Thursday 20 December 2012

Interview with John Dods By David Kempf

Interview with John Dods

By David Kempf

Horror and special effects artist John Dods has been described by CNN as “one of the world’s foremost masters of disguise.” Dods has worked on such great cult favorites as Don Dohler’s NIGHTBEAST, SPOOKIES and the unforgettable DEADLY SPAWN. He did the makeup work on the TV Horror hit Monsters and Broadway’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. John studied under Academy Award winning makeup artist Dick Smith (The Exorcist) and began a successful career in mainstream film.

Most recently, Dods was the prosthetics makeup designer for the Broadway production of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN by Mel Brooks.

As a lifelong fan of John’s articles in Cinemagic Magazine and his work in general, it was a real pleasure to interview him.

Tell us how you came involved in makeup and special effects.

When I was 10 years old, I produced and directed "The Wizard of Oz" in the back yard. It had makeup and special effects galore - such as they were. My Alice In Wonderland had been so well received the previous year, that I went for broke with Oz. There were 15 neighborhood children were in the cast - all in costume - and the famous characters - Cowardly Lion, etc were all present. The "Tin Man" was actually the Aluminum foil man, The Cowardly Lion was me in dyed long johns and a rubber lion mask, etc. The adult audience seemed to enjoy the sight of small children putting on a show. I thought then that I would grow up and direct shows on Broadway, and for years, each summer of my childhood I staged one or more shows or "Spook Houses" - usually in the basement.

My parents were very supportive and they always gave me a place to be creative. Later I realized that I was too introverted to be a Broadway
director and that I better enjoyed the more solitary life of a stop motion filmmaker. But I never stopped loving live theatre and it come back into my life later in a big way.

How many short films have you made?

I've made three short films and am now working on a forth. GROG (1970) was my first - a 5 minute comedy which introduced the Grog character who appears in all of my films. I had started to shoot GROG in 8mm Kodachrome, but was miserable with the poor image quality of 8mm. So I began to save for a 16mm Bolex camera. This took me a year - while I worked at Macy's department store. The new 16mm footage was exhilarating - the registration was rock steady,
and the sharpness and grain looked nearly as good as the 35mm prints I saw at my local movie theatre. My next film was FOREST STORY - which I worked on for years. Because I was learning, I shot on a very high ratio - about 6 to 1 - often rebuilding the models and sets in order to improve the footage and learn all the craft skills needed by a model maker and miniature set builder. I worked on FS for years but then left it sitting on a shelf while I had several careers in practical effects for film, TV, amusement parks, and theatre. FS sat for 30 years
I went back to it recently and finally finished it using new digital technology to do the post production. Now, I'm working on GROG RETURNS which will be animated with stop motion photographed with HD digital still cameras.

Tell us about your work with the late cult director Don Dohler.

In 1972 Don asked me to write for his new magazine Cinemagic. He had seen an article on my short film GROG in the Bolex Reporter Magazine and wanted to do a feature on it himself; that article appeared as the cover story of Cinemagic #2 in 1972. I wrote for Cinemagic for many years after that and Don and I became good friends. Every year, I would go down to Baltimore for the annual Balticon Convention to screen GROG and later the unfinished FOREST STORY and visit with Don. In 1979 He asked me to create the monster for his second film production NIGHTBEAST and that became my first paying job in filmmaking. Don made a long series of extraordinarily low budget features and got each one of them distributed. Although these were not "good" films by conventional standards, Don became an inspiration to Do It Yourself filmmakers by proving repeatedly that it was possible to make a film for a few thousand dollars and get it distributed. Today, Don Dohler is legendary among independent filmmakers. An impressive roster of the NIGHTBEAST crew members went on to very successful and prominent careers in film production- perhaps the best known of these is producer/director J.J. Abrams - who wrote music for NB. Although Don and I went in very different directions after NIGHTBEAST, I remember of all of my projects with Don as exciting adventures.

Please tell us what it was like to learn your craft under Dick Smith.

I was nearly 40 years old when I decided to take Dick Smith's Professional Makeup Course and finally fulfill an old ambition to learn how to do prosthetic makeup. I was already a somewhat competent sculptor and mold maker,
but had never learned the techniques and materials specific to "special effects makeup" - that's a term which was invented to describe the work of Dick Smith, whose astonishing creations for ALTERED STATES (1980) and THE EXORCIST (1973) had expanded all previous conceptions what a makeup artist might contribute to a film. It was a mail order course and the actual interaction with Dick was normally minimal, but Dick started recommending me to the producers of the MONSTERS television series ('88-'90) - on which he was the "Special Makeup Consultant" .One episode, "Holly's House" led to many others - 18 by the end of the shows 3 year run. There was so much work that It was like having an entire career in 3 years. I thought that it was the best job imaginable. They would
send me piles of scripts and let me pick which episodes that I wanted to work on. Each season of that show was like Christmas for me -I created prosthetic makeups, mechanicals and puppets, and even filmed a stop motion mutant rat for the "Stressed Environment" episode.Dick advised me on many of my episodes, and personally designed the monsters for 2 of them - "Holly's House" and "The Gift" (written by Dick's son David). We often spoke on the phone or met at his house in Larchmont, New York. Dick had no professional secrets
and shared his expertise freely with everyone who asked for help. His curiosity about finding new and better ways of doing things was boundless, inspirational, and exciting to be around. He would talk with as much enthusiasm about Danny Kaye movies or the physicist Richard Feynman as he would about silicone prosthetics or new ways of coloring foam rubber. Working with Dick Smith
made me a better makeup artist and, I think, also a better person.

