Category: Author’s Blog (Page 1 of 3)

THE MAKING OF “BEWARE CHILDREN AT PLAY!” PART ONE

When I think back on the thirty plus movies and television shows I’ve worked on, one always stands out—a little gem entitled BEWARE CHILDREN AT PLAY. If the title doesn’t ring a bell, it’s that infamous movie where a dozen children are brutally slaughtered on camera. When Troma Films screened Beware’s trailer at the Cannes Film Festival it allegedly inspired outrage and mass walkouts. Personally, I’d chalk some of that up to Lloyd Kaufman’s ballyhoo, but it still sounds credible.

One quick note: Beware is often referred to as a Troma film, but technically it isn’t. It was picked up for distribution by the House of Kaufman several years after production. Troma released the film as a VHS and a barebones DVD with a low-end transfer. Just thought I’d clear that up.

Thankfully those cinephiles at Vinegar Syndrome have remastered Beware Children at Play for a Blu Ray release, adding copious special features to the package.

Some call Beware Children at Play, one of the worst films ever made, which I think is a stretch—I mean try sitting through Red Zone Cuba! It’s a bizarre and entertaining viewing experience that makes you ask, “What the F*** were they thinking?” And that’s what makes it so much fun. Looking back at Beware’s production offers a nice time capsule into making a no budget movie during the pre-digital, pre-CGI age; back when films were shot on film, movie blood was sticky and the boundaries of good taste were only there to be trampled over.

My involvement stemmed from a lifelong love for low budget horror movies. As a kid I devoured magazines like Famous Monsters. During my time in the military, I discovered Fangoria, a magazine chock full of tales of New York indie horror films like Basket Case. Clearly, that the place to be. Upon leaving the military I moved into a fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan’s rough and tumble Alphabet City. I gravitated to Times Square grindhouses, watching classics like Zombie and Maniac on the big screen. Sitting in a theater full of day-release mental patients, drug dealers and knife wielding crack heads adds an extra dimension to titles like Make Them Die Slowly. In 1984, New York was truly a land of wonders… as long as you didn’t get stabbed on the F-Train.

Fast forward two years. I’d just finished broadcast engineering school, and wrangled a video production gig at the United Nations. A chance meeting with effects artist John Dods (The Deadly Spawn) Ied to my spending weekends in Rye, New York, puppeteering on Spookies (originally Twisted Souls). That film’s director urged me to see Mic Cribben and Ellen Wedner—a husband and wife duo making a horror film titled Goblins (which later became Beware Children at Play). Mic owned his own 35mm Arriflex BL1 package, along with a Nagra recorder and a Steenbeck editing table—the building blocks of making a film. What they didn’t have was money, but they weren’t letting that stop them.

After shrewdly negotiating my salary up to zero, I was hired as Production Manager, despite having little clue what that entailed. In real life, the production manager is responsible for keeping the film on budget, which was easy on Beware, as there wasn’t a budget to begin with. Some of my work involved finding other crew members to work for free. In return for their labors, they would get free rentals on Mic’s equipment, so it wasn’t like I was recruiting for Scientology.

You might be picturing Mic and Ellen as sleazy people out to produce a cheap shock film. Well, during my tenure in New York, I met grindhouse stalwarts like Joel Reed (Bloodsucking Freaks) who really lived up to their seedy reputations. Mic and Ellen were quite the opposite. She was a charming, whip smart woman who did well in real estate. Mic was an instantly likeable guy with hilarious, if politically incorrect, film set stories. He’d also been an actor, appearing in films like 1981’s slasher movie Nightmare. He was also the unit manager and sound mixer on that low budget opus.

Reading the script was a real eye opener. I’d been expecting a slasher film, which were still the go-to cheap movie genre. But this film had dozens of child actors along with tons of extras playing redneck townsfolk. Even more jaw dropping was the movie’s finale where all of the children are slaughtered in a Mÿ Lai style massacre. It read like a checklist of everything not to attempt on a micro budget. It was also the first, and last time I heard the term ‘cleavages,’ used. It’s mentioned twice. Dr Fish actually says, “cleavages, front and back.” What does that even mean?

