Co-Author Chuck Hogan Talks The Strain - Dread Central
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Co-Author Chuck Hogan Talks The Strain

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The StrainHitting bookstores across the country on June 2nd, is the first book in a horrifying trilogy co-authored by horror-meister Guillermo del Toro and thriller/mystery award-winner Chuck Hogan. The Strain is but an introduction to some of the most horrific vampires to be seen or read about in QUITE some time (apologies to those folks who enjoy the romantic vampire novels – not my thing). Just imagine what horrors del Toro could come up with, multiply that by 100 and you MIGHT be close, And add into that all the facts and reality that only a thriller writer could come up with and you have what might be THE horror novel of the summer.

Dread Central spoke with The Strain co-author Chuck Hogan to find out how this project started, what it was like to work with del Toro and what fans of The Strain (review here) MIGHT have in store for them in the next two books.


Elaine Lamkin: Thank you so much for taking time to speak with Dread Central about your and Guillermo’s new book. I suppose the first and most obvious question is, how did this project come into being? And why vampires?

Chuck Hogan: Love Dread Central. I came on to The Strain when my agent sent me a 12-page outline of the trilogy that GDT had written. Two pages in, my head started to explode. I called my agent immediately – but, not being a horror novelist, I figured it was a longshot. A month or so later I drove down to meet GDT at the New York Film Festival – where he was previewing PAN’S LABYRINTH – and I drove home four hours to Boston in a vampire-induced fog. Next thing I knew, it was game on.

EL: How did you and Guillermo actually write this book? I recall Stephen King and Peter Straub, when they co-wrote The Talisman, saying that they would each write a chapter and send it to the other for criticism, new ideas, etc. What method did the two of you use?

CH: It was like that, though in larger chunks than chapters. GDT was in Hungary for much of it, working on HELLBOY 2. Very intimidating, having GDT as your first reader. When I felt him beginning to feed off my pages, as I was certainly feeding off his, that was when my confidence started to rise and things really started to get interesting.

EL: For those readers who may not have heard about this book (and the trilogy), how would you sum it up?

CH: Scary shit.

EL: I was struck, at the beginning of the novel, with how Flight 753 arriving at JFK reminded me, to a degree, of the Demeter in Bram Stoker’s novel. Was there ever any discussion of incorporating elements from Stoker’s book into The Strain? Setrakian could definitely be a 21st-century Van Helsing.

CH: GDT and I never spoke about it. I think there is no getting around Stoker if you are undertaking a vampire tale. But where we went from there – and will go, with the next two books – is much more interesting to me. As thrilling as I think THE STRAIN is, it is only the beginning…

EL: There is a LOT of fascinating information in The Strain about everything from air traffic controllers to the CDC to rats to what some might call literal Gross Anatomy and more. How much research was done and did you each choose what you wanted to learn more about?

Co-Author Chuck HoganCH: I left all the monster-specific biology to GDT, because it is all his. And I had a handle on the CDC from writing my book THE BLOOD ARTISTS. Beyond that, each of us followed his interests, be it WWII extermination camps or rat-hunting – whatever that says about us. Verisimilitude only ups the scare factor to come.

EL: The use of Ground Zero in the novel – was there any fear that that might be too upsetting for readers?

CH: I absolutely thought about it. But not for too long. Horror has to go to horrible places. It has to. And Ground Zero made perfect sense to me in a way I really can’t say without giving away too much. We don’t exploit the tragedy at all, but only address its role in the world today – and specifically that lingering wound in the soil of lower Manhattan.

EL: Without spoiling anything for readers, you and Guillermo have created some truly horrific and TRULY unique vampires in The Strain. Where did some of these ideas come from – their method of attack, their physiology and anatomy, ways to hold them off, how some elements most people associate with werewolves and zombies became part of your vampires? If you need to answer with info that would be considered a spoiler, I can warn readers not to read any further.

CH: GDT has a lock on his monsters; I am all audience in that respect. Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid? At times, that was my experience writing THE STRAIN. He leads, I follow.

EL: Obvious question, perhaps, but has there been any talk of Guillermo turning this series into a film?