Do you enjoy mentoring other special effects artists?

I've been influenced by Dick Smith to freely share my knowledge with others. A lot of people in the film business have told me that my instructional articles for Cinemagic, Fangoria, Starlog and other magazines over the past 30 years have inspired or helped them in some way. That's wonderful to hear. I'm not sure that anything I do rises to the level of "mentoring" but I try to help anyone who asks for it.

How many plays have you worked on?

About 6 shows - all musicals… A few of those were such big successes that they kept me occupied for many years, designing and fabricating prosthetics. Right after "Monsters", I was asked to work on Disney's first Broadway show "Beauty and the Beast" in 1990. That came out of the blue because I had not been trying to get into New York theatre. I loved it and B&B was a gigantic worldwide hit and my involvement - making masks and prosthetics for eight characters - became an 18 year long occupation. We made over 50,000 prosthetic pieces for companies all over the world. "Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein: The Musical" followed B&B directly and also ran for years - I am the "Prosthetics Designer", and "The Toxic Avenger Musical" (Prosthetics and Special Effects Design by John Dods) must still be running somewhere - although I'm no longer involved. "A Christmas Carol" returned every Christmas at Madison Square Garden for nearly 10 years. I did the head casts for "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway for many years (Chris Tucker in England created the prosthetic pieces). My work in theatre has completely satisfied my childhood yearning to work on Broadway shows and I continue to work in theatre occasionally.

Are there significant differences between working on your own films and working for other filmmakers?

They're very different. When I'm hired, then my only job is to help the client to create whatever it is that he want s to see; my creative input may as a designer or it may be only as a fabricator - and there is always a deadline. I'm happy to create someone else's design if that's what the job calls for - it's not always
creatively juicy but I get plenty of creative fulfillment from many personal projects. Today, I'm mostly working on my own projects. I only have to please myself so I can do whatever I want without deadlines.

Tell us about your daily (or nightly) working routine.

Although I try hard to avoid work entirely, my inner demons keep driving me to be productive. I spend much of the day at the computer, editing movie footage, or trying to upgrade my graphics art skills, or checking to see how many of my Facebook friends have "liked" the photo I posted. I have several elaborate stop motion models under construction for my film project GROG RETURNS so I try to move that project forward - I just made several silicone molds of cores and teeth for two new Grog models. I also have a beautiful house, three cats, and one partner - all needing frequent attention.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as an artist so far?

I still love much of my work on THE DEADLY SPAWN. "Beauty and the Beast" features some of my best sculpture work - especially on the "enchanted" characters - Cogsworth, Lumiere, Wardrobe, Chip, etc. My prosthetics and hair work for the1,000 year old gnome for the "Household Gods" episode of the "Monsters" TV series looks good to me. The "Ice-Age" miniature set which I supervised for the "Back To the Future Ride" (I had a crew of 6 talented sculptors) turned out very well. FOREST STORY is the only thing I've done that made me use everything that I know how to do - writing, directing, editing,
and all of the crafts skills you need to do a stop motion film by yourself. Filmmaking is my passion, so it's gratifying that at age 65 I have come full circle to resume the work that I began as a teenager and always saw as unfinished business.

How do you come up with the original monsters you create? The Deadly Spawn certainly comes to mind.

I use no reference material when I design an original monster - when I'm actually designing the shape and form of an original character. I'll study nature for texture and detail but not for shape and form - that has to out of my head. It's too easy for me to give in to the temptation to copy the great work of other artists if I have pictures of their work thumb tacked to my studio walls. The Deadly Spawn designs were a conscious effort to avoid the "man in the rubber suit" look which
had dominated the horror genre since the early 50's. Even a masterwork like the Creature From the Black Lagoon looks like a man in a suit and I was tired of seeing that. On the other hand, something real - like a realistic dinosaur -
is different in that anatomy has to be researched and reference materials used.

