scop (noun):

Old English – bard, minstrel, storyteller

Don’t Sleep: Nightmares are coming!

October 14th, 2017

They enter the Rialto only to have their darkest fears brought to life by The Projectionist – a ghostly figure who holds the horrifying futures of all who attend his screenings. And by the time the viewers realize the truth, escape is no longer an option. For once the ticket is torn, all fates are sealed.

That’s the premise of Nightmare Cinema, a film project that began coming together when producer-director Mick Garris first assembled his team of writers, directors, and producers in the fall of 2015.

The goal: gather some of the most exciting practitioners of dark cinema and give them free reign to create a series of short horror films, mini nightmares for the Rialto Projectionist to queue up and screen for each unlucky patron.

If you’ve been following this blog or reading the trades, you’ll recall the buzz from two years ago, starting with an official announcement at the Morbido Film Fest in Mexico, a fitting venue to unveil an international roster of talent that includes Alejandro Brugues (Cuba), Ryuhei Kitamura (Japan), David Slade (U.K.), and Sandra Becerril (Mexico). Check out the clip below, and don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish. Most of the video is in English.

Additional announcements followed the Morbido unveiling. Some appeared here at 21st-Century Scop, others appeared in the trades. Here are a few links from Fall 2015:

After that initial buzz, further developments were kept under the radar until Mick announced the latest details at last month’s Son of Monsterpalooza in Burbank. There, accompanied by fellow directors Joe Dante and Alejandro Brugues, Mick lifted the veil on the project once again, this time announcing that it was being prepped for a 2018 release.

Following Son of Monsterpalooza, the press is once again humming with details, including the casting of Golden Globe and BAFTA Award winner Mickey Rourke as The Projectionist and Richard Chamberlain as Dr. Mirari, a key character in a segment penned by horror master Richard Christian Matheson.

Also in the news is the announcement that Cinelou Films (the development, financing, and production company behind Jennifer Aniston’s award-nominated Cake and the upcoming Iraq-war drama The Yellow Birds) has teamed with Fortitude International to coordinate the film’s release.

And just this week, at Podcast One’s Post Mortem with Mick Garris, director David Slade can be heard talking about his life in film — an impressive career that has brought us Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night, Twilight Eclipse, Hannibal, and American Gods. David and Mick cover all of those productions, and although I was pretty sure I already knew a lot about them, David managed to reveal quite a few intriguing revelations during the hour-plus podcast.

Bottomline: if you’re a fan of dark cinema, you’re going to love listening to David’s interview on Post Mortem. Give it a click. And while you’re at it, take a moment to subscribe to the series. It’s free … and the interviews are priceless.

Naturally, David also talks about This Way to Egress (a.k.a. “Traumatic Descent”) and the seventeen-year journey that finally put it in the hands of The Projectionist at the Rialto.  It’s a journey that I’ve written about in the past, covering the first ten-years in the introduction to my book This Way to Egress, and it was great hearing David recount the entire tale from his perspective,  including the recent turn of events that led to our new screenplay becoming part of Nightmare Cinema.

(BTW — That’s David and me in the above-right photo, a sureal forward-and-backward view courtesy of a conveniently-placed mirror in an L.A. bistro.)

It’s great to have things coming together on this project. I was on set for filming this past June, and a few weeks ago I screened a rough cut of the Egress segment. It was intense. Even without the final score or completed effects, I found it profoundly unsettling and moving. As David says in his Post Mortem interview: “It really surprised me how intense it was.”

As of this writing, Nightmare Cinema is moving toward a release in early 2018. But the story won’t end there. As Mick tells Simon Thompson in a recent Forbes interview, there are plans “to create more […] Nightmare Cinemas either as feature films or as a TV series.”

And so the journey will continue.

For now, there are certain to be more exciting developments as our release date approaches. When news breaks, I’ll be sure to report it here.

Until then, scop on … and stay awake for the nightmares!

Images & Videos

  • Promotional image for Nightmare Cinema.
  • Nancy Leopardi (line producer), David Slade (director), Joe Dante (director), Joe Russo (producer), Mick Garris (producer, director, writer) Ryuhei Kitamura (director), Alejandro Bruges (director). Photo taken in the Rialto Theatre. June 2017.
  • Joe Dante and Mick Garris reveal plans for Nightmare Cinema at the Morbido Film Festival. Puebla, Mexico. October 2015.
  • Joe Dante, Mick Garris, and Alejandro Brugues announce the completion of Nightmare Cinema at Son of Monsterpalooza. Burbank, CA. September 2017.
  • David Slade and Mick Garris in the Podcast One Studio. October 2017.
  • Two David Slades (frontward and backward) with The 21st-Century Scop (background, far left). November 2010.
  • The 21st-Century Scop with Mick Garris. December 2016.
  • Nightmare Cinema teaser. 