An investor had bestowed Mic and Ellen with a cash budget of around $25,000, which wasn’t much, even by 1980’s standards. In truth it amounted to less than an equal amount of cash today, because we were shooting on 35mm film. In those pre digital days the bulk of an indie film’s budget went to film stock and processing. To shoot their movies, impoverished filmmakers resorted to what you might call used film, more commonly known as short ends.

Short ends were what remained in a film magazine after a day’s shooting on bigger movies. These ‘beaks and claws’ were re-canned by the camera department. There might be as little as 100 feet of film rattling around in a can. A thousand-foot roll of 35mm film only runs about ten minutes, so you’re not looking at much camera time on that short end. Plus, the short ends were never tested to see if the previous camera department had re-canned it properly. This was dumpster diving meets Russian Roulette.

FUN FACT: Years later I started a side hustle by buying thousands of feet of sealed rebought film and storing it in my refrigerator next to the beer and eggs. On weekends I’d get panicked calls from music video producers who’d run out of film. I charged a hefty markup for rescuing their production, but I threw in free delivery.

Using such short rolls created lots of downtime while magazines were reloaded with another meager ration of film. That can be a drag when you’re dealing with child actors with a limited attention span. I recall one night when the rolls were so short that we couldn’t finish a one-minute scene without rolling out.

To minimize downtime Mic would borrow magazines from NY production company Ross Gaffney Inc. Picking up those magazines gave me an excuse to meet the company’s owner, Robert Gaffney, director of 1965’s Frankenstein vs the Space Monster. I think he was flattered, if slightly bewildered at having some young film geek fawning over him. Wow, I really walked among giants!

A mix of film brands only added to the fun, as each had a distinctly different look. The finished film is a melange of Kodak’s classic Hollywood look, Fuji’s punchy Tokyo-pop color and AGFA’s somber German sturm und drang. I don’t think Mic used different brands in the same scene, but during night scenes you can see the film grain and color shifting between connecting scenes.

The film was processed by Studio Film Labs, who were eager to make deals—probably because the porn industries transition from shooting on film to video was crippling their bottom line. Mic and Ellen saved additional money by having the footage reduction printed from 35mm to 16mm. George Romero used the same money saving tactic on Dawn of the Dead.

The production was shot entirely on weekends in the wilds of New Jersey. Hauling twenty or so non-driving Manhattanites to the location was always a challenge. Some production assistants were hired because they owned cars that we used to transport the actors. Crew members usually just sat on equipment cases in the back of the cargo van. Seat belt and open container laws were routinely ignored on the trips back to NYC. Mic’s van probably reeked of Old Milwaukee beer and ditch weed until the day it died. Good times… good times.

And if you’re looking for a thrilling read, that’s a 100% child murder free, check out my new novel DOMINANT SPECIES, published by those masters of monster mayhem at Severed Press.

DOMINANT SPECIES HAS BEEN UNLEASHED

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel Dominant Species, published by Severed Press is now available on Amazon. It’s a great feeling when you finally get to hold a copy in your hand! Check it out and huge thanks to all the folks who read Primeval Waters and Scorpius Rex.

FRIGHTENING FUN FACTS 3

It’s episode 3 of FRIGHTENING FUN FACTS. Learn the evil truth about SEA MONKEYS, the mating habits of BIGFOOT, the macho man behind KING KONG, why SCORPIONS are nature’s superheroes, and more incredibly strange stuff. ENJOY!

THE FREAK BROTHERS TV SERIES REVIEW

SERIES SYNOPSIS: A trio of dim witted 1960’s stoners ingest a mystical strain of marijuana, sending them into Rip Van Winkle comas. They awaken in the year 2021, to a brave new world where pot is legal but the populace is too zombified by mobile devices and technology to care. Their adjustment is, to say the least, awkward.

Gilbert Shelton’s The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers was part of a vanguard of 1960’s underground comics. These alternative publications thumbed their nose at the stringent Comics Code Authority by including drug use, sex and violence. Shelton, along with artists like Robert Crumb (Fritz the Cat) and S Clay Wilson (Checkered Demon) aimed their works directly at the counter culture, selling them through head shops and alternative businesses. Woodstock era readers embraced these iconoclastic comics, inspiring regular reprintings and anthologies. At the tender age of twelve, I blundered across a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers anthology, and the taboo content made me an instant fan.

