Dog Daze

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Since this is primarily intended as a professional blog, with occasional more general commentary, I use Twitter for more personal updates — and one particular account, Dog Daze, is set aside for arguably the most enjoyable aspect of “social” media, photographs of dogs. In this case, Oscar the Yorkie (three years old last November) and Tikki the Westie (who celebrates her second birthday next month).

“As sure as my name’s Boris Karloff…”

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I was less than five months old when NBC aired the first episode of Thriller on 13 September 1960, fronted by the legendary Boris Karloff, and I’m fairly certain the show never made it across to these shores before the 1990s, when it became available for import on VHS and laserdisc. To be honest, if anyone had asked me about Thriller even then, I’d probably have thought they were talking about the 1970s anthology series devised by Brian Clemens whilst working on the screenplay for Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter.

Anyhow, I’ve spent the past month watching at least two episodes an evening, and the majority are rather splendid. Our host, Boris Karloff, brings his customary cocktail of menace, mirth and malarkey, even stepping centre-stage for a number of episodes. How irritating to learn that Alfred Hitchcock pushed for this show’s cancellation when NBC picked up The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, proving yet again what an insecure and petty little twat he could be when opportunity presented itself.

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The Cold Equations

Back in the early 1990s, when my friend Martin Tudor and I were publishing the journal Critical Wave, we had an editorial philosophy of helping raise the profile of writers, artists and other creative souls we felt deserving of a wider audience. It has been pointed out on many occasions since that we probably did so to the detriment of our own professional careers, and that we could have used those same contacts to get ourselves a news-stand distribution deal, but I guess our focus was elsewhere. By the time SFX hit the racks in 1995, Martin and I were just a year away from giving our enterprise up as an interesting but expensive experiment (paying Critical Wave‘s debts off only took another five years).

The creative landscape has transformed utterly over the two decades since, and by no stretch of the imagination for the better. Even a shallow trawl of social media reveals vast numbers of would-be novelists, illustrators et al, clamouring for attention and getting drowned out by everyone else. There is an astonishing amount of self-delusion, of course, especially from people who seem to believe adding “author” to their username magically makes them one. I’ve recently been exploring setting up a new magazine, with more formal distribution, but finding a fresh angle is dispiritingly difficult, and the likelihood of financial viability worryingly slim.

Meanwhile, Chrissie Harper and I came up with this cartoon last year, which pretty much summarises our joint misgivings about the current state of affairs…

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UNAmusings

I’m currently reading Professor Theodore Kaczynski’s essay “Industrial Society and Its Future”, originally published simultaneously by the New York Times and Washington Post in September 1995 in return for his ending a 17-year terrorist campaign during which he was dubbed ‘The Unabomber’. Setting those crimes aside (he was apprehended seven months later and is currently serving eight consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole), it’s difficult to fault many of his initial assertions that humanity has been deeply damaged by the growth of global industrialisation and that the physical, emotional and mental health of individual citizens has been repeatedly ignored in favour of perpetuating both the industrial system and the social structures which underpin it. I’m only about 5000 words in (out of 35.000), but it’s a challenging treatise which, if anything, touches upon more raw nerves today than when released into a world still largely free from the vice-like grip of the Internet.

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You can download a PDF of the essay here.

As I Was Saying…

Rather shockingly, it’s been three months since my last confession my most recent posting here, during which time Monsters premiered at Leicester’s third Grindhouse Planet Film Festival and The Forbidden Lady appeared as an extra on Arrow Video’s release of Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. Chrissie and I went down to London just before Xmas to meet up with my old friend Norman J Warren (photo below), who’s busy supervising the 2K remastering of his back catalogue, but other than that, neither of us have exactly been caught up in the social whirl. If social media has indeed replaced old-fashioned face-to-face interaction, it’s a rather dull and uninspiring substitute for the energetic pub gatherings and rambling early-hours conversations I used to enjoy so much back in the final quarter of the Twentieth Century.

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Voices in the Dark

Surprises are part of the Halloween tradition, but I was still caught off guard on Wednesday evening when the BBC telephoned to invite me about the late night show which is broadcast on BBC Radio WM and seven of its sister channels. Apparently, host Graham Torrington likes to chat with “remarkable people”, and his producer Nicole Pullman bizarrely considered I qualified for that nomenclature.

You can listen to our conversation here (I enter the fray just past the 01:26:30 mark). Appropriately for All Hallow’s Eve, we discussed horror movies, the Birmingham Horror Group and my work at Vamporama Films.

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Here Be Monsters [2]

The new trailer from Vamporama Films for Monsters. Written and directed by Chrissie Harper from an idea courtesy of yours truly, featuring Liam Woon as ‘The Man’. We’re hoping to premiere it in late November.