Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Interview with Mark McLaughlin by David Kempf

Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in more than 1,000 magazines, newspapers, websites, and anthologies, including DARK FUSIONS: Where Monsters Lurk!, GALAXY, LIVING DEAD 2, WRITER'S DIGEST, CEMETERY DANCE, MIDNIGHT PREMIERE, DARK ARTS, and two volumes of YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES (DAW Books).

His latest trade paperback releases are the story collections, HIDEOUS FACES, BEAUTIFUL SKULLS and BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM. He has also written a two-author paperback collection with Michael McCarty, DRACULA TRANSFORMED & Other Bloodthirsty Tales. Other books by Mark include the story collection BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE and the collaborative horror novel, MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL (with Michael McCarty). Mark is the coauthor, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of THE GOSSAMER EYE, a poetry collection which won the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry.

When did you first become interested in writing?

When I was little, my mom would drop me off at a library while she went shopping. I didn’t have time for reading novels, so I would read short stories. I eventually found myself gravitating toward horror stories. Fortunately, the library in question had a lot of old Arkham House books and August Derleth anthologies. As I read those stories, it dawned on me, “I could do this. I could write stories about monsters.” The vast majority of my stories have monsters in them. I started writing horror stories in my teen years, and my first ones were published while I was still a teenager.

How did you become interested in H.P. Lovecraft?

That library I mentioned stocked some Lovecraft collections, and I fell in love with his works after I read his stories, “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Outsider.” I read everything Lovecraftian I could get my hands on, and eventually I started buying books through the mail directly from Arkham House.

Since those days, I have written many Lovecraftian works, including BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM; THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE RELIC IN THE EGYPTIAN GALLERY (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); SHOGGOTH APOCALYPSE (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE BLASPHEMY IN THE CANOPIC JAR (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE HORROR IN THE WATER TOWER (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); and THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.).

Not everything I write is Lovecraftian, but I do enjoy romping in that particular field of terrors and tentacles.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

Eventually I discovered horror, fantasy and science-fiction magazines and started writing stories for them. Over the years I’ve written hundreds of stories, articles and poems for those publications, and developed some wonderful friendships with many great editors. The late Karl Edward Wagner reprinted a couple of my stories in his iconic YEAR’S BEST HORROR anthology series, and I always enjoyed talking with him.

Do you think horror and comedy can really go together?

Certainly. It’s good to be able to laugh at life’s nasty shadows. Show those shadows who’s boss! People weren’t meant to cower in fear. If you can laugh at a fear … well, it’s no longer a fear then, is it? In the past, I’ve written a lot of comedic horror stories, but in recent years, I’ve been moving away from the humorous aspect – especially in my Lovecraftian stories. In those stories, I’ve been concentrating more on the otherworldly science aspect.

Is horror a full-time job?

It’s more than that: it’s a full-time life. My mind is always percolating, thinking about the next story I’m going to write, and the next, and the next…. The craft of writing is certainly a full-time job for me, since I also write in my ‘day’ career in marketing and advertising.

How would you classify the genre you write?

I don’t write in just any one genre. I write horror, Lovecraftian stories, humorous stories, science-fiction, fantasy … and over the years, I’ve also written tons of nonfiction, including articles about green building, women’s health, community businesses, interviews, horror movies, you name it!

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

People need fantasies to distract them from the world and its troubles – often, the more elaborate the fantasies, the better. The escapism of reading is a delightful little mini-vacation for the mind.

Why do you think people are so fascinated by the Devil?

It’s because they secretly envy him! He pretty much does whatever he wants. A lot of people would like to live like that. But ultimately, a life of sin and indulgence can only lead to sickness and loneliness, with nothing to show for it when the day is done.

Demonic possession. Are you a believer or a skeptic?

I think the vast majority of individuals involved in such cases are probably misunderstood, albeit creative individuals. But, I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility that malevolent entities might exist. Maybe they are the souls of the restless dead, or life-forms of an alien or transdimensional nature. Who can say? It’s a big universe. Who knows what may be lurking out there in endless void?

What inspires your stories?

Everything! I’m especially inspired by nature and science. The world’s oceans and jungles are full of monstrous creatures. The microscopic world is teeming with ghastly little terrors. I’m also interested in the mythologies of various lands, including ancient Greece and Egypt. In today’s world, myths and gods have been replaced by movies and celebrities, and I find inspiration in that.

What do you think is the difference between American horror and British horror?

In general, I think British horror is more subtle and psychological. American horror is pretty much anything-goes. But, there are a lot of exceptions to those guidelines on both sides of the pond!

