Exclusive: Bestselling Horror Author Shaun Hutson Talks Us Through His Career - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Bestselling Horror Author Shaun Hutson Talks Us Through His Career

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When it comes to the subject of extreme horror, author Shaun Hutson has never shied away from overstepping boundaries of taste and decency. Throughout his long and successful writing career, Hutson has become infamous for creating some of the most vile and disgusting stories you could ever hope to read, and horror fans love him for that. His book Chainsaw Terror was also originally banned by British retailer WHSmith for being too explicit, so nothing is too nasty for Shaun.

Hutson has also holds two unique achievements to his name that will make other horror writers green with envy. Not only was he selected to write the novelization of the first Terminator film back in 1984, but Shaun was also commissioned by legendary British studio Hammer to adapt three of their most well known horror films.

Production company Hereford Films recently purchased the rights to Shaun’s latest horror novel, Chase, so be sure to buy and read the book before the film hits screens. To celebrate the book’s release, we decided to talk to Shaun about everything from how he comes up with his disgusting ideas to his hatred of celebrity culture.

DC: Can you give us a brief overview of your newly released novel Chase and why your fans will love it?

SH: My latest novel, CHASE, is hard to describe without giving away some crucial plot twists but I’ll give it a go. A married couple and their eight year old daughter are preparing for a once in a lifetime holiday driving across Colorado in an RV but they are unaware that a murderous cult in the area they’re visiting has been slaughtering children due to it’s twisted beliefs. For different reasons, the trip becomes a nightmare. I think it’s probably the darkest thing I’ve written for many years. I got to a certain point during the writing and thought “do I want to put these people through any more of this?” The answer turned out to be yes. But it really is unrelenting for most of the book. My readers will love it because it is the kind of tension, horror and shocks that they’ve come to expect (and more) over the years and I think it will appeal to new readers because of the twists and turns of the story and the fact that it whips along at such a pace.

DC: Why does the horror genre appeal to you, and how do you find the experience of writing horror compared to other genres?

SH: The Horror genre has always appealed to me because it has no limits. Or shouldn’t have. There’s nothing you can’t do in a horror story. It doesn’t matter how dark or disturbing the material is, you can examine it and write about it in this genre. I’ve written in several other genres too (thriller, war, western) and always applied the same criteria, that there is nothing off limits but horror just gives you free rein if you want to take it. It also allows me to examine parts of my psyche that other genres don’t. And yes, those parts are dark!

DC: Your books deal with some extreme and disgusting stories. For example, Spawn was about a trio of aborted fetuses that survive being torn from the womb and command a deformed former mental patient to embark on a killing spree, and Victims featured a dead baby being placed in a microwave. So I have to ask, just how do you come up with your ideas?

SH: The ideas, no matter how twisted, just seem to come to me. I suppose I was blessed with a warped mind! I never sit down and try to think of something shocking or revolting. If you do that it looks contrived and clunky. But if I think of something and I think it works then I’ll use it. No matter how warped and revolting it might be. Sometimes I’ve sat back after writing a scene and thought “wow, where did that come from?” (I did that a couple of times in CHASE) but I’ve only ever cut things myself three or four times. In the past, editors have suggested or demanded cuts but I usually resist if I think what I’ve done is necessary. As I said earlier, it’s horror for Christ’s sake, there should be no limits. Having said that I did stop myself from writing a scene in the book I’ve just finished, TESTAMENT (due out next year). I even shocked myself.

DC: And can you describe the process of going from having a rough idea in your head to a completed manuscript?

SH: Ideas come to me all the time but how and if I eventually get them onto paper varies. Ideas I might not use now might be useful in two years’ time. Something that doesn’t work in one book might work in another. I used to have a huge lever arch file where I wrote down every idea, no matter how thin. Most were never used but it was comforting knowing they were there. Once I’ve settled on an idea I plan it out from start to finish (I used to anyway, I tend to write a bit more instinctively now. I write it then go back and change it accordingly).

I re-write much more now than I used to. I don’t know why. I still write pretty quick because I think that speed transmits itself to the printed page (well, hopefully). Also, I don’t like taking too long on each book because if I get bored then so will the readers! I do all the research, all the notes and everything then just sit down and let rip.

DC: Is it difficult to write about believable characters in such extreme scenarios?

