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Horrible Imaginings ‘Horror Lit’ Primer

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Another podcast from Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, this time checking in with horror authors about how to translate books to film and on what the written word can do that movies can't.

Beth Accomando: Welcome again to another edition of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast I am Beth Accomando
Horror is something primal and it goes back to people around a camp fire telling a good tale about what lurked in the darkness just beyond the fires light, John Carpenter reminds us of this with the opening of The Fog as John Houseman holds his young campers wrapped with the story told on the glow of a fire on the beach.
Male speaker : 11:55, almost midnight, enough time for one more story, one more story before 12:00 just to keep us warm, five minutes it will be the 21st of April, 100 years ago on the 21st of April the waters around Spivey point a small clipper ship drew towards land.
Suddenly out of the night the fog rolled in.
Beth Accomando: Whether its fog rolling in or a dark and stormy night, horror cinema can trace its roots back to literature Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula inspired some of the earliest works of the genre, so for this podcast I am going to focus on the connection between horror literature and horror cinema and I am going to do this with the help of some people from horrible imaginings film festival which took place last month, I’ll speak with horror author Cody Goodfellow as well as horror author and film maker John Skip plus I have an interview with writer director Billy Hanson whose adaptation of Steven King’s Survivor Type on the author’s seal of approval.
I’ll end the podcast with some camp fire readings by horror authors at their works of horror imaginings film festival, first let’s hear from festival director Miguel Rodriguez about why he wanted to have a horror literature component at his film festival.
Bill Rodriguez: I am of the belief that story telling is connected and horror cinema from its inception had its roots in literature, if you think about some of the first big horror films like Frankenstein and Dracula definitely had gothic, literature roots, it’s all just a part of the big umbrella of telling stories to each other so yes I wanted to include literature, I’ve always wanted to but this is the first year that I’ve been able to do it in a really integral way.
Beth Accomando: David Agronoff a San Diego based horror author programmed the literature components of the festival; he explains what some of his goals were.
David Agronoff : Well we are really wanting to show how the roots of horror cinema are in the literature and also we want to show people that maybe horror fans who traditionally just watched the movies that there is a wide range of horror literature out there to be read that it is equally exciting .
Somebody who maybe for years has loved The Exorcist might not really be aware of the William Peter Blatty wrote it as a novel first, horror movies last two hours but a horror novel can be a journey or an experience over a couple of days where you really get in the psyche of characters and can really explore issues.
We are really hoping to show like the wonder and joy that it can be found in horror literature, when you read a great horror novel the author is taking you on a tour of suspenseful moments and they are really taking your hand and walking you through it, any piece of horror whether its film or a book requires the reader, the viewer to put themselves in to the position of the characters and a horror novel can really, really put you in the seat right there with the people going through the experience and what’s really great about horrible imaginings fast running authors is that this is a chance for the creators of these works of horror literature to be in your space one on one, you get a chance to get their books signed and really have a tactile experience with the horror novel, not just the films.
Beth Accomando: Here is a short exert from the horror literature panel at horrible imaginings film festival, Agronoff poses the question and the authors responding are Brian Evenson followed by Cody Goodfellow, author film maker John Skip and ends with Laura Lebar.
David Agronoff: I want to talk about and this is a film fest and we’ve had several adaptations including [Indiscernible] [15; 00] based on Jeremy Robert Johnson, awesome short stories, survivor type based on Stephen King’s classic and these films provided two of the most horrific moments that I’ve seen in these festivals so far and they are both stories that I had read before seeing them and they still affected me.
I want maybe just to dive into the idea of just how can horror literature reach out and provide a scare in a way that cinema may be limited on, it’s great because we have film makers and writers at the same time here, so just if we can go down the line and talk about the differences.
Male speaker: One of the best things about film is that it does give you things visually, one of the things that’s great about fiction is that it puts you in a position where you kind of imagine what’s going on and you create the visuals from yourself so you can kind of bring the reader in a very different way in terms of kind of creating the experience whereas in film it’s going to always kind of feel like it’s partly outside of you.
When you are writing a book everybody has some slight experience of it and kind of fills out the book in some way so I guess for me that’s one of the differences.
Male speaker: Yeah, the biggest difference is that the writer goes in alone and the reader comes in alone and they meet in some sort of [Indiscernible] [06:19] middle ground and the reader will interpret and battle out that those words in to their own satisfaction using their own anesthetic and their own experience and their own willingness to look.
So if you are going to make something in writing, something like survivor type you can dwell on making every little last spurt very, very inevitable so the reader has to crawl all over the forensic detail and then lose all the magic, you actually find a way to make that situation boring .
You have to make the situation itself really come to life so that the readers mind goes off doing it themselves, it’s not a question of will I go there and show them the thing or will I restrain myself because Stephen King’s Survivor Type is fantastic in the way it suggests and just finds the last little edge because he is telling you his own story so he is got to be writing this down and so it’s going to have the inevitable [shouts]
Male speaker: Lady fingers but you have to make it frightening in a conceptual way so that the readers internalize and does it to themselves and then you can make it really work, I remember reading Survivor Type in middle school and it was a really bitchin’ knarly rad story and he’ll tell me if I don’t admit it.
Male speaker: It was actually beautiful.
Male speaker: I saw it a couple of years ago in a film and it doesn’t even show you everything but it puts you right there and doesn’t allow you to flinch away, it makes you hear everything and thus it manages you to have it both ways, it manages you to show it and not show it so that you are doing it to yourself or either the book shows it but it’s also denying you the ability to look away.
When sorcerer stars forces you to look at every worse last little spark, the Jeremy story still of somehow manages to let you shilly shally around and it tells you yes, yeah you’ve got to remember, you did take it all out and all of these other things you know to get by in words and so words you can make it as extravagant and as graphic as you want to with the reader and its more of a collaborative experience and it’s also implicates the reader in what they are reading.
Male speaker : I always blame the reader for what they are reading, so this is tricky but according to us both, I was writing fiction before I started making films but I always try to write fiction that was very immediate, that you were in the middle of, it was kind of like you are there to experience and also very visual and very kind of moment um based so a lot of people thought that I was a cinematic writer and that it wasn’t that much of a surprise that I would have actually doing that kind of stuff.
The thing about movies like music is that they go in to your head before you have a chance to grapple with them, you are already feeling it before you’ve had a chance to think about it whereas books you go in thinking about it .
You are going in eyes first, not the way that you appreciate visuals, but you are going in glowing a text and letting this person guide you through their brain scape so I think that they are both really, really fascinating ways to work, I think that making movies is harder than writing books but only if you have to write them first because you still have to make it up as Ross said you don’t need a budget to write a story.
I can blow up the world like 30 times and it what was the field line? It cost Stephen King 25 bucks to write The Shining and it cost Cooper 25 million and 1970 something to shoot it and yes the money was mostly likely type writer ribbons and paper, maybe white out.
So that’s huge, but what is really amazing is taking the things that you imagine and then having to physicalize them and get everybody to agree to show up and do them with you and that’s pretty amazing stuff.
Beth Accomando: I think there are very, very different mediums some books that are really great, I don’t think that it necessarily makes good movies and vice versa but since you brought up The Shining I think that’s a really interesting comparison because the movie The Shining is of course very, very different from the book and I think they are both very successful in what they do in their different mediums.
The movie The Shining does visually what some of the emotion is behind the book of the Shining but The Shining the book really gets you in to the psychology and it’s a very different experience whereas you have the movie is more of an operatic experience and you are looking for something for a movie its two hours, three and a half of somebody maybe get away with that so you are taking it down you are condensing it down you are making it into a certain amount of time so it’s very different and I think that thinking about if you are going to do it from one language top another how the translators are going to do it is an important thing.
Male speaker: I haven’t told them that we’ve bonded, these doctors really don’t know anything, we’ll make them understand.
Beth Accomando: Two of the best films at this year’s horrible imaginings film festival were adaptations of literature, Jeremy Robert Johnson’s When Susurrus Stirs and Stephens King’s Survivor Type, I spoke with film maker Billy Hansen about how one goes about successfully translating a work of art literature to the screen.
Male speaker: My name is Richard Pine, I was on cruise ship called The Palace on a trip from Saigon to New York, the ship sank two days ago, there is nobody else here, I don’t know if there is anything to eat.
Beth Accomando: Hansen adapted King’s Survivor type which screened at the festival as part of a special cannibals panel, if you’ve read the story then that’s not giving anything away but here is Hansen with a relative spoiler free description of the plot.
Male speaker: I would say that for anyone who has read the story its pretty faithful so they are going to know what’s coming but for anyone that has not read it I would say it is a physiological thriller, very suspenseful, very graphic and a tale of survival and it’s sort of one man tour de force.
Male speaker: I guess people want to hear what happened first hand, I guess welcome to Pine Island.
Beth Accomando: Kind of the set up for this is that there is a guy on a rock of an island, it’s not a big island by any means and he has a camcorder so he’s kind of doing this video journal so working with that kind of a limitation what were you thinking going in to about how you wanted to use that, we have a lot of found footage claims so how would you want to kind of play into that genre or play away from it?
Jeremy Johnson: That will be a long time to decide to really nail down what we wanted to do in terms of like style and tone because I think found footage movies they provide a really great opportunity for some immersive story telling but what I see in most of the found footage movies I’ve seen its just sort of limiting and the movies feel kind of constrained by the format but the reason that I gravitated towards that was that because the short story is actually written as a journal l so it made sense and sort of make the movie as a video journal.