Since you do so much prosthetics work and build mechanical creatures, do you miss the old style effects prior to CGI? Ray Harryhausen's stop motion animation comes to mind. As does the beautiful matte painting work of Albert Whitlock he did in many movies. I know you are very familiar with the painful and patient joys of stop motion animation.

I love Harryhausen and I continue to watch his films - as well as KING KONG ('33), and all the classic practical effects films. All of that great work is looking better than ever on Blu-ray. Today, practical effects have been largely replaced by computer graphics technology - which is increasingly spectacular. THE HOBBIT looks astounding. This change is permanent. We're not going back to the way things used to be done. I think that practical effects should marry the computer and live happily ever after. I'm creating practical effects all the time for my animation project, so I live in that world of "old school" physical reality every day. But the computer has become my most valuable helper and tool.

Name some of your favorite horror books.

I don't enjoy horror fiction nearly so much as the more optimistic visions of Science Fiction stories - Heinlein, etc. Poe, Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard are the horror authors whom I frequently reread. Howard's "Pigeons From Hell" is a long time favorite. Poe and Lovecraft wrote with so much craft, style, and dark beauty that I find their work hypnotic. Poe and Lovecraft especially seem to me better than most other writers by far.

Name some of your favorite horror films.

How much time do you have! Hmmm…The visual German expressionism of the 20's, the Universal Horrors of the 30's – especially BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE BLACK CAT, Val Lewton in the 40's, the great parade of giant monsters in the 50's, the colorful Corman/Poe and Hammer Horror series of the 60's, the 70's great trio of horror films for me is SUSPERIA, EXORCIST, and ALIEN.
I'm still catching up on the last 3 decades but DAGON, NIGHTBREED, 28 DAYS LATER, and the WALKING DEAD TV series come to mind.

Why do you think older low budget horror films remain popular?

The more entertaining works of 80's Do It Yourself filmmakers have found a new life and a new audience. DIY 80's horror films have now become a recognized genre - their grainy 16mm look is now forgiven, the obvious gusto and enthusiasm of the filmmakers is enjoyed, and the merits of the best of these movies is finally being appreciated. THE DEADLY SPAWN was widely panned when it opened in theaters in 1982, but today it is one of the best reviewed films currently out on DVD. Don Dohler's work today has a loyal fan base and Ed Wood's films are more popular than ever. The budget seems irrelevant if the film is entertaining.

What are your latest projects?

THE RETURN OF GROG is a short film project, and my graphics art project is a Grog "children's" book.

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

I am a filmmaker, writer, and practical special effects non-specialist - that is, I've worked in many different areas of practical effects - prosthetics, cable control, puppetry, stop-motion, and miniature set construction - but never specialized in any one of them for very long. In 40 years I’ve only had one bad job in the business - I had to make synthetic sliced cheese for a Kraft commercial. I'm partly color blind and it was a nightmare because when you unwrap cheese it quickly changes color. They kept telling me that I'd got the color wrong. I had to turn that job over to someone else!

Apart from that one, I've had a lot of dream jobs and have finally reached my goal of working less hard than I used to and of putting work and life into a sane balance.


Friday 14 December 2012

The Vampire Diaries 4x10 Promo "After School Special"

The originals are back and they are thirsty! Now the war begins in the epic return of The Vampire Diaries, Thursday January 17th on CW.

Thursday 13 December 2012

American Horror Story 2x10 Promo "The Name Game

While Arden concludes his experiments, Howard meets Mary Eunice's inner self and Kit has an unexpected reunion. American Horror Story Asylum returns January 2nd on FX.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

A Haunted House

Director: Michael Tiddes

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Nick Swardson and Alanna Ubach

Malcolm and Kisha move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm - determined to keep his sex life on track - turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Interview with horror author S.P. Miskowski

S.P. Miskowski is a talented horror author from Laguna Beach, California. She is a Shirely Jackson Award nominated writer who is currently enjoying great critical success with her novel "Knock Knock." It was kind of her to take time out of her busy writing schedule to be interviewed by Masters of Horror U.K.

 Tell us how you came to write your first novel.

While visiting my husband's grandmother in the winter in rural southwest Washington, I had a bout of insomnia. I looked out the windows at the black night and the nearby woods, and imagined how it would be to live there all the time. The characters came to mind and I started writing. Four years later, I had a 300-page book that I had revised and restructured until it seemed pretty interesting.

How many novels have you written?

Knock Knock is my first novel. I'm writing three novellas set in the same place, with shared characters. Omnium Gatherum published the first one, Delphine Dodd, in September.

How many short stories have you written?

Oh boy. Dozens. Some have been published in small press magazines, anthologies, zines, chapbooks and newspapers. Most have never seen the light of day.

How did you get your start in writing?

My first stories (at age eight) were gory as hell, psychologically twisted, and inspired by the purple prose of Edgar Allan Poe. I had some poetry published in school magazines when I was a kid. Professionally, my first sale was a poem in Pulpsmith -- for $10. I think I was 21 years old.

