is the best Chuck has sounded all around in vocals, playing, and writing. On my one hundredth play through, I still get goosebumps as he segues into the songs hook “What was wrong with you is now right with me and your dead and buried.” If you know nothing of his extensive musical history, this track is a perfect starting point and the highlight of an album full of incredible songs. It's not uncommon to see fans of the genre bypass acoustic acts as nothing more then an artist doing less than others, but those with that elitist mentality generally miss the creative genius of artists like Chuck. The album’s title track alone would be perfect for showing what acoustic solo artists have to offer.
With “Another Confession” being as powerful and moving as it is, I would’ve been satisfied if the record ended there. Fortunately, the second half of the album is as equally enticing as the first. Track six, “Gore To The Whore”, shows Chuck flexing the romantic muscle he’s know for with a song of death, blood, and guts crooned sweetly over a track fit for any make-out point rendezvous. If I haven’t brought attention to it before, it’s important to note how well Chuck wrote these songs and fit them together to keep a mood flowing from track to track without breaking its hold. The next song, “Rotten Pumpkins”, features Brimstone Boys bassist Dave Sage lending a backing vocal track. While the majority of the disc is a more honest form of horror expressed in a way Chuck pulls off convincingly, "Rotten Pumpkins" is a return to a more fun form of horror. The track was originally released in 2016 as a single recorded with the Brimstone Boys and is, as the majority of the album, one of the strongest songs penned by the bearded butcher. Without breaking the streak, the album continues on to another recognizable track, “Lucille”. Yes, a track written about the blood drinking bat swung into the skulls of his victims by Negan in Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic books and the AMC TV series of the same name. A fitting topic for a man destined to offend everyone to some extent, Chuck portrays the violence of the show in a spoiler-ridden track too good to skip. Just like “Rotten Pumpkins”, “Lucille” can be heard with The Brimstone Boys backing, but to garner the true essence and malice of the song, the version from this album is more fitting.
“Ballad Of Ronnie” is the ninth entry on the disc and another showcasing Wolfman’s ability to write a catchy hook. Most notable about this track is the almost western feel injected into the playing - a fresh turn if you found yourself of the minority needing a change of pace. Chuck croons about Ronnie, a street walking transgender meeting her demise at the hands of a violent John. The song strums along as Chuck delivers lyrics in the form of a tall-tale fit for the most macabre. Chuck has remained adamant that his music is written because he enjoys it and it's not penned for snowflakes, and "Ballad of Ronnie" is a strong example of just how little he cares about offending listeners. The disc closes with the song “Yup, It’s Rape Again”. Premise, title, and delivery of this track display what Chuck is most noted for bringing to the scene. He garners the ability to spew out violent offensive lyrics with no difficulty over riffs that, in the hands of anyone less sinister, would be coated in happy and uplifting words. As a finale, this song wraps up Another Confession in a neat bow. Complete with memorable hook and all, Another Confession ends on a strong note.
Clocking in at just short of 30 minutes and available with full color art for only $5 from the label’s Big Cartel page, the disc is worth the time and money spent. Described by Chuck as being “less campy but still fucked”, Another Confession is a audible splatter-fest that assaults the senses and calms the nerves. Aggressive, offensive, and fun as hell, Wolfman Chuck has been an artist I’ve enjoyed watching evolve. If you’re a fan of home grown and unique acoustic horror, this album is a must. This is entirely my take on the music this album has to offer. I wanted to briefly touch base with Chuck to see what his thought process was going into this and what he foresees himself doing next.
House of Tortured Souls: To start off, could you describe your music in general and what you would like your listeners to get from hearing you?
Wolfman Chuck: I play a ukulele. My play style sometimes sounds punk, rock & roll and a little traditional uke sound, this is all I've been told in feedback. I really don't know how to describe it... I just play what I feel. As for what I would like my listerners to get from my music... well, nothing. I make music as a release. If someone like it then... OK, right on, glad they dig it... if not, I don't really care. I make music for me. It's my therapy.
HoTS: I bring up The Brimstone Boys, could you describe that band? How does it differ from your work with the spookalele?
WC: With the Brimstone Boys I don't play my spookalele at all. I am the front man, throwing blood and tossing body parts and fetus's while singing my spookalele tunes as a well as originals to the band. Wolfman and the Brimstone Boys is another release but this time I share the stage with friends of like mind.
HoTS: As a solo artist and with a backing band, you've perfected the art of taboo themes. Have you ever worried that your content would scare away potential fans?
WC: I don't do what I do for fans, no, nope.
HoTS: I honestly hope it stays that way. Moving onto your new album, the record in total has a different vibe. The same content and the same old Wolfman. Could you explain the different approach, if any, you took in crafting this disc?
WC: Writing this album I was in a dark place for a while. I feel it tells with the lyrics and tone. I have also been listening more to some folkish bands lately. I'm sure that influence shows through as well. I feel it has more of a serious feel and is less campy, yet I still have my dark humor.
HoTS: Of the 10 songs on this album each one seems to show you writing at the top of your game. Do you have a favorite song from this record or at least one that you feel would be the most widely accepted by your fans?
WC: Nope, can't say that I do.
HoTS: We talked before about the use of different ukuleles on this record, can you explain how that benefited this disc?
WC: I have many ukuleles and they all have their different tone and personality. When I use a certain one to write a song it is created with that ukulele. Feel, tone and soul. So to use a different ukulele for a song that was written on another... you just lose the songs essence.
HoTS: Is that a technique you've used on your other albums?
WC: Yes. My other two albums, I use the one uke I wrote the songs with. It's just this time I used more then one uke.
HoTS: Do you have plans for what you're going to do next?
WC: I have been tossing the thought around about maybe forming a full band again. This time with me fronting ON the ukulele... Wolfman and the Hounds of Hell... we will see.
HoTS: And in conclusion, Chuck you've written an incredible record, easily one of my favorite releases. You've got plans for the future, anything else you'd like to say to the readers?
WC: Glad you dig it, and I would like to conclude with telling the readers to get out there to the local clubs and support local music. Don't just go to shows with national acts. So many good bands to be discovered. Get out there!!! Also check out Ukulele Horror Records, my label. It supports lots of great local acts.
If you found the foul-mouthed, ukulele-wielding mountain man to be entertaining, then be sure to follow him on Facebook and pick up a copy of his latest CD Another Confession at the Ukulele Horror Records web store.
Posted by Dom Calzola in INTERVIEWS, MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Up and Coming Horror Author: James Dermond

