Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta Part 35: An Exclusive Interview With Vincent Vena Cava

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA
PART 35: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT VENA CAVA

Usually these Dark Web features focus on a single story, or a connected series, but this week I’m going to do something a little different. Instead I’m going to focus on the work of a single author, one of the most successful and popular writers of Creepypasta the genre has produced — Vincent Vena Cava.

With a wealth of work to his name, including iconic pastas such as The Pastel Man, A Favor For a Favor, Picture This and the ongoing (and fantastic) Wendall Lane Diaries, the LA-based author has caused quite a stir with his fiction, gaining recognition and approaches from several huge media companies, including 20th Century Fox (when he wrote The Eye of Ra, which was part of a viral marketing campaign for the movie The Pyramid) and Starz. He has also been published multiple times, including the inclusion of his stories Right On Time and Picture This in a new short story anthology, The Creepypasta Collection: Modern Urban Legends You Can’t Unread, that hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble (the last remaining major book franchise in the US) last month. (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-creepypasta-collection-mr-creepypasta/1123556473)
All of this in just four short years since he first started publishing work on the web under the Vincent Cava name.

Recently he saw a project successfully funded on Kickstarter that combined his talents with those of genre YouTube heavyweight Mr Creepypasta and top artists Chris Oz Fulton, Maja Cornvall and Teo Gonzalez. The resulting Creepypasta Comicbook (of which I’m a backer) is a fantastic debut effort and fans are eagerly anticipating subsequent issues from the team.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of conversing with the amiable, humble and supremely talented Cava, asking him about his influences, storytelling processes, several of his most notable stories and what the future holds.
Our interview follows below.

vvc1

Vincent Vena Cava

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Vincent, and thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. First, I’d like to ask you some general questions about your influences, before asking specific questions about some of your stories, including The Pastel Man, Right On Time and your Wendall Lane Diaries series. I hope that’s OK?

VINCENT VENA CAVA: No problem, I’d be happy to answer your questions — and btw, you just named two of my worst stories! Haha! Is that what people know me for? Good God.

UKHS: Oh dear, you are too harsh on yourself, they’re all fine stories! May I ask which two you’re least happy with? As an aside, some of my favourites include The Hall Monitor, The Job, Selfie, The Ocean’s Cool Air and Little Black Bugs. I expect a few of those will be the subject of future features should you be happy to speak with me about them!

VVC: Thanks! The Pastel Man is the first thing people really noticed me for and I’m sure I’ll be tied to it forever, haha. I believe the story has weak stakes and the prose is pretty amateur. I’ve been working for years to hone my craft since I decided this was something I wanted to make money doing and I feel like I’ve gotten better since then. Right on Time is just fan service and if you aren’t familiar with Jeff The Killer then, in my opinion, the story is sort of weak (maybe even confusing?), but it is what it’s supposed to be. I am fond of Wendall Lane though.

UKHS: Here are my first few questions, they’re non-story specific, but should give my readers more of an idea about you as a writer. Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

VVC: I’m a fan of so many authors! Some of my biggest influences are Vonnegut, Lovecraft, King, Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick.

UKHS: Do you consider yourself a fan of Creepypasta?

VVC: I’m a fan of anything that has to do with horror, but I’m not entirely sure what Creepypasta even is. It’s such a fluid word. It seems like everyone has their own definition of “creepypasta”. What makes something creepypasta? Is it only stories featuring certain characters? Is it only scary stories? Who says what’s scary? Does a story have to appear on specific websites like r/NoSleep or creepypasta.com to make the cut?

Last I checked, the author of The Martian, Andy Weir’s, short story The Egg is featured on creepypasta.com. I don’t think he posted it there, nor would I call it horror, but is it a creepypasta nonetheless? To me, are you a fan of creepypasta is a difficult question to answer because I don’t even know how to go about defining it.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

VVC: I’m really happy how people reacted to A Favor for a Favor. I’ve since given it a little rewrite and I think it’s a better story now. Picture This was a really therapeutic story to write so I was happy when people responded well to it. I’m also pretty proud of the graphic novel I just took to Kickstarter.

UKHS: What is your favourite Creepypasta by an author other than yourself?

VVC: Hard to answer that question, so I’ll stick to writers who are generally known for online horror. Anything by Matt Dymerski, T.W. Grim, Michael Whitehouse, and IPostAtMidnight is usually great. I think they’re all really polished writers. Anything by them won’t disappoint.

vvc2UKHS: You’re a prolific writer, regularly releasing stories to the web. How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Is writing a process that you enjoy or is it more about getting your stories out there to an audience?

VVC: Keeping the creative juices flowing isn’t a problem. I have more stories in my head than I can write. The slowest part of my process comes from crafting my prose and trying to develop a unique and interesting narrative that will fit with what I’m writing. Writing isn’t just about telling people a story. It’s about HOW you tell them a story. A lot of young writers don’t realize that. When you do it correctly, your prose can be poetry.
And most importantly…
Read. Read. Read.

You have to read if you want to be a good writer. And you have to read great writers. I get people asking me what to read. Don’t just read horror. Read Hemingway, read Melville, read James Joyce, and Asimov, and Clarke. Read Oscar Wilde, read Doyle, and London. Read non-fiction too! Read, read, read. Great stories can inspire you….you get the picture.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta resonates so much with the fandom?

VVC: I think a lot of the fans of these online, user generated horror stories are younger or at least became fans when they were younger. This…trend is like a gateway for a lot of young people. It can introduce them to the world of literature and I think that’s wonderful. Many times, these stories are not written for children so of course there’s always intrigue for kids when it comes to taboo subjects.

UKHS: These fans have flocked to some characters, who really have become iconic to the community, such as The Rake and Jeff the Killer, a character you incorporated into your story Right On Time (you can hear Mr Creepypasta’s narration of the story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu9NvCTJbHs ) What inspired you to write a story that contributes to the Jeff the killer mythos?

VVC: I just wanted to pay a little fan service. Jeff is a popular character and people are usually excited to hear a new Jeff story. I figured why not try my hand at a little fan-fiction. I don’t know if I’m actually contributing to the “Jeff mythos”. I don’t really consider any Jeff story to be canon. There are so many tales written by so many people. But that’s cool. It makes the character and his personality somewhat amorphous. He isn’t really defined by any set of rules and whoever is writing him can put their own spin on it.

UKHS: What drew you to the character?

VVC: The character’s popularity is what drew me to him. Haha!
People like reading Jeff stories, I like writing stories, so why not try writing a Jeff story?

UKHS: Your Jeff is less sympathetic than the version traditionally portrayed, he’s almost a force of remorseless destruction than a human, a lot like John Carpenter’s original idea for Michael Myers in Halloween. What inspired you to portray the character in this way?

VVC: To be honest, I never found the character to be very interesting and the broken emo kid thing isn’t all that scary. That’s the problem a lot of people have with Jeff, which is why I decided to write around him. He couldn’t be the protagonist in Right On Time. Protagonists don’t give you nightmares. I believe the character can be frightening, so long as you move away from the “woe is me” stuff. If you want him to be scary, don’t let the audience into his head. You have to strip away anything that makes him human. Make him a monster. That’s why Michael Myers works. And let’s face it, the Jeff character is basically an amalgam of slasher movie clichés. I just followed the trend.

UKHS: What do you think the attraction is to Jeff for Creepypasta fans?

VVC: I think most Jeff fans are pretty young. He’s an antihero, he’s counterculture. He plays by his own set of rules. If someone upsets him, he stabs them. I see why teenage girls and boys are into him.

vvc3-pngUKHS: Do you have any further plans to feature Jeff in your stories?

VVC: Not right now. I’d rather not write a ton of Jeff stuff, but maybe in a future comic book.

UKHS: Are you happy with Right On Time?

VVC: I think Right On Time is good fan-fiction. The problem with it is that you need to know who Jeff The Killer is for it to make a whole lot of sense. Otherwise, it’s just an interesting story with an “out of nowhere” twist. If you don’t know what Jeff The Killer is, you might read it and wonder what the hell just happened. What did he mean by “go to sleep”?

UKHS: Do you have any plans to write stories featuring any other existing Creepypasta characters? (Excluding the Rake — who Vincent covered as part of his Wendall Lane Diaries series AND for the Creepypasta comicbook)

VVC: Yeah sure. I’d love to write more stories based off some of the Internet’s more popular characters. It’s fun for me. I have no plans at this moment, but if it’s something people would be interested in then I’m game for it.

UKHS: I mentioned the Creepypasta comicbook just now. I recently received my PDF copy of the comic and I wanted to extend my most heartfelt congratulations on what is a really great read. You must be very, very proud of it! Any news on whether there’ll be an issue 2? I’d certainly be onboard if so!

VVC: Thanks for backing the comic! Glad you’re enjoying it. Unfortunately our distributor (backerkit) had some trouble with ios mobile devices, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. We definitely want to put out a second comic, but first and foremost we want to focus on getting out all the rewards first. We’ll probably have a second comic up next year, hopefully twice as long.

UKHS: The Rake plays a major role in one of the stories in the Creepypasta comic that you have created with MrCreepypasta. I understand you spoke with Bryan Somerville (who I’ve interviewed for this Dark Web series before: http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dark-web-steven-hickeys-essential-guide-to-creepypasta-part-28-the-rake-re-visited/) about adapting the character for the comic. How was it working with him?

VVC: I didn’t really work with Somerville on the comic. I just asked him for the OK and gave him a short summary of the story, then he signed a contract giving me permission.

UKHS: The Rake is one of the more recognisable Creepypasta beasties, and you created one of your own with monstrous Pastel Man. (Read the story here:  http://www.creepypasta.com/pastel-man/) His story is one that feels very much like an old-fashioned morality play. Was that your intention?

VVC: The Pastel Man is most definitely a morality play. All of my work fits those themes.
I very rarely write about good vs Evil . It is my belief that we all exist on a moral spectrum —  No black and white, just shades of grey. That’s why most of my characters are inherently flawed. I also believe that an antagonist with a more sympathetic reason for doing bad is much more compelling than one who just wants to eradicate all humanity or kill a protagonist  because he’s a bad guy. My protagonists also usually only act out of self-preservation rather than altruism. They aren’t heroes. But they are more relatable… in my opinion at least.

UKHS: It’s one of your earlier stories and earlier you stated that you weren’t entirely happy with it. Would you ever consider re-visiting the story either with a sequel or rewrite?

VVC: As for my dislike for the story, I believe that it’s prose is lacking compared to what I can do now and the protagonist could probably use a bit more motivation. He is, in my opinion, almost too ‘guilty’. I am heavily considering giving the story a rewrite. I am also considering revisiting The Pastel Man in the second Creepypasta comic.