But that being said we didn’t want to be tied down by that style so we have a score, we have some jump cuts in there and so we were a little fast and loose with that format and I think finding the balance between the found footage feel and a big cinematic experience, I think we landed kind of between those two.
Beth Accomando: I think audiences are willing to make a leap also so I think you are very faithful to what he can do with the camera in the initial goings and then as the film proceeds you kind of do some cheats in terms of how you can edit it or how you can use where the camera is and what he is doing.
Jeremy Johnson: Yeah absolutely and when I didn’t want really want to be tied to one of the takes because these scenes there were some pretty hefty dialogues in these scenes that run a minute two minutes and if you are not able to sort of chop those up and really control the pacing of it I, it can get drab very, very quickly.
The actor Gideon Emery had given such a great performance that it would be sort of a shame if it felt slow and felt like it was dragging because it was not moving so when we got in to the editing we said we are just going to have some jump cuts because we are going to use one of these pieces from these takes and we are going to really want to build this performance in a traditional way even though we kind of shot the movie in a nontraditional way.
Beth Accomando: This is adapted from a Stephen King story, so talk about the difference of like what a written work can create in terms of horror and what the visual image can and then how you worked creating that adaptation.
Jeremy Johnson: Sure, actually this is kind of like a different case too because its written as a journal, it’s all sort of his dialogue and because we shot it in the same way as a video journal a lot of that text actually came through so we were able to capture Stephen King’s written word pretty directly for a lot of it.
That being said the story as its written ends in a way that sort of leaves you hanging and so you are left to a lot of questions and that didn’t really work for me when we were doing the adaptation and the only real thing that I changed is that I reworked the ending a little bit and that specifically is because in the context of a film, if you are watching a film you are just getting the information differently and rather than not answering those questions and leaving that sort of to the audience to decide it sort of felt like we were cheating them a little bit so I reworked the ending to a way that felt satisfying to a movie going audience but the story itself or the Stephen King’s short story is satisfying in a very different way so I think that’s the biggest difference between when you read it and when you watch it, I guess that was one of the things to consider .
Beth Accomando: The other thing is that when you are reading something everything is really left to your imagination in terms of creating the details, with film you have a choice of showing something that’s graphic or kind of leaving it off screen, so when you are faced with so many challenges because there is some graphic elements, when you are faced with these what was some of your decision in terms of when you wanted to show something, when you wanted something to be off screen and how that affects the audience.
Jeremy Johnson: That was one of the conversations that we had too with other producers, we said if we are going to do this story we need to do it, I mean if we are promising a found footage without giving too much away there is a very, very big amputation scene and that is sort of like a highlight in the story and that’s where the story really goes over the edge and it’s all downhill from there pretty much.
But we were talking and we said if we are going to do this movie we need to show the amputation scene from beginning to end, we need to really put people there and make people feel like it’s happening because the second that the camera gets bumped and we don’t see it or that video distorts of something like that to cover it people are out and that’s really going to take away so we really just went for it and we said okay we proceeded knowing that we were going to do this super ambitious beginning to end amputation scene, yeah that was intense but after that it sort of and that’s about the middle of the movie so after that we could show a little bit less because we had already sort of put people in there and made them realize that it’s happening and I think that then you can show a little bit less so I think usually people would build a movie like this where you show a little bit you show a little bit more and then your last gag is sort of the big nasty gross one but we went the opposite way and the last thing that you see which is still horrifying its off camera but it’s all sound and sort of like hinted out but it’s still really effective because you have already seen some really gnarly stuff before that .
Male speaker: At least we are all here, what do you say good food, good meat, good God let’s eat. The only other way to avoid hell is just keep breathing.
Beth Accomando: When you were at the screening during the Q and A you talked about finding the right person to do the special effects.
Male speaker: Yeah, we met out with a few people, I reached out to pretty much all of my friends because the same way that we took our time in casting we said the next big thing is we need a makeup person because we have so many effects and we knew it was a big job so we met this guy named Doug Murphy and he was so excited about it and he was the first person to be really excited about the amount of work and the challenges rather than overwhelmed by it so we said, okay you are on board and then we immediately started talking I think the day after we cast Gideon memory he was in the studio with Doug Murphy and they were doing the molds of his legs and his head and all the stuff .
Yeah Doug brought these great team of people and they had a huge document that was laid out every step of his decent and they had stages of sun burn on his skin and stages of teeth rotting and so as we were going through they just did an amazing job of tracking all of that and it really comes through in the movie.
Beth Accomando: Here at Miguel’s festival, there has been a focus of horror writing, there was a horror literature panel so there is a lot of writers here, you have a film that was adapted from a story and the number of the authors I heard talking about your film were really impressed by how you had brought it to the screen so how does it feel to have authors kind of feel like you’ve done justice to the written word and you actually even showed it to Stephen King.
Jeremy Johnson: I did I mean it’s so rewarding to hear people who have read the story and liked the movie and its rewarding to know that writers are recognizing it as good I guess.
The writers are really liking it because more than a film maker more than even the screen writer or anything I consider myself as a story teller and a big part of anything I do I will spend a lot of time writing it to make sure that its crafted well, to make sure the character arcs and all the dynamics and all that is there before going in to production with something.
So to hear writers appreciating it really makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside because I spend a lot of time especially with this one of the adaptation and working in theme and all that stuff so hearing writers talk about it is fantastic although I missed the literary panel and talking about it I was so bummed but everyone told me about it afterwards and as for Stephen King seeing it that maybe was one of the most rewarding things of my life because I’ve been a Stephen King fan forever and short version of the story is there is a situation that arose where he needed to approve the movie for a screening so I sent it to him and I didn’t hear back for a couple of weeks and I was panicking and I was sweating all the time and he came back and said he loved it and approved it for the screening at that was a nice feeling, to get that just hard and fast approval, you know what I mean [laughter]
Beth Accomando: What is it about the horror genre that you like in terms of working in it?
Male speaker: I think it’s so affecting on an audience and I think that’s why a lot of story tellers really gravitate towards it because an audience is engaged with horror in a very different way that’s a lot of stuff, in the case of Survivor Type it’s so dark and so graphic and sort of twisted and disturbing that we had to make sure that if people were engaged they were going to have to have release valves so we have little jokes throughout and King has in the story too .
What I noticed the first time we screened it is that those jokes kill, I did not expect like an uproarious laughter but I think that people are so involved and engrossed in the story that when there is anything funny they are just comfortable that they laugh so much, I’ve never really seen that in any other genre.
Comedy if it’s funny people will laugh and its great and drama if you are involved you’ll be sad and you’ll cry, you know, but horror what I love about it is that it can ask some very big questions and city can really get under your skin and keep you thinking about it in a different way than a lot of other genres.
Beth Accomando: There was a horror comedy panel here and Miguel asked some questions about what is this intersection of horror and comedy and it seemed like that point where people are so tense that they kind of don’t know what to do with all that expectation and all that kind of anxiety that you built.
It seems like that’s a point where comedy can come in because it seems like there is a place where horror and comedy intersect, in terms of horror and comedy what do you feel about kind of that point, are they two sides of the same coin or what?
Male speaker: I think in a way yes, I think they serve each other well but I’ve seen a lot of people sort of attempt horror comedy that if it’s inorganic I guess it’s really like the same for anything, you know if it’s not organic then it doesn’t work, it’s not going to work but horror comedy I think if it’s done right is sort of the same thing, it’s a give and take and the good ones are supremely difficult to master because if you are going to be horror you have to scary and if you are comedy you have to be funny and those are conflicting ideas but if you get the, I don’t know what I am saying I guess I am saying they are much more difficult to nail down but I do think they can go hand in hand big time because if you’ve got something that’s just suspenseful and you have that audience captured if you throw a joke in there I mean I feel like it’s going to land so much harder than just if it’s a regular comedy and people are kind of like expecting jokes all the time .
Beth Accomando: What was the biggest challenge of making this film?
Jeremy Johnson: I would say conceptualizing how we were going to do it in the beginning so with the writing and everything because when we decided that we were going to do found footage the first thought is where we are going to set a camera on tripod or we were going to set it up on a rock or he was just going to talk to the camera the whole time.
And so we really had to work with Gideon and we really had to craft sort of how the camera was going to move and how we were going to keep everything visually interesting because its one location, it’s a tiny little rock in the middle of the ocean, it’s not like there is any interesting background so we really had to work together to figure that out and I think that might have been the most challenging part because every time we would run through the scene, it would be great and then it would fall to me because it would be so short it would fall to me to sort of figure out to make it look different than anything else that we have shot before .
So it became surprisingly hard on a tiny rock on the ocean so we put a lot of time and effort in to that, but it was strange, on set I am so used to the production workflow and the pace of everything moving really fast but what ended up happening with this one was that we would spend a solid hour and a half to two hours figuring out the blocking of the scene which is way more than you really should but then we would do three takes and we would have four pages of script done so it was a very strange back and forth like that where it took a lot longer for things and then all of a sudden we were back in time which is a very strange pace of production.
Beth Accomando: You are a young film maker so what would you say to other filmmakers who are kind of tackling something and want to make a short film that will have an impact because it seems that from what you are saying you put a lot of effort in to planning it in terms of picking the right actor picking the right people for a crew, picking the right location, it seems like you made a lot of smart decisions, so what would you kind off give as advice to other film makers .
Jeremy Johnson: I would say if you are ever going to production without a script that everyone is 100% with you are just going to save yourself a lot of trouble, like I said I focus on writing before anything else and I think there is always a way to do something like if there is something you want to achieve there is always a way to do it, it’s just a matter of finding the best route to take and I know that sounds really generic and vague but if you can kind of like resist that temptation to just jump into production and just go shoot it like I just want to get something on camera and will figure it out after of these problems will work themselves out.