The Freak Brothers comedy utilized recreational drugs the way the Three Stooges relied on bodily injury. Phineas, Fat Freddy and Freewheeling Franklin were rudderless, none too bright stoners living in a roach infested tenement in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight Asbury district. Their endless search for drugs put them squarely into the crosshairs of law enforcement, particularly DEA agent Notorious Norbert the Narc, who played Javier to their Jean Valjean. Gilbert Shelton’s stories also took swipes at hippie culture, commercialism, and suburban America, but the humor was firmly rooted in the heroes’ ‘rebel without a clue’ lifestyle. It was a one note joke, but it struck a chord with readers, ultimately inspiring the likes of Cheech and Chong.

And that’s where the new Tubi animated series initially stumbles. Releasing these three stoned stooges into the modern world, where their raison d’ētre is now legal, short circuits the core concept. This problem is escalated by the fact that the boys aren’t bright, so their observations about 21st century society aren’t exactly rapier sharp.

They don’t get much comedic support from the contemporary characters. Social justice lawyer Gretchen (La La Anthony) only exists to solve the trio’s problems, while her silicon valley mogul sister Harper Switzer (Andrea Savage) is sentenced to endlessly repeating the same “Get out of my house!” schtick. I couldn’t help thinking that this all would be funnier if those characters were propelled back in time and forced to deal with the Freak Brothers in their own world.

It should have been a warning sign that the “stoned man out of time” concept was also the plot of a Cheech solo movie (Rude Awakening, 1989) and a Chong solo outing (Far Out Man, 1990). Neither were hits, and the pilot episode seemed to be hamstrung by the same limitations as those films.

The show’s synopsis states that, “The Freaks, who are unburdened by the baggage of modern life help the Switzer family embrace the values of a simpler time.” With that promise in mind, I streamed the second episode, only to have said promises flushed down the toilet… literally. Episode two resorts to cranking the scatological humor up to eleven. It felt like the writers had already thrown in the towel—and that’s coming from someone with no objection to bodily fluid comedy. The final moments of Fat Freddy spraying feces like a firehose pretty much sums it up.

But I hadn’t given up yet, and was happy to discover that episode three was genuinely funny. It took a few steps towards social satire, while keeping the fecal matter to a minimum. Jeffrey Tambor was great as an assistant to Jeff Bezos, who’s plotting to launch our trio to mars. If the show continues climbing a few creative rungs with each episode it will eventually live up to the comic that inspired it.

The Freak Brothers’ secret weapon is its great voice cast, especially Woody Harrelson’s pitch perfect Freewheeling Franklin. John Goodman’s voice is almost unrecognizable as Fat Freddy, but the sweet natured man-child character shines through. Pete Davidson’s manic Phineas certainly checks all that character’s boxes.

The genuine scene stealer is Tiffany Haddish as Fat Freddy’s Cat. Interestingly, the television adaptation gender swapped the cat from male to female, which is amusing considering that the comic’s tomcat sported the biggest pair of cullions in comic book history. The mini strip style Fat Freddy’s Cat adventures were one of the comic’s high points, especially his ongoing war against a fascist army of cockroaches. I hope the television version mines that material.

You can only go so wrong with the dream cast the producers have assembled. I truly hope the writers keep strengthening their creative muscles and, maybe, try doing some flashback (no pun intended) episodes, putting the boys back in their own time zone. The comic book’s longer story arcs like “The Idiots Abroad,” would make fun episodes. And perhaps we could call a general moratorium on jokes about Alexa, and the phrase, “LOL.” Those gags have been done to death.

Final verdict: Check out the first three episodes for the talented cast alone, and here’s hoping that the show finds its creative feet during the fourth installment. And, above all, more cat!

Fun fact: An unauthorized live action version of The Freak Brothers, along with Robert Crumb’s Mr. Natural character, starred in the 1978 porn film Up In Flames. It’s an agonizing viewing experience, even by porn standards, providing neither laughs nor arousal. Its internet search keywords would be, hairy, flabby and sexual-performance-anxiety. This has been a public service announcement—you’ve been warned.