UKHS: Speaking of comics, you have a great descriptive writing style that really lends itself to visuals. Do you have any more plans to explore graphic novels/comicbooks?

VVC: As for other comics, I’m working with an artist on a project called Nightmare Sketchbook that is supposed to be out first quarter 2017

vvc4UKHS: One of your more recent projects to draw considerable recognition from the fans was the Wendall Lane Diaries. In your own words, how would you describe the series?

VVC: The Wendall Lane Diaries are centred around a house where reality is broken. It’s a paranormal hot spot much in the same way the Bermuda Triangle is. One might encounter ghosts, monsters, reality warping paradoxes if they stay there long enough.  The occurrences are random. The only thing they have in common is that they’re confined to the house and the property it sits on. I recently worked with the cast of Ash Vs The Evil Dead to put out five new stories in the series, narrated by Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Ted Raimi and others.

UKHS: I’ve heard the stories via MrCreepypasta’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3vq3HFjqkVkZabGSM02I8G960DBHu9xh) and just wanted to compliment you on how awesome they were. Bravo! I just wondered if you could give my readers a little insight into how the collaboration with Starz came about?

VVC: Starz was interested in promoting their show Ash Vs The Evil Dead so they contacted YouTube creator Mr. Creepypasta to read original stories. They wanted the stories to be loosely connected. Since he’s not a writer, he asked me if I’d be interested in writing them. The whole thing was really intense, I had about two weeks to crank out five stories for the series. In the end it was a fun opportunity to meet the great actors of the show and to speak with horror icons like Bruce Campbell.

UKHS: And finally, where is the best place for me to send my readers to get more news on your work? Are there any preferred links for me to send my readers to read your literature?

VVC: I’m so stupid, I don’t have a landing page haha. But I’m all over social media. Twitter, Facebook, youtube, snapchat, tumblr, Instagram, ect. Every account is @vincentvenacava . Hope that answers your questions!

UKHS: It really does, thanks so much.

As one of the more senior and respected members of the community, Vincent Vena Cava’s story shows that, if you’ve got the talent, Creepypasta really can lead to great things. Come back next time when I speak with another creative talent who’s been on the scene for a long time about one of the oldest, yet most recognisable and complex pastas ever.

Genoveva Rossi Interviews Elvira PLUS A Festive Holiday Photo Shoot!!

genrossibannerElvira Mistress of the Dark book review and interview. Plus a special holiday photo shoot with horror queen Genoveva Rossi

This horror queen braved the cold to head out to New York City to meet up with Elvira and get a signed copy of her book. Previously I had met and interviewed the Mistress of the Dark at Walker Stalker. I am a huge fan of Elvira and I am deeply inspired by her story.

gr4This book isn’t simply a book though; it’s a big, beautiful, and heavy coffin table book filled with wonderful pictures and some quick passages to tell the story of Elvira. We learn how it all began with applying to be a horror host and the rest is horror history!

This book is a must buy for any Elvira fan. The book opens with her first photoshoot as Elvira and the development of her costume and look. We see photos from some of the most memorable shoots of her career and through those pictures we learn a bit more about the woman under that black wig. You see Elvira sexy, silly, and fun, but you also see pregnant Elvira and her as a mother. We get to read some short, personal stories from her 35 year career. A truly beautiful book for any fan of the horror genre, but it wouldn’t be complete without Elvira’s autograph so I suggest you find a way to meet Elvira.

About This Book. Celebrating 35 years of a cultural icon, this large format photo retrospective contains 240 pages filled with hundreds of photos of Elvira, from the very beginning of her career through present day – some never before seen. This is the ultimate collector’s book for fans of the “Mistress of the Dark.”

An interview with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and horror icon (aka. Cassandra Peterson).

Genoveva: I just want to say as a horror actress and genre fan, Elvira has always been a true inspiration for me; a unique and amazing woman in horror. Great meeting you and thank you for your time. Elvira or Cassandra Peterson? What do you prefer to be called?

Elvira: Well yesterday Elvira and today Cassandra. It depends on what color my hair is.

Genoveva: Depending on how you are dressed. Do you ever get tired of dressing as Elvira? Do you wish you could be yourself more?

Elvira: I like being Elvira because it makes people happy. They love the character. The only bad part is the two hours of make-up, clothes and wig and that can get a little old.

gr5Genoveva: How long have you been Elvira?

Elvira: This year it’s 35 years.

Genoveva: Where do you see Elvira going in the future?

Elvira: I see her going home to bed and eating dinner. (haha) I don’t mean to brag, but I see Elvira has reached this iconic status. That Elvira is a strong image that can carry on without me with merchandizing and such.

Genoveva: So what are the plans for Cassandra?

Elvira: Oh me! Like I said sleeping and eating; all those things. Going on lots of vacations. I imagine I will be doing this for a few more years. As long as I can fit in my dress.

Genoveva: Would you ever want to do a movie about your life or autobiography?

Elvira: I am in the middle of my autobiography. I have been writing it forever. It’s going to be as thick as the bible. Just to mention I have a coffee table book coming of 35 years of all my photographs. From the first day to present. Awesome book; like an autobiography in photos. This you can get now and my biography who knows when I get time to finish writing it.

gr6Genoveva: If there was a movie of your life who would play you?

Elvira: I want to play me even if I’m 95. I will just do that whole Joan Rivers thing and play myself from 14 years old on up. Me or Lady Bunny.

Genoveva: I am a big fan of your films both Elvira Mistress of the Dark and Haunted Hills. Any plans to do more films?

Elvira: Plans for an Elvira animated television show. Animation is the way to go; I don’t have to look good. Don’t gave to dress up and I read the dialogue; I love it!

Genoveva: What was it like making out with Bob in the movie Elvira Mistress Of The Dark?

Elvira: It was awesome! Daniel Greene is so hot and an ex football player. We had a lot of fun. Just don’t tell my husband at the time.

Genoveva: Tell us a a bit about Coors,, which isn’t covered in the book.

Elvira: There are many books on the Coors company out there you can get. A very religious company, which is why they sold beer. When the company was at the top and during there largest advertising campaign with me the owner decided he saw demons in my new Elvira standee. People thought he was kidding and asked if the demons were green or red ones, but he said “out out” and that was the end of my campaign.

gr1-pngGenoveva: You are known for your assets. Any tips for fans?

Elvira: My advice for making your boobs look more like Elvira’s is to stuff everything you can find into your bra. Toss it all in even gym socks. Sometimes they look bigger than other times because I find more to put in there and other times less gets stuffed in.

Genoveva: Tell us a bit about the birth of Elvira.

Elvira: My friend Robert Redding. It was the 1970s, I was in NYC in a band called the Mamas Boys with seven gay men playing disco music at club in the village. Robert was part of the show; in addition to being an amazing singer and dancer he was also a brilliant artist.

Once I got the part as a horror hostess he designed the makeup and hair. He was a big fan of Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes and he wanted me to have hair likes hers. So I got my knowledge bump in my hair and he designed my dress. Robert was my best friend and sadly passed away during the AIDS epidemic. In fact, 6 of the 7 guys in the band ended up dying of AIDS. Pretty bad, right? That was very sad.

Robert Redding changed my life; he created the look for the character. I had input, but he was the artist. In the beginning of the book, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark you will see his sketches for it. His quick sketches only.. He did art for Broadway, Katherine Hepburn, Lions in Winter and so much more. He did the Elvira makeup for the first time on himself then did it on me.

gr2Genoveva: When did you realize the character of Elvira was here to stay?

Elvira: Things took off pretty quickly although I was pretty sure when I started that the show wouldn’t last a week. I was like this is not working I’m acting like a goofy valley girl and they want me to wear this outfit. This so doesn’t go together.

The first week of the show I had everyone calling me because my name was in the phone book. Yeah some of your readers may be old enough to remember using a phone book. Back then that was what you did. I had to change my number and I was like this is crazy.

The next thing I know I get invited on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. That was like the only talk show then and I was like something is happening here. It was and I had an actual job paying $300 a week, but it was a job.

Genoveva: Any amazing story and a spooktacular book. Any final thoughts to leave us with?

Elvira: Well yeah go to Elvira.com and check out everything I am up to. And I have a lot of merchandizing. You can find out where I am, what I’m doing, be my friend on Facebook. Be awesome; at The Real Elvira. Also on Twitter and Instagram. That would be awesome.

gr3As a special treat this month I did a fun and festive holiday themed photoshoot with photographer Jennifer Maggio and horror acting pal Robert Jackson (left). I loved my red velvet Christmas dress with animal print trim! Meow! Hope you enjoy the photos and happy holidays ghouls!

Thank you all for reading another installment of A Life In Blood: Tales Of A Horror Queen! I hope you ghouls had as much fun as I did and stayed tuned for next month.

Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website www.genovevarossi.com
Also follow me on Facebook: Genovevarossi810
Twitter: GenovevaRossi1
Instagram: Genoveva_Rossi
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/genovevarossi

Christmas Special: The Jessica Messenger Interview by Dean Sills

jm5Christmas Special: The Jessica Messenger Interview by Dean Sills

It’s almost Christmas and we have another Christmas cracker of an interview for you. Please welcome the lovely Jessica Messenger to UKHS. I know yule all going to love this one!

UKHS – Welcome Jessica. How did you get into acting?

JM – I got into acting by circumstance is really the answer. I studied dance for most of my childhood and teenage years. It’s all the eggs I put in my basket. Until I got to about 18 years old and I basically realised I wasn’t good enough to pursue it professionally. It’s at that point I starting digging around to find out what else I loved, and movies was what came to the forefront. I took a giant leap of faith and went to university to study film & television. I loved it but felt something was missing from my life that I’d always been so accustomed to and that was the performing arts. I realised that I wanted to perform, I loved movies and wanted to make them but I didn’t want to become a filmmaker. And so, the girl you see today was born!

jm1UKHS – It was great meeting you this year at STARBURST Magazine film festival in Manchester. I know you were there representing the short film ‘Rats’ and it’s great you got to work alongside Laurence R Harvey and Nicholas Vince in this short horror flick. Can you please tell us a little about the film and as an actress why do you find horror films so appealing?

JM – Thanks Dean, it was a pleasure finally meeting you! I’d seen a lot of you online and it was long overdue. RATS is about a professor (Nicholas Vince) who goes to a castle to audit a ton of books in the library. Along the way he meets the castle Guard (Laurence Harvey) who appears a little off kilter. He isn’t there completely innocently however, since he has plotted to bring his student Jess (moi) to the castle in order to seduce her. Jess is a bit of a madam. You’ll see why. As you can imagine the castle stay isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I love horror films because quite honestly I was terrified of anything remotely scary as a youngster. They really did have a profound effect on me, and it wasn’t until I studied film intrinsically that I realised how truly wonderful that is. Horror has the ability to make people go through a whole range of emotion in one film. And for me, being afraid, truly afraid, is one of the strongest emotions there is.

jm3UKHS – You play Mira in ‘Six Hot Chicks in a Warehouse.’ What can you tell us about your character and the film and how does this film compare to the other film you made with the director Simon P. Edwards?