INTERVIEW: Up and Coming Horror Author: James Dermond

I came across this author while networking on twitter. He gave me the link to his book on Amazon. I peeped in and was quickly lost in his wording! James has the magical ability to snap you up and throw you right into the scene! You truly feel like you are right there! At some points you will even feel like that what is happening in the book at that moment is in fact happening to you!
James Dermond is originally from the Detroit suburbs but has lived in Colorado for over 10 years. He has never been married and has no children.
House of Tortured Souls: Tell us about Doorways to the Unseen.
James Dermond: Doorways to the Unseen: 6 Tales of Terror and Suspense is a collection of six short horror stories. The Doorways to the Unseen short story collection published before Halloween last year is the first volume in what will be an annual series. Doorways to the Unseen Volume 2 (six new short stories) will be published in September 2017, again right before Halloween. An audio book of Volume 1 will be released before Volume 2 is made available as an ebook and paperback.
HoTS: Where can someone purchase the book?
JD: Doorways to the Unseen is available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon and also on Barnes & Noble Nook. An ebook only is available on Kobo and Smashwords as well.
HoTS: Have you written anything prior?
JD: No, Doorways to the Unseen is my first book. I have four more books for release this year: the 2nd volume of Doorways to the Unseen as well as three books in a trilogy. The audio book of Doorways to the Unseen Volume 1 is the fifth product my publishing company is releasing in 2017.
HoTS: Who inspired (or coached) you to write?
JD: A number of famous horror authors, such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and William Hope Hodgson. I have never had a writing coach or taken a creative writing class.
HoTS: When did you fall in love with horror?
JD: When I was growing up in Detroit back in the 1980s, I would religiously watch the Creature Double Feature on local Channel TV 20 every Saturday afternoon. I must have seen nearly every low budget or obscure horror movie from the 1970s over the years I was in grade school and high school. I also read some classic horror stories in the grade school library such as H.P. Lovecraft, "The Outsider" and "The Dunwich Horror".

HoTS: Who is your favorite monster?
JD: Probably something from H.P. Lovecraft: Yog-Sothoth?
HoTS: Do you have a fan page or special Twitter account?
JD: Yes.
HoTS: Anything in the making?
JD: A trilogy about witches! The three part story is my re-imagining of the Salem Witch Trials from the 1600s.
HoTS: What do you do when you are not frightening your readers?
JD: I run another business and also teach classes online, so I am very busy. The self-publishing company is my third endeavor.
HoTS: Do you have any advice for those interested in writing horror?
JD: Write EVERY day.
You guys be on the look out for the first book of the witch trilogy, The Hanged Witch, coming some time in early summer. 🙂
Posted by Tammie Parker in INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
SPOTLIGHT: Claus Holm

SPOTLIGHT: Claus Holm

By Woofer McWooferson

SPOTLIGHT: Claus Holm

I honestly can’t recall how I met Claus, it may’ve been on a Dark Tower website or on Facebook, but it was our mutual love of The Dark Tower that initially brought us together. When Claus mentioned that he needed proofreaders for his work, I volunteered. From the first story I read, I was hooked, and I’ve had the pleasure to continue to proofread for him. You can read my review of Tempus Investigations here, and my review of Dreams and Awakenings here. And now, without further ado, a few minutes with Claus Holm.
Claus Holm
House of Tortured Souls: How old were you when you started to write?
Claus Holm: I’ve been telling stories ever since I was a little kid, but because I had a very hard time writing (I suffered from extremely bad motor skills, and my handwriting was and is atrocious!), I started out by narrating them out loud and recording them on tape. I’ve still got a couple of those lying around somewhere. Mostly they were fanfiction-type stories – one of them was a sequel to Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. I wrote my first “real” story on paper when I was fifteen years old. It was five typed pages, single-spaced on an electric typewriter, and was called “The Mystery of Loch Ness”. It’s been lost (thank God!), but it concerned a private investigator uncovering a smuggling ring using a submarine to bring goods in and out of Loch Ness. Terrible thing, and best forgotten…