I started my so-called career by writing stories and submitting them to magazines. I took creative writing classes, joined workshops, survived brutal critiques and hammered out a process that I like. I've studied a lot, and read a lot, and I've edited or mentored many writers. The only approach to writing is immersion. Read and write all the time. Read classics, and study prose style. Show your work to writers, teachers, and editors. Learn to separate useful criticism from posturing and yammering. Write until your true voice breaks through.

Do you prefer writing novels or plays?

I don't write plays any more. My husband and I left the city where those projects could happen with my fellow artists. I completed two projects that were underway when we left, and they were produced. One of them is now being shot as a Web video, so I'm adapting the script. When I wrote plays I liked the challenge of turning ideas into action on stage, but I never felt the joy I experience while writing stories. I'm completely happy working on a short story. Writing a novel was difficult but also more interesting than anything I've tried. I loved constructing that peculiar, almost real, slightly mad world in Knock Knock.

Why the interest in horror?

Horror never struck me as a separate genre from the mainstream, just an extension of it. Before I read Stephen King I read novels by Patrick McGrath. People labeled McGrath's books psychological horror or New Gothic but they're mainstream literary works and no one questions that.

Horror is natural and primal. Some readers think of it as an embellishment or a distraction, but I don't. I think horror is an appropriate adult response to the facts of human history. I never understand why some readers and critics have a hard time accepting horror fiction in general, unless it's too painful for them to face the truth. Horror is often the most honest kind of fiction, grappling with our worst actions and emotions with no guarantee of a reassuring conclusion.

Are there differences between how a male and female writer might view the horror genre?

Not necessarily, but in the case of Knock Knock the book is unusual, in part, because it is populated with strong women. The friendships in the book seem natural to me. People have commented on the presence of so many complex female characters in a horror novel, and all I can say is that I grew up surrounded by smart, powerful women. Their concerns are interesting to me.

Tell us about your daily (or nightly) writing routine.

I write early in the day. One cup of coffee or tea and I write, trying to keep online distractions brief. On some days, I'm successful.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as an author so far?

Working with Kate Jonez at Omnium Gatherum. I'm very happy.

What was your reaction when your book Knock Knock was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award?

I laughed. I shed a tear. I hugged my cats, and thanked the universe that my book spoke to people and did not completely suck. (I'm a harsh critic of my own work. Maybe that comes from all those workshop and classroom critiques. I see the worst side first.)

Name some of your favorite horror films.

Ringu, Ju-on, Vertigo, Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Quiet Family, The Shining, Jaws, Halloween, Alien…

Name some of your favorite horror books.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan, Spider by Patrick McGrath, Come Closer by Sara Gran, The Croning by Laird Barron, the story collections of Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Edogawa Rampo, Stephen King, Daphne Du Maurier...

What are your latest projects?

There are two more novellas to go in the Knock Knock series: Astoria, and In the Light. Then I'm working on another novel, and after that a stand-alone novella about a murderous family.

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

I am the product of a blue-collar family from Decatur, Georgia and I have been a writer all of my life. I've also had a pretty amazing range of jobs. Many of my stories center around themes of exclusion, desire and envy. Many are based on my experiences in the gap between haves and have-nots. I characterize myself as a hick with a Master's Degree, and I always remember where I come from.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Boogeyman's Bedtime Stories Teaser

Boogeyman's Bedtime Stories is a collection of thrilling tales that bring nightmares to life. Hosted by "The Boogeyman."

Thursday 15 November 2012

American Horror Story 2x06 Promo "The Origins of Monstrosity"


A western businessman, his Thai wife and son experience a horrible accident while visiting Bangkok. In the aftermath, they find there is a shadow world between life and death where endless darkness lies.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

The Vampire Diaries "Starve a Vampire, Give Blood" Red Cross PSA

The cast of The Vampire Diaries (Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, and Paul Wesley) suggests that you "starve a vampire" make a difference and give blood to the Red Cross.

Monday 5 November 2012

Interview with Jonathan Maberry

It is my great pleasure to interview NY Times Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. He is a true inspiration for those of us who write fiction in my native Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Jonathan is a multiple Stoker Awards Winner and his Joe Ledger action/horror series of books has been optioned to be made into a television series. It was very generous of him to take the time out of his busy schedule to talk to Masters Of Horror U.K.

David Kempf


MASTERS OF HORROR: What inspired you to write for the comic book industry?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid. When I started writing novels in 2005 I kept asking my agent about the best way to pitch some comics. Before we even had a chance to take a swing at that I got a call totally out of the blue from Axel Alonso, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.  He’d read one of my novels, PATIENT ZERO, and liked the style, action and dialogue. He asked if ‘might be interested’ in writing for Marvel. Silly question. Of COURSE I wanted to write for Marvel.  And, yes, I still read comics.  Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Image and DC.  My weekly pull-list is pretty hefty.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Was it hard to write your first novel?