If you can resist that urge and believe me I feel that urge all the time, everything I come to film festivals and I see all these great movies that are up on the screen and I am like I can absolutely do this I am just going to shoot something this weekend which is not a horrible thing but at the same time it’s going to be a lot better if you take the time to think about it and digest the idea and then most of your questions are going to be answered for if you take the time in the beginning and problem solving becomes a lot easier on set when you’ve got a plan and when you have an idea of where everything is going.
Beth Accomando: Are there any film makers or films that you feel influenced you or got you started on this path of wanting to be a film maker?
Jeremy Johnson: I’ve been pretty lucky and I’ve known that I wanted to be a film maker maybe since I was five years old, so it’s always kind of being the path that I was on but in terms of inspiration I would say the Wizard of Oz when I was a little kid, I remember watching that and that scene with the houses in the tornado and then it lands and then Dorothy goes Oh, there’s just a little moments like that and there is a video of me when I was like two or three and I just do that every time, it just nails oh [laughter] so I was just completely absorbed with that and I’ve been kind of lucky in knowing my direction for a very long time and then when it came time for college I went to film school and after film school moved to LA so it’s just been sort of an upward climb the whole time .
Beth Accomando: Alright, thank you very much.
Jeremy Johnson: Thank you so much.
Beth Accomando: Next I spoke with John Skip a splatter punk horror and fantasy author whose latest book is the art of horrible people, he’s also a film maker and recently contributed to the anthology film Tales of Halloween, I began the interview by asking him how he felt about having a literature panel as part of a film festival.
John Skip: I’ve been pushing for this sort of thing for years, I am really, really delighted to see somebody else doing it, the reason I think it’s important is I feel like film often is stuck telling the same kinds of narratives over and over, literature has a lot more freedom, I desperately want to introduce film makers to writers for precisely that reason because I feel like there is a cross pollination that could really happen.
At the same time most fiction writers or at least a huge percent of fiction writers dream of working in film but they have no idea how it actually works and what is involved in film making putting off the difference between a page of action and a minute of film is a universe of incredible collaboration building up the visual, the sound, the performances the everything.
And so I feel like fiction writers could really stand to meet film makers and learn what’s actually involved if they want to go there so that it stops being a dreamy dream and it starts turning in to a real one and again it think film makers can’t help but benefit from fresh stories from fresh minds.
Plus both sides feel like the grass is greener on the other side like if only I could tell stories by myself says the film maker, if I could do everything by myself just sitting in a room that would be the greatest thing in the world, yeah I am a guy who writes fiction and makes film so I’ve kind of crossed that line myself and I just want to introduce the cool people on either side of the line to each other so I think this is fantastic.
Beth Accomando: One of the things that came up is the idea of what can horror fiction do or the written word do that’s different from horror in a visual medium.
John Skip: Well, I think the main thing that it can do is the writer can speak directly to the reader on a word by word basis and unleash something in your head that doesn’t already have somebody else’s pictures or sounds all over it and so you get to sort of as the reader create your own, as a writer I really like writing in first person, the only way you can get that across in film is to have a narration, a voice over or something like that and while that can be really effective there is nothing like the way it works in books and so that’s one thing you can pull literary tricks that you could never afford with film, I don’t care how much money you have there are certain things you are never going to be able to pull.
I think about a book by William Goldman who is one of the great masters whose moved on both sides whose a real genuine novelist who is also a genuine script writer, if you have ever seen Magic and read the book Magic, big chunks of that dialogue are verbatim that’s really rare that you can take chunks of a novel have actors speak it and have their work perfectly is a guy who totally knows how to dial that but he wrote this one book called Control and Control has never been made in to film, the reason being that there are some tricks in there that if you could see what’s going on, if you were being guided word by word and strung along with his magic tricks it would give the whole game away.
But reading it you are going along you think you know what’s going on, you hit a certain page and you go my God this person has been tricking me the whole time so hard and I am not going to tell you what the trick is because it’s such a cool book.
Control by William Goldman, I use to read this back in the skip inspector splatter punk days, I use to read this book just before I would start a new novel every time just to remember how the really good guys did it, how people who were incredibly skilled did it, I learned so many tricks from him, did I answer your question or did I just meandered off?
Beth Accomando: You’ve answered and meandered, both.
John Skip: Not bad, I don’t know if I have anything else to add to that unless you had a layer of question.
Beth Accomando: At this particular festival there have been a couple of films based on stories, the most notable one was Survivor Type which is based on a Stephen King short story or novella and I understand that you and some of the other writers appreciated what that film maker did, what did he do, do you think that made that a good literary adaptation?
John Skip: I can tell you exactly what happened, number one I s a stupendous short story, told in first person, written in his diary or the main characters notes, basically it’s a doctor crash lands on an island and he is the only survivor, crash and lands in this small island like a chunk of rock with nothing but his surgical equipment, a bunch of money like a million dollars or something and an insane amount of heroin, he lands there and he’s waiting for somebody to save him but he’s got no food and he’s got no water and you can’t drink the water surrounding him and so he winds up eating himself in order to stay alive.
Like I said the story is extraordinary, its I think one of King’s most powerful short stories ever and what the film maker did Billy Hanson was he changed it from being a written narrative to being a camcorder almost selfie, what you call a video diary sort of affair, cast an incredible actor and just phenomenal performance by this guy.
Found the perfect little island I think it’s right off the coast of things like Leo Careo beach right off Malibu or something but it seems like God forsaken nowhere and then he impeccably followed the stories arc and you watch this guy who is a very smart guy in a hopeless situation for desperately to do this thing .
Again what can he do, he’s got surgical equipment, he’s got heroin to kill the pain and the money is useless so is everything else so you watch his personality kind of like fry under the combined drugs, tension and incredible pain and just the insanity of the situation, it’s so well done I mean it couldn’t be better done I think it’s one of the best King adaptations by anyone at any budget ever, I would say on a getting Stephen King write standpoint its way better than The Shining, its way better than just about anything but like Stand By Me, The Dead Zone and Cujo or something that really kind of got the King feel right, so that’s an extraordinary example .
The other one was when Susurrus Stirs by Jeremy Robert Johnson, I can t remember the names of the film makers, he is a phenomenal writer, I actually published that story years ago in one of my anthologies Werewolves and Shape Shifters because it was such an unusual take and the film makers really got it I mean they really put you there and so I could elaborate but the King example kind of like sells it.
Beth Accomando: As someone who works both in film and writing for print what do you think the biggest mistake film makers make when they try to adapt a horror novel to the screen?
John Skip: I think starting with a novel is almost always the first mistake because there is so much material that isn’t going to fit in to a film that they wind up widely truncating, it’s like the old story with the guy with the rack, if you are not tall enough to fit it he stretches you and if you are too long he cuts parts off.
I think you are much better off starting with a short story or best is a novella, a novella which is about 100 page long story is just about the perfect length for a film and so you don’t have to be wildly inventing new stuff to try and patting it out and you don’t have to be lopping up huge chunks of important information to small it down so that’s the first mistake, other than that I don’t think that film makers necessarily need to slavishly obey a novel and sometimes the impulse to do that impairs the film but way more often is the experience of film makers taking the novel, going okay I like those three ideas and throwing the rest of it out and then just making up whatever they feel like and slapping the name on it because there were some money on it with no respect for the material at all in a way that-
the written word is not respected in Hollywood, everybody makes you say it all starts with the script and they are right but past that they don’t care, their indignity is slapped on every script ever written in Hollywood but it’s something that no play write would ever stand for, for a minute, it’s a completely different medium, film is in awe of books, I think Hollywood is in awe of books because they have this mystic of intelligence or something whether its accurate or not on a case by case basis.
Once the allure runs out then the book is just another easily disposable element in the food chain.
Beth Accomando: A lot of people who likes horror films don’t necessarily read horror literature so if you could pick a couple of writers or a couple of books to recommend to people who think their only horror fans to kind of open their perspective for something else, who might you recommend?
John Skip: They could start by remembering that Stephen King isn’t the only horror writer in the history of the human race, a recent book which I know is in development for film and if they do it right we will be extraordinary but that I recommend for anybody is called Bird Box by an author named Josh Malerman, he is a musician, he has been a performing musician for like a dozen years or so, kind of like a versatile fellow but over the course of the years he wrote like a dozen novels and had them in a box and just carried them around.
And one day he was persuaded to pull one out, it has been an international best seller, it’s a phenomenal story and let me just say it starts with a young woman in a house where all the doors and the windows are completely sealed up so no one can see in nobody can see out, she appears to be alone in the house with blood stains that look like maybe they are ten years old on the carpets and so forth, on the walls and have not been cleaned, she goes up stairs and there is two ten year old kids sleeping in barbed wire cribs with blind folds on and the reason is because there is something outside that if you see it you will go crazy, you will kill anybody near you and you will kill yourself and so for their defense they are not allowed to see and they walk around sharpening their hearing and very, very much these kids but they’ve never seen the outside.
Today she is going to try and get to the last place where there might still be living people so she and two blindfolded kids, she blind folded herself are going to get on a boat and try and row up river with God knows what is surrounding them trying to get to this place and it cuts back and forth between the adventure up the river between these three and the flashing back just to see how we got to this moment.
It’s so brilliantly done, so creepy, so engaging, so not a book I’ve ever read before by anyone else that it just absolutely floored me and I recommend it very highly.