CH: Even better – a long-form cable-type series. That way you get the episodic nature of the book, with its various cliffhangers and character surprises – and you get your full-on scare as well.

EL: The Strain, being the first book in the trilogy, ends on a cliffhanger. When can readers expect to see The Fall (2010) and then The Night Eternal (2011) hit bookstores? June releases again? For a chilling beach read?

CH: June 2010 and June 2011. You’ll notice it is the month with the most daylight – because no one should be reading this stuff after dark.

EL: The character of The Master aka Jusef Sardu reminded me of Max Schreck’s Nosferatu or Reggie Nalder’s Barlow (in Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot). What were you and Guillermo going for with the appearance and character of The Master?

CH: Funny, I don’t see Him that way. Part of what we are doing – and part of what we knew we would be coming up against – is working off readers’ preconceptions. Vampires and their lore have such visual references. But remember – we have two books to go.

EL: Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect with the next book?

CH: No, but I know everything there is to know about THE HOBBIT movies. If only you’d asked!

EL: You are best known as a thriller writer, having won the Hammett Award for Prince of Thieves. How different was it for you to write a balls-out horror novel?

CH: Not so different, in the sense that Guillermo and I, from our first conversation, wanted to marry the procedural thriller with the horror novel. We wanted to start with a real world scenario and grow it out until the only rationale left for the characters was the supernatural.

EL: I know it is early but what sort of feedback have you been getting for The Strain? And with the recent Swine flu outbreak, do you think that will add an extra freak-out factor for readers? The vampires transmitting a virus, as they do.

CH: Feedback from advance readers has been everything we hoped for: people tripping on a new strain of vampire book. Most critics are raving, though a few aren’t quite sure if we’re trying to deliver PAN’S LABYRINTH or HELLBOY, and maybe feel disappointed when they find it is neither one nor the other, but instead a tasty mix of high fable and low gore, of fast action and slow dread. All I know is that pages are being turned very quickly and doors are being double-locked and triple-checked.

EL: Are you a fan of horror – literary and/or cinematic? And if so, what are some of your favorites?

CH: I still have all my Fangorias. When you subscribed in the early 1980’s, they gave you a free three-line classified ad, so you could say I was first published there. I like Italian horror, most Fulci, with GATES OF HELL as my favorite (the car scene). The usual classics (Romero, THE THING, THE EXORCIST, etc. etc.). I saw EVIL DEAD on opening night. LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH is a work of true dread. First date with my future wife was FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5: A NEW BEGINNING (nowhere near a classic, but a sentimental favorite). And trash like PIECES. Especially the trash. BTW – I haven’t seen CRONOS yet…GDT said to wait for the Blu-Ray, due later this year.

EL: Is there anything you would like to add that I may not have covered?

CH: Yep – saved this space for my literary favorites. King, of course (NIGHT SHIFT, THINNER, THE SHINING, THE MIST…). THE EXORCIST again. Ligotti, Lovecraft (some), Jonquet, DONOVAN’S BRAIN, Patrick McGrath. Many more, but this is getting boring, right? Like a fan’s classified ad in Fangoria. Besides, no one is better read in the field than my co-author. And – I have been to literary horror nirvana: GDT’s library!

EL: Thank you so much for your time, Chuck, and a big thanks for scaring the hell out of this reader!


The Strain is available on book shelves RIGHT NOW. Click below to order yourself a copy today!

Elaine Lamkin

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Synapse’s Suspiria 4K Restoration Gets a Release Date

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Earlier this year, we wrote about Synapse Films’ Suspiria 4K restoration and how it was available for pre-order. The weird catch was that there was no release date confirmed and that pre-orders would go out sometime in December 2017. Today that changes as we can confirm that the 3-disc special edition Blu-ray collection will come out December 19th, just in time for Christmas but a little late for Hanukkah. Any chance we can have one extra night this year?

Restored over three years, Synapse has been working tirelessly to create the ultimate version of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic supernatural horror film, which has since gone on to become one of the most recognized and lauded titles in the genre. This cut has been overseen and approved by Luciano Tovoli, the Director of Photography on the film.