JONATHAN MABERRY: When I decided to try writing a novel I had no idea how to go about it. I’d been writing magazine feature pieces for about twenty five years, as well as nonfiction books –textbooks and mass market. And I’d never taken a creative writing program, so I didn’t have any formal education in how to write fiction. So I taught myself. I selected a couple of books in the same genre as the one I planned to write, and re-read them several times to study how they were written. I looked at where the act-breaks were, how the authors built tension, the balance of exposition presented in narrative or dialogue, and so on.  I learned about what to look for from reading articles in writers’ magazines, but the rest was self-taught. It took a year and a half and fifteen revisions to write GHOST ROAD BLUES. I wasn’t sure if it was good enough to suit the market, but it got me an agent, and she landed a book deal for that and two sequels, and then the book won the Bram Stoker Award for BEST FIRST NOVEL. So….that was rather validating.  Tomorrow I start writing my fifteenth novel since 2005.

MASTERS OF HORROR: How did you come up with the name Joe Ledger?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I went through a lot of names while trying to come up with one that suited the character of Joe Ledger, and some of them were quite  silly. One –John Book—turned out to be the name of Harrison Ford’s character from the movie WITNESS.  I wanted a simple one-syllable first name and a last name of one or two syllables.  Partly to make it easy for readers for remember, and partly because I had a feeling that book would lead to sequels and I didn’t want to type anything too complicated. So, over a pasta dinner with my wife, Sara and our son, Sam, we batted at least a hundred names around. The name Joe Ledger emerged and once I said it aloud I knew that it was absolutely right.

MASTERS OF HORROR: The Ledger novels mix horror, comedy, action and thriller into one stew. Is that difficult for you or does it come natural?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a smartass, so the snarky humor is easy for me. I’m also a lifelong practitioner of martial arts (Jujutsu and Kenjutsu) as well as a former bodyguard –so the combat elements draw on plenty of personal experience. The horror comes from my love of the horror genre and the fact that I’ve written six books on the folklore of the supernatural. The science in the series is a side-effect of being a research junkie (in college I studied journalism rather than creative writing). And I read mostly thrillers and mysteries. Put all that into a blender and you have the right mix. Writing the Joe Ledger books is as easy as breathing for me.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Please tell us how your meeting with Ray Bradbury changed your life.

JONATHAN MABERRY: When I went to middle school (grades 7-9 in the Philadelphia school system), the librarian at my school was also the secretary for several clubs of professional writers. Because of my interest in books and writing, she got permission from my parents to bring me along to some of the meetings. As a result I got to meet Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Arthur C. Clarke, L. Sprague de Camp, Isaac Asimov and many others.  Of those authors, Bradbury and Matheson spent the most time talking to me, sharing insights and information about the writing life, answering my endless questions, and generally being decent and generous to a teenage writer wannabe.  That year, each of them gave me a first-edition signed book for Christmas. Matheson gave me a copy of the original 1954 edition of I AM LEGEND; and Bradbury gave me a copy of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.  And…every Halloween I buy a new hardcover of Bradbury’s book, read it, and then donate it to a local library.

MASTERS OF HORROR: How did you feel when Peter Straub endorsed Patient Zero?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Peter Straub has always been one of my favorite writers. Two of his books in particular were massive influences on me as a developing writer: SHADOWLAND and GHOST STORY. The latter was one of the novels I deconstructed when teaching myself how to write fiction.  When he endorsed PATIENT ZERO I was floored. Not sure I ever had a cover quote that mattered more to me.  What’s even more wonderful is I’ve now become friends with Peter and his wife.  That’s a side-effect of publishing I hadn’t anticipated.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Was it difficult to make the transition from comic books to novels?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I went from novels to comics.  I was tapped to write comics after my fourth novel, PATIENT ZERO, was released. It was a bit of a jolt, though, because I don’t write short novels, and comics are all about brevity. The writer may write the story, but if he overwrites it then the writing gets in the way of the visuals –and comics are driven by visuals. I had to learn how to dial down the dialogue, streamline the subplots, and also trust that the artist would be able to convey many of the story points through the right illustrations.  Unlike novels, comics are a collaborative process. It may start with the script, but everyone –artist, inker, letterer, colorist and editor—has a say.

MASTERS OF HORROR: What is your philosophy in terms of character development?