Another one would be Jeremy Robert Johnson the guy who did Sussurus, he put on a novel last year called skull crack city, the best thing I can compare it with would be the last couple of Don Castirelli movies Bubba Hopet and particularly John dies at the end.
It has an insanely intelligent science fiction narrative with extremely grody horror elements popping up, skull crack is not a metaphor, it happens more often than you might hope but it’s so smart, it’s so funny and so daring and has the most insane doomtastic ending that still leaves you with hope and actually ties up every single loose end that I can’t recommend it highly enough, I think it’s genius, other than that I could make you a list of about 300 but this being an interview you better stop me now before it gets to that .
Beth Accomando: That’s great, and horrible imaginings this year one of the things that was added which was brilliant was that you and so many other writers did a camp fire read where you read some examples of your horror work to a group of people outdoors at night which was fabulous because it brings it all back to kind of like where it starts, the sense of one person to another telling these stories verbally.
John Skip: Yeah it was fantastic, it was so much fun, I can’t remember the last time I read stories outdoors in that kind of context with a cool crowd, yeah I got to close the show which was very nice, I think this whole thing started with people telling each other the scary stories in the cave or wherever they were having discovered fire and able to use it to illuminate each other’s faces, cast insane shadows everywhere they went and hopefully scare the monsters away.
So it was really, really great and everybody I thought read really well, I am a particular fan of Laura Lebar and I published her two novels during her next two short stories collection, I think she’s brilliant, she’s also a film maker so she just did her first feature as writer/ director last year which is not what most of the writers I know can say.
Background in there after and when she reads, she read a story called The Liar, she read like the first third of the story called The Liar but it took you right up to a place where it’s like, oh I need to know what happened and she goes, fine .
It would have been too long to do the whole thing, she captures the innocence of childhood, the story takes place exactly on the line at which is six year old girls Mormon girls in Utah’s innocence gets emotionally shattered, intellectually shattered she understands for the first time that the world is worst than she thought and that her parents won’t be able to necessarily save her and she is such a fine actor that having her do it I think really puts you in that little kids place and her scariest 16 year old sister plays who knows too much and just the sense that monsters are not abstract, they are something that if you are lucky you can lock in the basement and decide their fate because you managed to be sneakier than they were so I loved hers most .
I thought Brian Evenson’s stuff was wonderful, I’ll be thinking about The Invincible Box for the rest of my life.
Beth Accomando: [laughter]
John Skip: Yeah everybody was great, with Cody you are always like okay where is he going, where is he going? You’ve got these complex layers of weirdness and then all of a sudden one image kicks in and the whole thing makes sense, the minute the freeze dried ghost voices started crying out through the vents I am like okay that’s actually the best ghost story moment of this entire campfire reading.
I loved Ross Lockhart doing his carnie, the weirdest thing is that we did this right after these amazing contortionists and aerialists were doing these creepy circus themed shenanigans and then three of the five stories somehow had a clown or a mime or some sort of circusee motive so that was just the weirdest thing possible and I came with my story depressor the clown.
Beth Accomando: What I thought was great about that whole great experience was that it’s kind of like this cross over between film and reading a book because watching a horror film tends to be at its best a communal thing where you are like with a group of people, reading tends to be a solitary thing but having these authors read their stories, you get the written word but you are in a group listening so you get part of that communal experience but you are filling in the details like with your own imagination .
John Skip: Here, here, I’ll tell you one of the best things about last night is that everybody picked something short because it’s really hard to keep somebody sitting in a room listening to the same person telling a story for half an hour, you can do it but I think that the written word read aloud is best done in the short bursts because nobody gets bored, nobody zones out and it has all the freshness and punch of a performance.
It’s a performance at that point, at that point reading isn’t just somebody sitting there and reading their stuff, everybody kind of like put on a performance except me because I suck.
Beth Accomando: No, you didn’t, what is it that drives you to horror, why do you enjoy writing in the horror genre?
John Skip: For starters I was born a haunted kid, I had a fever when I was like two and a half years old, I don’t remember anything else about being two and a half years old but I sure as hell remember this, basically there were like rat things crawling down the walls and the fever was so intense they had to Jacob Slatter me which was basically filling a bathtub full of ice cubes and toss me in dramatically to break my temperature because I was about to the brain popping phase.
The rat things hit the water and kind of disappeared like those MC usher drawings where the lizard is crawling and it crawls in to thee piece of paper and just turns into lines and then it’s gone, I was left with that experience just terrified of everything and I couldn’t see a commercial for Frankenstein without like freaking out and hiding under a table I couldn’t go in my basement because it was too scary and there was a box down there that had a tigers face and I was sure that that would be the end of me.
And at a certain point I just got so tired of being scared that I decided I was going to confront it and start watching the late night horror movies, the Dr. Cadaverino’s theater stuff and the walking Wisconsin and when I was a kid, 1957 is when I was born so I am like really old and then I realized that a) I loved these stories, some of them were really brilliant and moved me deeply and some of them were just completely stupid and ridiculous and Dr. Cadaverino really helped me determine which ones were which so thank you Dr. Cadaverino.
Then the more that I started to explore it personally, creating it, actually before I started writing stories I drew them, I drew pictures out of creepy magazines and stuff like that, I would try to imitate the panels and got pretty good at it but then I had a teacher in seventh grade, a horrible seventh grade art teacher who beat all the fun out of it for me but meanwhile I read voraciously and I also was playing music, I thought I was going to be a rock star that’s what I thought was going to happen.
When I dropped out of art I went straight into theater and that whole performance aspect and then everything started coming together I became the editor of the schools creative writing newspaper, I wrote the school play which was totally insane and was totally horror based, kind of very influenced by Twilight Zone, stuff I actually took, the monsters are due on maple street which is one of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes and adapted it for ninth graders to perform and we had a greater drama teacher and it was amazing to actually stage this stuff and the grand finale I played a hunch backed dwarf who kills himself because the nice lady loves the big jerk more.
I think I had like a three minute slow motion self-disemboweling scene with strobe lights and insane music that my friend and I played on guitar backwards, I was confirmed I was going to be doing weird stuff for the rest of my life.
Beth Accomando: Initially you kind of got in to it to overcome fear
John Skip: Yeah.
Beth Accomando: Now that you’ve continued with it, what is the appeal of writing in horror do you like scaring other people do you like going someplace dark, what is it that keeps you in the genre and keeps you satisfied as an artist?
John Skip: I’ve been very, very drawn to bizarro fiction over the last number of years and a lot of it had to do with the fact that no, scaring people isn’t really what it’s about for me, what it’s really about for me is that the ability to discuss taboo subjects from unorthodox angles is one of the things that horror most intrigued me with, the fact that I could do social commentary using very, very vivid palpable metaphors through horror, but I was always one of the weird ones, I was never one of the I am not a conservative horror story teller, for me it’s never been about okay there is the nice doctor and his nice wife and their nice kids in the suburbs and everything is cool until a monster shows up and then it’s all bad until they all get together and kill the monster and then normalcy is restored, I always felt like the horror was there well before the monster got there .
That in some ways the monster is there to show you the thing that you don’t dare admit about the reality of your situation and bizarre is the genres under which all of the other genres melt, pretty much like under the gates of Cody Goodfellow where science fiction horror fantasy, crime, pulp, romance and everything else you can possibly imagine king of like melt it together in to an anything goose ness where the central ingredient is weirdness and that to me is where the fun is right now.
I will tell a terrible story like depressor the clown because I am enraged by how clowns are treated in our culture, at this point I feel like we are in this really, really terrible place where ever since Stephen King did It the whole culture is so traumatized with regards to clowns that we’ve lost our variant buffoons who are these important mirrors of our soul they are kind of like emperors new claws, they are like the little girl in the Emperor’s New Clothes that reminds us that we are ridiculous and now they are monsters which means that we’ve lost that mirror of life reflection.
I think it’s a terrible thing so I had to write a story about a circus clown at a crappie little third rate circus who gets kidnapped by a woman who’s terrified of clowns so that she and her boyfriend can keep him in their basement and turn him in to a tattooed for real clown, cutting out his tongue and removing any chance of him being able to fight back and in the process, this is just are regular guy, this is a guy who took pies in his face for a living and rode a unicycle and through their fear and their misguided understanding of what clowns are they’ve created a genuine evil clown in the basement who if ever gets loose will kill the hell out of them.
John Skip: This is a guy you know who took pies in his face for a living and rode a unicycle and through their fear and their misguided misunderstanding of what clowns are they've created a genuine evil clown in the basement who if he ever gets loose will kill the hell out of them. To me that's a horror story worth telling.
But mostly it's not about scaring people it's about freaking people out. I think to me the real allure of the genre is being able to do stuff and just really freak people out and make them think about stuff. And I also really really love horror with a sense of humor, I love the laughs, the shocked laughs of people who can't believe you just did that. And yeah to me I mean the best thing about horror is the freedom to do things where everyone goes I can't believe you just did that, I just love that and that's what I love most of the artists that I love.
Beth Accomando: And one last question if you could pick a horror film that could only be a film, I mean some books you feel like could never be adapted to film but can you think of a film that's so kind of like visual or so imbedded in the cinematic experience that it would only work as a film and that you liked?
John Skip: You know that's such an interesting question because even the weirdest one started with a script which means that somebody wrote some words in order to make it happen. So I don't know I mean like on the one level I think is a pure cinematic experience, Jacob's Ladder is extraordinary and if you read the script it's this really elaborate books worth of story packed into a script.