JM – Mira is in essence everything 90s girl power you can think of. She strong minded, she’s independent and she’s one of a kind. I wanted to emulate all those 90s action / comedy / horror chicks that influenced me so much in my teen years and thus led me to want to do movies in the first place.

The film is homage to the grindhouse genre but with a truly British slant. It comes from the mind of a drama writer, so all the characters have been written in ways set apart from the horror genre status quo. While the film is given its own bizarre universe, there are elements that feel completely normal within it, which to me is exactly why is feels so odd. Simon labelled it a Neon soaked ultra-violent grindhouse movie, which I love. This film doesn’t compare at all to Beneath A Neon Tide. That was a family drama, this is leather clad chicks, brutal fight sequences and more butts than you can shake a stick at. My mother would be proud.

jm2UKHS – I recently watched the Christmas horror flick ‘Krampus’ which I really enjoyed. Do you have a favourite Christmas horror movie or do you prefer yuletide family movies like ‘Elf’ and ‘The Polar Express’ instead?

JM – I totally prefer Christmas family comedy or dramas. I have a few firm favourites but I think Love Actually wins for me. It’s typically British humour which I find hilarious. It’s all the awkwardness of Christmas. It doesn’t have a happy ending for everybody. It makes you laugh, cry, cringe. What more could you want! And, Alan Rickman. Need I say more?

UKHS – If you could have Christmas dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

JM – Interesting. I would choose Marilyn Monroe. Because who wouldn’t wish to stare at that over the family table? Secondly, Will Smith. Absolute legend, could crack a few jokes. Lastly, David Attenborough. His voice could soothe me to sleep after a huge meal and a full tummy.

jm4UKHS – Finally, what new projects are you working on which we can all look forward to seeing you in during the new year?

JM – This year has been slower than average. Next year you’ll mainly see me promoting the hell out of Six Hot Chicks. I do have another feature due out but it’s a bit part, Dead Heading – directed by David Easton. I have a few scripts to read, and some decisions to make regarding zombies. That’s all I can really say!!

UKHS – Good luck with all those. Thank you for such an awesome interview. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017!

website- www.jessicamessenger.com
Twitter- www.twitter.com/missjmessenger
Facebook- www.facebook.com/jessicamessengerofficial

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 34: Channel Zero – An Exclusive Interview With Nick Antosca

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA
PART 34: CHANNEL ZERO – AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICK ANTOSCA

In my last Dark Web feature I wrote about how Creepypasta is fast becoming a recognised sub-genre that, rather than cater to a fervent and enthusiastic minority, is starting to branch out into the mainstream. Since the runaway success of The Walking Dead blew open the doors for horror genre television, television producers have sought a ready supply of recognisable brands of dark fiction. Comics such as Outcast and Preacher have yielded results, but there is no denying that web publishing is a veritable goldmine for horror stories.

One of the first shows to recognise this fact is the superb Channel Zero. Having just wrapped up its first critically acclaimed season on Syfy, with a second confirmed for late 2017, the show is the brainchild of gifted author and screenwriter, Nick Antosca. In 2015 the station announced that it had greenlit two six episode seasons, both of which were to be based on popular creepypastas. The first would focus on Kris Straub’s excellent Candle Cove, a story I covered here back in February.

The second would cover Brian Russell’s equally popular NoEnd House. ‘We love the idea of doing seasons of TV like rich, character-driven horror novels, and for Channel Zero: Candle Cove we’ve expanded this great short story Candle Cove into something really nightmarish and haunting and surreal,’ Antosca and fellow executive producer Max Landis said in a joint statement. ‘We can’t wait to dig in deeper and bring this to life with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions.’

cz-paul-schneider-and-fiona-shaw

Paul Schneider and Fiona Shaw

Casting notices followed, an on 20 June this year a Variety exclusive article announced that Paul Schneider and Fiona Shaw would star in the first season. This was followed by the reveal that Craig William Macneill (director of The Boy) would be behind the camera for all six episodes of the season. This was quite the coup for the show and interest intensified massively.

As the hype machine gathered more momentum, we finally started to learn more about the show’s storyline. It was revealed that Schneider would play Mike Painter, a child psychologist who returns to his childhood hometown of Iron Hill to investigate the mysterious disappearance of several children back in the 1980s, including his twin brother, Eddie (with child actor Luca Villacis portraying both of the young Painter boys). He has reason to believe that these unsolved crimes could be related to a mysterious and creepy children’s television show, the titular Candle Cove, but his return to the town kickstarts a new and terrifying chain of events. Aided by his reluctant mother, Marla (Shaw) and childhood sweetheart Jessica (Natalie Brown), Mike must solve the mystery before a new generation of children succumb to the evil that devastated his life 30 years ago.

Of course, using a well-known short story for inspiration is one thing — using it well is quite another. What works in literature does not always translate as well to the screen, while stretching a few hundred words to fill six hours of screen time is obviously a huge challenge. Luckily, it was one in which Macneill, Antosca, Landis and their crew were more than up to the task.

What he did was use the Candle Cove story as a jumping on point for a massively expanded tale which took in a large cast of characters and an even richer mythology. Yes, Kris Straub’s fictional nightmarish children’s show is present and depicted very faithfully indeed, but some of the show’s most chilling creations (such as the deeply disturbing Tooth Child) are brand new, original creations for Antosca’s story. The show gives Candle Cove’s fans everything they want, but it also gives the viewer new, compelling characters and situations optimised for visual storytelling.

Finally the show debuted on 11 October and, over the following five weeks it told a deeply compelling and legitimately unsettling story that won plenty of fans. Proving a resounding success with critics (the show boasts a solid 75/100 rating at Metacritic — http://www.metacritic.com/tv/channel-zero — and a whopping 92% at Rotten Tomatoes — https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/channel_zero/s01/ ) and with much buzz already surrounding a second season which is still nearly a full year away, Channel Zero proves what Creepypasta fans have known for years — the next wave of classic horror fiction is already here, just waiting to be discovered in the darkest recesses of the internet.

Of course, the show would never have proven such a triumph in the hands of a less talented show-runner, and it is for precisely this reason that we all owe Nick Antosca a debt of gratitude.

So what is next for Nick and his groundbreaking creation? Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with him about Channel Zero and it gives me tremendous pleasure to present our interview below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Nick, and thank you so much for agreeing to speak to UK Horror Scene about Channel Zero. First, why creepypasta? Translating bite-sized literature into serialised visual media isn’t the most obvious of steps, so what inspired you to do so?

NICK ANTOSCA: Great ideas can come from anywhere. Candle Cove was such an exciting story to adapt, and I just thought why not do more? I love that the best of these stories are a strong, terrifying concept that you can build on. They leave room for creativity.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta has resonated so well with the fandom?

NA: There’s something about the “true story” quality of the best ones. Great creepypasta stories tend to capture a feeling of familiarity. You feel like they’re describing something that happened to a friend of yours one time.

UKHS: How did it feel to see the tremendous reception that Channel Zero received from critics and viewers alike? Why do you think it was so well-received by audiences?

NA: You don’t necessarily get a lot of chances to make a TV show, so I feel like if you get to do it, make sure it’s something you’d want to do watch and that you’ll be proud of later. Craig and I were really just trying to make the kind of horror we wanted to watch. So it was really gratifying that viewers and critics seemed to respond to it.

cz1UKHS: The choices of creepypasta of the first two seasons of the show suggest that the Channel Zero team are fans of the genre. It would have been easy to adapt more well-known and ‘trendy’ stories such as Slenderman, Jeff the Killer or the Rake, but instead with Candle Cove and NoEnd House, you’ve picked stories with serious fan cred. Are you guys pasta fans? If so, what are some of your favourites?

NA: Of course we’re fans!  Some other favorites (and this does not mean we’ll necessarily adapt any of these if we get another season, just that I personally like these stories) are Goatman, Search and Rescue Woods (aka “the staircase one”), Abandoned by Disney, Ted the Caver, and Psychosis.

UKHS: Why did you pick Candle Cove? And why NoEnd House?

NA: Those two stories are perfect examples of the kind of story we want to adapt — distinctive, iconic concepts that we can build worlds around. A mysterious kids’ TV show.  A sinister horror house. Plus a great sense of atmosphere and dread.

UKHS: What challenges came with adapting such well-loved stories?

NA: It was important to preserve the sense of eerie dread that’s baked into the stories.  We wanted to build worlds and mythologies out of these very short stories, but we had to make sure the spirit of the originals didn’t get lost. It’s easy to do jump scares but it’s harder to create six hours of slow-building nightmare.

UKHS: One of the first season’s biggest strengths was the manner in which you faithfully adapted a relatively small-scale story but built on this mythos to tell a bigger, yet more personal story. Is this the route you plan to go with subsequent seasons, taking a strong core premise and giving it your own unique spin?

NA: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. That’s pretty much exactly what I hope to do.  Each season will have a different visual style and cinematic voice, though.

UKHS: I was fortunate enough to interview Kris Straub earlier this year and he was very excited about your vision for Candle Cove. What was it like working with him? And how were things with NoEnd House’s Brian Russell?

NA: I love Kris’s story and I’m really glad he’s into the show. I sent him the pilot script to approve before we got greenlit and we kept in touch throughout, but the actual writing process was pretty separate. Brian is actually working on The Exorcist on Fox right now, so we had lunch early in the NEH process and he’s read the first couple scripts.  Both writers are awesome and I’m grateful to them for letting us create elaborate fanfiction based on their stories.

UKHS: Channel Zero has assembled a tremendous cast for both seasons. How important was it to find the right actors rather than ‘flavour of the month’ names? Can we expect to see you work with any of the season one cast again?

NA: I can’t overstate the importance. Cast distinguishes something like this.  One of the advantages of being kind of an under-the-radar, low profile show when we were in production is that we were able to go after actors based purely on talent, rather than the casting department’s idea of a “get” or someone with a big social media following.

UKHS: While I understand that from a contract standpoint it’s very difficult to discuss future plans for Channel Zero, do you feel at liberty to tell us any more about plans you might have for the show? Are there any stories you’d be keen to cover in future seasons?

NA: I know what story I want to do if we get a third season. I can’t say what it is yet, though.

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Nick Antosca

UKHS: And finally, something a little more fun here, I’ve seen some wonderful examples of fan art on the web (including some awesome Toothchild images). Are there any pieces of art that have impressed you or the Channel Zero cast and crew?