JONATHAN MABERRY: All good stories start and end with characters.  And, no matter how fantastic the story, the characters must be real. They need to have authentic emotions, they need to speak the way actual people speak, and everything they do must maintain the integrity of each character. It’s all about the people.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Why the obsession with zombies?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Funny thing is that I’m kind of known as ‘the zombie guy’ these days, but just a couple of years ago I was ‘the vampire guy’.  I have a love of all things weird and strange. Always have. However I think much of my success within the zombie genre comes from flexibility as a writer. I don’t write the same story over and over again; and I don’t try to imitate other writers. With every zombie-themed project, be in a comic, a short story, a novel or script—I want to bring something fresh to the table.

My interest, though, started at age ten. I snuck into a movie theater for the world premiere of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.  I was floored by the movie, and stayed to see it again. And I saw it many times since then.  The idea of a mindless and numberless horde of flesh eating creatures who were your friends and family only minutes ago…well, that’s damn scary. And, since the genre is built on a foundation of metaphor and allegory, there’s no real end to the kinds of stories you can tell about zombies.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Do you see your writing as more political or philosophical?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I consider my writing to have a psychological underpinning, though that varies depending on the books. The Joe Ledger thrillers make some political statements, but they’re not intended as American flag-waving. There’s no political proselytizing and those books are not at all of the ‘my country right or wrong’ viewpoint. I abhor that kind of blinkered thinking. Those books are about right and wrong –and all those gray areas between those poles. They’re about real people caught in exceptional circumstances. The politics are far less important to me that the exploration of character motives, and the dynamics of what happens to people during dreadful circumstances.

The ROT & RUIN series is far more overtly philosophical as they’re concerned with the questions of ‘what does it mean to be human?’ and ‘what is the value of human life?’

MASTERS OF HORROR: You're considered a literary hero in Bucks County. You've achieved great success by making writing your full time occupation and winning multiple Stoker awards. Why do you think Bucks County is full of so many aspiring writers?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I genuinely think there’s something in the water here in Bucks County. We have a bizarre proportion of creative people here. Everyone I know is either a writer, an artist, a dancer, or something creative. That said, not everybody makes a living at it and I’ve been very fortunate to have become successful. Because I know full well that I owe a great debt to good-hearted folks like Ray Bradbury and others who provided advice and guidance, I feel it’s important to try and help as many other writers as I can. I co-founded a group called The Liars Club, which a networking coalition of local writers. We do workshops, classes, fundraisers and other things to help writers, readers, libraries and schools. And I founded The Writers Coffeehouse –which we’re now expanding to multiple venues.  That’s a free, three-hour networking session held once per month at a local bookstore, and it’s open to anyone, from absolute beginner to working pro.  We average eighty or ninety people per session, and we started a free Yahoo Group that has hundreds of people on it. My belief is that writers should help other writers.

MASTERS OF HORROR: Do you think that it is better to outline an entire novel for the sake of plot? Stephen King suggest that characters should work out their own problems (without outlining) almost on their own in his book "On Writing." What do you think of that approach?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I love outlines and I write one for each new book…and then I veer away from during the actual writing. The outline lets me know the logic of the story, but storytelling is organic and sometimes a story wants to grow in a different direction than you planned.  Besides, you can’t expect to have all of your best ideas on the day you sit down to write the outline.  I teach outlining to my writing students because it helps them coalesce the random story elements into a pattern than makes sense. However I urge them to allow for that randomness that does happen.

MASTERS OF HORROR: What do you find the most rewarding about teaching writing classes on novel and short story writing?

JONATHAN MABERRY: There are a lot of rewards to teaching writing, not the least of which is having a student make a sale. In my classes I teach both the art of writing and the business of publishing, because you have to know both to get anywhere. One of my students, Tiffany Schmidt, had her first novel, SEND ME A SIGN, released by Walker. One of my teen students, Rachel Tafoya, just landed a three-book deal. When I hear about stuff like that…it makes me want to shout with joy.

MASTERS OF HORROR: This is a Masters of Horror U.K. tradition for a final question. Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

JONATHAN MABERRY: Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and Marvel Comics writer. He gets to play inside his imagination all day long…and gets paid for it. If there is a better job in the world, he’s never heard of it.

Jonathan Maberry

NY Times Bestseller and Multiple Bram Stoker Award winner

FLESH & BONE - Simon & Schuster
ASSASSIN'S CODE -  St Martin's Griffin
DEAD OF NIGHT - St Martins Griffin
PROUD Member of The Liars Club

666 Park Ave 1x07 Promo "Downward Spiral"

The Walking Dead 3x05 Promos

Dexter 7x07 Promo "Chemistry"

Behind the Scenes The Walking Dead 3x04 "Killer Within"

Friday 26 October 2012

"Vampire Diaries" Cast Teases Love Story

Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev drop hints about the steamy scenes they've shot for the new season. Get the deets!

The Vampire Diaries 4x04 Promo "The Five"

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Evil Dead

In the much anticipated remake of the 1981 cult-hit horror film, five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.