And if you’re looking for a mind-altering horror adventure check out my novel PRIMEVAL WATERS, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JAMES MULLANEY

James Mullaney is a literary renaissance man, dedicated to keeping the spirit of pulp literature alive—and I consider the term “pulp” to be high praise. He kick-started his writing career by authoring 26 novels in the popular adventure, semi-superhero series “The Destroyer.” His association with that character carried over to collaborating on a big-screen adaptation with screenwriter Jim Uhis (Fight Club). And, if those demonic entities from “Development Hell” are exorcised, the film will be directed by Lethal Weapon screenwriter, Marvel Universe director, and Destroyer mega-fan Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Predator).

For the uninitiated “The Destroyer” book series was created in 1971 by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. The ongoing saga of reluctant assassin Remo Williams and his Korean trainer Chiun was part of a tidal wave of men’s action series published in the wake of Don Pendleton’s “The Executioner.” But “The Destroyer’s” authors were happy to bite the hand that feeds by satirizing the testosterone action genre. The amount of humor and social commentary snowballed with each book.

That quirky humor helped “The Destroyer” bloom into a pop culture phenomenon, selling over thirty million copies. Along the way it spawned a Marvel Comics series and the love-it-or-hate-it film adaptation, Remo Williams, the Adventure Begins. Sadly, the film’s script discarded much of the book series’ charm and the adventure began and ended with one movie.

“The Destroyer” had been running for nearly thirty years and a hundred and ten books when James Mullaney took the writer’s chair in 1998. Over the next five years he pushed the aging series back onto Amazon’s top seller charts.

Independent of “The Destroyer,” Mullaney created the satirical action series “The Red Menace.” Its five (and counting) novels follow the exploits of 1970s-era, commie-smashing hero Podge Becket. On the purely comedic side he’s also authored nine hilarious “Crag Banyon” novels (and an anthology), chronicling a booze-soaked private eye with a client roster that’s included Santa Claus, leprechauns and Greek gods. And, thanks to Shane Black’s support, the Banyon novels may become a Fox Television animated series.

Jiminy Christmas, that’s a lot of writing! Yet, somewhere amid that writing frenzy, he attained every comic book fan’s dream by working with Marvel on its “Iron Fist: The Return of K’un Lun,” series.

Most recently, he’s revived the classic “Destroyer” book series with Brotherhood of Blood, pitting heroes Remo Williams and Master Chiun against an insidious race of Chinese vampires. Rest assured, the blood sprays and the quips fly in equally generous portions. As a long-time fan, I can tell you it was worth the wait.

I’ll let James Mullaney take it from here.

WB: I understand your transition to becoming “The Destroyer’s” principal writer was very unique in that you submitted a spec novel. Can you share that story?

JM: Let’s see.  How to answer that diplomatically.  Nope, I can’t.  That’s too bad, because it’s a tale full of deceit and sabotage.  I can say that it was very lucky I had that spec manuscript. I had something that I could send to Gold Eagle, the publisher at the time, to let them know that I wasn’t the no-talent that they had been led to believe.  Maybe I can tell that story on my deathbed.  Which could be tomorrow, if I tell that story today.

 WB: I’d be remiss not to include the series’ creator Warren Murphy, who, in addition to being a prolific novelist with over 60 million books sold, was also a screenwriter on The Eiger Sanction (1975) and Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). Was he a mentor to you?

JM: Warren wasn’t really a mentor to me.  I’d spoken to him only a couple of times while I was working on “The Destroyer” for Gold Eagle.  We were friendly, but it was only after I’d finished a 21 book run for them that Warren and I became friends.  So, I was something like a million and a half words into a writing career by then.  If I still needed mentoring at that point I was in the wrong line of work.  But Warren did give me a great compliment once that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned publicly.  I’d sent him a note grousing about something or other, and he said it sounded like his younger self writing to him. There’s no way that doesn’t make you feel good.

I still miss him. I’ll always be upset that he didn’t write an autobiography. It would have been hilarious.

 WB: What condition was the book series in when you stepped in—both creatively and sales wise?

 JM: “The Destroyer” was pretty old at that point.  It’s not a crime to say it.  It wasn’t old enough for Medicare, but it was about thirty years old back then.  It’s hard to keep reader interest from waning after so much time.  I tried to bring it back to what I loved about the series as a kid.  The fans responded to that.  I got many notes back then from former “Destroyer” readers who came back to the series because of my work.  I mention in an introduction to one of the two recent books I did that by the end of my Gold Eagle run I’d dragged the Amazon rankings up to around 120 each time a new book was released.  You’re doing something right if you can get a thirty-year-old series to within 119 points of the latest Harry Potter.  Avada Kedavra, indeed.