Pre-orders are still available via Synapse Films’ website.

Special features:
*Limited edition of only 6000 units produced
*Exclusive Steelbook packaging and collector’s o-card sleeve, featuring artwork from Malleus, Van Orton Design, Juan José Saldarriaga & Chris MacGibbon
*Three disc [Two Blu-rays + One CD] limited collector’s edition (only 6000 units) containing a new 4K restoration of the original uncut, uncensored Italian 35mm camera negative exclusively done by Synapse Films, with color correction supervised and approved by SUSPIRIA Director of Photography, Luciano Tovoli
*Original 4.0 1977 English language LCRS sound mix not heard since the theatrical release in 1977, presented in high-resolution DTS-HD MA 96 Khz/24-bit audio
*Italian 5.1 surround sound mix
*Two audio commentaries by authors and Argento scholars, Derek Botelho, David Del Valle & Troy Howarth
*Do You Know Anything About Witches? – 30 minute SUSPIRIA visual essay written, edited and narrated by Michael Mackenzie
*Suzy in Nazi Germany – Featurette on the German locations from SUSPIRIA
*A Sigh from the Depths: 40 Years of SUSPIRIA – All-new anniversary retrospective on the making of the film and its influence on cinema
*Olga’s Story – Interview with star Barbara Magnolfi
*Original theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots
*Special Collector Edition Booklet containing an American Cinematographer interview with Luciano Tovoli, liner notes by Derek Botelho and restoration notes by Vincent Pereira & Don May, Jr. Cover artwork by Matthew Therrien Illustration
*“International Classics” English “Breathing Letters” opening credit sequence from U.S. release version
*Alternate All-English opening and closing credits sequences, playable via seamless branching
*Newly translated, removable English SDH subtitles for the English language version
*Newly translated, removable English subtitles for the Italian language version
*Exclusive CD remaster of Goblin’s SUSPIRIA motion picture soundtrack, containing additional tracks not included on the original 1977 soundtrack release

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Creep 2 Starring Mark Duplass Hits Netflix This December

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Just the other day we shared with you guys an exclusive interview with Partick Brice, the director of the Mark Duplass-starring found footage flicks Creep and Creep 2.

Today we have the awesome news that the killer sequel Creep 2 (review) will be hitting Netflix streaming on December 23rd.

The original creeptastic motion picture is already streaming on Netflix so if you need to catch up – or just watch the original again – you can do so tonight and get ready for the sequel which, personally, I found to be superior (if even just slightly) to the original.

What did you think of the original film? Are you excited to check out the sequel? Or have you already seen it? Make sure to let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Creep 2 starring Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhavan hits Netflix December 23rd!

Synopsis:

Desiree Akhavan (“Girls”, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR) stars as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass, reprising his role from the previous film). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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Waxwork Records Unveils Phenomenal 2018 Subscription Package

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Our pals over at Waxwork Records have unveiled their 2018 subscription bundle and it’s packed to the brim with some absolutely fantastic titles! Horror fans who enjoy spinning their music on turntables can look forward to two Romero titles, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, and lastly they’ll have Jordan Peele’s smash success title Get Out. On top of getting those five records, those who join the subscription program will also receive a t-shirt, coffee mug, poster, notebook, magnet, enamel pin, calendar, and more.

For Night of the Living Dead, Waxwork Records worked closely with the film’s original creators, including Romero himself prior to his passing, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Criterion Collection so that they could source audio from the 4K restoration. It will be released as a 2xLP package.

Dawn of the Dead will also get a 2xLP release that will include brand new artwork, re-mastered audio, and more. The same kind of treatment is being given to The ‘Burbs. Christopher Young’s Drag Me to Hell soundtrack will be a single LP but will get the same level of attention and quality as the other titles.

As for Peele’s Get Out. Michael Abels; score will be released on a 2xLP vinyl set and will pay tribute to one of the most culturally significant movies of the past several years.

The Waxwork Records subscription package will be $250 ($285 in Canada) and will open up for sale this Friday, the 24th. More information can be found on Waxwork’s website.

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