HoTS: Where did you learn to write? Did you take classes?
CH: No, not really, although when I was seventeen I attended a kind of creative boarding school where I did a lot of theater and had a single writing class. I remember it as being three weeks of us writing poems, and I learned absolutely nothing from it. Most of my “education” (if you can call it that) comes from two books. On Writing by Stephen King (the best book about writing, in my opinion) and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. All in all, I’ve learned mostly from reading a lot and writing a lot.
HoTS: When and why did you fall in love with writing?
CH: I fell in love with writing and storytelling very early, as I said. Denmark has a lot of wonderful books for kids that I enjoyed throughout my childhood. I particularly loved a Danish writer called Knud Holten, who wrote a series of books about the 12 year old boy Alex Morningstar, who has all sorts of amazing adventures. They were the books that made me want to write my own books. But what really set me off was reading a book of short horror stories, and finding out that you could do something that wasn’t a long novel and still tell a good story.
HoTS: How do you compose your work? Do you write in longhand? Type it up? Or dictate to a recorder and then translate?
CH: I write on my laptop, and I start at chapter one. I rarely write down any kind of notes in longhand because my handwriting looks so terrible, and I usually don’t need it. I have experimented with writing various parts of a story and putting them together, but that doesn’t work for me. I have to do it chronologically.
HoTS: Do you have a favorite monster or horror character?
CH: That’s a tough question because there are so many horror characters I love. I’ve always been terrified of the “body snatcher” type of monster that takes over your friends and family and turn them against you. One moment they are to be trusted, the next… BAM! They turn against you. That’s probably my biggest overall fear – not being able to trust the people I know all of a sudden. But the monster that scared me the most in my entire life was the creature from Dean Koontz’s book Phantoms. It’s this kind of big protoplasm blob that can split itself into smaller blobs – that can change shape into anything it wants. Humans, dogs, birds, bugs, whatever. And the creature can dissolve you with acid if you touch it. I had nightmares about that thing for weeks after reading the book. It was the first book of Koontz I ever read, and his best, I think.
An honorable mention should also go to Bob from Twin Peaks. He was one scary dude!
HoTS: Do you do comic cons or art shows?
CH: Denmark is a very substandard country when it comes to comic cons (We had our FIRST comic con this fall!). But I’ve done the national book fair in Denmark (Bogforum) twice.
HoTS: Where can we find and purchase your work?
CH: My English books are for sale on Amazon. My Danish ones are available at www.Saxo.com and www.forlagetegolibris.dk.
HoTS: Do you have any fan pages or a Twitter account so we can keep up with your work?
CH: My official Facebook, Official: Claus Holm https://www.facebook.com/clausholmwriter/, is the best way of keeping up with me.
Clausholm.tumblr.com is my blog, both in Danish and English.
My website is www.clausholm.net where you can also drop me a line, if you’d like.
My YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXxRs16AM8gfl6cnr5YNmpg.
Checkout the freebies over at Claus' website!
HoTS: Do you have a Patreon or PayPal account in case people want to donate?
CH: I don’t have a Patreon account, but I do have PayPal, mrwriter1701@gmail.com, and I do accept donations.
HoTS: Are you working on anything right now?
CH: Currently, I’m writing two things. One is a collection of short stories, which I refer to as Tucson Time Travellers. It started out as a book with only time travelling stories, but I’m probably going to add some other stories as well. That should be out next year, hopefully.
I’m also writing Tempus Investigations – Season Two, the sequel to my book that came out this year. That one will be ready when it’s ready, I don’t have a date yet.

HoTS: What are some of your pastimes outside of writing?
CH: I’m a movie buff, and I love to watch them. I read a lot, and I’m very much into tabletop roleplaying games. I used to be quite active in community theater, but it’s been a long time since I was on stage.
HoTS: You’ve said that the primary influence on your writing is your dreams. I can’t help but notice Jim Corrigan, the protagonist in your latest work, Tempus Investigations, can’t or doesn’t sleep much. Does this speak to the general fear of many writers that they will lose inspiration at some point?
CH: That’s a very good question. I hadn’t actually considered that – to me, Jim doesn’t sleep because he doesn’t have the need for it. His body works differently than the rest of us. But when you lose your sleep, you lose your dreams, and that changes a person. If you don’t dream, your mind has a hard time processing what happens to you, and you will often get irritable and annoyed. In the new book, I’ve actually written that Jim has started sleeping more, because he’s less annoyed, so it’s a sort of a process that turns the other way. When his life becomes better, he can rest a little more.
But I think that any writer has that deep, nagging fear that there are only so many ideas out there for you and at some point the well will run dry. If that happened, I’m not sure what I would do.
On a side note, I’ve actually in the last two years tried a new treatment that has reduced my amount of nightmares substantially – without killing my creativity! So that’s good news.
HoTS: That is great news. May I say, speaking of Tempus Investigations... You’ve presented it as a television series, with each story being a single long episode, but you offer it as a single book. Was this planned as a television series or did you start writing a traditional story format?
CH: Tempus Investigations started life as a roleplaying game. My group all loved Joss Wheedon’s shows like Buffy and Angel, and we wanted to create a sort of a meta-gaming idea where we created this fictional TV show. We took all of our favorite things from the genre and dumped it into the story. So we had a Slayer, a wizard, a Highlander, a werewolf, a demon…it was crazy. Then, we started writing fan fiction about this fictional TV show, writing out episodes that we didn’t play. Those stories had a lot of good stuff in them, and I always thought it was pretty sad that they essentially had a readership of five (the members of our group.) So I began to re-do the concept, getting rid of all the stuff we had stolen from other shows, and making the story accessible to outside audiences. I suppose you could consider the original stuff a kind of TV pilot and the finished book the series itself.
But I really loved the format of the stand-alone episode stories, so that was always my plan. Originally, only the first chapter ("How Like a Fallen Angel") was supposed to have been published, to sort of “test the waters” and see if people liked it. It would have been a part of the book Between Above and Below. But when the book was done, I found it didn’t fit the concept of the book. I wanted that book to be three “straight” stories and one supernatural one, just like Stephen King’s Different Seasons. So I cut the story, and decided to finish the season and give it a chance on its own.
It was always my hope that it would bloom into a continuing story.