But then the filmmaker looked at it, threw out huge chunks of not the story but of the kind of Judeo Christian based, the devil is a guy with horns imagery and substituted the shaky faced, this really intensely vibrant new horror vocabulary that everybody from David Fincher on has stolen from, all the cool jittery images in seven came straight out of Jacob's Ladder. He changed the vocabulary of the horror film with that one thing.
And again this wasn't a horror director this was a guy who was known for doing like Flashdance but he'd made the studios enough money that it was like, okay so what's your dream project? What you want to do? Jacob's Ladder had been floating around for 10 years as like one of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Everybody wanted to make it, nobody knew how and nobody could get it off the ground but this guy had enough clout and said, “You know what, this is my artistic statement I may never get to make another one but I'm making this one.”
“Every day, Jacob Singer goes to work. What’s wrong? It’s just one of those days. And every day he wonders what is happening to him. Release the pressure Jake. Demons just, you are inhuman. But where are they Jake? Can you look at your hand, you have a very strange line. See according to this you are already dead.”
John Skip: In terms of something that couldn't be a book, what's the thing that Dali and…
Beth Accomando: Oh Shanander Lou?
John Skip: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean I'm not sure where you could have drug a narrative from that but the fact of the matter is everything that everybody remembers about that film is pure horror. It’s razors to the eyeball and ants crawling out of the wound in your hand and all these really sick insane images that resonate really primordially deep. That's the other great thing about horror is the primordial depth of its resonance. The fact that you yank some of these chains and you get these incredibly deep visceral reactions. I love going there for that stuff, I mean to me to yank those deep chains and to do it with purpose not just for the hell of it but to try and awaken…
To me art is about awakening people, awakening yourself in the process of doing it and waking people up through the process of enjoying it and horror is just one set of colors on the vast palette of human experience in awakening. But man those reds are like the reddest reds that you'll ever find in nature and I think that stuff is amazing. So really I think I just answered the horror question much better than I did earlier and sorry about that.
Beth Accomando: Great, well thank you very much for taking some time to talk to me.
John Skip: You got it. Thank you.
Beth Accomando: I also tracked down author Cody Goodfellow who's collaborated with Skip on books such as Spore and Jake's wake. On his own Goodfellow has written Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk. He was also a panelist at horrible imaginings. I asked him if he thought a horror literature panel was appropriate for a horror film festival.
Cody Goodfellow: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I mean horror has its roots because horror is such a hybrid genre, it's not really a genre of things it’s a genre effect and it has its roots in literature. Some of the most resonant stories in world literature going back to mythology or essentially horror stories. And if so to reconnect it with the basic fundamental act of storytelling is wonderful because I think it's easy to let it be a surface phenomenon so that you just watch and I think to reaffirm that the experience of going into a story or into a book as being of a piece with it and make it a communal experience again. Having authors talking about it and then having authors read their stuff to it makes it a communal experience again when it's so private I think that's the kind of thing that reenergizes people's interest and love for horror literature.
Beth Accomando: And you guys took it to a really kind of primal route by going outside at night and doing this kind of campfire read where it was again communal but that verbal storytelling from the written word was great.
Cody Goodfellow: Yes and it's neat because it's something that's so personal and following on this dance act with acrobats and these very very powerful performances and stuff with music in that space, I was really thrilled to do it because as a native San Diegan I grew up essentially in Balboa Park so much of my childhood going back to where my memories are essentially snapshots are of these places. And so when I dream when I'm having like a lucid dream where I'm wandering around and mentally I'm trying to work something out but that's the space that I'm in is walking around in a Prado and stuff and they’re on the botanical gardens and so I felt like I was standing around inside my own head was this weird psycho drama inside a psycho drama.
So yeah I tried to trot out something that was a real simple neat punchy ghost story and the range of stuff was really neat at the same time the fact that so many of the authors ended up doing clown stories was really uncanny. I knew because I worked with Skip all the time that he was planning on reading Depresso The Clown but then Brian did that hilarious mime story right before it and then Rosa’s story Punch about just the horror of being a clown and trying to entertain people and sacrifice your dignity that's your stock in trade it’s really fascinating how those things can become a harmonic convergence sometimes.
And so that was fun to see and I loved seeing a big receptive crowd, I love whenever a crowd doesn't know what they're going to get but they show up. That's so hard to drum up in San Diego and it really reflects Miguel's hard work building it and David Agronofff and Anthony Trevino came in and put that together as a neat component, I love it and I've run the Lovecraft film festival in San Pedro for a number of years and I started out running a literary program which was always kind of a little fifth wheel on the side but we were operating in a storefront across the street and stuff.
And this year we did a thing in a nice theater and we actually got a Fiji mermaid from a prop company that was suspended in the background and stuff it was a neat deal we did at art panel and then a literary panel and had readings. That was running alongside the films and so we were competing with the films and we were able to fill out the room the whole the entire time and that's fantastic.
Beth Accomando: One of the things that came up at the panel that I find fascinating is what can the written word, what can a horror literature do in the horror realm that's different from what film can do?
Cody Goodfellow: That's an excellent question and that's I think the thing that I've been pursuing more and more as I get older because I was a frustrated filmmaker. I went to UCLA to study film and they got rid of the undergraduate film major that day and so I kind of cast about trying to figure out what I would do and I got an English Lit major and I learned how to write compelling arguments and stuff and I moved on into writing and it's always been a frustrating side job up until very very recently.
One of the things that I think since my work has really started to take off that I've tried to do is to reconnect it with primal…what stories did in the very beginning. If you look at like the first novels and the first horror novels they used a set of techniques to make themselves plausible to feel like you found this document somewhere that it was a hand that this packet of letters was actually a real correspondence that leads you into the Dracula story and they had these techniques for making it feel real.
And I've tried to go back to the most simple techniques using a first person voice confessing something, writing something down that they daren't share with the world and it sets up a very intimate correspondence with the voice which is me know wearing a mask and the reader. And the reader feels very personally invested in it at a deeper level, more personal level than they would with any film with even a very compellingly composed film because that's an experience that's flat and it’s fed to you passively and the more that you incorporate the reader's own memories and expectations and fears into it the more that they feel a personal connection with the book and that's why a lot of people have a love for a book that really opened them up like that as much or stronger than films if they're reading people.
Beth Accomando: Well the one thing that literature does completely different from film is it leaves so much to the person's individual imagination to fill in the details.
Cody Goodfellow: Absolutely, absolutely and if you learn that Judo of what kinds of words you don't have to describe everything in every room you can just describe a few pinpoint details and it sets the reader's own mind going. The scent is a very powerful one, if you just simply describe how something smells or refer to how something smells it triggers memory really really strongly.
There was a test they were experimenting with women's perfumes and what kind of perfume fragrances men responded to most strongly. The one that everybody liked was vanilla because it smells like she's cooking something good, it sets off these little memory nodules going back to childhood and being in the kitchen when cooking was some sort of wizardry and good things came out of it.
And that's the kind of thing that we try and do with language is figure out those memories that everybody has, those things that…I mean what Stephen King is so fantastic at is touching on the kinds of experiences that nobody ever puts in their writing. Those little small things, those little quibble things where it feels like this guy knows, he eats the same kind of cereal as me…yeah it is murder to get the damn thing open. And those are the things that make us feel intimately connected with it and cause us to put in our own imagination.
And so there's that old saw that the reader's imagination is going to be a lot more powerful than whatever you could put on paper. Well otherwise it’d be if that was really true on its surface nobody would need us, everybody could just sit at home and just freak themselves out. But if you can figure out how to channel that person's memories, that person's fears down this path to where there's no other way to go than where they're going and you don't come out and say it.
In the story I read last night, batteries it's about a world where they’ve run out of all of their sources of energy and they're charging these batteries that keep all the lights on at hospitals and I never come out and say what they're doing with them but when they plug the batteries in you start to hear these voices coming out of like the steam and it's the last words of people who died in the hospitals and you don't come out and say what happened but you just make it a very very vivid experience and you leave those two connections just all but stuck together and that spark that the reader provides is what makes it feel like a nightmare they had and it feels like a memory that's theirs and a shared memory and like we were inside the same place inside the same dream.
If you can build that with readers…I've got a very small readership but it surprises me how intense it can be, how much they feel like they have a shared experience we dream the same dream. Films can be really exciting like that but the sense of immersion, the sense that you were part of what you were reading that you helped bring it to life with the writer you come in alone and the writer comes in alone and you meet in this nether space.
And that in itself is a fascinating process and a lot of people just take it for granted that if you just tell a story you can just describe what happened and what people thought and what people said and they'll react to it and with just a little bit more of a spin if you're just paying attention to how your own mind comes up with these stories and how your own mind reacts to the stories that you love then you can recreate that experience and magnify it and make it something really really alive for the reader in a way that…
Well it's certainly a lot simpler than even the simplest film, most complicated book is easier, I mean I work on the side in the background acting in television and film and the most simple productions it can take hours to get a door open and it is, can we take the door off the hinges in reverse it, call the carpenters in and stuff like that and you just imagine yeah he opened the door, the door opened on the left and a dog walked in, you know call the dog handler get the guy from the as NSPCA over.
Oh my God, these things that make film and television really fast because the process itself is you're going to war with reality and in writing you're just essentially going to war with your own mind to try and make it contrast this event and it's such a private mysterious process even the writers a lot of writers don't like to delve into their process because it's still mysterious to them.
I just kind of go sit in that cave and close my eyes and recite a mantra and something magical pops up into my head and then I just describe it. A lot of them are afraid if they demystify that process it'll disappear, they’ll suddenly become an adult and they'll go out and start selling car insurance and that'll make sense and be satisfying to them which is the biggest horror of all
But if you understand what that process is it doesn't lose anything for you, it doesn't lose anything for the medicine man or the shaman to understand what's inside the bag as long as the rest of the tribe doesn't understand where the stuff in the bag is coming from. Then you can develop a level of intimacy and a level of mastery over your audience that you can't really do with anything else and it's a lifelong process.
