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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!

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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
Check out my website: www.genovevarossi.com<http://www.genovevarossi.com/> [2]
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Coming Oct 25th: SLAYAWAY CAMP – The Killer new game from Blue Wizard Digital

slayawaylogoCOMING SOON: SLAYAWAY CAMP – The Killer new game from Blue Wizard Digital

Out on Steam from October 25th here – http://store.steampowered.com/app/530390/

A hapless teen screams, then dashes along the hallway of a log cabin. She slams into a dead end, then stands trembling as a masked killer looms into view. The psycho bears down on her, relentlessly moving forward until, in a violent frenzy, he slaughters his victim, leaving nothing but body parts and a slowly spreading pool of blood in his wake.

Welcome to Slayaway Camp.

But Slayaway Camp is not a long-forgotten Eighties slasher found nestled among other gaudily decorated VHS tapes on the shelves of your local video store. It is a sliding block puzzle computer game. And it is fantastic.

The inaugural creation of the good folks over at Blue Wizard Digital, Slayaway Camp (http://bluewizard.com/slayawaycamp/) combines the head-scratching logical puzzles of a flattened Rubik’s cube with all the grue, gore and ghoulish humour of Friday the 13th, The Burning, Sleepaway Camp and all the other classic slashers of yesteryear. It may not sound like a combination that should work, but as the thousands of gamers who have become hooked on the version of Slayaway Camp available to play for free at kongregate.com (http://www.kongregate.com/games/bluewizardgames/slayaway-camp) will testify, it really really does.

slayaway2The mechanics of the game are reassuringly simple: you control Skullface, the masked antagonist of the game (and later on numerous other slashers, some of whom will be VERY familiar to genre fans) and using the basic mechanics of a sliding block puzzle, you must move him around a number of levels (or ‘scenes’) to kill the various dozy victims, all while avoiding hazards such as pits, fires, policemen and cats(!). It isn’t a button-mashing frenetic action title, it’s one that requires careful planning, a logical attention to detail and more than a little ingenuity. However, there are some fantastically gruesome reflex-based mini-games between levels that should scratch that more visceral, less cerebral itch.

It’s a devilishly addictive title, and at certain points I have been pulling my hair out in frustration as I tried to work out exactly how I’d be able to dispatch a bothersome mime or shove camp counsellor Dale into a woodchipper. Overcoming these brainteasers brings a real sense of satisfaction, while the episodic gameplay style makes it a perfect title to dip in and out of, the sort of short, sharp shock that is perfect for commutes or a lunchbreak. Think Angry Birds, but with chainsaw decapitations.

That this title should feature such moreish gameplay will come as no surprise when you look at the pedigree of talent behind it. Originally a collaboration between Jason Kapalka (PopCap co-founder, designer of Bejeweled, etc) and Ido Yehieli (the brains behind cult titles Cardinal Quest 1 and 2), the pair then joined forced with Nate Schmold, the creator of indie game Cosmochoria, to iron out the sound and graphic design. The finished product is a beautiful homage to the golden era of Slasher cinema, albeit by way of adorable, voxel-style sprites.

slayawayAs if the fun game and delightful premise aren’t enough, it’s the superb attention to slasher detail that really pushes Slayaway Camp into ‘Must-Have’ territory. As you progress through the game you gain coins that you can use to purchase additional kills, which vary from Driller Killer and The Burning -style weapon-based murders to the more outlandish ‘summon a white-eyed Sumerian demon to dispose of your victims’ kill. It’s truly wonderful, and as each level or ‘Movie’ simply adds new killers to your collection, the homages grow and grow. Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is the ability to control Mary mason, the title character of the Soska Sister’s classic American Mary for a hospital-based level. Seriously.

With an extended, expanded and NC-17 Rated ‘Deluxe’ Edition hitting Steam this week, fans of horror, fans of fun and fans of game-programmers who are prepared to show a little imagination and passion in their product would be boneheaded (or maybe Skullfaced) to miss this one.

I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with game director Jason Kapalka this week about the game. His comments follow below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi Jason, Thanks so much for agreeing to speak to UK Horror Scene. First, in your own words, can you tell us a little about Slayaway Camp?

JASON KAPALKA: Slayaway Camp is a “killer puzzle,” quite literally. You control Skullface, a psychotic slasher on a mission to murder all the teenage counselors at the title campground. But there are a couple unusual twists. First, it’s not an action game, but a tile-based sliding block puzzle (only with decapitations). Second, Skullface and all his victims are portrayed as adorably blocky voxel people, suitable for hugging.

slayaway1UKHS: What was the inspiration behind the game? What made you decide to combine a puzzler and horror?

JK: We were originally prototyping a puzzle game with a generic sci-fi theme, but realized that no matter how solid the game mechanics were, it was kind of tedious due to the non-descript vibe. Someone made a joke that it’d be more fun if you were actually murdering the puzzle objectives, complete with Mortal Kombat-style fatalities, and a lightbulb went on over our heads… As a longtime horror movie fan, making a game in the vein of 80’s slasher flicks was a ton of fun for me, and let me do stuff that I could never have done back at PopCap (like eviscerate teens and spray blood everywhere).

UKHS: The game has proven hugely popular over at Kongregate. Why did you decide to place a free-to-play version out there?

JK: The players at Kongregate were instrumental in getting us to do a Steam version! Huge numbers of them requested a more deluxe downloadable version after playing the web game.

UKHS: As a follow-up to that question, what incentives are there for fans to now buy the deluxe edition?