WB: Allowing a single writer to helm an entire series was unusual for publisher Gold Eagle who constantly changed authors on their Mack Bolan books. Did “The Destroyer’s” creator, Warren Murphy, have to fight to retain that creative control?

JM: That was me, actually.  At first, they wanted to keep on a couple of writers who did three bridge books between the previous full-time ghostwriter and me.  I said no way, which was kind of funny for some little snot-nose just starting out.  But I’d seen those books and they were –how do I say this diplomatically? — utter crap.  Believe me, any “Destroyer” fans who slogged through those books know that I’m being kind.  I told them I didn’t want my good books propping up lousy books.  I guess they wanted me to work for them, because they agreed to let me be the solo writer for the next five years.

Interviewer’s note: Mullaney isn’t exaggerating about the bridge books being bad. Legions of “Destroyer” fans would testify to just how terrible books 108-110 were.

WB: As a relatively new author how did you deal with the pressure of writing 21 consecutive novels over a mere five years?

JM: I have no idea how I did it.  Not a clue.  That is an astonishing output.  Many of those books were either approaching or exceeded 90,000 words.  I couldn’t do that now if you, unlike Gold Eagle, paid me.

WB: One of the most memorable aspects of the series was the humorous interaction between aged Sinanju Master Chiun and his American pupil Remo Williams. That humor was in previous books, but you honed it to a fine edge while emphasizing their surrogate father/son relationship. Was that aspect of the books a personal favorite of yours?

JM: Very much so.  It should be fun playing around with these (or really any) characters.  If you’re not having at least some fun as a writer, you can’t expect readers to do the job for you.  I hadn’t written a “Destroyer” in thirteen or fourteen years when I did the two recent ones.  It was so easy to step back into writing these guys.  It is just so much fun to put words in their mouths.

WB: Why did Gold Eagle cease publishing “The Destroyer” while their other less inspired series like “Mack Bolan” and “Stony Man” kept chugging along?

That was Warren Murphy’s doing.  He pulled the plug.  Warren had signed a final four-year contract around the time I quit, so Gold Eagle did sixteen more books after mine.  (What’s a polite way to say “stink out loud?”)  Gold Eagle had wanted to continue publishing the series, but after those sixteen literary cowpats, Warren said no way.

WB: How did you become involved with Marvel’s “Iron Fist” series?

JM: I’m terrible, because I don’t remember some things like I ought to.  Thirty years from now someone will be giving me a cognitive test, and the only difference between me failing it now and me failing it then is that now I’m not wearing my underwear on my head.  I know I’d just finished up my Gold Eagle work on “The Destroyer,” and someone at Marvel who was a fan of my books found out I was free.  They contacted me.  I remember it was fun because it was so different from anything I’d done before.  I also remember it was scary because it was so different from anything I’d done before.

WB: What inspired you to revive the “classic” “Destroyer” novels with Blood Brotherhood?

JM: A cluttered shelf.  I had two full-length “Destroyers” that had never been published sitting on my shelf for years.  I thought I could give them a quick polish, clear off part of my shelf, and make a couple of bucks.  And then I wound up chucking the original Blood Brotherhood manuscript because it was crap, and I wrote a whole new book.  Not all at once, of course, because I had to torture myself first.  I’d save one line from one chapter, then rewrite that one line.  At one point I had 35,000 words that I’d pushed off to the end of the book as I was working on it thinking that there had to be something salvageable in it.  Then one day I deleted it all.  Just unreadable crap.  At least I was able to use some of the original manuscript as a sort-of outline.  Outlines are always the hardest thing for me anyway.  Everything else is just filling in the blanks.

WB: Blood Brotherhood represents your return to the series after many years. During that period potential readers have been immersed in plot-driven video games like Grand Theft Auto that unspool non-stop action and violence. Likewise, Hollywood now unleashes mega-budget, spectacular super hero movies on a semi-weekly basis. Did you feel the need to address that shortened attention span and slam bang mindset when you were writing?