HoTS: I’ve been editing professionally since 1990, so I’ve read many stories from natural born Americans whose American characters were awkward at best and painful at worst. That said, I’m genuinely impressed with your grasp of American culture and language, the nuances of dialogue and description. To what do you credit this?
CH: When I began taking English classes at the age of eleven, I took to it like a fish to water. If I believed in reincarnation, I would have speculated I had been an American in a past life. When I met my ex-wife, who was American, she told me she hardly believed I was Danish. I sounded American to her. And I credit living with her for nine years, speaking only American English for a lot of the way my dialogue “flows”. But I’ve always had a good ear for dialogue and I’ve always been an Anglophile, to the point where I sometimes feel more American than Danish.
HoTS: You say that you’ve spent a lot of time in the US and consider Tuscon, AZ, your spiritual home. Have you ever considered relocating here?
CH: Oh, God. Many, many times! Ever since my ex-wife took me there for the first time, I’ve felt like the city was the perfect fit for me, and I would be very happy moving there. Unfortunately, there are some things that prevent me from doing it.
First of all, I don’t drive. I don’t have a license, and since I flunked the exam eight times, I don’t think I will ever learn. And getting around Tucson without a car is very hard.
Second, my family is here in Denmark. I’ve got a niece and nephew I love very much, and since I can’t have children, they’re the closest to kids I’ll ever have. I would find it very hard to be away from them.
I’ve got a girlfriend who lives here, who I also love very much and wouldn’t want to move away from, and she’s told me in no uncertain terms that she would never move.
In a perfect world, I would have a vacation house in Tucson and go there whenever I felt the need for some desert air.
HoTS: Super Bonus Question: In "The Body" from Different Seasons, part of the tale has Gordy Lachance (the narrator) recalling how he would tell his stories to his friends Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio. To me, this is one of King’s most powerful portraits of the artist as... Do you have a similar piece that taps into your childhood to show us a glimpse of Claus Holm? Or is this even something you’ve considered?
CH: Super Trivia Fact: The character of Franklin in the story The Guardians (which is in Between Above and Below) is for all intents and purposes me. He talks like me, thinks like me and has some of the same experiences as I did. The scene where an entire school class gangs up on him to beat him up, just because that’s something you do when you’re in 10th grade actually happened to me when I was a boy. Obviously, there are some fiction elements in the story (I never met an angel. As far as I know…) but he’s probably the character closest to being a self-portrait.
This has actually had some readers who knew me as a boy tell me that the story was extremely hard for them to read, because they saw my face on the character in their mind. So I probably shouldn’t have told you that…
So there you have it – and straight from the author’s mouth. We’ve provided links to some sample chapters as well as to the Amazon pages to purchase Claus’ books below. I strongly encourage you to purchase the books if you like the sample chapters. You won’t be disappointed.
tempus-investigations_claus-holm
Jim Corrigan was killed back in 1933. Today, he's a private investigator on supernatural cases. Immortality is a bitch...but it does help.
Read a sample here.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Four stories with elements of light and darkness, love and death, heroism and betrayal - and everything else between above and below...
between-above-and-below_claus-holm
Read a sample here.
Purchase from Amazon here.
dreams-and-awakenings_claus-holm
This book is a journey through 29 different dreams. Some dark and scary, some amusing, but all with a twist. You'll never quite know if you're dreaming or not.
Read a sample here.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Four short stories about isolation - in one way or another. Whether it be personal, geographical or physical - it all comes down to the same feeling.
Introduction-to-isolation_claus holm
Read a sample here.
Purchase from Amazon here.
Purchase a copy here.
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in EXCLUSIVE, INTERVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Mike Lombardo

INTERVIEW: Mike Lombardo

By Dixielord

 

Last week I has the pleasure of talking to Mike Lombardo, writer and director of the upcoming post apocalyptic holiday movie I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday. It was a really fun talk more conversation than interview, and I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

House of Tortured Souls: Reel Splatter is known mostly for horror comedies, I have seen The Stall, but White Doomsday, seems to be a more serious film.

Mike Lombardo: Yes, it is a serious film. There's no comedy, well there's a few light moments, but it's not comedic at any point. We don’t play it for laughs ever.

 

HoTS: I was thinking it was completely humorous till I was just watching the trailer again and I caught the, “No food. No hope. Noel”. I don’t know how I missed that before.

ML: (laughs) It’s a little bit of grim humor in the trailer.

 

HoTS: It looks like it’s going to be a dark, grim movie.

ML: Yeah, I think that’s a pretty safe assumption. It’s pretty grim. Nihilistic is a good word for it.

 

HoTS: Nihilistic is a big word but I like that.

ML: (laughs)

 

HoTS: I see you have repeated the gas mask motif from Suburban Nightmare and The Stall.

ML: I have it tattooed on me as a matter of fact.

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday by Director Mike Lombardo

Poster art from I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday by director Mike Lombardo

 

HoTS: The gas mask is an unnerving, spooky look, where did that come from?

ML: The gas mask character that's all over the website, that's our logo, that's Dr. Chud. That was my character many years ago. Basically I've always been obsessed with gas masks and what they represent. It's very dehumanizing when you put a gas mask on someone. It almost instantly makes people uneasy. It speaks to paranoia, and I was just always obsessed with gas masks.

I found that actual mask, the reel splatter mascot at a flea market from a Viet Nam vet who owned a stall there. So I bought that and I had this character, trench coat, gas mask and a cardboard sign that said “The End is Near” and I started doing that in real life. Just wandering around town with that, just to fuck with people and see what would happen.

It's weird there’s never been a real mythology behind the character. We always talked about it, about different things he could be, but we never really did anything with it. He just started popping up in short stories, he's like an omen, he's always there, somewhere. Eventually as we moved into actual film stuff, making shorts, I picked that as the logo. Because I never considered Reel Splatter entirely horror, but it's also not entirely comedy . It's this weird, nasty surreal thing, and when people see the gas mask, their first reaction is “What the fuck?” and that’s exactly how I want them to react. I want them to say, “This is weird” and weird is the best way I can describe what I generally do.

Even the gas mask Santa, that was something I came up with in high school, so that's going way back. When I was in high school I had a project for graphics class, I forget exactly what it was supposed to be, I think it was some kind of instructional video or picture set. Which it turned into apocalyptic Christmas for some reason with me, because I had a real obsession with Santa Claus too. So I had this image of Santa in a gas mask that I plastered everywhere, and it just stayed with me for many, many years. Eventually the events surrounding this movie happened and it just worked. It was actually a short story I wrote in 2012, then the movie and it was a no brainer, we have to use that mask.

 

HoTS: It really caught my eye, it was kind of a “Holy Fuck” moment.

ML: (laughs) That's exactly what I was going for. Haha.

 

HoTS: That scene. I kept telling people this is going to be one fucked up movie.

ML: Well a lot of people think that character, that Santa is a slasher movie villain, but White Doomsday is not a slasher movie. So I'm curious what people think that character is associated with and is completely off base from what is really going on. I'm going to remain mum on the circumstances of those scenes, but it's not a slasher movie. So eliminate that from your minds. I'm not a fan of slasher movies.

 

HoTS: That's one of the things I have been pondering in my mind, and I wont ask you to divulge any secrets, but what is that Santa? Is it the mom dressing up to go out and kidnap babies.

ML: (Laughs)

 

HoTS: Or is it the actual Santa? I don't know, and I want to know so bad, but I don’t want anyone to tell me.