JK: The Steam version includes a lot of cool features we weren’t able to get into the web game, including enhanced graphics and sound, a whole slew of brand new NC17 levels (plus previously censored shower scenes), and for PC gamers, a bunch of sliders to control all sorts of esoteric game settings.
And there’s an even more deluxe “Collector’s” version that includes a book of Skullface’s poetry (“die-kus,” to be specific), along with the soundtrack and some extra avatars and kills from the ill-advised and unreleased Slayaway Camp sequel, “Slayaway Camp XII: Skullz in Da Hood.”

UKHS: From very early on in my gameplay it became obvious that the development team are BIG slasher fans as there are hundreds of great little homages (my personal favourite is the Jason Takes Manhattan decapitation death sequence btw). So, what are your favourite slasher movies over there at Blue Wizard Digital?

JK: Yes, we are big fans of 80’s horror! Most recently, The Final Girls is a pretty funny deconstruction of the genre, but as for the “classics” I admit a fondness for The Burning and anything Tom Savini-related. Plus Woodchipper Massacre just for the title.

UKHS: The slasher references extend to some very famous killer cameos in the game, including THE Mary Mason from the Soska sisters’ American Mary. Can you tell us a little about how that came to be? Have you had much interaction with Jen and Sylvia and, if so, how did that go?

JK: I’m fairly friendly with the Soskas, who are also Vancouver residents! They’re regulars at the Storm Crow Tavern, a “nerd bar” I own in Vancouver that is heavily fantasy, sci-fi and horror-themed (stormcrow.com, but that’s another story…). We specifically asked their permission to use Mary in the game, as there was a real shortage of female psycho killers to choose from. They’re big video game players and were very excited by the idea. We made sure to give Mary some really juicy kill animations, and she’s the “star” of one of the later videotapes set in a hospital…
It was also fun having Derek Mears involved (who played Jason in the most recent Friday the 13th), especially since he’s cast rather against type as “Jessica,” our Final Girl. Admittedly she doesn’t have a lot of lines…

UKHS: Are there any other surprises you’re prepared to share/hint at now?

JK: Did I mention the shower scenes, previously censored by the Canadian Censorship Bureau, have been restored to the Steam version?

Slayaway Camp will be available on Steam from 25th October, just in time for Halloween.
Order your copy here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/530390/

slayawaybwlogo

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 31: Jeff The Killer 2015

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 31: JEFF THE KILLER 2015

Some Pasta icons are just too big to cover with one feature… or even two! This week, I’m returning to everybody’s favourite, hoodie-wearing, scarred, grinning Creepypasta psychopath — Jeff the Killer.

Sure, I’ve written about the character here in the past, both as an exploration of the myth and my recent exclusive interview with Jeff’s creator, Sesseur/KillerJeff. What more could I write about the character and his pretty threadbare story. In truth, not a lot… unless somebody else were to write more about the character first.

Hmmmm…

Of course, it is these musings that lead me to a source of Creepypasta that will be very familiar to long-time readers of this series (and Pasta fans) — the creepypasta wikia. As a place known for its extremely strict quality standards (some have argued overly so, but I do appreciate that the admins of the site are doing their best to ensure that no Crappypasta slips in), it should come as no surprise to learn that the most well-known and widespread version of the JtK story was not well liked at the site.

As a story chock full of grammatical errors, clunky phrasing, awful plot holes and some pretty laughable cliches, even with its cult-like popularity and significance to the spread of Creepypasta, the decision was made to delete the story from the Wiki. However, shortly thereafter user BanningK1979 posted a proposal to the site’s forum on 26 September 2015 — that Jeff be reincluded on the site BUT only after the story was rewritten, reworked and polished by the Creepypasta Wikia users to match the quality standards expected (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Thread:497975).

The idea was a hit, and soon a number of rival Jeff stories were submitted to the judges who were tasked with crowning one of these THE definitive Jeff the Killer post for the site. You can find a full list of entries at the contest’s page on the wiki here: (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Underscorre/Jeff_the_Killer_Rewrite_Contest)

Finally, on 6 December of last year, the judges reached their decision. In third place was the The Testimony of James Lamb by JZoidberg (http://pastebin.com/6aCu9JFt). The Pasta focused on the story as told by a retired Police detective (the titular Lamb). In JZoidberg’s version of the story, Jeff (here with the surname Keaton) is insinuated in a series of break-ins that escalate to murder. Desperate for a lead, Lamb interviews Keaton’s younger brother, Liu, an inmate at a juvenile detention facility. Through a series of interviews, Lamb gets to know the man he is hunting from the one person who knows Jeff best.

The second placed story was My Liu by Sirius Nightshade (http://pastebin.com/ExrnBui1). It makes quite a few changes to the traditional tale, and although it features Jeff and Liu once again, this time Jeff is the youngest brother, while the two siblings live apart following their parents’ divorce. Liu is stuck with their abusive father, while Jeff is racked with guilt over his inability to intervene. When Jeff sees local bully Randy displaying similar tendencies towards a girl as his violent father, Jeff steps in. This leads to Randy taking a vile revenge against Jeff, starting a domino effect that will lead to madness and murder.

jtk2015-k-banning-kellumThe winner of the competition was Jeff the Killer 2015 by author K. Banning Kellum (pictured left),  the very same individual who suggested the rewrite contest. You can read the story in full here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Jeff_the_Killer_2015   I do recommend that you check it out, but to summarise, it covers the story of Jeff and Liu Woods when they move to a new home and struggle to fit in, while their neglectful parents focus on how to be accepted by the local community.

Shortly after moving into their new home, the two brothers cross paths with local bullies Randy, Keith and Troy. The other kids give them a hard time but Jeff decides to walk away… right up until one of the boys assaults Liu.
Suddenly overcome with rage, Jeff administers a violent beating on their assailants before Liu is able to drag him away and the pair flee.