SH: I think having believable characters in unbelievable situations is how you make horror work. If the characters aren’t identifiable to readers then you’ve got no chance of making them immerse themselves in the story. If your characters are strong enough and sympathetic enough then readers will go with you and if something happens to those characters it will have an added effect.

DC: You’re known for your hatred of celebrity culture, something you explored in your book Warhol’s Prophecy. Can you elaborate on this?

SH: If I elaborate too much on my hatred of celebrities and celebrity culture it would take up the entire interview!!! The best definition of a celebrity I ever saw was by Barry Humphries who said that “a celebrity is a non-entity that got lucky.” I despise this worship of nobodies basically. Anyone who’s been on TV is called a celeb. Anyone who’s got more than 10 subscribers on Youtube is an internet celebrity! Give me a fucking break. If someone has a talent for music, writing, acting, painting etc. then fair enough but morons on Reality TV and it’s ilk have no fucking talent at all.

You’re supposed to achieve a measure of celebrity by being good at something, not by just being called a ‘celebrity.’ The X-Factor and Simon Cowell’s other shit programmes have already done untold damage to the music business and that celebrity cancer is spreading. The people who enter The X-Factor don’t want to be musicians, they want to be celebrities. All these auto-tuned wannabes are destroying music. Every other programme on TV is “Celebrity” this or “Celebrity” that. I’d like to see “Celebrity Surgery” where some idiot who thinks they’re a celeb undergoes an operation on prime time TV which hopefully fails! I’d watch Celeb Big Brother if they’d just lock the fuckers in that house and let them starve to death.

I particularly hate the way publishers have made it difficult for ‘real’ writers by publishing so much ghost written garbage with celebs names on it. I honestly believe the time will come when the only books in a bookshop will be by so-called celebs. A real writer sits down and suffers for months or years with an idea and turning it into a book and then probably gets paid very little once it’s published but a publisher approaches a so-called celeb with huge amounts of money and gets them to put their name on a book! That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Anyone who calls themselves a celebrity should be fucking killed. Yes, I am passionate in my views…

DC: Your book Chainsaw Terror, which you wrote under the name Nick Blake, was temporarily banned by British retailer WHSmith for having the word ‘chainsaw’ in the title. The book was then heavily cut and released under the new title Come the Night. This must have been frustrating for you at the time?

SH: Chainsaw Terror was originally going to be part of a trilogy! To be followed by Chainsaw Bloodbath and Chainsaw Slaughter (all subtle stuff..) but when the first one was banned that fucked up the other two. I was told by an editor at the time to write a novel about a nutter with a chainsaw and to go as far over the top as possible. Big mistake! I finished the book in about 20 days and a week later got a call from the editor saying they’d got to cut about 30 pages because they hadn’t thought anyone could go quite as far over the top as I’d gone! I was disappointed that it had to be cut but there was nothing I could do and if the cuts hadn’t been made the whole book would have been junked. I had similar problems with DEADHEAD a few years later which was also banned by W.H. Smith for various reasons involving extreme violence and the fact it was about using children in snuff movies. You just never know what people are going to react to but it’s no good sitting there and thinking “should I do this or not?” Just do it. If someone reacts badly to what you’ve written then at least you’ve still had a reaction. Someone hating what you write is better than indifference…

DC: The rights to Chase were recently purchased by Hereford Films, so we might finally be getting a decent screen adaptation of one of your books. The only other film adaptation of one of your books was 1988’s Slugs, which you were not too fond of. Can you describe why you’ve had such a difficult relationship with Hollywood and if you think we’ll be seeing more adaptations of one of your books?

SH: I’m hoping that CHASE (and also ASSASSIN which they’ve bought too) mark the beginning of an upsurge of ‘film interest’ in my books. I’ve always thought they were very cinematic over the years but I think some of the subject matter has frightened people off which is fucking stupid when you see some of the things being put on screen. It is frustrating because films and TV is where the real money is. I’m not the kind of author who’s so precious about his work that he demands to write the scripts etc. (although I have written the screenplays for CHASE and ASSASSIN) and if someone wants to give me an obscene amount of money for the rights then they can happily go and make musicals of all my work! Readers aren’t stupid enough to think that a film is bad because it’s based on a bad book. The two mediums are so different. What works in print might not work on film, I’m fully aware of that and always have been. I just need some producers with balls. There must be some out there somewhere!