NA: Fan art? Yeah, I’m impressed whenever anyone creates Channel Zero fan art, for sure.  I like everything I’ve seen!

If you want to find out more about Nick, Channel Zero and his other upcoming projects, be sure to follow him over at twitter: @NickAntosca

With touted movie adaptations of multiple Creepypasta properties, plus the second season of Channel Zero and Machinima’s proposed series of short films, Clive Barker’s Creepy Pasta on the way, now, more than ever, is an exciting fan to be a creepypasta fan.

Come back next time when I’ll sit down to talk to another of the genre’s most prestigious, recognised and lauded authors over his substantial body of work within the community.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 33: Jason The Toymaker

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 33: JASON THE TOYMAKER

There are a number of sites online that have become breeding grounds for Creepypasta. As well as the obvious (creepypasta.com, the creepypasta wikia), there are some others that are regularly responsible for some of the most famous online horrors, such as the nosleep and creepypasta subreddits.

Another of these — one which offers the fantastic opportunity to incorporate detailed visuals into the storyteller’s products — is DeviantArt. There has been a real surge in the creation of original characters (referred to as OCs by the pasta community), with plenty of users trying to create the next web horror icon. With literally hundreds of fascinating monsters to choose from, this is an area that I’m sure I will return to again and again, but for now, I’m going to look at a character (and a story), that best encapsulates the good and the bad of DeviantArt fandom, Kristantyl’s Jason the Toy Maker.

jtt2The first image of Jason appeared on Kristantyl’s DeviantArt page back on 11 November 2014. Several other images of the striking Jason followed. Jason boasts a visually arresting design, with a decidedly Japanese/anime feel. Jason’s stylish and intimidating look quite closely resembles the sort of character that might play a boss role in one of SNK’s Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting or King of Fighters series of games. Kristantyl’s art is, putting it mildly, pretty damn brilliant and with each subsequent image she honed the feel of the character, plus added supporting characters, such as Jason’s toy sidekicks Liquirizia (a wind-up toy mouse that acts as Jason’s spy), Red Mouse (a dangerous weapon, an explosive wind-up mouse) and Mr Glutton (a gigantic stuffed toy snake). Of course, these characters all suggest a far deeper backstory, one which Kristantyl herself told over at her DeviantArt journal. You can read the story over at Melindiaden’s page here: http://melindiaden.deviantart.com/art/Creepypasta-Jason-The-Toy-Maker-619191603

It’s a fascinating and very well told story. The first thing to remember is that Kristantyl’s first language is NOT English, so it’s unfair to blame any clunkiness in the translation on her. Instead it is better to focus on the eerie, dream-like feel the story conjures up. The story follows a young adopted girl named Maggie and the curious phobia she feels towards her toys. Haunted by dreams with a mysterious and possessive entity, Maggie along with her close friend Daisy, comes to realise that her life has been inextricably bound to that of a mysterious and otherworldly entity — Jason. And Jason is not prepared to share her with anybody…

I’ve spoken before about how the subversion of the innocence of childhood is an effective and powerful horror tool. By bringing back the irrational fears we felt during our most vulnerable period, childhood horror is deeply disturbing. It is precisely this warping of the familiar and comforting memories of our youth into the terrors we all felt as children that explains the tremendous success of Disneypastas such as Abandoned By Disney and Suicide Mouse, as well as Lost Episodes such as Dead Bart, Squidward’s Suicide and even Candle Cove.

Like these Pastas before it, Jason soon became a very popular creation among the community… sadly, a little TOO popular. With his pretty-boy good-looks, Jason soon acquired more than his fair share of obsessive fan girls. Much like the Jeff the Killer fans who took their idol a little too seriously, they soon became aggressive towards anybody they felt misrepresented the character — including Jason’s own creator, Kristantyl. Fed up with the abuse from overzealous fans, and a little sickened by the slow metamorphosis of her creation from horror icon to teen pin-up, earlier this year Kristantyl removed all Jason related art from her profile and posted an announcement.
Read it here: http://krisantyl.deviantart.com/art/Announcement-603202232

She wrote that, since the disrespectful ‘fans’ of the character had caused her significant harassment and distress, she was taking a break from creating Jason-related art, instead entrusting the character to her good friends and fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea/Mayheem (http://mayheem.deviantart.com/?rnrd=198971) and Jesterca/Discordea (http://discordea.deviantart.com/?rnrd=198972) for the foreseeable future.

jtt1Of course, just because Kristantyl is no longer producing character art for her creation, that doesn’t mean that he’s fallen off the face of the earth. Creepypasta fans are still producing plenty of art (especially over at DeviantArt), including the now ubiquitous Mr Creepypasta reading (albeit a somewhat edited version), which he posted to his channel on 15 August 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9PUKfHPNR0). Jason the Toy Maker even has his own official Facebook page, and an official Ask.fm page where fans can get the diabolical Jason to answer their questions (http://ask.fm/Jason_the_Toy_Maker_). Furthermore more there are multiple unofficial sites, such as this blog over on Tumblr (http://jason-thetoymaker.tumblr.com).

However, none of these works, official or otherwise, could have existed without that initial image and story from Kristantyl, and it’s a real shame that she is currently no longer working on the character. Yet be that as it may, Kristantyl was kind enough to speak to UK Horror Scene about her creation.

Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: The most obvious first — In your own words, tell us a little about Jason the Toy Maker?

KRISTANTYL: Jason Meyer is a toymaker who hides his true face behind the mask of the good guy. He deceives people with this, thereby earning the trust and affection of his chosen one. What makes him different from others is that he doesn’t kill for fun. Over time Jason makes the existence (of his victims) more oppressive. He wants total control over everything and leads the individual to isolate himself slowly from the rest of the world.

If there are people who ruin his plans it’s not a problem, Jason kills them without the chosen one knowing it. He can get rid of the parents without feeling any remorse. If you behave badly and you’re not a good friend, Jason will fix you and turn you into a beautiful wax doll. The old wax dolls, after a long time, end up inside Mr.Glutton’s mouth.

He is driven by his selfishness and every bad feeling that lurks in all of us. Jason reflects what we are inside, what we feel when we suffer, or when we are angry. He isn’t immortal, his weakness is a music box that he hides inside himself and, in contrast to what people think, Jason is a human being. I could create a ghost or another supernatural creature, but I think the only really scary monster on this earth is the human being. Everything that builds can take life. Something gave him his extraordinary ability to be a toy maker, but a beautiful dream can turn into a nightmare at any moment.

UKHS: What was your inspiration for the character?

K: I’m often inspired by my thoughts that later lead me to create a character. I spend my days drawing drafts, choosing the name and designing the personality. Sometimes I create the characters for satisfying my desires or to make them intended to have a story, like Jason.

With him, however, it was completely different because I had not only to create the design but also a story. When I was a child I loved my puppets but at the same time I was scared of them. I believed that they were alive and that stared at me with their eyes. I remember I was spying outside my room’s ajar door trying to see them while they were moving but, of course, I failed. The toys changing their appearance depending on the identity of Jason, becoming horrible, creepy and seeing everything, are based on my childhood’s memory. This is my favourite feature for the toymaker.

UKHS: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?

K: This question is difficult to answer because it’s been a long time. I think the first thing that came to my mind was the image of this character. Jason has made many transformations because, in the vast world of creepypasta characters, I was looking for a role that had not already been taken. At first I imagined this ventriloquist in search of the perfect puppet, but not having enough inspiration for the story, I decided to choose the Toy maker.

jttm3UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

K: I really read many Creepypasta and I met a lot of characters but no one has been able to impress me as much as The Puppeteer by BleedingHeartworks! The sound of broken bones and their abnormal movements always bothered me. I believe that at least one Creepypasta character in your life can touch your weakness just as The Puppeteer did to me.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

K: I’m not really a fan, but I like reading Stephen King’s books. The last one I bought it’s titled Black House but I’m already planning to buy IT. Also, since we are talking about this topic, I really loved the book by Stefano Pastor, ‘Il Giocattolaio’ (The toy maker). He is an Italian writer who, in this book, was able to keep me glued to the pages filled with suspense and horror. Wonderful book.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

K: I’m never proud of my works. I can be satisfied, but I use this word very rarely for my works. I think it is never enough, I have to give my best and I’m never satisfied. I’m the worst critic of myself.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

K: Every time I am amazed that Jason fans create something and spend their precious time just to pay tribute. Cosplay, video tributes etc. I see it all. I don’t have a preference, each gift has the same value and ends in my folder dedicated to the gifts for him.

UKHS: Earlier this year you made an announcement in which you handed over ownership of the character to fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea and Jesterca, citing a part of the fanbase as the cause. Would you care to explain what happened?

K: Before I answer this question I would like to point out one important thing: I didn’t transfer the ownership of my character to Euphobea and Jesterca. I’ve just entrusted Jason to them, but I am still the owner. Meanwhile Jason started to become well-known and this caught reader attention in some naughty children. I witnessed many things: the insults, the meaningless comparisons and many other things but then my patience ran out. I think everyone agrees with me that it is quite EMBARRASSING and STUPID offending someone over a fictional character.

I spent too much time on this story and I didn’t realize that I was losing sight of my true goals. I’m sorry, but Jason is not my project and for this reason, I had to make a choice. I couldn’t keep up with the fans and the haters, I am no longer a 15-year-old girl with so much free time. Right now I have priorities. I want to publish the story of my comic and I can’t do it if I continue to waste my time.

This decision was very difficult, but it was also the right one. The haters weren’t important. What bothered me the most were the fanfictions written by people who had no respect for Jason or for me. Some stories made me angry, because they were ruining the toymaker by turning him into a heartthrob or into a gay who likes orgies. Roleplaying is worse!

I have said it many times that Jason was born to be only a creepypasta character and that his role had already been established, but it was useless. I don’t want to tell people what to write, but I ask just for a little respect and less arrogance. These people have no idea that by doing these things the real Jason’s intentions are misunderstood and that later I have to pay the consequences with the insults.

Someone admires Jason’s false beauty, just like a perfect prince, but all of this is wrong. Jason is horrible, he is a sadistic, selfish monster. I’ve seen everything. After the decision to entrust Jason, I have been insulted by some “fans” who have called me ‘bastard’ and I want to repeat once again how all of this is ridiculous for someone who doesn’t exist. I don’t live for Jason and I don’t live for others. I live for my own life and for my own dreams!
I want to say that Jason gave me a lot of satisfaction and he will continue to do it, but he’s not my real project. He is only a hobby. Jason is a proof that anyone can get to where I did and may even go further. The haters instead can just grumble. 🙂

UKHS: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?