JM: Nah, I’m too dim to learn new tricks.  I just write the way I’ve always written.  I mean, hopefully I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I’ve never written anything other than what I’ve wanted to write.  Which is probably why my bank account isn’t bursting at the seams.  But since I do what I want, I’m happy with my work. I win.

WB: I’m jumping around in time here, so forgive me. I genuinely enjoyed the “Crag Banyon” books. I always felt it was an example of a writer creating freely, without an annoying publisher hovering over him. How did the concept of a classic film noir PI living in an alternate mythological, fairy tale universe come about?

 JM: To your point about publishers.  They are horrible. I hate them.  If I never have to work for another traditional publisher, I will die a happy man.  Or at least as happy as you can be when you’re dying, which I imagine is probably a pretty terrible experience.  Nearly as bad as working for a traditional publisher.

As for Banyon, he only exists because of another series of mine, The Red Menace.  The first or second Menace had just come out, and I wanted a little cheapo short story that I could give away as an ebook that might help promote the Menace. I dug out a story I’d written years before about a reporter investigating a murder at the North Pole.  It was pretty poorly written, but the idea was good.  It was only supposed to be a one-off about Santa and Mrs. Claus and all the usual Christmas stuff.  But at one point early on I needed to get Banyon out of a tough spot I’d put him in.  He was in a police interrogation room being questioned by a cop who hates him.  Then I thought to have him call not a lawyer, but summon a genie who owes him a third wish.  And that opened up everything.  Suddenly everything could exist in Banyon’s world.  Angels, demons, leprechauns, mad scientists, mermaids, giants.  And Banyon just sort of grumbles his rumpled way through it all, the greatest detective in the world who only wants to get the latest case over with so he can get drunk at O’Hale’s Bar.

So, the reporter from that original short story became a detective, and the short story grew into a novella that has now grown into ten published novels, with three more already written in the wings, plus a short story collection.  And they’re funny. I’ve read some books that claim to be comic, and they are nearly all terrible. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to get the jokes in those other books.  With Banyon, I’m writing comic novels for people who actually like comedy.

The Banyons are the best things I’ve ever written.  They’re also the hardest books I’ve ever written, because they’re first-person and Banyon has a very unique voice.  So even though they are often torture, they are also a joy to write.  I guess that makes me a happy masochist.

WB: Your action/adventure series “The Red Menace” is unique, in part because it’s a 1970s period piece that doesn’t mind messing with history’s actual timeline. Can you tell readers about the character and how the books came about?

JM: The Red Menace is me writing myself into two eras.  First is the men’s action-adventure era of the 1970s.  Then there’s the earlier pulp hero age of The Green Hornet, Zorro, The Shadow, etc.  My main character is Patrick “Podge” Becket, who was a guy who went up against the Russians at the start of the Cold War.  He was a menace to the Reds, hence “The Red Menace.”  I’m super-clever like that.  Podge went into retirement at the end of the 1950s but comes back out for the first book, which takes place in the early 1970s.  He has to come back because he is, of course, the only man on earth who can stop the villain.  Then more bad guys start showing up, and he winds up staying on the job.  But he can’t do it alone.  He’s assisted by his chronically annoyed best friend, Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright.  Wainwright is a medical genius who patches Podge up when necessary.  He’s also had a hand in pretty much every great scientific achievement in human history, including the formula that keeps the Menace in the game long after a normal man would have had to retire.  He also may or may not be immortal.  Wainwright is great fun to write, and I’ve barely scratched the surface with him.

WB: What does the future (or is it the past?) hold for “The Red Menace”?

JM: I hadn’t written a new Menace in a bunch of years.  I’ve done two more now that are waiting in the wings: Red Devil and Ruses are Red.  In the meantime, the original five Menaces are in the process of getting makeovers.  New interior formatting and new cover art.  Four of those books had never been released in paperback, but that’s about to change, as well.  Bold Venture Press has the rights now, and will be releasing them all.   #2, Drowning in Red Ink is already out.  The rest, hopefully soon after.  That’s the plan, anyway.  I don’t know how many more I have in me, but I do hope to write more Menaces.  But sales will dictate that.  All I can do is write the best books I can and hope that they find an audience.