DC: You signed a deal with Hammer Horror to write novelizations of some of their films. As Hammer are the face of British horror for many genre fans, I imagine that must have been quite an honor?

SH: Doing the novelizations for Hammer was great. I’d grown up with Hammer films and always loved them so when I got the chance to do three of their films as books I jumped at it. They were originally going to do every one of their films as a novelization but that didn’t come off unfortunately. I was determined not to mess about with the three I did too much. I updated “X-The Unknown” because I didn’t think that the themes of nuclear power etc. were so relevant now as they were in the 50’s when it was made but I left the basic structure and characters alone. I added scenes and characters and expanded on what was already there in all three to try and put my own ‘stamp’ on the books but it was a real privilege doing those. I’d love to have done “Brides of Dracula”, “Frankenstein Created Woman” and “Plague of the Zombies,” but it wasn’t to be. Maybe one day…

SH: You also wrote the novelization for the first Terminator movie all the way back in 1984. How do you feel about the direction of the franchise since then?

SH: I was delighted to do the novelization for The Terminator. I hardly added anything to that. Just followed the script and expanded scenes etc. I know this is probably heresy but I’m not really a huge fan of the film or the franchise to be honest. I think they should have stopped after number two! It was a great idea and well executed but, like all successful franchises, it just doesn’t know when to call it a day! But what do I know? James Cameron is a multi-millionaire and I’m not so we can all see who knows what they’re talking about can’t we?

DC: Are there any little known and hard to find books in your back catalogue that you would encourage readers to track down?

SH: I did so many novels under pseudonyms earlier in my career including the Westerns and War novels (all of which are shortly being re-published digitally by a publisher called Endeavour) but of my own books I’d still recommend THE SKULL for readers. It was the first horror book I had published (even before SLUGS) and I think it’s still a decent story with some good scenes. I enjoyed writing all the books for different reasons so it’s hard to recommend anything in particular. I still get a huge buzz out of people reading and re-reading the early books and telling me how much they enjoyed them. The stories still hold up I think and that’s the main thing.

DC: What’s next for you?

SH: The next thing for me is…lunch. I’ve just finished a new book called TESTAMENT which sees the return of Sean Doyle and is a sequel to RENEGADES nearly thirty years after the events of that book. I’ve done other books with Doyle in (readers seem to like him) but this one is a direct sequel. I’m also about a quarter of the way through another book (I’ve always got something on the go) as well as having done the scripts for CHASE and ASSASSIN and a number of short scripts for a TV series but I hate talking too much about things until the contract is signed or the cheque has cleared…ha, ha.. I always try to have something to work on. It stops me going completely insane…

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Several Muppets Were Run Through The Walking Dead’s Zombie App and It’s Kind of Amazing

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For many people, a big part of their childhood were the Muppets from “Sesame Street”. The lessons they learned from characters such as Bert and Ernie, Count von Count, Big Bird, and more, were invaluable and set a foundation of how to live ones life. On top of educational lessons, they were taught compassion, sharing, decency, and other traits that form the basis of a civilized society. Then zombies came along and botched everything.

Using an app from “The Walking Dead”, several characters from “Sesame Street” have been zombified, resulting in images that will no doubt make some of you laugh while others might be horrified at what their childhood characters have gone through. It’s kinda hard to deny that Count von Count doesn’t look gruesome as hell with a dislocated and dangling jaw…

Below is a gallery of these images and, just for fun, underneath that is “The Walking Gingerbread”, an actual parody of “The Walking Dead” done by “Sesame Street” for Halloween!

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Josh Millican’s Best Horror Films of 2017

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It may just be that my love of horror grows every year, but it honestly feels as though 2017 has been a red-letter year for the genre. Not only are films like Andy Muschietti’s IT and Jordan Peele’s Get Out generating Oscar buzz but we’ve seen horror elements seep into mainstream movies and TV shows, from Logan to “Stranger Things”.

And this hasn’t merely been an amazing year for mainstream horror, with powerful indies emerging as some 2017’s best; it’s further proof that many of the most compelling and important genre flicks are being produced outside the traditional Hollywood system. Below, in no particular order, are my selections for the Best Horror Films of 2017. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!


Brawl in Cell Block 99

Though the subject matter is completely different, S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 has many parallels to his first film, 2015’s Bone Tomahawk. Both movies build slowly and are anchored by compelling characters and engrossing dialogue; furthermore, both films are deceptively understated until an explosive and shocking 3rd Act hits like a gut-punch.