Putting on the Music Hat

October 7th, 2017

The 21st-century scop wears many hats. It’s not like the old days, when the traveling minstrel-storyteller showed up at the mead hall with a repertoire of poetry and epic tales uploaded to his personal memory. Today stories are delivered through books, films, digital downloads, spoken-word and musical performances. The most recent posts at this site have covered some of the former … now it’s time for the music hat.

First, a few words about the actual hat (left).

It’s what haberdashers call a stingy-brim, but what makes it special is the Shure microphone wired into its brim, a set-up that provides cushion from the mike’s wire clamp while freeing the singer from the tyranny of the mike stand.

Last night, I got the chance to don the hat once again when long-time musical-collaborator Duane Davis joined me for a full-band show at Riley’s outdoor pavilion, adjacent to Riley’s Pour House, now in its fourth decade as Pittsburgh’s go-to place for music and Irish culture.

Backed up by new drummer Eric Lamm and featuring special guest Lauren Connolly-Moore on vocals and mandolin, Connolly-Davis celebrated the mild autumn night with four hours of Irish and American folk-rock (right.)

In all, I can’t think of a better way to spend four hours on a Friday night.

Duane and I have been making music for going on 20 years now, first teaming up in the late 90’s when we were backing my brother John in the John Connolly Band.  That band broke up when John moved to Hawaii (early retirement for a successful frontman), but Duane and I continued working together, teaming with Christopher Laughrey, another one of my longtime collaborators to form The Laughrey-Connolly Band in 2005.

When Chris relocated to Denver a few years later, Duane and I continued collaborating, first by teaming up to create the high-concept instrumental CD Veins: The Soundtrack (released in 2008 by fantasy publisher Fantasist Enterprises) and to perform as a duo at places like Riley’s.

Between us, we’ve created a lot of music over the years, and some of that music is making its way into the digital realm, becoming available for listening and downloading from a variety of sources.

Tracks from our days with The John Connolly Band are available at John Connolly’s YouTube channel, where you might consider starting with the track “Ever Longed for Love,” an original that Duane and I both regard as one of John’s best. Also, if your into vintage vinyl, John’s first record Just Arrived is available from Craig Moerer Records. I understand the copies are in mint condition, and I can attest to the fact that the music remains as fresh today as if was when the record was pressed in 1977.

But the really big news this weekend is the Bandcamp release of The Best of The Laughrey-Connolly Band, featuring twelve tracks (plus a bonus) from our out-of-print CDs Home from the Field and Two Seas. The tracks feature Lee McGinn on Drums and special guest Bob Banerjee (The Corned Beef and Curry Band) and production by Al Snyder (The Corbin-Hanner Band). If you like what you hear, consider supporting your friendly 21st-Century Scop and fellow collaborators by springing for a download. The tracks are far less expansive than a cup of coffee, and refills are free.

I’ll be back next time with some updates on the forthcoming film Nightmare Cinema. Until then, enjoy the music … and scop on!

Images

  • Wearing the Mike Hat.
  • The Connolly Davis Band on Riley’s Outdoor Stage: Duane Davis, Eric Lamm, the 21st-Century Scop, Lauren Connolly-Moore. October 2017.
  • The 21st-Century Scop and Duane Davis perform with The Laughrey Connolly Band. March 2007.
  • Cover art for Veins: The Soundtrack.
  • Cover art for John Connolly’s Sound of Mind.
  • Christopher Laughrey and the 21st-Century Scop of The Laughrey Connolly Band in 2005.

Yesterday Today:
SF’s Roots on View at Milford Festival

September 29th, 2017

My previous post concluded with mention of the grand finale at this year’s Milford Readers and Writers Festival and the promise of a follow up post. Here, then, are some of the talking points from our three-hour program at the Milford Theatre, a conversation that considered how science fiction came of age in Milford during the middle of the 20th century.

The story begins with the Futurians, a group of Brooklyn writers interested in moving science fiction beyond its pulp origins. Among them were James Blish, Virginia Kidd, Damon Knight, and Kate Wilhelm, who moved to Milford in the 1950s and whose homes became gathering places for fellow writers. The Blish-Kidd home (left) became known as Arrowhead, and it remains a central part of the sf world today.

The other Milford retreat, the home of Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, was known as The Anchorage (right), a place that James Blish described as “a looming, dark and slightly crumbling mansion.” It burned down decades ago but holds an important place in sf history as the the site of the original Milford Science Fiction Writers Conference. It is also the place where sf artist and filmmaker Ed Emshwiller shot The Thing from the Back Issues — a science-fiction short featuring Algis Budrys, Judith Merril, Harry Harrison, Ted Cogswell, Damon Knight, and other sf luminaries.