K: I’ve always drawn because I like it. I never stopped and this has almost become my job. I haven’t been able to attend an art school because my parents never supported my abilities, this is something I will never forget for the suffering it has caused me … but it didn’t stop me. The inspiration is subjective, I can’t give a precise answer. What I can tell you is based on my point of view, as I said earlier, and my inspiration comes from my thoughts or the feelings.

jttm4UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of Jason in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

K: Of course I will! I’m writing Jason’s origin story lately because there are many things to tell and probably I will do other things with him.

UKHS: Finally, is there anywhere I should send my readers to see/read more about Jason?

K: The fans can follow Jason in his official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Jason-The-Toy-Maker-421157594698376/) or on DeviantArt into the profile of my dear friend Mayheem (http://mayheem.deviantart.com).

As sad as it is that the popularity of Jason has caused his creator anguish, much like both Mr Angrydog and PastaStalker64’s versions of Jane the Killer, there is a silver-lining to this creepypasta cloud. Pasta IS becoming more and more popular.

Sure, some fans may resent the fact that the artform they love is becoming more mainstream and accessible to the masses (as is often the case with indie music or film-making), but what this means is that creators of Creepypasta are given more exposure, more support and, dare I say it, even a financial incentive to continue to create the best possible web horror stories they can.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the very special, very exciting exclusive interview I have lined up for you all next week…

A Life in Blood – Genoveva Rossi Interviews Robert Mukes

genrossibannerHorror Queen Genoveva Rossi interviews the Great Robert Mukes from House of 1000 Corpses and Westworld

This horror queen recently had the pleasure of being a guest with horror legend Robert Mukes at two spooktacular horror conventions: Scare-a-con and Monsters and Robots. While at these incredibly busy events we managed to find a few moments to sit down and discuss Robert Mukes’ exciting acting career both in horror and in the mainstream acting world.

rmGenoveva: 1. You are an actor with an impressive background, but fans know you the most for House of 1000 Corpses. How did you come to meet Rob Zombie and to work on the film?

Mukes: I booked the role Rufus Jr, of House of 1000 corpses through the auditioning process, after I got the role I met Rob Zombie during the wardrobe fitting.

rm1Genoveva: 2. What was it like working with Rob Zombie? Any interesting stories?

Mukes: It was awesome working with Rob Zombie on House of 1000 Corpses. First of all it was a Universal Studios movie. Rob Zombie picked an amazing cast and he was extremely laid-back and professional to work with.

Genoveva: 3. Recently you acted in an episode of the new TV series Westworld? Tell readers a bit about your character and your time on set.

Mukes: Westworld was an amazing experience! From the cast, crew, catering service, and the actual seen that I participated in was amazing! I played a Behemoth Robot and I’ve got my fingers crossed to return for next season.

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Robert Mukes panel moderated by Genoveva Rossi at Monsters and Robots. Pic by Todd Staruch

Genoveva: 4. In addition to Westworld you’ve acted in Weeds, Justified, and Bone Tomahawk. Tell us a bit about what it was like being in these spectacular projects.

Mukes: I’ve been very fortunate to have worked on some big budget projects, and I’ve done some smaller budget projects as well that were just as amazing.

I just really enjoy acting! The excitement of hearing the director say action and then cut, that is such a thrill for me.

Genoveva: 5. Horror fans know and love you. In fact you travel the world going to horror conventions. It was an honor to be a guest with you at four conventions so far. What appearances do you have coming up? Where can fans go to follow your work?

Mukes: It was a pleasure seeing you at the conventions as well Genoveva. It was also lots of fun having you moderate a panel with me at Monsters and Robots recently. I anticipate my popularity in the convention scene increasing. My website is very user-friendly and is always current. – robertmukes.com

rm2Genoveva: 6. What upcoming horror films can readers look for you in?

Mukes: Coffin 2 and Valentine DayZ, are the only two at the current moment, but I anticipate many more as I continue my journey with health, fitness, and professionalism.

Genoveva: 7. Any final words to leave our horror readers with on you amazing career and your status as a legend of horror?

Mukes: I really enjoy being a part of the horror scene and I’m looking forward to meeting more fans and adding to my resume. Happy holidays everyone, and thank you for your time!

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Robert Mukes panel moderated by Genoveva Rossi at Monsters and Robots. Pic by Todd Staruch

Genoveva: Thank you all for reading another installment of A Life In Blood: Tales Of A Horror Queen! I hope you ghouls had as much fun as I did and stayed tuned for next month. Happy holidays!

rm3

Robert Mukes panel moderated by Genoveva Rossi at Monsters and Robots. Pic by Todd Staruch

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Scare-a-thon

Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my website: www.genovevarossi.com
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Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 32: Sonic.Exe

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 32: SONIC.EXE

I’d actually planned to cover a different Creepypasta for Dark Web this week, but when I secured an interview with the creator of one of the most infamous pastas of all time, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

Long-term readers of this series will be familiar with the various videogame pastas that have found an audience with the fandom. One of my earliest Dark Web features covered Jadusable’s phenomenal BEN Drowned, which is still chilling readers to this very day. Of course, the posting of the Majora’s Mask pasta to 4chan in 2010 prompted a flurry of game pastas. One of the most influential of these is undoubtedly JC-The-Hyena’s Sonic.exe, which was originally posted at the Creepypasta Wiki on 9 August 2011.

You can read the full story over at: http://trollpasta.wikia.com/wiki/Sonic.exe?page=8

sonic-exe-titleFor those of you who haven’t read the story, it is about a young Sonic the Hedgehog fan who receives a mysterious CD-R disc which contains a supposedly hacked version of a Sonic game. It also contains a hastily scrawled and desperate sounding message from his best-friend, Kyle, who pleads with the protagonist to destroy the disc. Needless to say, the narrator foolishly ignores this request and instead opts to play the bootleg game.

He immediately notices that the game is darker and more menacing, featuring a nightmarish image of the title character with bleeding, black eyes and red pupils, flashing a horrifying smile, against a sea of hyper-realistic blood. The game itself continues with this unsettling tone, featuring a number of disturbing sounds and visuals. In it, Sonic’s loveable sidekick Tails finds himself relentlessly pursued by the diabolical alternate Sonic. When the monstrous character catches Tails (complete with a distorted screeching sound), the game starts to communicate directly with the player, warning him that he is ‘too slow’. As the game goes on these messages become even scarier, talking about souls and directly naming Kyle and even our protagonist.

As the horrifying images and messages escalate in intensity, the game and the title are revealed to have a very real influence in the world beyond the computer screen…

It’s an interesting pasta and, while the prose can be a little amateur at times and some of the character decisions are decidedly patchy (choosing to continue to play the game after some truly frightening events occur seems a tad unrealistic), it’s imaginative and manages to evoke some genuinely unsettling imagery. As such, it proved immensely popular and soon spread throughout the web, including DeviantArt and other Creepypasta sites. In fact, a search of DeviantArt this week for work with the Sonic.exe tag yields more than 10,000 results!

In fact, the pasta was such a popular title that, in August the following year, Gamejolt user MY5TCrimson (AKA Crimson the Bat) actually released a playable version of the game: http://gamejolt.com/games/sonic-exe-the-game/16239 . It’s a truly astonishing piece of work that remains HUGELY faithful to the source material and, somehow, actually makes Sega’s mascot pretty creepy.

sonic_exe_by_pyc

sonic_exe_by_pyc

Shortly after the game was released, JC-The-Hyena returned to his creation and elaborated on what exactly the titular entity was with a post to his FurAffinity page The truth about Sonic.exe (http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/3947977/). Posted on 21 October 2012, the text explains that Sonic.exe is actually a formless entity composed of dark matter that adopted the guise of a demonic Sonic. It doesn’t truly exist in our reality, but the game acts as a bridge, allowing it to influence anybody with darkness in their heart. With this post it soon became clear that the author had plans for the character and its surrounding mythos.

In November of that same year the original pasta was also read by the always popular Mr Creepypasta over at his YouTube Channel. You can find part one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qxYzu7X0ec and part two here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl_WZks4TWU . Mr Creepypasta has an exceptional YouTube following and his reading has been viewed more than 400,000 times.

Rapidly gathering momentum as it spread through the Creepypasta community, the game (and pasta) received a real surge in popularity when well-known YouTuber PewDiePie posted a Let’s Play walkthrough video to his channel on 5 May 2013, itself viewed nearly 9,000,000 times. (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36smb94HGNo). This is an astonishing figure and demonstrates the formidable popularity of both the pasta and PewDiePie himself.

It was in that same year that JC-The-Hyena finally followed up on his original pasta with the official sequel, Round 2: The Sonic.exe Sequel. You can read the story here: http://sonic-exe-stories.deviantart.com/art/Round-2-the-Sonic-exe-Sequel-629625508

In this narrative the author expands on the story significantly, introducing an ongoing police investigation into a series of crimes dubbed ‘The Sonic.exe Murders’. Told from the point of view of a detective investigating the crimes, it also introduces the sinister Cult of X, a deranged group of individuals who worship Exe, plus looks more closely at the monster’s influence. This includes a reference to seven mysterious guardians in Exe’s realm and a human agent for Exe, one Shannon Goldman, his most devout follower. It’s certainly an ambitious piece and really hints that there is much much more of the Exe tail to come from JC-The-Hyena. Again, there are a couple of rough patches of prose, but it’s a fun read and had many readers eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the saga.

However, even as the pasta was finding new readers (and fans), JC-The-Hyena suffered a blow when, on 14 January 2014, the administrators over at the Creepypasta Wiki deleted the original post due to ‘quality standards’, claiming that it was “badly written” and “had too many cliches” and “was a bad example of what should be a creepypasta”.
This caused JC-The-Hyena some considerable upset, and he wrote a lengthy response to the news (http://archive.is/QmP5q#selection-351.120-351.218) in which he berated the Wiki’s admins for their decision and encouraged fans of his pasta to rally behind it. Sadly his efforts were for nought and the pasta remains on the trollpasta wiki, a site on which poor or deliberately sub-standard web horror stories are posted.

Be this as it may, Sonic.exe remains one of the most well-known and popular video game pastas, all thanks to the creative efforts of one person — JC-The-Hyena.

JC was kind enough to agree to speak with UK Horror Scene about his story and to answer my questions about the pasta. The full interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Thank you for talking to me. The most obvious question first – what served as your inspiration for the story?

JC-THE-HYENA: Well, I guess what inspired me to make Sonic.exe would be how I saw everyone else’s Creepypastas. They were all really good and really, well, creepy, to say the least, and I felt I should try my hand at making my own Creepypasta. It wasn’t really easy honestly.

It started out as a simple edited PNG image of the title screen from the first Sonic the Hedgehog game. But then I decided to take it a step further. I then wanted to try turning it into a .avi file, but I decided .exe was a better idea.
I know I was being a little unoriginal with the pasta — the hyper-realistic blood, the Sega 666 bit, and all that. But you gotta understand where I was coming from. This was my first creepypasta so I was kinda learning. I wanted to make something different. And when I made the story, I made the titular monster something that had no explanation on exactly what he is or where exactly he came from.