However, when local police arrive at the boys’ home, Jeff comes to realise that Randy’s family is well connected and Jeff is warned that the local authorities will be keeping a close eye on him. To compound matters, Liu is subsequently sent away to spend the summer with their aunt. When it emerges that Randy’s father is actually Mr Woods’ boss, Jeff’s mother suggests that her son try to make amends with Randy. She drives Jeff to Randy’s home and at first, it seems as if the two boys may be able to bury the hatchet.

However, it isn’t long before Randy’s true colours shine through, and the boy and his cronies try to threaten Jeff with a flare gun… with terrifying consequences. This ‘remake’ addresses a lot of the problems in the original story, more firmly grounding Jeff’s origin in reality while still maintaining a number of the key elements from the popular ‘bully’ origin. It is a far more polished piece of prose (Banning is a talented writer who has a number of quality pastas up at the Creepypasta wiki), and the story manages to combine this realism with a far more tragic horror than that of the original story.

Thematically, it is a perfect fit with the familiar tale that has enchanted Jeff fans for years, without the vast majority of the tales flaws. In short, it does EXACTLY what it set out to do!

I was able to speak with K. Banning Kellum about his take on this most infamous of pastas, in which he was kind enough to talk me through his creative process.

You can read this conversation below:

UK HORROR SCENE: Hi, Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me.

K BANNING KELLUM: Hi, Great to hear from you and I am glad that you took an interest in Jeff the Killer 2015. I certainly hope your week is off to a great start. So, let’s get down to these questions:

UKHS: OK, the most obvious first — in your own words, tell us a little about your version of Jeff the Killer?

KBK: Well, the big goal of the re-write contest was to try and fix all the issues with the original story. There were a lot of logical errors in the first Jeff story that couldn’t even be justified in the strictest of fictional sense. Issues like Jeff’s super powers that seemed to come from nowhere, the fact that the police officers not only drew their guns on a kid but apparently were able to decide his punishment and length of jail time, and most of all, the bleach and liquor turning his face white. So, I set out to draw Jeff as a real person. A young man that was going through some tough times, such as moving to a new town and trying to fit in with the local kids. I also focused on his parent’s lack of attention and their obsession with their professional lives over the emotional welfare of their children. I wasn’t trying to make Jeff an anti-hero or a tragic-hero. The goal wasn’t to to have the reader feel sorry for him at the end, but rather to paint a realistic map that could take a fairly well adjusted kid and turn him into a killer.
To create this, I decided to trigger Jeff with a series of small events leading into the catalyst at the end in order to push him over the edge in a believable manner. The parent’s neglectful attitudes provided that constant background agitation. The bully’s instigating Jeff and Liu and essentially getting away with it because of their status in the town was another. Liu being sent away for the rest of the summer and of course the big one, Jeff being disfigured and overhearing that his mother’s chief concern was how his appearance would affect their standing in the community.
So, I guess to summarize, my version of Jeff was a rather honest kid who was constantly placed in situations that he couldn’t control, even when he was in the right. It was about him losing control first over his life and then over his own mind. Jeff didn’t want to fight the bullies at the start of the story, but they forced him to. Jeff didn’t want to try and befriend Randy but his mother forced him to. Jeff surely didn’t want to become disfigured, but fate as it was forced him to.

My version of Jeff is a nice guy that is simply robbed of the most basic mechanics of control over and over again, until he can no longer control himself.

jtk2015-1UKHS: What served as your inspiration for this story?

KBK: Two things really. First of all, let’s go back to 2012 or so. I was still in the US Army at the time, stationed at Fort Hood, TX. I’d just recently discovered Creepypastas while deployed in Iraq and then Kuwait. So, after returning to the States after the year-long deployment, I wanted to make as much time with my family as possible.

Now, my son, Tristan, is from my first marriage. My first wife still lives in New Orleans, and since I was stationed out in Texas, I couldn’t exactly go and pick up my son every single weekend. Due to the demands of the military, and the distance from Fort Hood to New Orleans, I generally could only go and get Tristan on long weekends or when my unit took some form of leave. This of course meant that my time with Tristan was that much more precious, since it could be up to a month before I’d be able to drive down and get him again.

So, during one of the block leave times, I want to say this was in the fall of 2012 or maybe early 2013, Tristan starts telling me all about the Creepypastas that he and his school friends have read. It was the normal ultra popular ones, like Jeff and Slenderman. At that time I had just gotten into Creepypastas, and honestly wasn’t too familiar with Jeff the Killer. So, Tristan convinces me to play the Mr. Creepypasta reading, and we sat there together and listened to it while Tristan continued to explain this and that. It was a special little bonding moment that sort of left me with a little bit of a soft spot for Jeff the Killer.

Anyway, a couple years later, I’m out of the Army, my wife and I are back living in New Orleans, and thankfully we can now pick up Tristan every weekend. During that time, I was still making a name for myself on Creepypasta Wikia. I’d written Secret Bar and The Demon in the Mirror Trick I believe, but that was it. Anyway, around this time, the big debate was about whether or not Jeff the Killer deserved to remain on Creepypasta Wikia. The site admins at the time had established some respectable quality standards, and the Jeff the Killer story on our site at the time didn’t meet any of the criteria. However, it was considered a classic and was essentially grandfathered into the community. However, it started to become more difficult to justify allowing it to remain.

Admins were deleting stories that were clearly better than Jeff, yet Jeff was allowed to remain due to his popularity. In the end, it came down to a vote. I actually supported removing the original Jeff, as I agreed that it didn’t meet the quality minimums to remain on the site. However, as I was helping in the story’s deletion votes, I also began to wonder if I could do better. I became really curious as to how I could improve on the Jeff formula, without actually making an entirely new story. I was interested in doing a re-telling, not so much a re-make. And like I said above, I still had a soft spot for Jeff the Killer because my son and I spent some quality time listening to Mr. Creepypasta take us through the original Jeff story.