Last week, as part of the panel discussion at the Milford Theatre, I got the chance to screen that film and discuss it with fellow writers Gordon Van Gelder, Paul Witcover, John Grant, and Robert Levy (who, alas, is not shown in the photo below). The film is a wonderful time capsule, a window back to the early days of science fiction. You can watch it in its entirety by clicking the embedded video at the top of this post. Enjoy … and I’ll be back soon with news about another film — the Mick Garris anthology Nightmare Cinema that is currently making its way to a theater near you. Until then, scop on!

Gordon Van Gelder, Paul Witcover, Lawrence C. Connolly, and John Grant at the Milford Readers and Writers Festival

Images

  • Arrowhead Today. Photo by The 21st-Century Scop.
  • The Anchorage, circa 1955.
  • Four-fifths of the SF-Roots panel at the Milford Theatre. Photo by Christine Cohen.

Bi-Coastal Weekend: Stories & Nightmares

September 23rd, 2017

Writers do most their traveling at home. It’s inward travel, exploring memory and imagination in the creation of stories that might one day enter the real world as published stuff.

But sometimes the draw of outside events cuts through the reverie, and that’s the way it was last weekend when I had writing-related gigs popping on both coasts: a guest of honor appearance at the Milford Festival on the east … and Son of Monsterpalooza on the west.

Held in the Marriott Burbank Convention Center, Son of Monsterpalooze is an offshoot of Monsterpalooza, an annual event for fans of film, makeup, special effects, collectible toys, art, and (of course) monsters! 

One of the major events at this year’s SoP was the much-anticipated preview of the new horror anthology film Nightmare Cinema. Conceived by Mick Garris and featuring some of the biggest names in horror, the film centers on an aberrant projectionist (played by Micky Rourke) who screens films for the lost souls who come to his theatre.

Nightmare Cinema tells five tales of terror in very distinct, individual styles. Cuban director Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead) writes and directs “The Thing in the Woods”; Japanese auteur Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) directs “Mashit,” written by Mexican author and filmmaker Sandra Becerril; Joe Dante (Gremlins and The Howling) directs “Mirari,” written by Richard Christian Matheson; Mick Garris (Masters of Horror and The Stand) writes and directs “Dead”;  and Brit David Slade (Hannibal and 30 Days of Night) directs “This Way to Egress,” which is based on my short story “Traumatic Descent” and filmed from a script co-written by David and me. What a team!

The photo above was taken last year at an L.A. reception for the film’s writers and directors. Look closely and you’ll see that Richard Christian Matheson is hiding behind Alejandro Brugués. He’s there but not there, which is sort of the way I attended last weekend’s Nightmare Cinema preview, there in spirit while the rest of me took part in the science-fiction track of the Milford Readers and Writers Festival.

Milford’s main events centered on live performances, including a Saturday night readings hosted by Christine Cohen and Will Reeve of the Virginia Kidd Agency.

Held on the second floor of the Dimmick Inn, the sf readings featured Shirley Jackson Award finalist Robert Levy (The Glittering World), Nebula-Award finalist Paul Witcover (Tumbling After), two-time Hugo Award Winner John Grant (The Encyclopedia of Fantasy), and the 21st-Century Scop himself. The event was well attended, which you can see in the photo of Robert Levy. (That framed picture beside him is actually a mirror reflecting the event’s SRO audience.)

After the reading, I joined Will Reeve on the balcony for an impromptu jam session. After that, all that remained was the grand finale — a science fiction panel at The Milford Theatre (see photo at the top of this post).

A heartfelt thanks to all who came out to make the event memorable, and especially to Lillian Longendorfer, who put the science-fiction-and-fantasy track together. I’m ready to do it again.

So that’s the broad strokes. In the days ahead, I try posting more on the forthcoming film and the Milford Festival events. Until then … scop on!

Images:

  • Gordon Van Gelder, Paul Witcover, the 21st-Century Scop, John Grant, and Robert Levy on stage at the Milford Theatre.
  • Joe Dante, Mick Garris, and Alejandro Brugués on stage at Son of Monsterpalooza.
  • Mick Garris, Joe Dante, Sandra Becerril, The 21st-Century Scop, Richard Christian Matheson (hiding), Alejandro Brugués, and Ryuhei Kitamura gather in L.A. to celebrate the green-lighting of Nightmare Cinema, December 2016. 
  • Christine Cohen and Will Reeve hold signs for the Science Fiction and Fantasy readings at the historic Dimmick Inn.
  • Robert Levy reading at the Dimmick.
  • The 21st-Century Scop and Will Reeve jam on the Dimmick balcony.
  • Title image from the Nightmare Cinema teaser.