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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.

Big Things Cooking in September:
Milford Writers & Son of Monsterpalooza

September 8th, 2017

Big things are brewing this month, with the Milford Readers and Writers Festival on the east coast and Son of Monsterpalooze on the west – both on the same weekend (September 15-17) and 3,000 miles apart.

Makes me wish I had a teleporter.

Nevertheless, despite the distance and the impossibility of two places at once, I’m eagerly looking forward to both.

As science-fiction guest of honor at the Milford Festival, I’ll be taking part a program that will include a marathon screening of the original five seasons of The Twilight Zone, fiction readings at the historic Dimmick Inn on September 16, and a panel discussion at the Milford Theater on September 17. Among the other writers featured at these events will be Paul Witchover, Robert Levy, John Grant, and Gordon Van Gelder. Good company, indeed.

Paul Witcover is the author of five novels, most recently The Watchman of Eternity and a collection of short stories. He has been a finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson and Locus Awards.

Robert Levy’s  novel The Glittering World was a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award.  His shorter work has recently appeared in Black Static, Shadows & Tall Trees, Wild Stories:  The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction and The Best Horror of the Year.

John Grant is the author of about seventy books, including twenty fiction novels and non-fiction books that include the highly successful Discarded Science, Corrupted Science and others. He has won the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award and various other international literary awards.

Gordon Van Gelder is the publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the long-running publication that first brought us such sf classics as Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Robert H. Heinlein’s serial “Starship Soldier” (which later became the novel Starship Troopers). It is the magazine that first introduced me to the genre when I was in my early teens, and it remains the one publication that I read cover to cover the moment it arrives. Gordon also served for many years as the editor of F&SF, and during that time I had the pleasure of working with him on a number of stories that appeared there between 2001 and 2013.

The Milford Festival’s science-fiction track is being organized by Lillian Longendorfer, whose first novel The Quad Consortium and the Sword of Bale was published in 2015.

And while those sf writers are gathering on on the East Coast, Mick Garris and friends will be holding a special preview event at Son of Monsterpalooza at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center in California. The weekend event will feature dozens of celebrity guests from the worlds of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, with a featured event taking place on September 17, when a panel presentation will be lifting the veil of secrecy on Nightmare Cinema, our new anthology horror film that will be coming to theaters next year!

Joining Mick at the event will be directors  Joe Dante (Gremlins), Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), and David Slade (30 Days of Night). I hear that Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train), who is also involved in the project, has another commitment for the weekend and will not be attending. Nevertheless, he’ll be there in spirit, as will I.

So mark your calendar for a bicoastal weekend of science fiction, fantasy, and horror … and be sure to stop back here for more updates in the days ahead. It’s going to be an exciting month.

 

Penguin Bookshop, Nightmare Cinema,
& “This Way to Egress”

April 21st, 2016

Nightmare Cinema presents This Way to Egress (2)Don’t go to sleep! Nightmares are coming.

On Wednesday, April 27, I’ll be visiting the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley to talk about writing stories and adapting them for film. Along the way, I’ll be sharing some of the latest news about Nightmare Cinema, the forthcoming feature film that will include an adaptation of my story “Traumatic Descent.”

Created by Mick Garris, Nightmare Cinema is an anthology film (think Steven Spielberg’s Twilight Zone: The Movie, George Romero’s Creepshow, or the classic Dead of Night) composed of five short films by five different directors. Here’s how a new promotional release describes the project:

Fdirectors NCive acclaimed directors of the most macabre horror films from around the world, tell new blood-curdling stories, all carefully curated into the multi-platform feature film, Nightmare Cinema. It’s a selection of one-of-a-kind tales of terror that turns the genre conventions on their heads, but without every giving up the primary desire to scare the hell out of the audience.

The directors are Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead), Joe Dante (Gremlins, Matinee), Mick Garris (Stephen King’s The Stand, Sleepwalkers), Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train) and David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night, and the acclaimed NBC television series Hannibal).

Alejandro Brugués and Mick Garris will each direct their own screenplays, “The Thing in the Woods” and “Dead.”

Matheson and BecerrilRyuhei Kitamura will direct “Mashit,” written by Sandra Becerril. Making her home in Mexico City, she is the author of numerous novels, short stories, and film scripts. Her work is well known to horror fans in Mexico, Argentina, and Spain, and her forthcoming film Desde tu Infierno (checkout the trailer here) and Nightmare Cinema are sure to win her plenty of new fans from around the world.

No stranger to American audiences is Richard Christian Matheson, whose script “Mirari” is being directed by Joe Dante. Following in the footsteps of his father, the great Richard Matheson, R. C. Matheson is the author of  the short story collections Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks and Dystopia; the novel Created By; and the magic-realism novella “The Ritual of Illusion.” He has also written extensively for television, including two scripts for Mick Garris’s Masters of Horror.