What are your favorite horror books?

I love the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Mary Shelley, August Derleth, Carl Jacobi, Basil Copper, Hugh B. Cave, and Clark Ashton Smith. Basically, they’re all authors who I would consider ‘Classic Weird.’

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Don’t get me started – there are too many to count and they’re all very different! My favorites would include Suspiria, Dracula, Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter, Black Sunday, old Three Stooges movies, James Bond movies, The House by the Cemetery, Inferno, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (both old and new versions). I especially like crazy, cheap B-movies like The Manster, Bloody Pit of Horror and Fangs of the Living Dead.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

My main goal is to keep creating, and the fact that I create on a regular basis is one of my two greatest accomplishments. I don’t worry about awards, being honored or anything like that. I’ve already won a Bram Stoker Award, and while I’m honored to have received one, the fact that I have one doesn’t make me any taller, thinner or younger. I’m still just plain old me.

My other great accomplishment is successfully working with my two regular collaborators, Michael McCarty and Michael Sheehan, Jr. They are both great people, and working with them has led to the creation of some great books (in my humble opinion, of course!). With Michael McCarty, I have written the novel MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL, along with other poetry and story collections. With Michael Sheehan, Jr., I have written THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA and other Lovecraftian collections.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Just keep writing! Don’t worry if you think any other writer is doing better than you. Just be the best YOU that you can be. I’ve learned over the years that you just need to keep your eyes on the road … the road to your own future!

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

Actually, I’ve been doing some self-publishing myself, and my self-published works sell much better than any of my works from traditional publishers. So there are indeed merits to self-publishing, if you recognize that you need to work a lot harder to get results. But while you have to work much harder, you can get better results because you have more control. Having said all that, I still believe in traditional publishing and haven’t ruled out working with more publishers in the future.

What are your current projects?

My most recent Kindle releases are THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS, a new collection of Lovecraftian tales, and MAGIC CANNOT DIE, a collection of stories about sorcery and enchantment. I also have other projects in the work, but none of them are close enough to being finished to announce.

In your own words, write a paragraph about yourself and your work. 

I’ve been writing for more than thirty years and hope to be writing for at least a thousand more. I suppose my body will wear out some day, but hopefully some kind of super-science will come along that will allow my head to be grafted onto some of eternally typing cyborg body. That would be just fine with me!

Mark's latest digital releases are the Kindle fiction collections, MAGIC CANNOT DIE; THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE RELIC IN THE EGYPTIAN GALLERY (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); SHOGGOTH APOCALYPSE (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE BLASPHEMY IN THE CANOPIC JAR (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE HORROR IN THE WATER TOWER (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA (co-written with Michael Sheehan, Jr.); FOREIGN TONGUE; and DRUNK ON THE WINE THAT POURS FROM MY WICKED EYES. All of these are available on Amazon.

Visit Mark’s Author Pages at

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Horror Channel FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2018 line-up

Be prepared to feast on a chilling cornucopia of savage shocks, unsettling surprises and devilish delights as the UK’s favourite horror fantasy event returns to the Glasgow Film Festival for its 13th year, from Thurs 1 March to Sat 3 March 2018.

This year’s bold line-up, once again housed at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embraces the latest horror, fantasy and sci-fi discoveries from ten countries, spanning four continents, reflecting the world-wide popularity of the genre.

GHOST STORIES remains one of the scariest stage shows ever seen and on Thursday night FrightFest kicks off with a special screening of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s smash hit phenomenon. Starring Martin Freedman, Paul Whitehouse, as well as Nyman, this unforgettable screen adaptation terrifies in a whole new thrilling and chilling dimension.  Jeremy and Andy will be attending. This is followed by the Scottish premiere of Brian O’Malley’s supernatural romance THE LODGERS, a masterful Irish set Gothic ghost story, starring Charlotte Vega and David Bradley.

Friday’s line-up lunges into vampiric action with the UK premiere of Dragos Buliga’s THE WANDERERS: QUEST OF THE DEMON HUNTER, an inspired modern twist on Transylvanian mythology. This is followed by the world premiere of writer/director Kelly Greene’s pastiche gem ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS. If you liked The Love Witch, this is your new retro-perfect jam and Kelly will be in attendance. Next up is the UK premiere of THE RAVENOUS, writer/director Robin Aubert’s surreal and wickedly humorous addition to the Living Dead canon.