ML: Hopefully you won't be disappointed. A lot of people have been asking me what that is, because when Fangoria ran a story about our poster, that photograph, they plastered that all over the article. Everybody has been reposting that and asking what the fuck is this, and I'm just smiling to myself and it's like, “Just wait, you'll see”. (laughs)

 

HoTS: Do you think the slasher film is so ingrained in pop culture now, that when ever people see a mask, they automatically assume it's a slasher film?

ML: Absolutely, and when I was cutting the trailer, the producers were very hesitant, like, “Yeah, I don’t know if you want to use that, you're giving away too much, and people will get the wrong impression of the film”. I thought about it long and hard. I wanted the trailer to be as representative of this film as humanly possible. We had one version of the trailer that made it look like an apocalyptic action movie, and that's not this movie at all. I really thought it was important to show people that image, just to show, this isn’t a standard thing. I mean, I've been billing this to people as Miracle on 34th Street meets The Road, and I really don't know a better way to describe it than that. It's a slow burn, it's a depressing character piece. I feel it's more of a dark drama than a horror movie, but that's just me personally because I wrote the story. But I know people are going to think it's a slasher flick.

And we did kind of a retro style artwork for the poster. I wanted to do like an 80s horror paperback cover. Mark Schoenbach of Sadist Art Designs did that for us, he's the guy that did our The Stall poster as well. Those two things combined, people are definitely going to think it's a slasher film. You know what? Let them think that, hopefully when they watch the movie, they wont be disappointed that there's a story in there and not just a guy in a rubber mask hacking up teenagers.

 

HoTS: I see how people can make that leap from the poster, but to me, watching the trailer, I know you say The Road, but to me it reminds me of the last ten minutes or so of The Mist.

Spoiler

I know a lot of people hated that ending, but to me it was perfect.

ML: Yeah, I think that was a great ending. I'm a big fan of the bleak stuff.

 

HoTS: Me, too, but I have to be in a good mood to watch those films.

ML: (laughs) That's understandable.

Mike Lombardo is dreaming of a White Doomsday

Noel and Merry Doomsday from Mike Lombardo
Photo courtesy off Mike Lombardo

 

HoTS: When I come in from a hard night's work and need to chill, I turn on Family Guy. But if I'm in the right mood, I go for the bleak, depressing, dark films like A Serbian Film and Martyrs.

ML: Two of my favorite films of the last ten years, and they're absolutely beautifully made. What I like about those two movies they are incredibly dark, and ugly movies, but they never get to the level of exploitation. Even A Serbian Film, they show you just enough, and then they move on, they never revel in it. There's this really disturbing imagery, but it never becomes undisciplined.

 

HoTS: It's an extremely powerful film.

ML: Absolutely.

 

HoTS: I remember sitting in silence after watching both of those films.

ML: (laughs) I was just about to say that.

 

HoTS: What did I just see, what did I experience. Especially with Martyrs, that ending was perfect.

Spoiler

ML: For me, I think Martyrs is a harder film to watch. I know a lot of people think A Serbian Film is the more shocking of the two. The thing with A Serbian Film, you are introduced to these characters, a genuinely loving family, genuinely good people, that happen to be put into a terrible circumstance. There's light hearted moments, and there’s a build up, and then everything just plummets to hell. Martyrs starts down here (gestures with his hand as if a low level) and it just goes, it's never not horrible, there's not a single moment of that movie where you're smiling. It's just terrible all the time.

 

HoTS: The one time, when you start to smile, then Boom!

ML: Yeah, there’s that family scene for like two minutes, then Boom, home invasion. And I'm sitting there watching, and what really struck me about Martyrs, I was sitting there watching with my roommates and when the movie turned, when they finished Lucy’s story, I remember looking at my roommate and saying, “I have no fucking idea where this movie is going”, and there's another hour left. I have zero idea what's gonna happen and that hasn't happened in a decade. Then they just come out of nowhere and sucker punch you in the stomach. Here's a girl getting punched in the face for ten minutes. Enjoy.

 

HoTS: That was so brutal because it was so real.

ML: I'm getting chills just thinking about it. That movie just wrecked me.

 

HoTS: I kept waiting for the Hollywood moment, for her to grab her chain and choke out her captor, waiting for her to somehow escape, and it didn't happen. I finished the movie and said, “I loved this, but I'll never watch it again”.

ML: That’s the way I felt about it and A Serbian Film, and I've watched both a dozen time since. I remember after watching Martyrs, I had to go for a walk, I just had to get outside, that movie was so rough, and A Serbian Film was, too, but with A Serbian Film at least it had character arcs and a more cinematic approach to it. It definitely wasn't a Hollywood movie but it was a little more standard, a little easier to swallow, but the bleakness of Martyrs. I don't know if I've ever seen that topped. The only other films that have affected me like that were Sâlo and Cannibal Holocaust. Just raw, unflinching brutality, and ugliness, and they were all influences on me when I was doing White Doomsday. I'd like to think we don't pull any punches. We go for the sad whenever possible.

 

HoTS: At the risk of sounding like a very sick individual, I hope you don't pull any punches, I'm looking for a very dark, bleak, hopeless film.

ML: It's all those things, we had a little bit of a test screening of the rough cut at Scares That Care, to some of the people who were involved in the movie. The first ten minutes we were all talking, getting settled in, joking a little bit, by fifteen minutes in everyone had stopped talking, by twenty minutes I noticed there was dead silence, then someone said, “Someone make a joke, please”.

 

HoTS: Oh, you had them then, sounds promising.

ML: The back story of the movie is a very personal film. I wrote the story, in 2012 my mother was diagnosed with kidney failure, she was in the hospital in critical condition for about nine months. She has recovered since then, but she had interstitial nephritis, which caused her kidneys to only function at like three percent. They did not think that she was going to make it, and I was the go between for the hospital and my family, who were all in different states at the time. Everyone was calling me for updates all the time, and I basically had to try and downplay how bad things were. I didn't want to break down in front of my mom, and my family, so I was taking the brunt of it, and passing along the bad news. To say sane I started writing the story, which essentially boils down to watching a someone you care about fading away and you being powerless to do anything about it. So the hopelessness came from that, the story is dedicated to my mom and the movie is too. The character of the mother was influenced by my mom, and a lot of what you see is these characters, trying to shield the little boy from the reality of the situation. So no, it's not a happy movie.