Thank God it's not like boxing where I'd already be a wreck and I would be coaching at the YMCA. But yeah it's a lifelong learning process and I'm thankful there's so much that I still have yet to learn that I can get better at.
Beth Accomando: You talk about this intimacy with a writer and reading a book is a very solitary thing it's you and the book, horror films seem to play much better when you're with a huge audience.
Cody Goodfellow: Yes it can feel like work if you're watching it by yourself. And yeah all of my favorite experiences with watching films the ones where I remember where I was, it was always in a theater I used to go see films in this real small multiplex on Elkhound boulevard over by San Diego state and I'll never forget going to see Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Maniac when I was nine years old and my mom's friends were very gullible.
Those were really shocking experiences because remembering hearing the whole room gasp at the same time. One of my favorite experiences watching a film was seeing Trick or Treat at Comic-Con and it was an audience of like 2,500 people and so when the big reveal happens at the end and all of these seemingly random things coalesces into this big man eating machine. If you're a few people start to get it and then a few more and it's like watching a movie with the ocean, it is the bell curve totally fills in and then like everybody in the middle after about 30 seconds goes oh my God all at the same time and it stirs your hair and it's not just because the bumps are rising up on the back of your neck which they may or may not be but everybody's breathing in at the same time and that's really fascinating because if you can engineer that fear response, that instinctual fight or flight response for just a moment and a whole roomful of people sitting in chairs in an air conditioned room that's really fantastic because it suddenly feels like a cave and there's saber tooth tigers outside.
Beth Accomando: Well I remember there was an interview with Roman Polanski and he was talking about Rosemary's Baby and he had this scene shot where you don't see Ruth Gordon answering the phone, you just see like part of her body cut off in a door frame and his cinematographer said, “Oh we should see her completely.” And he's like, “No, no, no trust me.” And when they screened it in the theater, everybody leaned to one side to peer around the doorway and those are the kind of things that happen in horror films where you're all kind of like leaning one direction or something.
Cody Goodfellow: Yes, yes that withholding is great because if you use that whole you know letting the audience imagine it as a crutch then it falls short. But if you put them in a place where they need to see what's going on. If you play that run through of a song and then stop short on that final note and the audience leans forward waiting for it to happen like a dog waiting for you to drop a treat, that's fantastic. And yeah Hitchcock was a master of that, was almost a sadist in that respect, in punishing the audience's need to watch and that's fascinating because we all really need to watch and we can be conditioned all just become just like a bunch of bureaucrats.
I love making that happen, I've always growing up as a child was fascinated by when people when their veneer breaks and you see who they essentially are and in any respect whether it's a wonderful fascinating thing or a crushing horrible thing or just something completely out of the blue that fascinates me. It helps me make sense of things traumatic shocking things that happen in my own childhood where I still puzzle over what my reactions were. And it helps us to deal, it helps us to cope with the inevitable things, the inevitable great fears that everything else in society is kind of trying to distract you from.
And I think great art reminds you that you are mortal and that you don't have all the time in the world to want to binge watch everything and that you have to live your life like the gift that it is. And ultimately the best horrors is trying to remind you of that, a lot of it can be kind of dreary and just makes you wonder what is the point of this you're making life seem almost as ugly as death.
And there's a lot of great films here and a lot of great stories about a lot of the writers that are here that are wonderful ways of putting us into those experiences into those moments of fear, into those moments of doubt and moments of questioning and moments of disbelief that I don't know if anything can prepare you but it helps you put it in context, to put your whole life and into a larger context. And I think philosophically I think it's a wonderful thing whether or not we're openly discussing it.
Beth Accomando: Here at this festival there are actually two films that I've heard you talk about that are based on literary sources. There's Survivor Type which was based on a Stephen King story and there was also When Susurrus Stirs which was based on a story of someone you know. What did these filmmakers do right in adapting because both films work very well as cinematic pieces, so what did they do right in terms of adapting them?
Cody Goodfellow: Well Survivor Type was a really singular type of story because it's a journal that this guy's keeping while he's a castaway on this island and so it immediately seems like it would translate itself into the found footage genre and the guys is using a camcorder to document hopefully his rescue but then granted it was really his disintegration. And they managed to create that sense of urgency and wearing the actor down, I mean you see in so many features it's like a prestige thing. It's almost a rite of passage.
Yeah lost fifty 50 for a movie, he gained 40 pounds for a movie. This guy looked like he lost 60/70 pounds for a short film and that commitment and seeing it happen in the film it's undeniable the suffering that you're watching. And so it doesn't ever feel like just a guy with much a lamp black under his eyes going I'm so hungry. It was really really believable and undeniable in a way that the story itself couldn't be because the story you can kind of mitigate it in your mind and it leaves his ultimate sacrifice his ultimate state kind of open to your imagination.
And I was put into a fight or flight response by that film like no other film. Before I felt like I had to get up and go get some air and somehow I got lost between my seat and the aisle and end up back in my seat again and it was like okay how long is this going to happen. And yeah and then I waited outside all afternoon by the food trucks to buy that actor a sandwich and he never showed up.
But yeah that one was harrowing to me in a way that I yeah I have to put that aside on a shelf from almost every other film I've ever seen because it got to me in a way that I had to exhaustively examine and figure out yeah how can I do that to other people because it was fascinating. When Susurrus Stirs which is written by my excellent colleague and sometimes publisher Jeremy Robert Johnson very very different kind of story but also a confessional about this guy going through an unspeakable transformation. And this one is a lot more extraordinary and sensationalist but instead of a guy reduced down to a skeleton and then eating his bones, you're seeing this guy flower into this unspeakable new form of life and you're suborned and into watching as he's not horrified by he's not go and get this thing out of me, he's completely seduced by it and so it tries to seduce you to or at least you're bound as a hostage to watch his transformation.
And it goes to places that few short films could and that no Hollywood film ever will. And it was extraordinary, I was thrilled to watch it with an audience, I got to see it online before and it was very very penetrating. But I couldn't wait to see it in front of an audience and I was expecting a lot more shouts and screams and disbelief. Only one guy got up and walked out but there was a lot of just I think people's brains were scrambled they didn't know how to respond to what they were seeing. There was a lot of just and I turned around I wanted to take a picture but I figured a flash picture would ruin it but just a lot of open mouths, just a lot of just disbelief and utter cosmic dismay.
That's fantastic to watch. I wish it could be compulsory to attend these things if you get points off it would be better than driving school but that this kind of stuff is there for the taking for San Diegans and for people who love horror but feel like there aren't enough good horror movies. Short films are like the analog to short stories. It’s a beautiful way to jump in with all of the crap cut out and just get the shocking experience get this transformative idea hatched into your brain like freaky gnat eggs and get in and get out.
And it's so much better than the kind of obligatory 90 minute horror films they trot out every Halloween with a Roman numeral at the end. I wish every horror fan knew about it, knew how good this stuff is getting because just in the last 10/15 years the technology with red cameras and better editing software and stuff like that, effects and acting the competition has really created an amazing field and the short films has moved into a genre of its own that I really wish more people were aware of and partook of with the same zeal that they do feature films.
Beth Accomando: Miguel’s doing a great job trying to expand people's definitions of horror in different places where you can find it. For people who they only consider themselves horror movie fans, do you have like a couple of books that you would recommend to say like, “Okay if you have not dabbled in literary horror here's something to change your mind about it?”
Cody Goodfellow: Oh sure, right now probably what everybody would say is the best like weird horror guy, I wouldn’t say the next Steven Kings he's not trying to do the same thing but it would be Laird Baron, he's got four really fantastic collections of short stories, real short novels. He has a new collection out called Swift to chase and Laird is fantastic and utterly unique in that his background. He came from Alaska, he did the Iditarod a couple of times and so he knows whereof he speaks when he creates the a sense of utter isolation, a sense of nature as this inimical inscrutable force that you're wandering around inside an open mouth when you're in a forest just waiting for the teeth to come down.
His new collection or his first collection the Amago sequence, fantastic stuff I think it comes the closest to doing the kind of thing that HP Lovecraft did in his day. Not to say yeah he's like HP Lovecraft because not at all but generates that same sort of fear I think. Kaitlin R Kiran is another fantastic author she wrote a short story called Onion that to me is probably the single best modern cosmic horror story because she balances out that sense that if you see the unspeakable or the impossible that you'll go insane but it also in her stories it induces a sense of longing, the sense that this crack in the wall where you saw a really really strange alien landscape it may have ruined you for the rest of your life because you'll know that there's something else out there will never actually understand it.
She sees the beauty in that horror and chaos. She had a book called The Drowning Girl which won a bunch of awards last year. That's another one I would recommend.
Beth Accomando: And for filmmakers who are starting out and looking to adapt short stories are there a couple of feature films that you feel really did a great job of bringing horror literature to the screen?
Cody Goodfellow: Well I mean the classic in that would be The Shining in interpreting and reinterpreting a text and not true falling for the traps of trying to do the same things that that the original text did.
“Stay away from me please don’t hurt me. I’m not going to hurt you, stay away from me. Wendy? Stay away. Darling, light of my life I’m not going to hurt you, you didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said I’m not going to hurt you, I’m just going to bash your brains in, I want to bash them right the fuck in. Stay away from me, don’t hurt me. I’m not going to hurt you. Stay away from me, stay away.”