Redband Trailer: C18

Steven Yeun Talks "Walking Dead" Season 3

The actor spills on upcoming plot twists and character development. Plus, hear what he's up to when he's not on set!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

The Vampire Diaries 4x02 Sneak Peek "Memorial"

"American Horror Story" Stars Talk New Season

James Cromwell and Zachary Quinto describe their scary roles and the show's terrifying set. Plus, get deets on Adam Levine's guest appearance.

Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and more appreciate their fellow costars' work as much as they fear the show's new antagonist, Bloody Face. Hear why.

Friday 12 October 2012

"Walking Dead" Star Talks Season 3

Lauren Cohan dishes on the prison break-in featured in the season three premiere of "The Walking Dead." Plus, hear some funny tidbits about all of those zombie extras!

"Walking Dead" Season 3 Spoilers

"Vampire Diaries" Cast Spills on Season 4

Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev dish on the new season! Plus, why does Paul compare Ian to President Obama? Find out!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

The Walking Dead 3x01 Sneak Peek "Seed"

Sneak peek clip of The Walking Dead season 3 premiere "Seed" airing October 14th on AMC!

Sunday 30 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 "Thrilling, Amazing, Incredible" Promo

Critics are calling The Walking Dead Season 3 thrilling, amazing, incredible. The Walking Dead Season 3 premieres on AMC October 14th.

Dexter Season 7 Promo: "The Secret's Out"

Will Dexter have to kill Deborah in order to protect his secret? Dexter Season 7 premieres tomorrow on Showtime!

The Walking Dead Season 3 "Critics" Promo

Friday 28 September 2012

Friday 21 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Michonne Teaser

A short foreign teaser of katana wielding Michonne, one of the most badass characters in The Walking Dead comics. Are you excited for her arrival in the TV series?

Thursday 20 September 2012

The Walking Dead "Switch from Dish" Promo

Dish subscribers cannot watch the new season of the biggest series on cable. There's only a few weeks to switch from Dish before The Walking Dead Season 3 premiere on October 14th.

Monday 17 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Cast Interviews (Inside The Walking Dead)

The Walking Dead season 3 cast members give some exciting hints about the 3rd season, premiering October 14th on AMC.

Friday 14 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 "Fight the Dead" Promo

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Director: John Luessenhop

Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde and Scott Eastwood

A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-yielding killer is part of the reward.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Interview: David Kempf - "Tell Me More about Earth"

Interview conducted by "Jon Donnis" = JD with "David Kempf" = DK

JD You have written over fifty short stories, many of which deal with themes of horror fiction. You have two horror books published. Why did you want to write a children’s book?

DK I had a blast writing “Dark Fiction” and “The Petsorcist.” Still, I always liked the idea of challenging myself to try something new like writing for kids. 

JD It’s the hardest genre to get published, isn’t it, David?

DK Well, I suppose it is, Jon. Typically one must be a famous movie star or athlete or public figure to get the serious attention for a successful illustrated children’s book to be published. 

JD What was your plan?

DK I knew I needed to bring something special to be table. A new children’s writer must be remarkably unique.  I knew I had an original idea. Space aliens learning about our planet in their spaceship classroom. “Tell Me More about Earth” is educational and entertaining at the same time. 

JD You also need a damn good illustrator. 

DK Publishers want you to send the story without illustrations. The problem is that once again, if you are not a celebrity, you are unlikely to get published. 

JD Who was your illustrator for “Tell Me More about Earth?”

DK His name is Ryan Mervine and he is a genius as far as I’m concerned. A true artist like him comes up with ideas in illustration I would never have thought of. He took my two main characters of Orbit and Midrash and made them real. I thought they were nice kids who just happened to be from another planet. He knew my vision for the book. 

JD Sounds like you guys like a lot of the same things like science fiction and fantasy, etc.

DK Both of us enjoy Batman movies and Christopher Nolan’s work in general. There is also an interest in science fiction, horror, etc. I enjoy comic books but not to the extent that he does but he was an art major at Temple. 

JD Was this Ryan’s first book?

DK Yes and this sadly means some lost weekends for book signings for the young man. The price of being published is going out to bookstores and meeting the readers. 

JD You enjoy the process from writing to editing to publication to book signings. 

DK I do. 

JD What was the most satisfying part of writing your first illustrated children’s book?

DK I’m at a certain age. I suppose it’s nice to finally write a book my three year old son Andrew can read. My nieces and nephews can now check out my work before turning 18. I want to encourage them to read fantasy so they might become fans at an older age. 

JD You are a lifelong fan of fantasy and homages as well. 
DK There is much homage in my work. Too much to name but I’m sure you get the reference to Donnis University in “Dark Fiction” and “The Petsorcist.” Andy the robot is obviously named after my son. 

JD I do get that one about the university. The reference to your son is easy to understand as well.  What makes a successful illustrated children’s book?