 

HoTS: I like to think that movies like this, allow me to get the darkness out, helps me stay sane. I don’t know if that’s true for other fans and filmmakers of depressing, disturbing films. People do ask me all the time how can you watch films like this, and especially when I watched A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede, which I didn't find disturbing at all.

ML: No, not at all. Actually I didn't like the first one when I first saw it, because I had heard so much about it and I was thinking “this isn't the movie I heard it was going to be”. Watching it since, I realize it's a very, very good movie. It's almost a body horror movie more than anything else. It's more about domination and slavery, I don’t want to say psychological, because it is pretty visceral, but it's not a gross out, exploitation movie at all. The disturbing part of that movie was this man, breaking three people down into dogs basically. That's what bothered me about it.

Then the second one, was what everyone expected the first one to be. I'm very one the fence about the second one. I love the concept of it, that some one had seen the original one and then tried to reenact it. The movie is basically a giant “Fuck you” to censorship and the media claiming that people are going to mimic movies, which I think is absolute horseshit. I heard the premise and I thought, “Wow, this is going to be really intelligent”, because I didn't know if Tom Six was a really smart guy, kind of doing something nasty, or if he was just a sleaze king. Then I watched that movie and, ahhhh he's kind of just a sleaze king. Which there's nothing wrong with that, but I think he had a great opportunity to make a powerful commentary on horror films, and censorship of art, and he kind of botched it. I haven't seen the third one, but I heard the third one was miserable.

 

HoTS: It solidifies him as a sleaze king. There are some incredibly funny moments, but it is just so offensive, so gross. It's basically every derogatory word and insult you can call another human being is used. Every racial, sexist insult is thrown out over and over.

Okay, to move away from the doom and gloom a bit, let's talk about The Stall. For some reason I had the idea that was a zombie film, but I saw it earlier, and it's not.

ML: Oh no.

 

HoTS: I didn't want to bring it up in case zombies pop up in White Doomsday, but I'm so tired of zombies.

ML: No, no, that's another thing - I know some people are going to think it’s a zombie film and it's not.

 

HoTS: I just think the zombie story has been told. Let's find a new story to tell.

ML: Exactly.

 

HoTS: I did like Maggie with Arnold, but other than that.

ML: I didn’t see that but actually heard a lot of good things about that.

 

HoTS: It was pretty good. It was more of a story of the relationship between a father and a dying child than a traditional zombie movie.

ML: See, that's something that I would definitely enjoy, being that I love dying children obviously.

 

HoTS: (laughs)

ML: I think zombie films work best when the zombies are window dressing, a background to a different story. That's how I enjoy them anyway. I would definitely watch that.

 

HoTS: Back to The Stall. For some reason, I had the idea this was the story of a guy trapped in a bathroom stall during the zombie apocalypse, but it's not.

ML: The thing with that movie, we were working on The Stall about 2-3 years though various technical difficulties, shooting on weekends. We had to re-shoot a lot because the effects weren't working with the tentacles. But we were just kind of doing our thing, you know, making this Lovecraft movie, which was also very personal, about my job. That was like a dry run for something more serious. It's funny, the poster and the premise make people think it's going to be this big serious, gross out, B-movie and it's not, at least I hope people don't take it that way. It's about half and half.

 

HoTS: Honestly I was expecting turds. I'm glad there were no turds.

ML: Exactly. That was the big joke for me. We were presenting this movie as though it's going to be like a Troma movie, and it's not at all. It's pretty much straight Lovecraftian. It has a bleakness I was feeling at the time. Working in food service for fifteen years, trying to be a filmmaker on the side, it kind of takes its toll on you. Dying at work is my biggest fear, like one day I will realize I wasted my life doing something that I don't enjoy, while trying to support my passion on the side. The idea that I’m terrified to leave my comfort zone - which equates to a two by two bathroom stall in the movie - because there’s some horrible thing out there, that I'm not aware of yet, some awful external force. That when I get out there, I'll realize that my dreams are not good enough, and that I wont make it. That's what the whole bit is about. Or it's just about a guy trapped in a bathroom with a bunch of tentacles, and that's pretty cool too. However you want to watch it, that's fine.

 

HoTS: It was the most Lovecraftian references crammed into twelve minutes I have ever seen. You even worked in Erich Zann which is still my favorite Lovecraft short story.

ML: We had more on the radio broadcast but it gets cut out. That was one of my favorite, I'm trying to remember the others, I know there was DJ Brown Jenkins and Erich Zann. That was a lot of fun. I'm a huge Lovecraft geek, obviously.

So, I was working on this movie for two years, we release it, and our poster art was originally a restroom sign, with tentacles coming out of the side. That was our first poster, we had that for about a year. Then we did the alternate poster that's on the DD, of the guy kind of shrinking away from the tentacles, that looks like a big 70s or 80s VHS cover. So we had all that stuff out for awhile, and then the movie comes out. It's getting watched, stories posted all over the place, and then I start getting calls, about four months later to go on Netflix and look up The Stall. And I look, and there’s a movie with the same fucking poster as us, but it's zombie hands. It's the same premise, and I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” (laughs) I was so annoyed. Then I watched it, and if it was a good movie, I'd be totally cool with it, but it's an awful movie.

 

HoTS: I think that was what confused me. When I met you I asked you if The Stall was on Netflix because I remembered seeing it.

ML: I got that from a lot of people. Which really aggravated me, not saying they stole it, because people do come up with the same ideas all the time but it really grinded my gears because they had the same poster art. Their other poster was the restroom sign with zombie arms coming in from the side, so basically both their posters were damn near identical to ours, and it's essentially the same premise. But whereas I recognize that that movie has about thirteen minutes in it, they stretched it for an hour and a half (laughs). So it became very tiresome very quickly. Although I am a big fan of their first movie, Freak Out. It's about a guy who escapes a mental asylum and a bunch of horror fans find him. He not a violent criminal but they try and train him to be a slasher killer. It's low budget, but it's very funny. It's very low budget, but it's a fun, dumb movie, they were trying to make a Troma style B movie, and it's got some very entertaining moments in it. But The Stall, I was not so much a fan of. Maybe I’m biased, I don’t know.