Cody Goodfellow: I would study that first and foremost in looking at how to do an adaptation right because it visually captures a lot in just snapshot moments, captures a lot of the same kind of fear that Steven King would laboriously layout 100 pages for. The mystery of the woman in room 217 or 237 in the film it's a big long thing you know all about her way before you even check into the hotel.
But in the film it's this mysterious thing and it leaves you to wonder what's going on there and seeing it as a child it was fascinating to be because they show these ghosts and the ghosts in that were frightening to me as a child because it seemed to capture everything that adults do that you don't understand and probably aren't supposed to see and I was growing up in the ‘70s so I saw a lot of stuff I probably wasn't supposed to see behind half closed doors.
And then as an adult to see those films like the guy in the dog suit kneeling in front of a guy in a tuxedo it's that fear that maybe there is no heaven or hell but if after you die maybe you're going to be trapped as a living snapshot in the most humiliating degrading thing that you ever did and there will forever be children wandering in and going, “What the hell.” And having their childhood ruined and then running for their lives. That's a beautiful way of adapting the text without trying to digest it completely.
One of my other favorite ones recently would be High-Rise.
“Ever wanted something more? Ever thought there could be a better way to live free from the shackles of the old tired world. This development is a combination of a lifetimes work by esteemed Anthony Royal. The High-rise has 40 floors of luxury apartments filled with every modern convenience. Onsite we have the fully stocked supermarket, gym facilities, swimming pool, spa, school there’s almost no reason to leave. People from all walks of life are here too. There are many opportunities to make new friends possibly fall in love. So why not join us.”
Cody Goodfellow: Because JG Ballard has a very singular distinctive kind of voice and puts himself into his stories and High-Rise did a fantastic job of capturing this whole huge vertically integrated society. It's about a about a luxury tower apartment in the ‘70s that becomes this island unto itself and then it goes all Lord of the Flies. You're able to keep pace with the disintegration of the society with a bunch of people some whom you follow very intimately and closely and some you're just seeing as faces in the crowd. But it was fantastic how it juggled all of that and kept all of these very large weighty intellectual concepts just coming in like a conveyor belt.
It kept pace with the language and it gave you that same sense of dislocated savagery that J.G. Ballard labors to do in prose. It was amazing job of compacting, a very incredible compact book. One of my favorite adaptations of all time it kind of off topic for horror but yet it is a horror film to me as Rollerball.
“In the not too distant future wars will no longer exist but there will be rollerball. Imagine a world without nations. See this, making decisions on a global basis. Controlled by corporations. Sickness and needs and many luxuries. A society that is abolished love and hate, aggression and individuality you replace them with the most fantastic entertainment of all time televised to two billion hypnotized viewers. It is more than a game, it is Rollerball. James Caan, John Houseman, Rollerball rated R.”
Cody Goodfellow: A lot of it is these enormous combat sequences but it's adapted from a 12 page story and the whole movie is in the 12 page story, the exploration is Gladiator comes to question what the purpose of the society is and realizes that the corporations ate us all long ago and all we are is just consumers and he's part of this bloody distraction which they just ratchet up the violence on whenever people's discontent starts to bubble.
But it was fascinating going to the original text and there's a book that just says it's called Rollerball and you think wow it's a mighty short novel and then you realize it's one 12 page story inside a collection and it's a marvel of compact language because it gets the vivid roughneck violence of the sport and that weird apathy of this society that's just forgotten what it's supposed to care about and that urgency all in a tiny little package and that's the kind of thing that as a writer you long for even though it's not really marketable if you gave it to your agent that's great but 400 more pages on it and we'll send it to New York.
But if you can do something like that you can explode somebody's head and have something that turns into Rollerball inside essentially 5/10 minutes while you're waiting for a bus, that's incredible. That's planting a tiny little bomb in a microdot and getting somebody to eat it.
Beth Accomando: And if you could think of a purely cinematic horror film something that maybe could not be translated back into the written word that feels very just visual, is there one that you can think of?
Cody Goodfellow: I mean…oh God…Funny Games by Michael Hanukah. That was a beautiful repudiation of all of the tired conventions in horror films and it's not one of those knowing winking yeah we're in a horror movie type of things I would hate to spoil it because I love to force people to watch it and Michael Hanukah this really devious bastard because he made it is a German film and then he came over here and adapted it and it softened not at all.
“What is it honey? There’s someone here. Hello. Sorry to disturb you I’m staying next door. Please come in. Wow that's a really great set of clubs. Mister Farmer, what? You want to call someone? An ambulance or the police? Why are you doing this? Have a seat, please. I’m Paul, we're going to make a bet now. You bet that you’ll be alive tomorrow at 9 o’clock and we bet that you’ll be dead. Eenie meenie minie moe catch the tiger by the toe if he hollers let him go eenie meenie minie moe.”
Cody Goodfellow: It's just as if to say. “What did I stutter?” And it reiterates the situation that shows you…because so often in so many slasher films, horror films are really fantasies because they're telling you when the chips are down when the guy with the hockey mask comes after you you're the final girl you’ll discover your superhuman capability to reaffirm your right to survive and really unfortunately modern life has not prepared us for that at all, they’ve prepared us to curl up into a fetal position and grab the remote and try and change the channel.
To see that is really really infuriating and frustrating for a lot of people. I ask when I talk to people they say they’re horror fans and I don't know them and they talk about horror films they love I love to ask them, how do you feel about Funny Games and if they hate that I'm going to try and get out of the conversation. If they understand that having your buttons pushed by a knowing caring professional like that is something that they enjoy and respond to.
Then you know you're somebody who likes their horror as confrontation and not comfort food and if you can do it in literature, I haven't seen it yet at least in such a stop on a dime and melt it kind of way of conceptually just cracking the whip on the BS.
Beth Accomando: All right well thank you very much for taking some time to talk to me.\
Cody Goodfellow: Thank you Beth, it's been a real pleasure and a weekend of pleasures.
Beth Accomando: And finally I want to go out with some campfire readings from horrible imaginings. This was a great addition to the festival. And as for the clip I played of John Houseman from the fog it reminds you of how horror story telling began. Festival director Miguel Rodriguez explained why he wanted to have a campfire reading in this festival.
Miguel Rodriguez: I don't know if you remember but many many years ago we had the art gallery and part of the art gallery reception opening as I would read Gothic literature short story like The Black Cat or The Wardrobe or something like that and that was a lot of fun and it drew a lot of people. And when I think about a scary story it's a communal experience, it is that image of people around a campfire late at night with the light of the fire kind of giving this ghastly illumination and it's the perfect atmosphere for something like that.
And so I wanted to replicate that in Balboa Park so we're going to leave Mopo our theater and go out on to the lawn and hopefully build that experience on Saturday night.
Beth Accomando: Although the sound I recorded of the campfire readings is not the best. I want you to hear a few short excerpts to get a feel for what it was like sitting on the grass in Balboa Park at night in near darkness with some Masters of Horror reading creepy, funny, scary and just wild examples of their work. So turn the lights down low, make some s’mores and let these authors transport you to someplace dark. First up is Brian Evenson whose latest book The War Run got an early release at horrible imaginings. He read invisible box about a one night stand that goes wrong.
Brian Evenson: In retrospect it was easy for her to see it had been a mistake to have sex with a mime. At the time though she'd been drinking enough and it seemed like a good idea. Sure she had been a little surprised when she had coaxed him upstairs when he refused to speak and even more surprised by his refusal to wipe out his face paint or Shuck his gray. But whatever, so what it would give her a story to tell of parties.
But ever since she'd had trouble sleeping and she could manage a fitful hour but then woke up imagining him there again above her make it safer his face painted gray and white gloves, she watched the straddling her he carefully felt out in the visible box around them. He kept making gestures to remind her about the box feeling it out again stabbing her as she approached one imaginary edge running his flattening palms along the box ceiling just before penetrating her.
It was a hell of a thing at once funny and deeply disturbing and distracting as hell. When he was coming pretending to cry out silently and she suddenly realized this was not a story she could bring herself to tell at parties. Mostly passed out she lazily watched him lift the imaginary box of him get up and get dressed then left the box back in place over her. She drifted of feeling if there around her edges softly gleaming for holding her in.
She woke up early the next morning to find herself smeared with white face paint as well as a few loops of black like bruises from his lips. She got up and brewed some coffee, had some toast, vomited, her head felt wrapped in batting. The mime had not even been good in bed though he might have been good in bed when she picked him in. No she thought he had been more interested in his imaginary box than her. So she had slept with the mime, so what? In any case it was over now over and done.
But it wasn't over nor was it done. True she didn't think about the mime for the rest of the day but later that night just as she was lying down to sleep she felt something there was the box rising up around her, she closed her eyes and tried to sleep but kept seeing the box, its edges burning in flashes on the insides of your eyelids. It was hard to sleep feeling it was there and when she finally did sleep it was fitfully dreaming of the mime moving inside of her, shoulders hunching to avoid the ceiling of the imaginary box, white face floating like a buoy in the darkness.
She brushed her hands through the box but it remained undisturbed, she threw back the covers and got a drink and climbed back in the bed beside the box this time but you know somehow the box was still over her holding her in. No matter where she went on the bed it was there. This is ridiculous she thought and tried to sleep instead sat there staring at the inside of the nonexistent box wondering how to get rid of it.
Beth Accomando: Hopefully this wets your appetite for more of his work. Then John Skip read his short story Depresso the Clown adding to the circus flavor of the evening since the campfire readings followed an outdoor display of aerial and circus arts. Here's a sample it Skips reading of Depresso the clown.