Fast forward another year and it became apparent that a lot of people out there wanted Jeff back. They argued that it was a classic, and honestly, I agree. Like it or not, the original Jeff the Killer was to Creepypasta as Hulk Hogan is to professional wrestling. That’s when I got the idea for a contest. Give the people, myself included, a chance to retell the story and fix the original issues. The vote passed in a majority landslide of support to retell the story. Since I was participating, and was also an admin, I passed all the technical ends of the the contest over to the other admins. Voting was done off site and moderated by another member of staff, and in the end, my story was selected.
Now, as far as specific inspirations, I used a lot of settings that I enjoyed when I was Jeff’s age. Obviously setting it in and around New Orleans. Mandeville, the town where Jeff’s family moved, is a real place, although I never lived there.

The Friendly Video store was also a real chain down here that only recently went out of business in 2015. Jeff’s incident with the three bullies messing with his bike was based off of some of the neighborhood antics that bullies did to us when I was a kid. There used to be these three brothers that lived down the street, and if they saw you ride your bike past, they’d all mount on their own and chase you. They caught me once the oldest brother kept twisting the seat on my bike until it finally broke. So, I sort of had an understanding of how Jeff and Liu felt when they walked out of the video store and say Randy and his pals messing with their bikes.

UKHS: Seeing your activity over at the Creepypasta Wikia it’s pretty obvious that you’re a fan of Creepypasta. What is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?

KBK: Well, it’s hard to actually cite a specific favorite, because I love quite a few of them. The Disappearance of Ashley Kansas was one of the first that I read and was blown away. Another short one called Piggyback was chilling. As far as specific writers on the site go, Blacknumber1 is a great long pasta writer. Humboldt Lycanthrope is a master of the NSFW stories. Empyrealinvective has a massive library of impressive stories. GreyOwl is one of my favorites, as she consistently brings high quality stories to the Wiki. The Tale of Robert Elm is a masterpiece in my opinion. There are simply so many great stories and great writers that it’s difficult to ever just say one name.

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

KBK: I think the main reason for Creepypasta’s popularity with the internet in general is because it is for the fans, by the fans. All you need to do to write a great pasta is to have an idea and some basic writing skills, and before you know it you can possibly be creating the next Jeff or Slenderman. You don’t need money, an editor or a book deal in order to pursue a love of writing.

And since Creepypastas are open-source for the most part, it appeals to all reaches of artists. Writers, sketch artists, poets and musicians alike can find something within the realm of Creepypasta to sink their teeth into. Plus, at least as far as Creepypasta Wikia is concerned, we are a very supportive community. If someone needs a critique or writing advice, there are always tons of people more than happy to do so.

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

KBK: That is a tough question in a lot of ways. Keep in mind I was one of the people that supported deleting the original. I would say with the original Jeff story, the popularity was all about timing. Jeff came around when Creepypastas were a fairly new thing. It was also marketed well, since it started as a Youtube video and then evolved to a story.

The famous white faced Jeff picture that is associated with the original work no doubt played a huge role in the story’s success as well. There was an undeniable unnerving quality to that picture. The aesthetics were so off that it was difficult to really look at. Couple that with the overall mood that horror stories can create, and you have a recipe for success.

Artists also did a lot to push Jeff forward. There are tons of Jeff the Killer drawings all over the internet. With indie games dedicated to him and lots of other Youtube videos and cos-players keeping the legacy of Jeff going, it’s clear why he’s so well received by his fans.

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

KBK: Well, I am a huge Stephen King fanatic. I have been reading his work since I was a kid, and continue to buy all of his new books to this day. The Dark Tower was such a powerful story, it had me locked in for years, and I still dip into it from time to time. H.P. Lovecraft has also inspired me on many occasions, as has Clive Barker. But in the end, Stephen King remains my all time favorite.

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

KBK: My Hyraaq Tobit series is my all time favorite product of my own making. I’ve been grinding away at that series for around 2 years now and I am thrilled to announce that I am nearing completion of the last story in the series.

jtk2015-2UKHS: The fans are very passionate about Jeff. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?

KBK: Passion impresses me. So, anything that someone has taken the time to sit down and develop out of a love for the source material gets my respect. There are some outstanding images of Jeff as well as other Creepypasta icons all over Deviantart and the internet as a whole. Anytime I see that someone has taken to time to sit down and create something drawn and fueled by their passion, that will impress me.

UKHS: Jeff the Killer 2015 was voted to be THE official Jeff the Killer entry by the users of Creepypasta Wiki. How did it feel to get that recognition from your peers? What does the support of the Creepypasta community mean to you?

KBK: The recognition from peers was incredible, and I’ve said it once and will continue to say that their support is everything. When I sat down and wrote Jeff the Killer 2015, I knew that I was throwing my name into a hat that would be filled with many other talented writers. Initially the story I wrote was a massive 20,000 work novella, and I loved it.

However, I later learned that the contest rules stated no entries over 10,000 words. So, I had to really cut my story up in order to make the cut off. Honestly the edited down version didn’t feel as complete as my first draft, so I gave myself 50/50 odds that I’d win. When I was informed that I won the contest, I was just filled with tons of gratitude and admiration towards this incredible community. Their support is paramount to my success, and I am beyond grateful each and every day that people out there are getting behind my work and helping me advance as a writer.