DK A great story with good humor and brilliant illustrations for starters should make for a good book. 

JD I see. Is that what your book is?

DK That is for readers to decide. A good children’s book should work on two different levels. Humor that both the parents and kids can understand is preferable.

JD Children’s books do intend to be more commercial. What drove you to write a more commercial book?

DK I am a storyteller who loves horror and thrillers and I simply wanted to tell a story. I don’t want to limit myself to writing novels that are more artistic than commercial to the public. 

JD Why did you choose to have this book published in both print and e-book form?

DK Well, Jon, it was to promote science fiction/fantasy to a mass audience. That is why I chose Amazon as my publisher. It reaches a broad audience.

JD Will you write another children’s book after this?

DK That is very likely sometime in the future. It doesn’t just depend on how well this one does. I enjoy doing it and that is why I write. 

JD How old were you when you discovered a love of fantasy (which of course lead to your love of horror and science fiction)?

DK Probably very young, I would imagine. My three year old son already likes Star Wars. His favorite Sesame Street character is The Count so some seeds of admiration for dark fiction might already be there. I enjoyed comic books, the early Star Wars movies, Chiller Theater and like my son, The Count was my favorite Sesame Street character. I particularly loved the Godzilla movies and the Ultraman TV show when I was very young. 

JD What does this all have to do with my Masters of Horror website?

DK I think the seeds of dark fiction and fantasy are planted into the mind when we are children. The shows and comics I liked were not as intense as reading Peter Straub or Jonathan Maberry but they still had an impact on the subconscious. I would like to see the next generation develop a love of reading fantasy and just reading in general. The book that Ryan and I created is both science fiction and scientifically factual. It’s an educational book with great fantasy characters giving the lesson. Little space aliens learn about what a great planet we have here. I hope little earthlings can realize that as well. 

You can buy this new Childrens book at the link below

Tuesday 11 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Italian Promo

Italian promo for The Walking Dead Season 3.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Prison Set Tour with Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman gives you an inside look at the new prison set. "The Walking Dead Season 3 is just going to blow seasons 1 and 2 out of the water, it's gonna be crazy" he says!

Grave Encounters 2

For people who don't believe the events of "Grave Encounters," film student Alex Wright, who is obsessed with the movie, sets out to prove them wrong. While he and his friends research the events and visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film, they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil, banking on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Teaser: Suspense

The Walking Dead is the most suspenseful show on any TV network according to Boston Herald. Season 3 premieres October 14th on AMC.

Sunday 9 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Teaser: I Didn't Ask For This

Rick Grimes takes control. "I'm keeping this group together, alive. I didn't ask for this!" The Walking Dead Season 3 premieres October 14th on AMC. 

The Walking Dead Season 3 Teaser: Infected

Rick reveals what Jenner whispered to him - everyone is infected. The Walking Dead Season 3 premieres October 14th on AMC.

Thursday 6 September 2012

The Walking Dead Season 3 Key Art‏

AMC released today the key art for The Walking Dead Season 3, debuting Sunday, October 14 at 9pm ET/PT. (Photo credit: Frank Ockenfels 3).  In an uncertain world, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors must not only fight the dead, but also face a whole new fear: the living.  

With a 16 episode third season, "The Walking Dead" will air in two-parts with the first eight hours kicking off October 14 and returning February 2013 with the final eight episodes.  Internationally, “The Walking Dead’ will return to audiences in 120+ FOX International Channels (FIC) markets the week of October 15, as part of FIC continued commitment to broadcast the series near date-and-date globally.

Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, “The Walking Dead” stars Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, IronE Singleton, Melissa McBride, David Morrissey and Danai Gurira. The series is executive produced by Glen Mazzara, Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert. 

Friday 31 August 2012

American Horror Story: Asylum Promos

American Horror Story: Asylum (American Horror Story Season 2) Promo #1 - Meet the Cast. Adam Levine, Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, Chloe Sevigny, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell, and Jessica Lange!

Thursday 30 August 2012

Outpost II: Black Sun - 4 Exclusive Wallpapers

The year is 1945, the closing stages of WW2, and a German scientist by the name of Klausener is working on a frightening new technology that has the power to create an immortal Nazi army. Flash forward to present day, and a NATO task force is hurriedly deployed to Eastern Europe, where a sinister enemy appears to be mercilessly killing everything in its path. But this is no ordinary foe. Only Helena, a gutsy investigator on the trail of the notorious war-criminal Klausener, accepts the reality of that they are facing a battalion of Nazi Storm-Troopers, a veritable zombie army on the march. With the help of Wallace, a man who's been chasing Nazi secrets for years, the two of them team up with a Special Forces Unit to venture deep behind enemy lines. Their mission to fight their way back to the source of this evil army and prevent the seemingly inevitable rise of the 4th Reich.