When the story became a hit, I decided to flesh him out and TRY to add some background to him. I actually never expected how popular my story became when I posted it, though I also never expected how many people would come to dislike it, Sonic.exe is pretty much split down the middle in the internet but I’m not COMPLETELY complaining about that, I’m just glad I’m getting some recognition for trying something out. XD

UKHS: In your own words, can you tell my readers about the story of Sonic.exe

JCTH: The story of Sonic.exe is a little hard to explain without like, trying to explain plot of the Creepypasta itself.
Basically this guy gets this game disc in the mail, he plays it, turns out it’s cursed, and that the monster haunting it is something mankind has never seen before. And in the sequel it turns out that this monster has a whole religion behind him and the cult that worships the monster is trying to help him take over the world, and this disgruntled detective explains, in his diary, that he’s coming close to cracking the conspiracy before the story ends with him becoming another one of the monster’s many many slaves.

That’s pretty much the whole gist of Sonic.exe rly. As for WHAT he is, I can tell you this. He’s not Satan. He’s not God (even though he says he is.), he’s actually this extra-dimensional being that can bend reality to his will… and is coincidentally a passionate fanboy for Sonic the Hedgehog. XDDD

sonic_exe_by_shadowninja

sonic_exe_by_shadowninja

UKHS: Why do you think Sonic.exe has resonated with readers?

JCTH: Well, for the reason why Sonic.exe is split down the middle, the answer is kinda obvious; It’s the internet, there’s always gonna be a buncha people that like something, and there’s gonna be a buncha people that don’t like something. That’s kinda how it works.

But as for how it affected readers. I think it’s one of two things: first is the idea of Sonic being this sadistic, all-powerful monster being quite the face-heel turn surprise for Sonic fans. Like, I remember watching reaction videos and let’s plays of people playing the fan game and them actually saying that Sonic would never do this or he wouldn’t do that. It always cracked me up. XD

As for reason two, it’s the common fear of the unknown. Sonic.exe (or “X” as I call him) is literally a creature that nobody has any idea on what he is or where he came from. And he has all this power to do whatever he wants and what he wants to do is torment and enslave humanity for his own sick amusement.
Try to imagine that in a real world perspective. It’s a pretty scary thought when you actually think about it right?

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

JCTH: I guess I was always into the works of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, their works on supernatural entities much larger and much more outside our understanding of the universe for the most part helped with the creation and fleshing out of the creature that is named “X”.

X is this nameless alien monstrosity in the form of everyone’s favorite blue blur, and he gets off on using his dimensional powers to torment his human slaves to the point of insanity. I personally think he and Pennywise should hang out together. XD

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so what is your favourite Creepypasta by an author other than yourself?

JCTH: Yeah, I’m still a fan. I like many of the other Creepypastas that are still around today: Abandoned by Disney, Smile.Dog, BEN Drowned, Squidward’s Suicide (That one was the first Creepypasta I ever read), but if I hafta choose a number 1 favorite, iiiiiit’d be Suicidemouse.avi.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta is so popular with the fandom?

JCTH: Well, alotta reasons actually, the first two being the ones I mentioned earlier, but other reasons I think it’s cuz the fans like seeing Sonic as a darker more edgier version of himself, you know like the Werehog or Dark Sonic from Sonic X.

Dark Sonic also kinda helped with the inspiration of Sonic.exe but not completely. I guess you could say I took the dark and edgy factor and tried cranking it up to 11. XD I like to think I succeeded. Other reasons I think for SOME fans that like Sonic.exe is how attractive he looks as a character. I think it’s his smile that wins them over in all honesty but I’m still debating.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the story. Are there any examples of fan art, such as films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

JCTH: Yeah, alotta fans have impressed me with some of their work. The Sonic.exe fan game and all it’s versions by Crimson the bat, all the “.Exe” Fan characters, even the Sunky.mpeg parody game (http://gamejolt.com/games/sunky-mpeg/78243) got several laughs out of me. XD

I’ve even allowed some fans to try their hand on making their own version of the Sonic.exe story, y’know, just to see what they can do.

UKHS: I feel the story has been wrongfully maligned by some segments of Creepypasta fandom. Have you read any of these negative comments? How do you feel about them? Have the fans been as vocal in their support as the dissenters?

JCTH: Ehh, I’m not exactly happy with some people hating on Sonic.exe, but I TRY to keep a positive outlook on it. I mean everyone’s entitled to their opinions. I don’t even really look at the comments as HATE comments per se, they’re really more or less just criticism and opinions. I just read them, consider what they say and then move on.

Though if anybody’s being critical and is only doing so cuz they wanna help me in improving Sonic.exe, I’ll take it. After all Sonic.exe WAS my first story, I was still learning. I guess you could say I’m still learning now. As for the fans that support me, yes they’ve been vocal about their help and support, and I deeply value their concern for me.

Sonic-J.C.avatar.

Sonic-J.C.avatar.

UKHS: You were very outspoken about your disappointment at the decision of the mods at the Creepypasta wiki to delete Sonic.exe from the site. What happened there? How is your relationship with the Creepypasta Wikia team now?

JCTH: Yeeeeah, not gonna lie, my little outburst on the Admins deleting my Creepypasta off their wiki was quite stand-offish. I wasn’t in the best kinda moods that day and I deeply apologize for ever doing it. It wasn’t the smart way to go about with the situation and I wish I handled the news more carefully.

Though I still stand firm that the admins were being a little unreasonable about deleting it. I mean let’s not kid ourselves, originality doesn’t exactly EXIST in the internet nowadays. XD;

However, ONE admin who’s still a fan of my story and is still a good friend of mine backed me up during the feud… though she had to quit being an Admin when she saw how stubborn the others were being. And I respect her very much for sticking up for me. Furbearingbrick, if yer still out there on the Net: Thanx for helping me out when Exe got deleted. You’re an awesome friend. X3

UKHS: Do you have any other Creepypasta creations either in the pipeline or already out there that you’d like to share with our audience? And do you intend to return to/expand upon the Sonic.exe story in the future?

JCTH: Well, I made one other story. It’s called the Horror of Montyburg (you can read it here: http://someordinarygamers.wikia.com/wiki/The_Horror_of_Montyburg), and I kinda based it off of The Blair Witch Project.

You can see the appeal, guy in Mississippi gets burned for witchcraft long time ago, comes back in modern time as a goat-headed demon that kidnaps people and uses their body parts to make crude voodoo dolls designed to resemble the people he’s killed. It’s a neat story told like a campfire tale, I think it’s still somewhere on the internet but I don’t remember.

As for Sonic.exe I DO hope to add more to the universe of the story, get more sequels in, or maybe do a remake. Haven’t really decided. But I can promise you this, I’m still gonna be doing stuff with Sonic.exe for a really long time.

UKHS: And finally, where is the best place for my readers to check out your work?

JCTH: Well, if you ever want to check out more of my work, go on either Furaffinity.net or Deviantart.com, my fans have posted both the original Sonic.exe story and it’s sequel in both, so you don’t gotta worry about finding either one. However, if you ever want me to write or draw something for you, I do art commissions. If you wanna contact me about a purchase, my Furaffinity is JC-the-Hyena and my Skype is sirjc231.

What JC-The-Hyena and Sonic.exe show is that, even if the more traditional sources of Creepypasta don’t appreciate your work, there are still plenty of places on the worldwide web on which it is possible to post and share your output with a similar, like-minded community.

Come back next time when I’ll be covering another pasta which found a home at DeviantArt.

Tonight She Comes – An Interview With Director Matt Stuertz

gf2016MATT STUERTZ interview- Grimmfest Sunday 9th October 2016

On the final day of Grimmfest I took some time to sit down with TONIGHT SHE COMES director Matt Stuertz whose film had just had its première to have a chat about his brilliantly bonkers gore laden movie and it’s inception.

James Pemberton- First of all I really enjoyed the film, it was awesome and completely mental.

Matt Stuertz– Thanks. My thought was that hopefully no one going into this movie is going to predict where its going to go and so far everyone I have talked to has been like “yeah didn’t thought it was gonna go there!”

JP – First to start off with can you give us a bit of background of yourself, where you started off with and how you got to making your first feature?

MS – Yeah,yeah, I’m from the US, kind of the midwest, like right in the middle of the country and I made a ton of shorts before this and I met half of the people that was in this movie (TONIGHT SHE COMES) beforehand doing horror shorts and random youtube videos. I made a little found footage movie which stars one of the actors from TONIGHT SHE COMES which is coming out in a week. Then I was like lets do something way bigger than that, way crazier and when I was writing the film I was “Let me write the craziest thing possible and its gonna be impossible to film and I’m never gonna get money to film it….who cares lets just do it anyway,” and then that happened and I gave the script to people and they really liked it and I was wow I didn’t expect them to like it as much as they do and I was just talking to these regular people and they where really digging this insane script and yeah it came together really fast.

JP – You mentioned in the Q and A after the film, an influence of 70’s and 80’s horror films. Anything in particular or was it a mish-mash of different influences from different films?

MS – Yeah I mean basically any big slasher film, I love the whole Friday 13th series, part 7 is one of my favourites and a lot of the movies that people hate like the middle weird franchise entries like HALLOWEEN 4 to 6. HALLOWEEN 6 in particular I love but a lot of people think its trash, but I like it a lot. But then I would draw some weird influence from ROSEMARY’S BABY or HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, these serious arty sort of movies that are fantastic and then take some tiny elements from that and throwing them into this insane, wacky slasher film.

mattsuarez1JP – I certainly liked the characters, they reminded me a bit of TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL where the rednecks are the heroes and I thought there was a little bit of the influence from that film where the inner city folk come out to the country are technological/mobile phone obsessed, pretty ignorant and just want to get wasted and have sex…..

MS – …….and then they accidentally die. Yeah TUCKER AND DALE was one of the best comedy horrors of all time. I sort of wanted to take these people that are sort of standard average people, but I didn’t want them to be the bad guys so I wanted them to be the heroes for a little bit, but I also wanted to take the rednecks, though in this case there not like good natured rednecks there pretty legit bad guys but wanted to force them into a situation where the heroes and villains combine together to combat the greater evil. I always love villains in films, in slasher films you always like the bad guys but I wanted to take the bad guys and mix them up with the good guys and kind of throw things around in a weird way.

JP – Can I ask how you got the film funded, was it through a independent funding/finance or crowd funding route?