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

KBK: As for future Jeff stories, I doubt that will happen. I set out to create a better Jeff the Killer and I feel that I accomplished that. Jeff the Killer is a true Creepypasta icon, and for that reason he belongs to the entire community. I am confident that with the huge bank of talented writers out there, Jeff will have many more adventures to look forward to. As far as the days ahead, as I mentioned above, my final entry into the Hyraaq Tobit series should be showing up this week. I’m almost there and cannot wait to finally complete that story.

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

KBK: Most certainly. If anyone wants to get into the Hyraaq Tobit series, please start with the first story:  The Demon Tobit of Delphia (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Demon_Tobit_of_Delphia)
Just keep clicking the “next” button at the bottom of each story to read them all in order.

If you’d like to hear some amazing Creepypasta readings, including quite a few of mine, please check out Creeparoni’s Youtube Channel. She is an incredible talent and is actually in the process of reading all of my Tobit stories in order, which is a massive undertaking. Check her out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK3i6JixKgwP6emDIX4tKB
You can also follow me on Twitter: @banningk1979

And if you’d like to check out all of my horror stories, here is the link to my Creepypasta Wikia user page, which contains like to all my stories, links to some awesome Youtube readings of my work, and lots of other fun stuff: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/User:Banningk1979

UKHS: Thanks for the interview.

The reason I’ve included Jeff the Killer 2015 in this series, aside from the fact that it’s an excellent story in its own right, is that it really showcases two major trends in the Creepypasta community as a whole.

First, it highlights the increased quality and standards expected as the genre evolves and expands. The slapdash, poorly told stories of yesterday are very much a thing of the past and simply won’t be tolerated by the more discerning audience of today. With writers such as K. Banning Kellum and the admins of the creepypasta wikia keeping a watchful eye over the latest efforts, the future of Creepypasta is in good hands.

Second, this story is an excellent example of the way in which the creepypasta community adopt and reshape different characters and stories. K. Banning Kellum is far from the first author to write about Jeff the Killer and, I can state with confidence, that he won’t be the last either. But he has crafted the tale, added his own unique take and, most importantly, contributed to mythos as a whole. It’s precisely this ‘open-source’ nature, as K. Banning Kellum describes it, that makes the community the lively, imaginative and innovative collective that it is.

Come back next week when I’ll look at another fresh continuation and reimagining of one of Creepypasta’s most disturbing tales.

UK Horror Scene Frightsight – Hanging With… Damon Rickard !

tour1Welcome to our series of video interviews as UKHS writer Tony Sands and his crew hang with talented British folk from across the horror spectrum. They will be bringing a number of interviews across 2016 that will hopefully give you an insight into the UK indie horror scene and you will hear just what it takes to get a project to fruition.

Here Damon Rickard (writer & director of short films such as The Tour and The Package)  joins the crew to chat about films, women screaming at his Mum’s house and thumbs.

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta Part 30: Psychosis

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA PART 30: PSYCHOSIS

Whenever I interview Creepypasta authors for this series of features, one question that I ask of all of them is ‘what is YOUR favourite pasta?’ The answers are fairly wide-ranging (as matters of taste often are), but there are some familiar titles that crop up time and time again. One of the most popular of these is the excellent Psychosis.

First published a few years ago on the now-defunct, original Creepypasta.com forum by user M59Gar, it was then featured on the front page of the site in 2008-2009. Sadly the site is no longer active, but the next oldest version of Psychosis was that posted to the new creepypasta.com on 3 November 2010 here: http://www.creepypasta.com/psychosis/

M59Gar’s Psychosis is one of the longer Creepypastas, but it is well worth the time it takes to read it. I thoroughly recommend you do so immediately! The story is actually rather simple, detailing a young programmer who slowly but surely succumbs to his own paranoia as he starts to believe that an insidious evil may have infiltrated his life. To discuss it in any more detail runs the risk of spoiling what is quite rightly regarded as one of the greatest creepypastas of all time.

Currently the fifth highest rated pasta over at creepypasta.com (with a score of 9.2 from a staggering 18,101 votes), and also the third most discussed, it has garnered a huge following.

psychosis2The reasons for this are all too apparent — it’s exceptionally well-written, cultivating a subtle sense of dread that unnerves far more than the tacky gore of less accomplished pastas. M59Gar tells his story in a fantastically compelling manner, using the more measured, patient pace of the tale to his favour. This means the protagonist never suddenly leaps to any wild conclusions, instead edging ever closer to the abyss of a psychological breakdown.
The story also deals with some weighty and decidedly modern themes, especially of the roles of technology, information and perception in establishing what is truly ‘real’. In an era in which whole lives are lived online, this is a truly contemporary horror story, and one that is utterly thought provoking. I’ve said in the past that horror is as fantastic a mirror of modern society as any other genre. The monsters of each generation speak volumes about the world in which they lived.

From the gigantic, science-made monsters of the Fifties, spawned by a world in which the nuclear bomb had ended World War II, to the faceless slashers of the Seventies and Eighties, themselves a reflection of the monsters among us, serial killers such as Dahmer, Manson and Bundy, horror cinema and literature has always encapsulated the fears of society. That technology, that tool that supposedly unifies the world, is ultimately leaving each of us more isolated than ever before comes as a timely warning from M59Gar.. Or should I say, Matt Dymerski.

For since the publication of Psychosis, M59Gar has started to write under his real name of Matt Dymerski, becoming a successful author in his own right. He has even published Psychosis, along with some of his other short stories, which you can pick up at Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2dZ0DG6. It’s a great book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

However, even though he is now a published author, Dymerski hasn’t abandoned the internet and still posts regular stories to the internet, via his very own web site, http://mattdymerski.com, and at the r/nosleep subreddit, arguably the greatest source of online horror fiction on the web.