The 8.45pm presentation is the UK premiere of the powerfully gripping COLD SKIN. At the vanguard of French extreme cinema, director Xavier Gens made his name with Frontiere(s) and The Divide. Now he brings us a stunning adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol’s acclaimed novel that’s part H.P. Lovecraft, part Joseph Conrad and Xavier will be at the festival to discuss his film. Rounding off the evening is the European premiere of PRIMAL RAGE, a creature feature that blows the lid off traditional Bigfoot mythology. Special effects guru/director Patrick Magee has created an intelligent, cunning primitive warrior being guaranteed to terrify.

Getting the Saturday programme off to a demonically hellish start is the UK premiere of Paul Urkijo’s visually breath-taking fantasy THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL a vivid Basque fairy-tale, produced by Spanish legend Alex de la Iglesia, This is followed by the European premiere of supernatural chiller PYEWACKET, a beautifully paced, dread-filled study of occult belief by writer/director Adam MacDonald. Next up is the UK premiere of FRIENDLY BEAST, Gabriela Amaral Almeida’s intense shocker, which explores the latent evil within us all.

Climb on board for a fiendishly tense slay-ride as the evening programme kicks off with the UK premiere of director Adam Marcus’ savvy seasonal shocker SECRET SANTA. Marcus will be joined onstage by some of the cast and producers. Following this is the much anticipated UK premiere of TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID, an unflinching South of the Border cautionary fable, an audacious mix of Pan’s Labyrinth and Narcos, which firmly announces director Issa López as a rising star of Mexico’s New Wave cinema.

This year’s global celebration of the genre ends on an adrenalin-fuelled high with the European premiere of Neil Mackay’s ultra-violent, action-packed thriller SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. Actor Arnold Sydney Junior and producer Frank Leraci will be in Glasgow to introduce the movie.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, said today: “With our bold choices and the quality of programming, FrightFest is once again positioned to deliver at our beloved second home in Glasgow.  It’s no surprise to us that the genre has just had its biggest and most successful year. If you’ve ever attended one of our events, you’ll know exactly why. For FrightFest will always create a communal space where the pure enjoyment of the occasion is paramount and a vital shared experience. Welcome to our Pleasure Dome, FrightFest Glasgow-style”.

FrightFest Passes are £75 and available from noon on Mon Jan 15, 2018.  Passes cover all films on Fri 2 March and Sat 3 March ONLY.

Tickets for GHOST STORIES and THE LODGERS, plus individual tickets for the Fri/Sat films are on sale Mon Jan 29 from 10am. Price: £10.50. £8.50 concessions.

To book tickets:
+44 (0)141 332 6535 / boxoffice@glasgowfilm.org / www.glasgowfilm.org/festival

Programme details

THURS 1 MARCH – GFT Screen 1

21:00 GHOST STORIES (Special screening)
Professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is a renowned sceptic of the supernatural and clairvoyant. Given the opportunity to investigate three case histories of baffling paranormal activity, he uncovers mysteries beyond his own imagination leading to a shocking personal nightmare conclusion.

Directors Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson Cast Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther UK 2017, 1hr38m, 15+

23:20 THE LODGERS (Scottish Premiere)
Set in a rapidly changing 1920s society under the weakening grasp of British colonialism, orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. For each night the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence enforcing three rules upon them; bed by midnight, no outsiders past the threshold, and any solo escape attempt puts the other twin in jeopardy. Now the curse is about to be tested by a troubled war veteran who is mysteriously drawn to Rachel.

Director Brian O'Malley Cast Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon Ireland 2017 1hr32m N/C 18+

FRI 2 MARCH – GFT Screen 1

Louis (Armand Assante) is the most famous ghost and demon hunter in the world. The hardened American has travelled with Robert, an Israeli journalist (Lior Ashkenazi) to investigate a mysterious event that happened at the infamous Zalesky Castle, an imposing edifice towering over a village drenched in bloody history. Joined by a Romanian guide and a Korean television reality show team, the duo attempt to untangle the evil secrets lurking at the dark heart of this frightened community.

Director Dragos Buliga Cast Armand Assante, Lior Ashkenazi, Branko Djuric Romania 2017, 1hr46m, N/C 18+

15:50 ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS (World Premiere)
Join schlock impresario Francis Gordon as his intrepid crew attempt to shoot an impromptu monster movie in the three days left over from the film they’ve just wrapped. From the Saul Bass opening title homage to its highly authentic, comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grindhouse, this was lost when it was made in 1999. But ace restorer Mark Rance (who brought Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells to FrightFest 2010) found it and has lovingly refurbished it under writer/director Kelly Greene’s supervision.

