Michelle MIDI Sayles

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.
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
Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

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

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

By Woofer McWooferson

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

By Scarlett O

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

By Michelle MIDI Sayles

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

By Schock

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

Happy Birthday to the *King* of Horror

By Tammie Parker

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

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

What Stephen King Has Meant To Me

By Dixielord

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

By Brenda Wilder Antlitz

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

Dakota Bailey: A Retrospective Review of His Three Feature Films

Dakota Bailey is a Colorado filmmaker who began with a simple goal: to create movies he himself would want to watch. Since 2015, Bailey has created some short films and has currently put the finishing touches on his third feature The Acid Sorcerer. This is a revisit of Bailey's films My Master Satan and American Scumbags. It also features a preview review for The Acid Sorcerer.

MY MASTER SATAN:
3 TALES OF DRUG FUELED VIOLENCE
(2016)

My Master Satan - DVD coverThis film was shot between March 2015 and April 2016. It is an independent product of R.A. Productions and primarily its writer, director, producer, and actor is Dakota Bailey.
This is an anthology horror film that features three interconnected tales revolving around serial killer/druggie Alister (Dakota Bailey) and his equally demented serial killer friends, Woody, Charlie, Bubba, and Dealin' Dick, which takes the viewer deep into a seedy underworld of crime, drugs, and murder.
In the first tale, Bubba (Matt Marshall) enlists Alister's help to exhume the corpse of his deceased unfaithful wife who he murdered. Afterward, the two of them decide to take some LSD resulting in an acid trip where they briefly see Satan.
In the second tale, Alister and his twisted friend Charlie (Brian Knapp) go out for a night of deviance and committing crimes, such as home invasions and murder.
Finally, in the third and final tale, Alister and Bubba go on a quest for more LSD, meeting their serial killer friend Woody and committing violent acts along the way, and finally having the ultimate ritualistic acid trip that once again brings them face to face with Satan himself.
Firstly, a big thank you to Dakota Bailey for sharing this film with me upon release. I was honoured when I was asked to review it and honestly getting an email from “MY MASTER SATAN” was quite surprising to say the least (at 9am on a Sunday morning).
As already stated, they are stories laced with drugs, violence, and ultimately murder. Each character has his own evil dance with the devil and wrestles with good and bad within the film. We see these men decline into drug induced madness, we watch as people die to feed their addictions and new lust for death, and we recoil when we witness the acid trips that guide them to Satan.
The biggest Satan scene, shot in a style reminiscent of an Andy Warhol crazed moment, was a truly inspiring choice. It felt like a bizarre and very maniacal acid trip. The deaths themselves were well filmed and clearly considerate of a technique I love – “Less is Best”. We didn’t need to see each piece of the deaths graphically. A simple blood splatter, a pillow on a face, or even a well used camera angle was much more effective.
I noticed the sound quality was sketchy in parts (and I must point out I had been warned prior to viewing). This did hinder some parts, where I felt the dialogue really drove the scene and is one thing perhaps the filmmakers can work on. There were some magnificently shot scenes throughout. Whether it was a simple shot of the cemetery or the pick axe being dragged. A shadowy silhouette digging, and primarily the driving/outdoor scenes.
The aggressively enjoyable thrash metal that interjects in between scenes fits in well with the gritty and unseemly atmosphere throughout the themes of this 70 minute film. We feel the harsh reality of an insane life on drugs and the desperation for escape from the depressing wheel of life (in a low socio-economic area).
These three stories seemed so well connected and the small passages, injected within the scenes, was very well thought out. I liked the stop start motion that was used to introduce each character, giving us a moment to process who we’re meeting within their first scene. This helped with following the story and characters (due to the sound issues).
All in all a great effort by all involved.