It was over at NoSleep that Dymerski published Eating Disorder on 26 November 2012 (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/13ty8f/eating_disorder/?st=iu5raxdx&sh=1c38d97d). A chilling story of a woman with a mental illness that affects the way she perceives her food as told by her doctor, this was the first in a series of six stories that would later come to be known as the Asylum series.

It was followed on 27 November 2012 by The Bonewalker (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/13w6xo/the_bonewalker/?st=iu5re84o&sh=dbe1b970), then on the following day by The Scholarship (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/13ydz7/the_scholarship/), then each day thereafter by The Friend Zone (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/140rgb/the_friend_zone/), The Escape (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/142ivo/the_escape/) and The Truth (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/144eqc/the_truth/).

The first couple of stories seem like simple, standalone horror stories (albeit very, very good ones). However, as the series progresses, the doctor comes to realise that there may be a larger plot at work… perhaps even that same plot that devastated the life of Psychosis’ protagonist.

More than just a thematic successor to Dymerski’s best-known pasta, with the added length afforded by writing his story as a series, The Asylum really feels like an expansion of the tale.

Featuring all the social commentary, insight and (of course) excellent, descriptive and imaginative story-telling of Psychosis, it’s every bit as rewarding a read. The whole story has since been collected in a free-to-read eBook available via Amazon’s Kindle store: http://amzn.to/294FQjc. That’s right, FREE! Go get it!

Epsychosis3ven as both Psychosis and the Asylum series hint at a single antagonist, The Opponent, the story is not yet finished.
On 3 August this year, Dymerski published the first chapter of a new series, Our Blind Spot, to r/NoSleep (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/4w11bc/our_blind_spot/). It has since been followed by two more chapters (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/4w7fp9/our_blind_spot_part_two/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/4y8gu5/our_blind_spot_part_three/) and has yet to conclude. It features themes and even characters from Dymerski’s previous techno-paranoiac stories and is every bit as good as his other hit tales.

With a burgeoning career and having garnered critical AND commercial acclaim, many could forgive Dymerski for leaving the internet Creepypasta community behind, yet he hasn’t. He’s still contributing, still writing for his fans for free, which is an admirable display of commitment to the Creepypasta scene. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the very busy, but still very personable Dymerski recently about his work.

The interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me. For our first question, how would you describe Psychosis?

MATT DYMERSKI: Psychosis is a story about an intelligent young man who asks questions and follows available data to logical conclusions. It just so happens that fundamental flaws in our way of life have undermined many basic truths, rendering his conclusions terrifying…

UKHS: And, in your own words, tell us a little about the Asylum series?

MD: The Asylum series is a successor series to Psychosis; we follow the investigations of a doctor at an asylum who notices disturbing trends in his patients’ stories. The deeper he delves, the more horrifying questions he uncovers about the apparently malleable natures of reality and perception. Is it possible that an insane person is actually more aware of the Truth than we are?

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the stories?

MD: Psychosis and Asylum were both inspired by the many-layered existence we’ve built for ourselves as a society. At the root of any discussion is a fact, but between that fact and our belief about it there are numerous layers of distortion, accidental misinformation, and even agenda-driven lies. We have a wealth of information available to us, more than any humans before us, but that just makes us further divorced from the base facts.

How can we determine what is real when our entire lives are based on assumed beliefs? What if we’ve never seen a real fact at all? What if we begin diverging away from the beliefs of those around us?

Psychosis and Asylum both revolve around people who question our constructed reality — and in both cases they find that this construction may not have been innocent. These stories are my odes to the paranoia and confusion I felt when I first grew into adulthood and realized the world of television and the world around me were very, very different.

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

MD: As many probably are, I am hugely influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. He blazed a trail and created an entire genre. I can only hope to approach any level of similar storytelling.

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

MD: Hah, yes, I adore Creepypasta, mainly because I was actually on the original Creepypasta forums while it became a much bigger thing than anyone ever expected. Psychosis itself spread out with the herd when the Creepypasta community split into numerous websites and forums. My favorite Creepypasta of all time is THE DAY OF ALL THE BLOOD; its humor is just absolutely so very perfect and far more intricate than most realize (for example, I love that the protagonist continues about his day while blood is apparently erupting everywhere, mirroring many creepypastas where terrible things happen and the protagonist just continues his daily life or even falls asleep so that the story may continue). In terms of horror-focused creepypastas, though, it would have to be The Russian Sleep Experiment. It reminded me very strongly of Beyond The Wall of Sleep, and I love the places those kinds of stories take the reader.

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

MD: I believe Creepypasta resonates well with the fandom because the community actually designed it that way. Without realizing it, the format we rapidly evolved on the original site was created to be short, sweet, and viral. In many ways, Creepypastas are the Vines or Tweets of horror. They grab you with a character or situation and hit you with a cool ending in a span of time suited for the internet era; it’s like fast forwarding a Twilight Zone to get to the twist at the end. Even though the Twilight Zone is awesome, we’ve all skipped to the end once or twice, because the much faster pace of our lives today and the way we consume content has made us all far savvier. We don’t need slow builds to establish a believable concept anymore. We want to believe.

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

MD: I think Psychosis takes an interesting niche among the range of Creepypastas. I haven’t kept up on the whole continuum of stories, but for a long time Psychosis was definitely the longest Creepypasta out there. I believe the idea at the core of it is too complex to explain in a shorter tale, while the setup is very similar to many of the reader’s demographic (college aged male) and common experiences we’re increasingly having with media / the internet. So Creepypasta readers got into it, signed up for the ride so to speak, and rode the inevitable tailspin into seeming madness like a rollercoaster. In that way — being a Creepypasta, but being so unlike most of them at the same time — I believe Psychosis slotted itself into a permanent role in the roster.