MS – It was independent financing, basically I talked to a lot of people who made smaller investments and was like “hey guys I’ve made some stuff before, you can totally trust me I’m gonna make this movie it’s gonna be really good and your gonna like it,” and luckily they believed me, but honestly most of my investors probably would hate the movie and never watch it, but they where nice enough to believe in me and give me some money and make this thing.

JP – You sort of mentioned that the investors didn’t know what they where putting their money into other than a film, were there any who were wanting to see a script beforehand?

MS – Luckily no. I lucked out on this and had total creative freedom and really some of them where like “Would we really want to watch this movie?” and I was like no you should never watch this. But they where like “alright we trust you, where super happy for you, horror’s not really our thing but we want you to be successful at this.” So I had a lot of friends who I talked to, a lot of people I know who have been really great and could not have made this movie without them and huge thanks for them who gave me money to make this thing.

tsc1JP – So this is your world premiere, how did you find it?

MS – Oh man, I had a blast in the audience. This is the first time I’ve watched it in a theatre with more than two people, just hearing people laugh at the jokes. I didn’t expect it to get more laughter than I thought it would at stuff that was supposed to be kind of funny but this is what I wanted it. Some movies you want people to be quiet and not talk, I want people in this movie to be loud as possible, it was pretty amazing just the response. The Q and A afterwards was great and so was speaking to individual people after the screening.

JP – I want to talk about the soundtrack, which carry’s on this resurgence of 80’s themed horror synth scores particularly as you had the same composer as the previous film screened today BEYOND THE GATES (composer Wojciech Golczewski), was this sort of what you had in mind for the composition did you want an 80’s style soundtrack?

MS – Oh totally. I spoke to Wojciech who did the soundtrack, I’m a huge fan of synth and Carpenter is the master of that, I told him I wanted this to be a synth soundtrack and “basically don’t give me anything that’s not from an old-school keyboard.” He told me he was way into it and he was going to go as lo-fi as possible. A lot of it was from one keyboard in particular and I was like yes that’s amazing. He loved 80’s films as well but didn’t want it to be exactly like an 80’s film and did his modern twist on the 80’s and it works really well. He’s been really great to work with and gave him a lot of freedom which he was happy with. I had a temp score for the film and the temp score sucks and luckily his score was completely better.

JP – I want to talk about the excesses and effects work, particularly the final part where there was so much blood and people cutting each other up bleeding over a pentagram, but this ties in that you used a lot of practical effects and no CGI.

MS – Yeah I wanted to go as practical as possible, there was a few CG elements used to just to blend things together but as much as possible I wanted it to be practical. There was gore stuff we had to cut out and it was crazy cause we went through so much blood. The really funny thing was the house we filmed in was rented through someone on the crew who knew someone, and we paid them for it and they let us use it. We were coming in drawing pentagrams on the floor and covering everything with blood and hope it washed off otherwise the owners would turn up and be like “what the hell have you done to our quiet country home?”

tonightshecomesJP  -After this what’s on the horizon are we going to get a sequel like TONIGHT SHE COMES AGAIN?

MS – Honestly If someone wanted to give me money for a sequel I would be so down for it. I have some insane ideas for a sequel which would be literally like nothing like this movie at all. It would be like kind of in the way in it being totally unexpected like everything you expect from a sequel I would throw that out. This would be like when you watch it you would be like how is this even a sequel to that film but it is. Then on the other hand I do have some other script’s I’m working on some pretty crazy body horror stuff. It would take it in a totally different tone than this but takes it pretty extreme with the gore and heavy, heavy effects, like as much as possible, I love effect shots and want to do that as much as possible.

JP – As for TONIGHT SHE COMES are you taking it to any other festivals this year?

MS – Yeah we are taking it to Leeds film festival at the end of a night of horror and heard some of the other films on that line up which will be a blast. Then where taking it over to America and I will be really curious to see what the reaction is from a U.S. audience compared to a European audience, as I know certain things are considered a bit extreme by Americans but not so over here so it will be interesting to see the response I will get from different crowds.

That’s right kids as Matt said TONIGHT SHE COMES is on at Leeds Film Festival Night Of The Dead all-nighter on Friday 11th November at the Hyde Park Picturehouse and is well worth staying up all night to watch!

Big thanks to Matt Stuertz for taking his time for this interview.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 31: 1999 The Terrifying Truth

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 31: 1999 – THE TERRIFYING TRUTH

Creepypasta exists to horrify and disturb. All horror serves this simple purpose — to provoke a visceral response in its audience. As such it regularly visits more taboo subject matter, including the physical harm of children.
One of the most famous stories that so perfectly encapsulates this trope, is Giant Engineer’s infamous 1999, a pasta I’ve already covered in this series of features.

As Giant Engineer’s story has unfolded it has been subject to lengthy delays between updates. It was during one of these lengthy breaks that another writer took up the story, penning a spin-off series. That writer was Sabian Lockheart AKA DeviantArt user Sabian002 and his story is 1999 – The Terrifying Truth.

Sabian’s first post was published on 12 August 2014, which you can read here: http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-The-Terrifying-Truth-475139813
It details a series of events that befell Sabian when, after reading the original 1999, he decided to investigate Caledon Local 21 and the sinister Mr Bear. Sabian’s research uncovers the actual location at which the story is based and, more importantly, the email address from which Elliot (the protagonist of 1999) received communications from Mr Bear. Upon sending a message himself to this address, Sabian receives a reply, purportedly from the deranged antagonist of Giant Engineer’s story. As the two exchange messages, Sabian unwittingly draws himself – and his own family – to the attention of a potentially dangerous predator.

19991On 8 April the following year, Sabian followed this post up with another, this time titled 1999 – The Caledon Local 21 Profile (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-The-Caledon-Local-21-Profile-525582599). In this post Sabian reveals that he has continued his research into the events of 1999 and the man behind behind the programmes broadcast on Caledon Local 21 and with the help of a fellow researcher, John Mytych, worked out that Mr Bear’s communications may well be emanating from a town VERY close to Sabian’s own home. This story also alludes to the fact that Mr Bear may not be working alone.

Later that same day Sabian published 1999 – I’m Responsible (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-Im-Responsible-525584491). In this update Sabian and Mytych’s research takes an even darker twist as a Sabian reveals the truth behind a seemingly innocuous image and text file he had received via email from Mr Bear the previous November. It shows a young girl, in make-up. Little does Sabian realise that a follow-up image would be sent, months later… and so, according to Mr Bear, would a mysterious package.

Sabian followed this entry up on 7 September of last year with 1999: A Part of Me (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-A-Part-of-Me-558862534). In this blog post Sabian sheds further light on his ongoing investigation, including references to Elliot’s own story about a fake Caledon 21 YouTUbe account. However, when the Channel’s owner posts a rebuttal along with a video that seems to depict the poisoning of two young boys, Sabian is not so sure. The plot thickens when a fellow DeviantArt user, Gavin, based in Canada, reveals that he received a visit from a mysterious man who asked about Sabian by name. However, more shocking still is the reveal that Mr Bear has known Sabian since his own childhood, when he had a friend named Courtney who disappeared under mysterious circumstances…

In 1999: The Hidden Truth, also published on 7 September 2015 (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-The-Hidden-Truth-558864746) Sabian continues his examination of the childhood events at St Lawrence Seaway. In it he tells of an incident during which Sabian’s family, while on holiday, had to be rescued from a burning boat. He also explores Elliot’s latest description of one of Mr Bear’s videos and comes to the chilling realisation that it may well pertain to satanic rituals, and Elliot himself may play a far larger role in the furry antagonist’s plans than even he realises…

The next update to Sabian’s story, Caledon 21: Emergent Dismay (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/Caledon-21-Emergent-Dismay-616637371) was published this year on 20 June. In it Sabian reveals the truth behind an invitation to  a children’s party that he received at his family home, plus the shocking discovery he made at the address the invitation provided.

Sabian’s most recent update was published in September this year and was titled 1999: High Definition (http://sabian002.deviantart.com/journal/1999-High-Definition-632328049). In it Sabian explains a little more about himself, including his nom de plume. However, he also reveals that he may have discovered footage of one of the original episodes of Booby aired on Caledon Local 21, the nightmarish Playing With Scissors, plus another chilling hint that Mr Bear is drawing ever closer.

The expanded 1999 series penned by Lockheart is an excellent accompaniment to Giant Engineer’s original story. Referencing not just Elliot’s story but the assorted web phenomenon surrounding the original story, including the assorted YouTube channels and other ‘spin-off’ stories, it’s very thorough and written to a higher standard than a lot of similar stories. Unfolding as a proper investigation, complete with dead-ends, red herrings and even clues that are yet to play a part, it’s a fascinating read and one that takes all the strengths of the source material and just runs with them.
With the story yet to conclude, Lockheart’s blog remains a must-read in the pasta community.

I was lucky enough to talk to Sabian Lockheart about his story via email, our conversation follows below.

19992UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Sabian, thank you for agreeing to answer my questions. A quick query to start – I have seen some theories online that you are Giant Engineer, the original author of 1999. It seems pretty obvious to me that you aren’t but can you confirm either way?

SABIAN LOCKHEART: Yes, I can certainly affirm that I am not the original author of 1999. But the notion is flattering, as the writing style and immersive nature of that story’s content so wonderful.

UKHS: Thank you! Now, in your own words, tell us a little about 1999: The Terrifying Truth and your subsequent chapters of the story.

SL: Surely. The original story of 1999 The Terrifying Truth is about what happened when I started to investigate the original story for myself, and what subsequently happened. It ended with more ambiguity than of any certain impending doom, but more or less emphasized utilizing caution when investigating stories of this kind, because so quickly ambiguity can become certainty.
The following story revolved more or less around an email a viewer sent me. He had apparently run an IP tracker on the email address from which I was receiving messages. He honestly had no idea what it meant, because he didn’t live anywhere near this small town the tracker had indicated. But it really scared me, because that little nowhere town is literally only a five-minute drive from my house. This all really happened. It could be a prank or whatever, but I also underscored how the antagonist in 1999 could easily have had help, and likely did. Even if it is just a story, it is certainly written that way, which I also point out and discuss. All the sequel chapters revolve around real instances regarding interactions on the internet, and more recently, more tangible interactions as well.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the story? Why did you choose to tackle 1999, one of the most popular Creepypastas?

SL: My inspiration for writing The Terrifying Truth was obviously the story of 1999 itself. In a way, because my story is a report of real events, I guess didn’t really choose to tackle 1999. In a way, it chose me, if that makes sense.

UKHS: Were you at all nervous adapting such a well-loved story?

SL: Oh yes, I was certainly nervous. I still am. I don’t want to mess with the masterpiece written by the original author, or offend anyone. I always have, and would like to state I do not believe it is the actual protagonist from the original story harassing me. Rather I believe it to be some form of obsessed fan of that story. I guess, I am sort of supplying a side story that is a result of the original story, which I believe the author has already confirmed as fiction.