AMERICAN SCUMBAGS (2016)

American Scumbags - DVD CoverThis review is about the latest offering from My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence creator Dakota Bailey for R.A. Productions. Yet again (like with My Master Satan), we are introduced to an interesting collective of characters, who each have their own story to tell within the intertwining plot.
This time our focus is on the stories of Johnny (Dakota Bailey) , Billy (Darien Fawkes), Chester (Fred Epstein) , Wheelin’ Deals (L.B.), Lucifer (Nick Benning), Angel (Bianca Valentino), The Ex (Katy Katzar), The Boyfriend (Bill Chafer), Teddy (V.B.), and Chester’s victim (Laura Ray).
This time around Dakota Bailey showcases some awesome punk songs from the Welsh Punk band Pizzatramp. Using their songs “Ciggy Butt Brain, Scumbag Boogie” and “Taxi Cunts Fuck Off”, Bailey uses them to help gel the scenes of American Scumbags together. I checked out a few more tidbits about Pizzatramp and will say their style, spirit, and attitude is indicative of the punk world and its legion of fans.
The stories within American Scumbags that jump out at the viewer are the dynamic drug dealings of Chester (a lowly dealer with axes to grind all over his patch), Johnny (an addict and Chester’s hired gun for drugs in payment), and Lucifer (a jovial prankster who is determined not to pay what he owes); the exploits of Billy (a violent man who is hell bent on punishing his ex), his ex, and her new boyfriend; and, lastly, the tale of homeless veteran Wheelin’ Deals and his strange interactions with pedophile Teddy.
The standout performance for me was Darien Fawkes as Billy. He was such a natural on screen that I despised and was repulsed by some of his aggression and actions. This is a great indication of Fawkes natural prowess on screen and an ability to be immersed in his character.
Bailey as Johnny omits his usual deep voiced, fearful rogue as he does what he must to satisfy his lust for Heroin. Chester was a fun character and you will either love or hate Epstein’s ability to switch from playful to ill-tempered with such ease. Lucifer had me chuckling with one rather fecal scene, but well done to Nick Benning for bringing that air of jovial disruption to the scumbags’ demises.
Each character was grounded in believable portrayals, and we feel like we are watching a story of love gone sour, drug fueled mayhem, and perversion at its prime. Congratulations on improving the sound quality this time around and making the majority of the film much more fluid and easy to hear. The shots again (yes, even those involving urination) were all well thought out and yet again the less is best approach was well used to produce some of the best violence on screen.
I will say if Cannibal Holocaust’s infamous turtle scene leaves one squeamish, perhaps avoid the scene involving the road kill bunny - I was extremely relieved to read “No animals or people were harmed in the making of this film” as I was taken off guard by that scene myself.
Congratulations, Dakota Bailey and his team, on a well-developed second film.

THE ACID SORCERER (2017)

The Acid Sorcerer - posterThe Acid Sorcerer is a dark and nihilistic horror film that borders between fiction and reality. The film introduces the viewer to a serial killer, a drug addicted couple, a sadistic drug dealer, a cross dressing snuff filmmaker and a prostitute who has HIV. The characters embrace their inner darkness, struggle with morality, come to terms with their mortality, and ultimately meet their demise.
This is Dakota Bailey's third feature film and it is evident that he is truly growing as an artist.
This time around we are treated visually to some kaleidoscopic imagery of drug addicts on benders at their most intense, characters both rich and raw, and a story laced with lost souls.
First up we meet Smoke, a serial killer guided by evil, played impressively by Dakota Bailey (who also wrote and directed the film). Bailey stumbles through convincingly and, as he is ultimately guided by the evil reaper like character called Loach, we take pity on his misdeeds.
We also meet Vermina (played by Natasha Morgan), a pregnant meth addict, and her concerned partner Crawdad (played by Darien Fawkes- who had a dual role as Loach as well). Each offers up a vulnerability, that keeps the film’s moral compass pointing throughout.
Eyevin is a cruel dealer (played very well by the ever enjoyable Brian Knapp) who convincingly is just all about business. And Ecstasy (played well by Selena Velveteen) is a HIV infected hooker, who meets a tragic demise. Nikki, is a cross dresser with darker desires (played brilliantly by Nick Benning). Nikki was sweet and convincing, yet still deranged and maniacal. I loved Benning's ability to switch between personas and immerse wholly in his character.
Shot gloriously in black and white, it helps accent the darkness within the shadows and pockets of light which our characters inhabit. The double exposed colourful imagery of the 'acid trips' is mind-blowing and offers insight into the madness and mayhem within each character’s life.

All of Dakota Bailey's films are available at R.A. Productions Store Envy site, except The Acid Sorcerer.
To order The Acid Sorcerer, Bailey has an Indiegogo campaign, with extras for fans to purchase with it ahead of its August 2017 release.
Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 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