UKHS: And what do you think is the appeal of the Asylum series?

MD: The feedback I got from the Asylum series as I wrote it definitely helped direct it. Here the protagonist questions not only our social reality, but also the realities of individuals, including himself. When we undermine faith in the system as we are told it is, we undermine our own position and everything we know about ourselves.
Are we really who we think we are? Or are we just fulfilling the role others expect of us? It was questions like these that many commenters and messagers spoke of, and I was happy to dive into that with each new chapter. Body image issues, caffeine addiction, pressures to perform in school and work, relationship pressures, and more were all tackled through a lens of Reality vs Expectations.

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

MD: Certain chapters of the multiverse series I am currently writing rank among my favorites. I relive these intense chapters in my memories as if I watched them in a movie theater, and I’m just so glad I was able to get there and make those moments real in writing. I especially identify with the non-heroes in my stories; the men and women who aren’t important, aren’t heroic, and are just trying to understand their place in an uncaring universe.

UKHS: I read the full Asylum series by downloading the eBook from Amazon (http://amzn.to/294FQjc). What inspired you to collect the chapters and release them in this way? What challenges did it present?

MD: I’ve been working for quite some time on self-publishing and publishing other authors as a profession. I’ve been doing that and writing for about seven years now, and my own books (such as the Asylum) result from my learning process. At the time, Amazon’s system was pretty bad, and I actually had to edit HTML directly to make the formatting work. They’ve come a long way since then, but I’ll always remember coding my book like a program just to make it readable. It’s surreal, absurd, and a little hilarious.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about these stories. Are there any examples of fan art for either story that really impresses you?

MD: I actually did have a couple links saved, but my computer died recently and I lost them. Mostly what I immediately thought of were the numerous videos and narrations that fans have done for Psychosis. I always recommend Chilling Tales for Dark Nights’ rendition of Psychosis, narrated by Jeff Clement (https://www.chillingtalesfordarknights.com/2014/01/17/psychosis-matt-dymerski-narrated-jeff-clement-feat-c-lake-otis-jiry/) . It’s awesome.

psychosis1UKHS: You’re a prolific writer, regularly releasing stories to your sub-reddit (r/M59Gar) and over at r/nosleep. 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?

MD: I’m glad you mentioned that, because I really hope to get this point out to prospective authors: if you write what you love writing, it’s easy and fulfilling. I have taken my work in numerous crazy directions because I was seeking a flow I completely enjoyed; feedback and engagement from readers helps, but the stories come to me because I’m actually interested in the characters, the adventure, and the format doesn’t hold me back. Nothing has ever been so difficult as trying to write for someone else’s format when I don’t really know what I’m doing — that’s when you’ll get the ‘writer’s block’ feeling of frustration and blankness.

So if you’re having trouble creating a story, I recommend you try to figure out what it is you really want to be writing. The answer might surprise you.

UKHS: Will you ever return to the story of Asylum or Psychosis in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?

MD: Absolutely. We are always closer to the stories of Psychosis and the Asylum than we know, and Our Blind Spot is a current series touching upon that world. I will be spiraling toward the truth of that reality over several future series.

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

MD: Just the standard links are fine:

My blog (http://mattdymerski.com)
Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MattDymerskiAuthor/)
My subreddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/m59gar)
Matt Dymerski on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Dymerski/e/B00A82LSW4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473293594&sr=8-1)

UKHS: Thank you again!

It’s so refreshing to see such talented individuals still committed to their fans and the reddit community that made their name. In the hands of writers like Dymerski, authors prepared to challenge the perception of Creepypasta and continue to raise the bar with weightier, compelling themes, the genre is sure to grow and grow.

Come back next week for another fascinating example of web horror, one that revisits one of the most infamous and chilling stories I’ve covered here before.

A Life In Blood: Tales Of A Horror Queen – A Tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis

genrossibannerA Life In Blood: Tales Of A Horror Queen – A Tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis

A true legend of the horror genre has left us. I am saddened to hear of the passing of the “Godfather of Gore”, Herschell Gordon Lewis. I was assured that he left this world peacefully at the age of 87. This horror queen is honored to have acted in his upcoming final film, “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania”. Today we speak with the producer of his final film, James Saito. Saito isn’t simply a producer though; he is also the Vice President of Development/Production for Diabolique Films, the film division of Diabolique Magazine, a lifelong horror fan, and was a close friend of Lewis.

Interview with Producer James Saito

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5297304/?ref_=ttfc_fc_wr3

grhgl11. What was the first Herschell Gordon Lewis’ film you saw and how old were you?

My Uncle took me to a drive-in where I saw, “The Wizard of Gore”. I would have been ten years old, but the film opened my eyes to a new kind of horror – very bloody horror! It was an epiphany for me, and provided me with an affection for splatter which has stuck with me all these years later.

2. How did you come to meet and end up working with Lewis on “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania”?

I was volunteering as a guest booker and head of marketing and promotion for a horror convention, and I received an email wondering if we would be interested in having Herschell attend. I was stunned. I stood looking at my phone trying to digest what I was reading, my hand began shaking. I called and spoke to Herschell about arrangements, and we ended up chatting for quite some time. I told him of my lifelong love of his films (he could listen to that sort of thing all day)…

grhgl5He then proposed that we make a film together. We decided that we would produce a script he had written some years earlier entitled, “Mr. Bruce and the Gore Machine” A.K.A. “The Stainless Steel Butcher”. Things progressed, we had found investors but some interference from an outside source made these investors nervous. It was back to the drawing board. I thought I would let things settle for a few months, and approach it again.