Director Kelly Greene Cast Michael Dalmon, Maurice Ripke, Fred Ballard USA 1999 1hr 29m. N/C 15

18:30 THE RAVENOUS (Les affamés) (UK Premiere)
The zombie apocalypse has begun. But for the still-human residents of rural Quebec assistance of any governmental or community kind is zero. So lone survivors must figure things out for themselves, even if it means joining tentative forces and risking a hideous death…

Director Robin Aubert Cast Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St-Martin Canada 2017, French with English subtitles, 1hr40m N/C 18+

20: 45 COLD SKIN (UK Premiere)
At the dawn of the First World War a young man named Friend (David Oakes) arrives at a desolate Antarctic Circle island to take the post of weather observer and where a race of amphibious humanoids emerge from the seas every night to besiege him and his rancorous lighthouse keeper companion, Gruner (Ray Stevenson). How much horror can the human heart endure?

Director Xavier Gens Cast Ray Stevenson, David Oakes, Aura Garrido Spain/France 2017 1hr48m N/C 18+

23:15 PRIMAL RAGE (European Premiere)
Lost deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, Ashley (Casey Cagliardi) and her ex-convict husband Max (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) are stalked by a terrifying creature the locals call Oh-Mah. Soon they find themselves forced to face nature’s harshness, a band of unsavoury hunters and become embroiled in a strange land of Native American legend turned absolutely real in their life or death battle.

Director Patrick Magee Cast Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Eloy Casados USA 2017 1hr46m N/C 18+

SAT 3 MARCH – GFT Screen 1

Ten years after Civil War in Spain 1833, orphan Usue (Uma Bracaglia) seeks escape from her abusive guardians and constant harassment from uncaring villagers. When her beloved doll is stolen, it ends up at the property of Patxi (Kandido Uranga) a lonely and feared blacksmith who is the keeper of a terrifying secret, a horrible truth that Usue innocently reveals.

Director Paul Urkijo Alijo Cast Kandido Uranga, Eneko Sagardoy, Uma Bracaglia Spain 2017. Basque with English subtitles. 1hr38min N/C 18+

13:15 PYEWACKET (European Premiere)
Confused and enraged for being forced to move away from school friends after her father dies, Leah (Nicole Muñoz) performs a blood incantation calling on an evil entity to punish her grieving mother. Immediately regretful, too late she realises she can’t reverse the ritual curse and an unholy presence now stalks them both in their rural home.

Director Adam MacDonald Cast Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose Canada 2017, 1hr27m, 15+

15:15 FRIENDLY BEAST (O Animal Cordial) (UK Premiere)
It's nearly closing time at a struggling restaurant. Staff want to go home while the boss struggles with money troubles and a desire for more power in his life. Enter two robbers, the catalyst for a violent situation, which the boss is initially able to contain and gain the upper hand. Suddenly, the already dangerous and explosive situation turn deadly; sides are taken and people turn to the most abhorrent behaviour in an instant.

Director Gabriela Amaral Almeida Cast Murilo Benício, Luciana Paes, Irandhir Santos Brazil 2017 1hr38m Portuguese with English subtitles. N/C 18+

18:30 SECRET SANTA (UK Premiere)
The Pope family’s Christmas Eve dinner goes horribly and hilariously wrong when someone puts something in the party punch causing everyone to tell the unvarnished truth at the already dysfunctional holiday reunion. When the head of the household psychopathically freaks-out, the scene is set for murderous mayhem and splatterific revenge as the deviant relatives reveal their long-buried hatreds and festering loathings.

Director Adam Marcus Cast Michelle Renee Allaire, Petra Areskoug, Scott Burkett USA 2017, 1hr29m, N/C 18+

21:05 TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (Vuelven) (UK Premiere)
Thousands have been murdered or gone missing in the ongoing violent drug war in Mexico. The result is many orphaned children living on the streets caught in the unceasing cartel crossfire. In her third work of immense beauty, pain, fear and joy, writer/director Issa López tells the magical story of five such urchins making the best of their daily struggle to survive.

Director Issa López Cast Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes Mexico 2017, Spanish with English subtitles, 1hr23m N/C 18+

23:00 SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (European Premiere)
It’s New Year's Eve 1999 and former soldier Jack Darcy (Robert Nolan) wakes to find himself mysteriously entered into a murderous new TV game show. He has sixty minutes to kill or be killed by a group of strange armed men who’ve surrounded his house. But what his would-be assassins haven’t realised is that Jack has learnt a few tricks from his military days. He has a hidden bunker full of weapons and he isn’t going down without a vicious fight!

Director Neil Mackay Cast Robert Nolan, Arnold Sidney, Terry McDonald Canada 2017, 1hr23m, N/C 18+.

For further information:  www.frightfest.co.uk