Stephen Romano's Kingdom: Basket Case, Phantasm and Some Noise for Dino DeLaurentiis - Dread Central
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Stephen Romano’s Kingdom: Basket Case, Phantasm and Some Noise for Dino DeLaurentiis

 

KINGDOM BANNER copy - Stephen Romano's Kingdom:  Basket Case, Phantasm and Some Noise for Dino DeLaurentiis

Well, kids, it’s just SEVEN DAYS now until the publication of my brand-new novel METRO. It’s a wild one, all full of death and mutilation and even (egad!) a really swell story! The best part is, the damn thing is an e-book exclusive from Simon and Schuster, a real futuristic bargain at only two bucks for the download! So click ANY OF THE IMAGES YOU SEE in this posting to head on over and pre-order your copy. (You can get it for ANY e-book platform, including Kindle at Amazon.) AND SPEAKING OF IMAGES . . .

As most of you already know, this weekly feature showcases some wild photos from a house I used to live in, which was dedicated to all things wet and squishy and awesome. Below you can see the office I worked in while I still lived there.

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This was the weird little corner where I wrote many screenplays, books, short stories and comic projects. I penned my script for Masters of Horror there. I wrote my book “The Riot Act” there. AND I masterminded some really swell novelizations of the films of Lucio Fulci, including Zombie, The Gates of Hell and The Beyond. Those projects have been long out of print and/or banished to limbo for many, many years. But I am happy to announce that they will be seeing the light of day again SOON. I get many letters from the fans of Fulci, asking about those comics, but many factors have prevented the books from coming out. Until now. I can’t say more than that until the official announcement, but here’s a really swell image from the first issue of Zombie, which is looking great:

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Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

sam - Stephen Romano's Kingdom:  Basket Case, Phantasm and Some Noise for Dino DeLaurentiisAs for the photo of my office above, if you look really, really hard you can see a totally rare couple images from a Detroit Free Press cover story on director Sam Raimi, published at the time when Darkman was released in theaters. One of the photos actually shows Sam holding his own mummified head in his hands. The other shows him gouging his own throat out with a hand saw. I still have both of those up on the wall of my current office. Hail to the king!

This hallway in the PHOTO BELOW was filled with rare movie posters, including an vintage theatrical one-sheet for the original  Basket Case. The icky thing about that poster is that it actually hung in a 42nd Street theater when the film was first released in the early 1980s and came to me through a video store in 1983 bearing the many scars of its tenure on the Deuce. If you look hard, you can even see that there is a dark smear of dried blood on the poster.

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We spent years speculating how that blood got there, and then one day, after a particularly gory altercation at The Kingdom, I ended up with a gushing wound on my arm and decided to add to the urban legend. What you see in the photo is not only some nameless 42nd street denizen’s lifeblood—but also my own, smeared on there forever. The poster hung on that wall for nearly 13 years, and now lives in a frame in my new house. I always tell people the blood came from ritual sacrifice. And they always back away slowly.

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“Entry Level Male? What the fuck???”  You wouldn’t believe how many times I heard THAT particular phrase uttered in this hallway of the Kingdom. The poster stuck out like a sore thumb against all the blood and guts and sci-fi comic book madness. But it was only really displayed there because I wrote the music score for that particular film. And, no, it wasn’t gay porn, people. It was actually a science fiction film made almost 20 years ago in Houston, by a man named Rick Harrington, who came to be known for a while as the Ed Wood of Texas. Which pretty much classes ELM: Entry Level Male as one of the “worst” movies of all time. You think Troll 2 had it going on? Wait’ll you check out this baby.   Well, actually, you can’t.  I’ll explain.

ELM: Entry Level Male was such an antiquated, low-budget production that they were shooting on short ends and editing on an ancient flatbed cutting machine—the kind where you actually have physical strips of film and you cut them with a razor and tape the pieces together.  Even 20 years ago, that technology was rarely used.  I never found out why they were so in the dark ages, but when I finally saw the finished movie—this thing was actually released in theaters in Houston—it wasn’t hard to notice the lack of all-around technical expertise.  (I dragged a friend of mine to the premier in Houston and, no bullshit, he wouldn’t speak to me for days afterwards, the jerk.)  Being a sincere fan of do-or-die schlock auteurs like Andy Milligan, I think the nuts and bolts filmmaking approach here is quite admirable in today’s day and age, and the screenplay of ELM was kind of interesting and original. Um. But let’s just say the stars didn’t exactly align for these guys when the critics showed up in force to massacre their movie right off the face of the earth. It opened and closed in one day.  ELM: Entry Level Male has never been released in any other form, virtually banished forever to a very special limbo reserved for movies that never got their shit together for the digital future.

And my music? Ugh. Don’t ask.

Let me be clear, though.  I’m damn proud to be associated with the Ed Wood of Texas, kids.

Rock and roll.

You can read more about this remarkable lost science fiction film and the people who made it here.

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I’ve always liked this image of Citizen Jimmy from the final days of The Kingdom. He’s holding a Silver Sphere from the Phantasm pictures, given to me as a gift by director Don Coscarelli, with whom I worked for many years on many projects. Some people have asked me if I had anything to do with the new P sequel that’s coming out this year, and I thought I’d take this moment to address the question. It’s a simple answer. No, I didn’t. But the new director, Dave Hartman is awesome and he’s a good buddy and the film is gonna rock your world. I like Dave so much that I named the super nasty bad guy in my novel “Resurrection Express” after him. I’m sure he appreciated that!

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Here’s a final image for you, from my room at The Kingdom. I called it the Wall of Honor, and if you look really hard, you can see all sorts of fun tidbits, from rare VHS releases of classic films to a trophy I won in the 8th grade during a contest run by producer Dino DeLaurentiis just before his film version of Dune came out in 1984. It was a scholastic competition open to middle schoolers all over the country who aspired to be filmmakers, in which we were asked to design a costume, write a script, build a set or compose a soundtrack, inspired by Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel.  The idea was to imagine we had been hired to work on the movie and give it our best shot.  trophy 300x225 - Stephen Romano's Kingdom:  Basket Case, Phantasm and Some Noise for Dino DeLaurentiisI entered two pieces of music in the filmscoring category and won second place. (This obviously led to a fine career in the industry scoring blockbusters like ELM: Entry Level Male.) I found out later that Dune director David Lynch actually had a major hand in selecting the final winners.  Which makes a lot of sense now that I think about it, because my “music” was mostly cacophonous noise improvised on a synthesizer, in which I tried to simulate the surreal underground squirmings of giant worms. The eccentric and unpredictable auteur of Eraserhead dug it, obviously.  (I mean, duh, right?)  And that’s the closest I ever got to working with Dino deLaurteniis also. (They actually presented me the trophy like an Oscar, during “awards day” in the school auditorium and I was cheered like a rock star when I walked across the stage; Everyone should have a Rushmore moment like that in school, I think.)  For my prize, Dino donated a couple grand to the school drama department and gave me a crappy plastic Kodak camera—the kind little old ladies used back in the stone age of film to click off snapshots of their grandkids at Disneyland. Think I got screwed.  Ah, Hollywood . . .

NEXT MONDAY, my book hits the street, kids, and I’ll be PRESENTING AWESOME GUEST BLOGS ALL SEVEN DAYS AT MY WEBSITE UNTIL THEN, so head on over there for MORE FUN.

And hit us at Instagram for tons of awesome Kingdom images

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