One evening I was at a theatre for a Raven Banner one night screening of a film. They showed a short horror film before the feature, and it was not very good at all. “A guy has to be able to do better than that”, I remember thinking to myself – that was when the idea for an anthology film took hold.

3. How has knowing Lewis so closely affected your life? What wisdom has he given you?

Where does one start? From a business and marketing standpoint he was a wealth of knowledge. Herschell had a saying, “it’s called show BUSINESS, we are here to make money”. That may or may not be my own stance on the matter, but he is entirely correct.

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During production I was guilty of watching his every move, trying to burn the experience into my memory. The man was being accurate when he stated in interviews, “Two words that you will never hear on my set – Take two”. He knew the shots he wanted, and he was usually satisfied with one take. By today’s standards this means no extra coverage which is an editor’s nightmare. You are left with very linear storytelling, but I wasn’t overly concerned, fans expect this, and indeed treasure this about his work.

I am writing this a day after his passing, so I am heartbroken and probably still in shock somewhat. There are so many wonderful memories for me to take to the grave with me:

Listening to Herschell recite a selection from, “A Shropshire Lad” by English poet Alfred Edward Housman:

“When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.
And I am two-and-twenty
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true”.

So moved was he that he wept during his recitation.

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Herschell was a gentleman of the kind that this society rarely produces anymore. He was a kind and gentle soul. I always smiled when I was in his room late at night looking at dailies, before bed he would call his wife Margo and do that thing all of us guys do. At the end of the call he would lower his voice and say, “I love you” to her hoping that no one else would hear.

He told me about a time when he was around the age I am now. He was in a bad way, as men our age can be sometimes. He considered his film career over, there was no place to harness his creativity. He was working a job he didn’t particularly care for, and was admittedly at the lowest point in his life. Thoughts of suicide had even crossed his mind briefly, but he said he couldn’t do that to his children.

Then one day out of the blue a woman walked into the office where he worked and changed his life forever. He went on to marry this young woman Margo, and he said she was the best thing that ever happened to him. They shared everything together.

One day Herschell sat beside me, put his arm around me and said, “Jim, what I want most for you is to find a woman who can be your partner in life and in business just like Margo and I have”. He knew of a deep and abiding love that I had for a woman of our mutual acquaintance, and that we had recently gone our separate ways. He wanted so badly to play Cupid, but I kept telling him to leave it alone. Two days before his passing he was still inquiring about her and hoping for good news.

I recall a time that he asked me, “Do you know what made me want to work with you”? I told him I had no idea, but his reply was, “Because you have a command of the English language”. My response was, “Really, that’s all it took”?

Recording the opening theme to BloodMania which Herschell wrote entitled, “Gory Story” was an unbelievable thrill. I got to sing some backup vocals on the chorus. When we walked into the studio a band was waiting to record, we had lyrics and only an idea of the kind of arrangement we were looking for. 90 minutes later the song was in the can. The amazing part was watching Herschell sitting at a piano and basically writing the song on the spot.

grhgl2He was an exceptional piano player, and believed that a home wasn’t a home without a piano in it. He made me promise to buy one, even if I never learned to play. I will honor this promise when I move into the home where I will spend the rest of my days’

Sometimes a situation or scene would have to be reworked for any number of reasons. One day an entire scene had to be scrapped and a new one written. The two of us wrote four pages in half an hour. The creative flow that we shared that day is something I will always treasure.

The last time I saw him in person he was in a wheel chair at the airport because his knee was giving him grief. The last words he spoke to me were, “I love you Jim”. I told him I loved him too, bent down and kissed him on the forehead.

Herschell once said to me, “Occasionally a person comes into your life, and they are an “Architect of Destiny”. He went on to explain that some people have a direct impact on a person, shaping and altering the rest of their existence. He has certainly been such an architect with me.

There were still so many things left unsaid. I hope he knew how much gratitude I had for the privilege of spending so much time with him, the difference he made in my personal outlook on many levels, and that for too brief a time I was able to be that ten year old boy again watching one of my heroes in action.

4. What can you tell fans about Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania, the legend’s final film? Any idea when to look for it? Where can fans find updates?

Diabolique Films stance on this is that we were never in any rush to just get the film released ASAP. Behind the scenes there are a great many projects and planning that has been taking place. We are looking at becoming a horror film distributor ourselves. I think though that the decision about release has become moot with Mr. Lewis’ passing. I have been deluged by emails from interested parties all day, and we will make a formal announcement as soon as I sign the paperwork.

Updates on the film can be found at:

Official Website: www.bloodmania.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BloodManiaMovie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BloodMania

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3995464/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

grhgl45. Any experiences on set you’d like to share with readers?

A great many, but they are going to have to wait until the release of the Special Edition Blu-Ray for those. We are getting ready to shoot new interviews, commentaries, and put together some behind the scenes footage that will blow fans minds. I promise every fan of Herschell’s work that this will be one bonus feature packed disc for the ages!

6. Any final thoughts on Herschell Gordon Lewis and the legacy he leaves behind?

As Herschell always said, “the crystal ball is murky”, it would be hard for me to predict how he will be remembered in generations to come. He did invent the “Splatter Film”, and is “The Godfather of Gore” no one can ever take that away from him. For those who knew him he will be remembered for his sagacity and his humanity. The world needs many more men like Herschell Gordon Lewis, not one less.

I want to say it was a huge honor to be an actress in “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Bloodmania”. Thank you James for your time and words. May Lewis’ legacy and memory live on through us, the horror fans!

Also tune in next month for another chilling installment of A Life In Blood: Tales Of A Horror Queen and hear more about my life in horror!

Yours in screams, Genoveva Rossi
Check out my new website: www.genovevarossi.com [2]
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