 

HoTS: That does explain my confusion because when I watched it earlier I knew I had seen that cover before, but I don't think I ever watched the zombie version of The Stall. Because like I said, I really don’t watch new zombie films unless I'm bored out of my head and there’s nothing else that catches my interest.

ML: Yeah, and it sucks because I grew up with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. When I was a kid, I wore out my VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead. I used to rent it every week and watch the head explosion scene from the beginning, over and over again. I was obsessed with zombies and there was nothing else out there other than the Italian stuff, a spat of movies in the 80s and the Romero trilogy, there wasn't really any other zombie stuff that was too exciting. Then back in what, 2003 when Brian Keene published The Rising, the Dawn of the Deadremake came out and things kind of blew up again for zombies. I was like, this is the best time to be alive, there is zombie stuff everywhere. Then after about a year of that, it's, “Okay, I'm done”. That was ten years ago and it's still going (laughs).

 

HoTS: It is still going, There are three themes, that if I am cruising Amazon Prime or Netflix, that I just scoot right past it: that's zombies, found footage, or four friends going anywhere. I just pass.

ML: Yep, yeah. (laughs) Actually I just watched the Cabin Fever remake, speaking of four friends going somewhere. It's like, “Why do I do this to myself”? Horrid, horrid stuff.

 

HoTS: Like me. I will shit talk a movie, know it's going to be bad, and still end up seeing it.

ML: Oh, absolutely.

 

HoTS: I saw The Omen remake in the theater.

ML: I was there opening night.

 

HoTS: I saw The Omen remake in the theater while running a fever and fell asleep. I tell people I love the movie because it's the best sleep I got all week.

ML: I had to go to the ER right after seeing that. I found out I had two hernias.. I was in the theater and ran to the bathroom vomiting profusely. Everyone said I had the antichrist growing inside me. So that was my experience with The Omen - as if the movie wasn't bad enough.

 

HoTS: I think it just made everyone sick.

ML: (laughs) It really did. The devil was definitely in that film because no one seeing it had a good time.

 

HoTS: So where are you going now with White Doomsday? Festival circuit?

ML: Yes. Currently we are in post-production. We are starting to work on visual effects now, sound design, um color grading, and then I'm hoping to have the movie finished by Christmas. It would be great to have it out by Christmas. The thing is, it doesn't mean it will play by Christmas, because we are at the mercy of the film festival schedules. You submit a film to the festivals four months in advance, and you don’t know if you get accepted for two to three months. So we have to figure out which festival we would like to premiere at, and what the submission deadlines are, and all that kind of stuff. But I would love to have it out for Christmas. Then the film festival circuit, and try to find a distributor, and see what happens. If we can find a company to put it out, then the DVD will hopefully be widely available. If not we will access our options, maybe press our own DVDs like we did with The Stall and Suburban Holocaust, then hit the circuit, the festival and convention circuit on foot and bring the film to you. So we'll see.

 

HoTS: I will be looking for it.

ML: Thank you.

 

HoTS: Hopefully on physical media.

ML: Physical media is a big thing for me. We will probably do a VOD release down the road, but I hate not having a physical disc. I'm a collector. I am a huge, huge collector and I love extra features. I refuse to go out and buy a disc that has no extra features on it. This movie was a year and a half in the making, and I'm going to have so much behind the scenes it's obnoxious. So many crazy stories about how we made this movie with just paper clips and chewing gum, you know. So I'm hoping to get a nice supplemental package out there that VOD doesn't have.

 

HoTS: There's very little worse than opening up a DVD and special features are scene selection.

ML: Yeah. Or theatrical trailer. It's like, “Oh wow, that’s great”.

 

HoTS: I just watched the movie; now I can watch the trailer.

ML: Thanks, this is phenomenal. Interactive menus, that's my favorite, and subtitles for the hearing impaired.

 

HoTS: I love VOD because of the convenience, but I hate it because of the inconvenience, if that makes sense. It's so easy, but I’m at the mercy of whatever Netflix or Amazon allows me to watch.

ML: Absolutely, and from a filmmakers standpoint there are a lot of pitfalls. People think, “Oh, there’s no overhead”, because you don’t have to make discs. But they find ways to gouge you with putting it out there and you are also opening yourself up to a huge amount of piracy very easily. This is my first feature so I'm very leery of all that, but I guess I will find out soon enough.

 

HoTS: Piracy yeah. I think it's so easy from a fan’s stand point to say, “This is a big Hollywood director. They aren’t losing any money”, but I have seen Indie directors, who are having thousands if not tens of thousands of downloads, but they aren't actually selling shit.

ML: I was talking to a friend about effects, and he was giving me the run down for distribution on his first feature. They did a Kickstarter campaign and sent out early DVDs to the Kickstarter backers. He said by the time the film was released, the day it actually premiered on DVD and VOD, there were over 700 websites that had it for download already. He said ,“Well, we lost our shirts on that one”. It's so easy to justify, you just click on that link and you’re like, “I'm not really stealing”, but when you’re a filmmaker at this level, you are literally counting every download, counting single sales... I'm not trying to make a movie so I can get a solid gold pool, I want to be able to make another film. I fund this stuff with the money I make at the pizza shop. It's very difficult when people are pirating stuff.

 

HoTS: And people are getting so open about it.

ML: I just the other day saw someone ask where he can get the Alien series for free, and I said, “Well, you can buy them, and you should support the artist that made them”. I know the 6.99 it costs at Wal-Mart to get them is too great but...

 

HoTS: And you can do a VOD rental for under 3 bucks, I know I just shit talked VOD, but there’s really no good reason to pirate movies. I know you maybe cant afford to watch every movie you want to, but I can't afford a Lamborghini. I feel your pain. I can't get a gold plated pool. That’s life, and it's not an excuse to steal, but it's just so easy and there are realistically zero consequences.