John Skip: I wish you could remember the date exactly 20 something of August this year, it was hot I can tell you that. So hot my makeup was running I was on break between shows catching a quick smoke out back and this guy came walk up and said, “Hey.” “Hey.” He said back not really looking scoping out the western half empty parking lot not a whole lot of people that day. Business had been in the crapper for years it's not getting any better. “You get high?” he said and that got my attention. I had been nursing my last gram of sour cheese diesel for over a week.
Rob kept saying he’d score for sure in the next town and just kept not happen we were days out from medical legal mission. We're talking weed right? I’m talking whatever you want. He grinned showing the God awful teeth he had. Scrawny his scarecrow look of the third string high school basketball player who found crack and then woke up 10 years later still wearing the same t-shirt.
Then he feared that he might be an undercover cop [indiscernible] [01:37:57] just another local loser working less lie we worked then. Well hell I said I could use a quick toke. He procured a skinny ass joint from his pocket, vans right over there if that's cool. Its looks several parked within a hundred yards. That's cool, appreciate it. Off we went, it's weird how clearly I remember that final track across the dirt and gravel, how loud everything sounded, how alert and sensitive, it was like I was stoned already walking beside him [indiscernible] [01:38:26] tall man shadow draped over me like a smile was sitting under my umbrella. I’m thinking that and being mildly amused, was I scared? Not even a little, I just wished I was wearing different shoes, different clothes, I wasn’t dressed for work.
Been running grief when I got back, didn’t need any busy body shit. When I looked around and saw nobody my only thought was oh thank God, you passed a van came up on another it’s back to front grill pointing towards us. This got my hopes up, we walked alongside it without stopping or slowing, the next van was a good 50 yards away. I start to get concerned. I’m back on in 15 minutes just to be clear or so, Uh-huh you said just if we reach the back of the van everything stopped split second before I did and there she was beside the open back door.
I took in the bleach blonde hair bulging halter top, cutoff jeans and hot pants length, saw the dimpled legs and pure blue mid rip almost rivaling her boobs, saw the garish trailer tramp make up red lips so huge and crudely drawn they looked clownish themselves, saw her crappy tattoos but mostly what I noted was her terror at the sight me. The high beam crazy of her eyes. “Oh my God, Oh my God hit him Jerry.” She screamed as he did from behind that was my last glimpse of sky. “I am afraid of you.” The world came back to me black and cold throbbing in the pain or something worse underneath. I felt if before I felt, heard the faint clink of metal so close to my ears, I felt it in my bones lie they’ve been forced to awaken. “You can't scare me no more.” That feeling was doom.
It was in me before my eyes flickered open saw the harsh strobing light skin shut again, it was soaked in my bones before I could smell the darkness, taste the concrete and dust on my tongue. “Ever since I was little.” Hearing a little girl’s voice coming in clear as my senses caught up. “I’ve been petrified of you, like I couldn't even move I felt so freaking helpless and scared.” I groaned and stirred felt the tug and the weight of clamps tight around my wrists.
“I would wake up from nightmares and you would be there still there like a dream coughed you up left you hanging over my bed looking down at me and laughing.” “Oh no, no, no, no I croak more reflex than intention.” “Your film days are over including like anymore.” I open my eyes saw the shackles on my polka dot sleeves, saw the shiny red bridge of the squeezable ball on the tip of my nose and it all came horribly clear. “Oh no, no, no.” I said rising up with a clatter, rising up only as high as my knees before the chains went taut and yanked me back. I looked around and saw the chain, saw the bars on the cage, saw the girl recoil as I faced her at last. “I’m not afraid to you.” She shrieked in her little girl squeak for she had to be 30 at least.
“No, no, no.” I yelled back. “Come on you got to be kidding me. What the fuck did I do?” “Oh you know what you did.” “I didn't do anything lady I ride a fucking unicycle, I get hit in the face with pies, I give out balloon to kids, not monster balloons just regular ones.” “Jerry.” she screeched [indiscernible] [01:41:30] everywhere but me. “Honestly God I make less than you make if you work at Wal-Mart. I have no power over anyone, my life is total shit.” “Jerry.” In a panic now. “I mean Christ I was probably just out of high school when you saw Stephen King's It or whatever the fuck happened. But let me tell you something circus clowns are just people we just want to make you laugh. It's a job for Christ sake.”
I heard footsteps thunder down the stairs like two bowling balls racing each other for one measly moment I entertained hope maybe cops and a SWAT team or three. “Jerry.” “I'm come in baby.” Called the voice I feared most. And that was that so much for hope I caught my reflection on the shackle on my wrist saw the white face and red lips my own worked in desperate eyes. “Dude.” I heard, “Please come on it's just me, we were going to get high.”
I brought my sleeves up, wiped the make up from my cheek, it came off in a grease paint smear, “See this is not my face.” “Jerry.” “I'm just a guy, we probably like the same movies, look.” I rubbed my other cheek pink, popped the ball off my nose, Jerry hit the cage door running but he came in and cut out my tongue.
Beth Accomando: And it gets worse. But you'll have to read the story yourself to get to the Willard punchline at the end. And finally here's Cody Goodfellow with Batteries.
Cody Goodfellow: Municipal grid 17 wasn't the kind of neighborhood where they went berserk and smashed windows when the lights went out but Morton still bombarded Stu Fiedler with panicked phone calls while he was getting the batteries recharged. Fiedler told Morton that if he had a brainstorm for how to rush the job without going to the gas chamber he was all ears. The New Cold fusion system used the first truly clean burning inexhaustible fuel but there were still major supply issues.
The power station itself was lit by a cranky dinosaur of a backup generator that still burned bio diesel. It was the only light for two miles in any direction. Morton waited at the door for Fiedler’s truck, sweat plastered his sole surviving lock of hair into an inverted question mark on his ruddy forehead. “What kept you? Were they rioting?” Fiedler pushed the loaded Dolly into the control room and over to the primary generator. Even with all the insulation and tanks of liquid nitrogen the new model took up less than half the space of the turbines from the old system. “Relax Morton there's not even traffic. I got the run around though, I had to try five hospitals.” “Ridiculous, they got to clean up these snarls and the distribution or they’re just setting us up to fail.”
Morton pulled on gloves in donned a welder's mask then turned the hatch in the belly of the generator, black frost crumbled as he wrenched the hatch open with a pair of long tongs the cold the blasted out was like Christmas on Pluto. Fiedler reverted his eyes and pushed the dolly up to the yawning mouth then backed away to suck on a nicotine pot. Morton slotted the batteries into the generator and slammed the hatch. “Where did you get these ones?” The batteries had been worn like loaves of aluminum, bread like newborn babies. Fiedler scrubbed frost from his eyebrows. “Does it matter?” Morton flipped the mask up, spiky puffs of crystallized breath floated out of his mouth, “Sure it matters.” “Not the way you're thinking but well if we have to listen to it all night.” His hands ship as he took off the gloves, “I just hope it's not an English.”
Fiedler tossed the spent pop stick in the trash and went over to the board, “It still bugs you?” “I won't pretend it doesn't.” Fiedler threw the big switch, “Nothing gets to you unless you let it.” The generator hummed and the battery squealed as the circuit closed. Both men looked at each other then at their feet as like steam pouring off the big frigid machine the voices began to leak out. “Jack it’s so cold did you let the pilot light go out?” “Jesus when my wife finds out she's going to kill me.”
Fiedler reached for the radio but Morton pinned his hand to the desk hard enough to leave a mark. “No Stu, listen.” The voices were faint and brittle but there was no shutting them out. They used the shell of the generator as their larynx and the crackling the cold fire that gave them for their breath. “Enes darling there’s something that you have to know. Blessed is thy among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” “Honey I’m scared,”
Fiedler bolted for the exit double hauled and soundproofed but the voices still spilled out and followed them into the night of all of them into the night. Morton came up behind Fiedler and patted his shoulders. “Sorry man, it's just noise.” Fiedler grumbled, “Energy can't be created or destroyed, they're just a higher kind of energy breaking down to waste heat.” “Sure.” Morton peered near-sightedly into the darkness, unscrewed the lid on tarnished silver flask and took a long searing gulp from it.
“You know what I miss more? I miss smog, I miss purple sunsets and harvest moons, oil slicks.” Morton took the flask and scoured the chill out of his bones with three short sharp shots, “Everything that turned to oil those are live once too.” he said. They toasted oil, dinosaurs in darkness. They killed the flask just as two by two roll down near the evening the street lights came to life.
Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to another episode of listener supported KPBS cinema junkie. Special thanks this week to Kurt Conan for audio help with the campfire tales and a shout out to Phil Nana who composed the cinema junkie theme music. If this podcast wetted your appetite for horror literature then check out the Halloween Horror Celebration at Mysterious Galaxy on October 30th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm with authors such as David Agranoff who programmed the horror literature panel at horrible imaginings.
And on the next cinema junkie podcast it's all about Godzilla with Professor Raney Tatti Ishii who’ll trace the history of big G all the way through to the just released Shing Godzilla. We’ll try to stump the professor by playing sample sound effects and see if he and you can identify which monster they're from. And I’ll end my month of horrors with my second annual podcast with the Dr. of the Dead Arnold T. Blumberg as we discuss zombies for humanity. And if you're starting to feel a bit addicted to the show consider paying for your weekly fix by donating to my home station in San Diego. Just go to Or if you're on a tight budget or just a tightwad leave us a review on iTunes which costs you nothing but your time and it means so much. Till our next film fix I’m Beth Accomando your resident cinema junkie.

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Cinema Junkie

Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place