WB: Shane Black seems to be a genuine fan of “The Destroyer” and ’70s-era action/adventure novels in general. He even created an Amazon pilot adapted from the western book series “Edge” which were billed as ‘The most violent westerns in print.’ How did you and Black cross creative paths?

JM: A fan told me that Shane liked my Destroyer work.  I wasn’t sure I believed it, but then I found out that it was true in the most boring way possible that I won’t share.  Not because it’s some big secret, but because it would put you to sleep.  The funny thing is that the first time Shane and I ever spoke he read some Crag Banyon at me, not The Destroyer.  I think it was the second one, Devil May Care.  Then he told me that someone who writes dialogue like that should be writing movies.  If Shane Black says that to you, you should probably listen.  So, thanks to Shane, I’m doing that sometimes now, too.

WB: Where is “The Destroyer” film currently at?

JM: Your guess is as good as mine.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to say I’m no longer on the project.  I’m not.  I was on it for six years.  I got paid.  So that part was good.

WB: What’s next on your seemingly overflowing creative plate?

JM: It’s not as overflowing as I’d like.  You lose steam in middle age.  Still, I wrote two Destroyers earlier this year.  The first one has been incredibly well-received by fans.  The next one, Trial By Fire, should be out soon.  I just finished the first draft of the thirteenth Crag Banyon Mystery, which I’m almost certain will be titled Simian Says.  We’re working on bringing Banyon to TV for Fox.  I wrote the pilot episode either earlier this year or late last year.  I don’t remember now, I only know it was during the Zoom twilight age.  Shane is onboard with that, and we worked on the story together.  The two of us will be executive producers if it becomes a series.  That’s actually pretty astonishing to be able to say something so cool so casually.  Who wouldn’t be happy about all that?  Not me, baby.

I want to thank James for taking the time to do this interview. Let’s hope that Fox TV jumps aboard the Crag Banyon PI animated series. Who knows, maybe Banyon has another genie’s wish he can cash in.

ALTERNATIVE 3

Conspiracy theories are everywhere, and they’re bad. But travel back in time with author William Burke to discover how the first Mockumentary film turned into a full blown conspiracy theory with millions of believers. It’s ALTERNATIVE 3! Hint: it involves living on mars. And remember, it’s all true… except for the lies. Enjoy!

Huge thanks to ALTERNATIVE 3’s director Christopher Miles for his assistance in separating fact from fiction. 

And for a truly terrifying experience, pick up a copy of William Burke’s novel PRIMEVAL WATERS. It’s available on Amazon on paperback and Kindle.

CONFESSIONS OF A HORROR WRITER

Most author biographies are full of self aggrandizing nonsense, but mine is more like a cautionary tale. Here’s how my childhood in a semi-cult, led to my adult career working in horror movies and dirty movies… until I found my true calling, writing novels. Get all the gory details of my strange life and why I write the things I do… and why I’m so darn good at it!

And please, pick up a copy of my latest book PRIMEVAL WATERS, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

FRIGHTENING FUN FACTS #2

I’m back with a brand new collection of weirdly wonderful facts—and they’re all true. Learn all about the deadliest amusement park, America’s most inept assassin and the secret mind control powers of cats. It might mess with your mind, but it’s still safe for work. Enjoy!

And don’t forget to buy your copy of PRIMEVAL WATERS, by William Burke. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Yeah, you knew I was going to try to sell you something.

AND if you’ve already read PRIMEVAL WATERS, check out Burke’s previous novel, SCORPIUS REX. It’s like reading the creature feature playing in your mind… whatever that means.  Here’s the book trailer.

 

FRIGHTENING FUN FACTS #1

Enjoy five minutes of demented, but true facts, courtesy of PRIMEVAL WATERS author William Burke. They’re bizarre and demented… but still safe for work.

And if you want some real scares, pick up PRIMEVAL WATERS. It’s available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

TALES OF VOODOO!

Hey folks, here’s a little history lesson about the comic books that twisted my mind and made me the marginally successful author I am today! It’s TALES OF VOODOO, the most gruesome, irresponsible comics ever marketed to children… and the gun toting maniac that created them. Enjoy!

And don’t forget to check out my latest novel PRIMEVAL WATERS, from Severed Press.  Get it  on  AMAZON  in  paperback and Kindle.

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