UKHS: Would you say you’re a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favorite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

SL: I’m a huge fan of everything horror, especially Creepypasta, because it’s taken on a life of its own, and what it represents. Creepypasta has become something more than the sum of its parts, its evolved into a sub-genre of horror, and is revitalizing radio theater. But the greatest and more admirable thing about the “Creepypasta” genre’, is that it is fueled by creative collaboration. Anyone who has a story to tell literally adds to it as a whole. It supports young artists, authors, film-makers. the list goes on.

As a Creepypasta narrator, I think its narrating submitted stories that I enjoy the most. To an author, a story is a being that they created, a literal work of art, and being able to assist in cutting through the red tape and posting it right to my channel where it gets them that instant recognition, I think really helps to give them motivation to keep writing. And during this process, I’ve been given the privilege to watch some authors really grow in the past few years. As for my favorite Creepypasta creators, I’d have to say that Mr. Creepypasta and TheSeekerAlexis are my favorite narrators, and Vincent Cava is my favorite Creepypasta author.

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta resonates so well with the fandom?

SL: Creepypasta resonates with the fandom because it is a result of the fandom. Its created by the fans, and reflection of their creations.

UKHS: What do you think the appeal of 1999 is to fans?

SL: This one’s easy – the realism. 1999 is so realistic, people still question whether or not it’s a true story. As an author, real or not, I admire that. That’s like catching lightning in a bottle. Even after an hour of listening to a narration of it, or reading it yourself, it leaves you questioning that. It’s a story the mind has trouble getting away from.

UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?

SL: I really like Vincent Cava’s work, Michael Whitehouse, H.P. Lovecraft, and Natasha Preston. R.L. Stein and Bachman have some great stuff out there as well.

UKHS: What work of your own are you most proud of?

SL: Now this is a tough question. I really like Soft Flesh, because from the Title on through its total ambiguity. It takes a somewhat controversial topic and totally flips it on its head.
Be My Valentine is another favorite of my own work too, just because of the totality of its implications combined with the ending delivered in literally the final sentence. Also, a new work of mine that will be published by the time this is received is What Twisted Branches Weave. I was listening to a lot of Lovecraft when I wrote this and am just very happy with how it came out.

19993UKHS: The fans are very passionate about these stories. Are than any examples of fan art that really impresses you?

SL: I love fan-art that gets sent to me. It’s another one of those favorite things about writing and narrating. Most of the fan-art I receive I post as my profile pics or banners for my various social media pages. I can’t draw very well, so all the pictures I use are literally made by others.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead? Would you consider adapting any other popular pastas?

SL: I most certainly will continue with my 1999 stories as long as my investigative efforts keep revealing more to tell.
As for adapting other Creepypasta stories, I’ve written a few Slenderman stories, a Rake story, a Smile Dog story, an Eyeless Jack story, a Seedeater story, and a Bunnyman story. Also, my co-writer, Doughboy420, has written me Laughing Jack and Jeff the Killer stories. Darkside Nemo has written one as well.

But yes, I plan on continuing to write more stories around popular Creepypasta, as well as some other stories as well.

UKHS: Finally, are there any links to which you’d like me to send my readers to see more of your work?

SL: Absolutely, I’ll provide a few here:

Soft Flesh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uucVZbcEOZI

Be My Valentine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF1Xr2toUF4

What Twisted Branches Weave: https://youtu.be/sGTIIsFeZGg

Two Friends at Freddy’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgRiZTyofMI&list=PLulRDHe851ThW6T9dJQAMI6XoWdD6A3Zv&index=29

The Reason I Hate Easter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Qmu0zvZnY&list=PLulRDHe851ThW6T9dJQAMI6XoWdD6A3Zv&index=21
With Sabian’s story one of the thousands of accomplished creepy tales unfolding over at DeviantArt, it is a shining example of how this upstart site is fast becoming one of the premier sources for well-written, original creepypastas.
Come back next time when I’ll be writing about another story born over at DeviantArt.

A Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #8 – Nov 2016

genrossibannerA Life in Blood – Tales of a Horror Queen #8 – Nov 2016

Traveling horror queen: Genoveva Rossi meets Sergio Stivaletti in Rome, Italy and is a guest at Fantasia in Montreal, Canada!

Genoveva Rossi is at café in Rome with the great Sergio Stivaletti

When recently on a beautiful trip to Rome, Italy this horror queen had the honor of meeting up with the great Sergio Stivaletti, whom lives in the ancient city. We met up twice to discuss his life in horror. It was a pleasure to meet up for pizza and espresso with a film legend.

Sergio Stivaletti is an Italian director, producer, make-up artist and one of the greatest European special effects experts. He is considered one of the pioneers in introducing computer effects to the silver screen. During the rich 30-year career on film, television and theatre, he worked on more than 50 movies with some of the biggest names of Italian cinematography, like Dario Argento, Michele Soavi, Lamberto Bava, Roberto Benigni and Gabriele Salvatores. He also runs  Fantastic Forge: Special Effects and Applied Arts School.

Sergio said Dario Argento’s Creepers was really his starting point and his first important work. He got to really create and experiment to create the amazing special effects in the film. Jennifer Connelly was very young and very nice to work with. Looking back Sergio wished that they had been able to connect more on set, but he was so deeply involved in his consuming work on the film.

genrosnov2Also working on Demons and Demons 2 were great experiences. He recalls Demons as being a wonderful challenge for him at the time. He started doing more difficult effects in this film and using animatronics. Argento’s Opera really stands out for him too. He worked on some amazing digital effects with Asia Argento that were really unique for films in Italy at that time. In a short time his career became very rich and diverse.

Wax Mask is the first film Sergio Stivaletti directed and Dario Argento produced. Originally Lucia Fulci had been chosen to direct the film, but he sadly died before he could direct the film. It was intended to be a team of Argento and Fulci, but Fulci died. It was a tough film to direct, but Sergio put a lot of himself into it. In fact much of it was shot in his home and workshop. It was an important film for Stivaletti because it was the start of something new in his career; directing.

With his extensive experience, Stivaletti still has his heart very much in horror and he has a a unique project currently in development. He wants to remake Bela Lugosi’s Devil Bat from 1940. He wants to bring new life to this classic film. Also Sergio is working on an artistic horror film called The Muse. He is trying to do something very different and exciting in the horror genre. He believes in using both the digital effects and practical effects to create the best of both worlds.

genrosnov3We often forget that horror movies are art. This is especially true with the special effects.  It is like a cross between being an artist and a mad scientist. –Sergio Stivaletti

For many years I have been a huge fan of Dario Argento and Italian horror. In fact years ago I had been in the audience at the Italian Horror Panel at the Chiller Theatre Expo in New Jersey. Sergio Stivaletti was part of that panel. Now years later  it was spectacular to get to meet up and speak with him in Italy. Bellissimo!

Fantasia 2016

This year was my second year as a guest at Fantasia in Montreal, Canada. For those of you who don’t know of this two week long film festival it is accurate to say it is the “Sundance of horror film festivals”. It is an opportunity for me to see some of the best and brightest new films of the genre. Here are some reviews of the films I saw.

genrosnov5Kaijyu Mono
This film clearly was intended to pay homage  to classic Japanese monster movie. Think Godzilla. I grew up on Godzilla so I found this film a fun reminder of my childhood. I loved that it was virtually untouched by modern special effects and that the monster was obviously just a guy in a monster suit stepping on a train set. If you love camp and this genre the film will be monsterous fun to watch.

Train to Busan
This was one of the strongest films I saw at Fantasia. Just when I thought the zombie genre was getting a bit overdone I see this film and I am captivated once again. This film falls under the category of dramatic horror. The characters are very well developed and this is a tearjerker of a zombie film. The story reminded me so much of an old film starring Sophia Loren called Cassandra’s Crossing, which is about a person carrying a deadly virus and getting on a train. I would be shocked if that writer hadn’t seen that film since they are essentially the same film, but with zombies.

genrosnov6The Unseen
This was an interesting family drama with the focus on a man and his daughter. Things get a bit odd when we realize that they are both quickly becoming transparent and that this is actually a modern interpretation of The  Invisible Man. The acting was solid and the special effects amazing. Some of my favorite moments has to do with an Asian herbalism as a pliable cure. My eyes I need to start taking herbal remedies.

Shelley
A dark, Gothic tale of exactly how far a childless couple will go to have a baby. Perhaps to hell and back. This film  is reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and packs a bunch. A rich, peculiar couple pays their immigrant maid to carry their child. The maid is badly in need of money to provide for her family back home and to be reunited with her child. It’s an offer she cannot pass up, but has she made a deal with the Devil?

genrosnov7Embers
Set in the future a virus has infected the world and everyone exposed to it has lost their long and short term memory. Human history has essentially been wiped out and people now have as much memory as my of goldfish. All new experiences are fleeting since no one can remember much from one day to another. The film focuses on a young couple trying to figure out what they may have been to each other before the virus; siblings, friends, lovers, spouses? What are their names? Who are they? Thee only people unaffected are a father and daughter in an underground bunker and they seem the sole historians of human history and culture. This film seem to ask: even  without memory, does love still find a way to blossom in the human soul?

Man Underground
A eccentric man decides to film an  autobiographical film about his work with UFOs and government conspiracy. He casts his best friend and a local waitress as leads then starts shooting. He tells these extraordinary stories of coming face to face with aliens and spaceships. He believes the government wants him dead for what he’s seen and what he knows this the film is needed to release this secret information to the public. The audience is left wondering until the end if he is a paranoid nut or a man on a quest to reveal the truth.

genrosnov8Let Me Make You A Martyr
As I approached the theater I couldn’t help, but notice the line around the corner of Marilyn Manson fans costumed in black  waiting to see this film. And Manson’s performance didn’t disappoint. Evidently this film was a labor of love and took years of work to get it pulled together and Manson was brought in as supporting cast a mere  two days before they shot his scenes. With a short amount of time to prepare for the role this Antichrist Superstar rose to the occasion and nailed a cleverly unstated performance as a hired assassin. It was a unique film with great style and  with a host of interesting characters. Afterwards filmgoers described Marilyn Manson as their favorite part of the film and only wished he had more screen time.

The Greasy Strangler
This was a really, really wacky horror comedy about a guy that absolutely loves to eat super greasy food then strangle people. Yeah, pretty wacky. The style seems to be very 1970s. If a prize was awarded for the most bizarre comedic nude scenes in a film this movie  would win it for the full frontal nudity of men. If you like penises and your like silly movies this is your film.

I had another great year at Fantasia. The people, the films, and the festival are always great. I look forward to next year! Save some Poutine for me eh?

Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
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