Rounding out the Nightmare Cinema roster will be “This Way to Egress,” directed by David Slade, from our collaborative adaptation of my story “Traumatic Descent.”

Nightmare Cinema TW2ELinking the five episodes in Nightmare Cinema will be a wraparound story written and directed by Mick Garris. Here’s the synopsis:

Sitting at the edge of a deserted town, under the guise of a decrepit theatre, is the gateway between heaven and hell. It can only be found by tortured souls, lost in a place of unknown time and origin.

In this twisted anthology, at least one character from each of the five shorts arrives at the cinematic purgatory, unaware of their fate. Upon entering the theatre, they are forced to watch their deepest and darkest fears play out before them. Lurking in the shadows is the Projectionist, who preys upon their souls with his collection of disturbing film reels. As each reel spins its sinister tale, the characters find frightening parallels to their own lives. 

But by the time they realize the truth, escape is no longer an option. For once the ticket is torn, their fate is sealed at NIGHTMARE CINEMA.

This Way to Egress by Lawrence C. ConnollyWant to hear more? If so, I’ll be glad to share a few more highlights at this month’s installment of the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series (PBWS), which gets under way at 6:30 pm on April 27. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, I hope you’ll consider dropping by for a conversation about books and writing in one of the region’s great independent bookstores.

The Penguin has been a fixture in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, since 1929.  With six different owners and three different locations over the last 85-plus years,  the Penguin has remained a vital community institution thanks to the continued loyalty of its customers and the passion of its booksellers. It remains one of the local and regional community’s greatest treasures.

PBWS-small-e1439910444421PBWS presents authors and publishing professionals each month who discuss aspects of both the art and the business of writing. The format ranges from hands-on workshops to lectures and panel discussions. The goal of PBWS is to unite published writers with aspiring writers, aspiring writers with publishing professionals, and curious readers interested in the author’s craft with professional writers.

In short, you won’t want to miss this one. Bring your friends . . . and let the nightmares begin.

Credits:

  • Nightmare Cinema promotional copy & images, copyright © 2016 Good Deed Entertainment.
  • Sandra Becerril, twitter.com.
  • Richard Christian Matheson, thorneandcross.wordpress.com.
  • Cover of This Way to Egress, copyright © 2010 Jason Zerrillo.
  • Writers Series logo & the history of Penguin Bookshop and PBWS are from penguinbookshop.com. 

Mick Garris on NIGHTMARE CINEMA:
“Horror Films are Good for You”

December 11th, 2015

Masters-of-Horror-Wallpaper-3 (3)Ever since the anthology series Masters of Horror premiered on Showtime back in 2005, the show’s creator Mick Garris has wanted to do something more international in scope. Now, ten years later, that dream is becoming a reality with Nightmare Cinema, a feature film currently in pre-production in Los Angeles.

Featuring five short films directed and written by talent from Japan, Cuba, Mexico, the UK, and USA, Nightmare Cinema promises to be an eclectic celebration of international horror and a clear sign that the anthology film remains a viable cinematic genre.

And yes, one of those five films will be a David Slade adaptation of one of my own stories.

Since the official press releases came out earlier this fall, Mick Garris has been keeping horror fans informed with a series of appearances and interviews, the first of which (in keeping with the project’s international focus) came at The Morbido Film Festival in Mexico.

7ed87e_c18c4577b0424a38b2a3f86d91ab48f2 (3)Accompanied at Morbido by Joe Dante and Pablo Guisa Koestinger (at right), Garris spoke about the genesis of Nightmare Cinema and plans for a worldwide release sometime in 2016. When asked if there was a central quality or topic that linked the five films, Garris responded, “What’s exciting about this is that they are five unrelated films. They are five stories that have nothing to do with each other except we hope they will scare the shit out of you.” You can watch a video of the Morbido announcement here.

dread_centralFollowing the Morbido appearance, Dread Central ran a lengthy interview in which Garris spoke about anthology TV shows that, like Nightmare Cinema, have featured short, standalone stories. You can read that interview here.

60MinutesWithBigLogoEven more expansive is an interview posted at the UK podcast site 60 Minutes With. This one features a conversation that covers everything from Garris’s work on Masters of Horror, Trailers from Hell, and Nightmare Cinema. In spite of the podcast’s title, this one clocks in at just under 90 minutes, and (as is the case with all of the 60 Minutes With podcasts) it’s well worth a listen. You can catch the whole thing here.

For some additional reflections on the horror genre (and an explanation of why “horror films are good for you”), be sure to check out the video below. It’s narrated in Spanish, but most of the video is in English with Spanish subs.

Check it out, then stop back here for more Nightmare Cinema updates. So far, every indication is that this show is going to rock! Until next time . . . scop on!


Image Credits
Artwork from Masters of Horror © 2005 IDT Entertainment Inc.
Joe Dante, Mick Garris and  Pablo Guisa Koestinger at Morbido Film Fest.