ML: Nope, they aren't knocking down anyone’s door for piracy. I think also people take for granted the ability to get everything instantly. In the old days when you had to go to a video store and scour around for hours to find that movie, it had more value for you. It meant something because you had to hunt for it. Even in Napstar days, it took three days to download a MP3 of a song. That was a fucking accomplishment. You had to really want that song, or that jpeg of Jenny McCarthy. You really needed it or it just wasn't worth it.

And this goes beyond piracy to film appreciation in general. People will just go online and do a search of ten most disturbing films of all time and do a mass download in, like ten minutes, and finish watching them and it's, “Yeah, whatever”. It's disposable to them because they didn't have to really work, hunt, or research it. It doesn't mean anything to them. It's like junk food, and that's a shame, because you really aren't experiencing those films. Because those articles, those lists, they aren't giving you any historical context, they aren't telling you why these films are important. I feel like it's the best time for being a film fan, and it's the worst time, for those reasons. It's never been more accessible, but it's so disposable to everyone. It’s a real shame.

 

HoTS: To me, part of the magic was always digging through those dusty shelves looking for that gem.

ML: Exactly, just looking at that crazy cover and knowing that cover or that poster was lying to me but damn if I don't want it.

 

 

I want to thank Mike Lombardo for allowing us the time to chat with him. We will keep our eyes on I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

Posted by Allen Alberson in COMING SOON, HORROR NEWS, INTERVIEWS, 0 comments
ONE-ON-ONE WITH BRIAN K. WILLIAMS

ONE-ON-ONE WITH BRIAN K. WILLIAMS

By John Roisland

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One of the fastest growing names in the horror industry, Brian K. Williams, and his partner in crime, director Scott Schirmer who together are Bandit Motion Pictures who have brought us Harvest Lake, and now the eagerly anticipated Plank Face. In addition to gearing up for the launch of the trailer for Plank Face, Brian has an extremely hectic schedule of film festivals and conventions, but he was gracious enough to sit down with House of Tortured Souls: and (figuratively) spill his guts to us for a few moments!

 

House of Tortured Souls: Brian K. Williams, first thank you for your to talk with House of Tortured Souls. We are honored to have you with us. We also want to say congrats for all the success and acclaim you guys are getting from Harvest Lake, I know I for am a huge fan of the film. How has this impacted Bandit Motion Pictures?

Brian K. Williams: It's really just started for us. Harvest Lake was our first release, and we are hoping to be able to just keep putting out quality films that people can enjoy, growing the fan base with each one. We are trying to keep the momentum going and to continue to learn and improve with each film.

 

HoTS: Okay, the new release that everyone is very anxiously awaiting is Plank Face, which is directed by Scott Schirmer. Fill us in, story line, cast, etc.

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BKW: Plank Face has recently just went live with our indiegogo pre-order campaign, and I'm excited to say we hit our modest goal of $5,000 in less then fifteen hours. This will allow us to be able to pay some hard working people who worked on the film and get the merchandise needed for our perks manufactured, but that's just the beginning. We hope to raise enough to be able to continue making films, so we will be announcing the first of our stretch goals very soon. The cast is a great mix of new and familiar faces, playing an exciting bunch of characters that I can't wait for everyone to get a peak at.

 

HoTS: I hate using the term remake, but if you could ...re-envision any film to redo, what would it be?

BKW: I'm really not sure, because I've never wanted to remake anything. I used to say if I ever won the lottery I would make The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy film, but that was back before it got made. I would entertain a remake for sure, I just don't know of anything in particular that calls to me. Remakes don't really bother me at all, and I've never understood the beef fans have with them. There are quite a few I actually like, but if you don't like them, then just don't watch them. The original is always there. That doesn't change. It shouldn't change your views or fandom of the original. Now, If they burned the original negatives, destroyed all copies, and erased the memories from your mind upon release of a remake, that would be different, but they don't.

 

HoTS: Of your work so far, what stands out the most? What are you most proud of?

BKW: I'm proud most recently of my work on Harvest Lake. I decided to take a break from directing to focus my time and energy on cinematography and editing. I have won multiple cinematography awards and editing awards in just a few short months of Harvest Lake being on the festival circuit, and that makes me really proud. I feel like I specifically set forth a plan, followed it, and achieved what I wanted to achieve, and that makes me proud

 

HoTS: Through your venture in filmmaking, who do you look up to? Who inspired you?

BKW: Seeing the movie Found was very inspirational to me. I had always been a lover of film, and I had been doing model photography for several years, but didn't think I could actually make a film living in the middle of Indiana. Seeing that Found was made by people right down the road with equipment that I could afford was a life changing event. I am very lucky to be able to work along side Scott every day now. Since then, I am inspired every day by so many people. There are some great people out there who are producing great work, and seeing it just inspires me to try and get better with what I do with every new film.

 

HoTS: Looking to the future, what can we expect to see from Brian K. Williams?

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BKW: More movies! Bandit Motion Pictures is now a full time gig for Scott and me, and we hope to produce two to three feature films per year. Harvest Lake was first this year, we will be releasing Plank Face in just a couple months, and in September we hope to be in production of our third feature of the year, which is a script I am writing and plan on directing as well.

 

HoTS: Your all time favorite horror film?

BKW: That is a hard fought battle that is always raging on inside my head, but it generally comes down to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Andrzej Zulawski's Possession. Today I will say The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

HoTS: Brian K. Williams, again, thank you and we wish you and Bandit Motion Pictures all the best. Any closing words for your fans?

 

BKW: Without our fans, we are nothing. We are doing our best to put out quality material that people can be excited to see, that will make them think but also allow them to slip away into another world and have a good time. Following us on social media, buying our products, telling your friends - all of these things will help us to be able to continue making films.

 

House of Tortured Souls reminds you that the Plank Face indiegogo campaign is ongoing, so there's still time to show your support and pre-order your copy.

Keep It Evil...indiegogo pre-order campaign

Posted by John Roisland in INTERVIEWS, 0 comments