Vince Vaughn delivers a genuinely poignant portrayal of Bradley Thomas, a down-on-his-luck drug runner willing to do anything to protect his family from disgruntled former associates. Don Johnson also deserves a shout-out for his turn as corrupt Warden Tuggs, the most unnerving fictional jailer since Cool Hand Luke.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 isn’t your typical horror movie, presenting a meandering narrative, but it’s still as entertaining as anything that follows an established formula. Horror is always most compelling when we can connect with a film’s protagonists, and this film delivers in spades.


Raw

Julia Ducournau’s Raw both benefited and suffered from reports of audience members fainting and falling ill during the film’s 2015 premiere at TIFF. Upon its limited theatrical release, The Nuart in Los Angeles passed barf bags out to moviegoers, a tactic usually reserved for the most extreme and outlandish of B-movies, films intentionally crafted to trigger the gag-reflex. While Raw does indeed contain scenes that are very difficult to stomach (pun intended!) it’s hardly a 2-dimensional gross-out.

Before classifying the film as horror, it’s a coming of age saga first and foremost. Themes of cannibalism and bodily mutilations become metaphors for sexual awakenings and transitions into adulthood. Raw is also a compelling study of sibling rivalries and the powerful influence of heredity on personal development.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Though released after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is actually the debut film from Oz Perkins (son of horror icon Anthony Perkins). It combines the supernatural terrors of a possession movie with the compelling complexity of a murder mystery. The all-girls boarding school in winter provides a moody aesthetic with Gothic undertones while serving as an incubator for sexual awakenings and religious guilt.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter hinges on a powerful twist, but this doesn’t hit the audience like a ton of bricks; rather, the film’s secrets are gradually unraveled, resulting in a slow realization that’s as poignant as it is shocking. The film succeeds in no small part thanks to compelling performances by a trio of talented young thespians: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton.


The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is one of the most talented horror practitioners to emerge from Australia in the 21st Century. His debut film, The Loved Ones, is an under-seen sleeper that balances teen angst, dark comedy, and extreme violence. With his follow-up film, The Devil’s Candy, Byrne is finally getting the attention he deserves.

It’s less extreme than The Loved Ones, but The Devil’s Candy’s understated presentation, genuine drama, and slow-burn build-up delivers more palpable dread and a lasting resonance. The Devil’s Candy is a chaotic mix of heavy metal music and inner demons and can be viewed as a metaphor for how the blind pursuit of art can destroy families.

Ethan Embry deserves a shout out for his harrowing portrayal of father and artist Jesse Hellman. Who’d have thought the kid from Can’t Hardly Wait would develop into such a skilled actor?


Get OutGet Out

Historically, Q1 is a bad time for horror movies, as studios are prone to dumping films they have little faith in. Jordan Peele’s Get Out breaks the rules in many ways and, though released in February, it remains one of the most lauded and analyzed films of 2017—in any genre. The inclusion of sociopolitical elements makes Get Out both unique and timely, although even without its social agenda, Get Out is a compelling and unnerving experience, one that stokes paranoia by exacerbating primal fears related to deception and isolation.

Peele has become an exciting and refreshing figure in horror with plans for more socially-conscious thrillers in the years to come.


47 Meters Down

Nearly unceremoniously dumped directly to DVD in 2016, In the Deep was rebranded 47 Meters Down and given a theatrical release last Summer, where it became an unlikely hit. Perhaps hampered by preconceptions relating to lead actress Mandy Moore, 47 Meters Down is nonetheless immensely entertaining, eclipsing 2016’s shark-horror blockbuster The Shallows.

I do have doubts about the film’s ability to spawn a franchise (there’s currently a sequel in the works, being produced under the temporary title 48 Meters Down) considering this film hinges on a twist that can only be used once, so it’s difficult to imagine a sequel with the same impact—but who knows?

Ultimately, though, even a bad sequel won’t diminish the shine of 47 Meters Down. The film also proves there are still plenty of ways to pack legitimate terror into a PG-13 horror movie.

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Ash Vs Evil Dead Seasons 1 and 2 Are Now Streaming on Netflix

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The last word we brought you guys on the upcoming third season of Starz’s “Ash vs Evil Dead” starring Bruce Campbell was when we shared the show’s all-new teaser trailer (below).

Today we have awesome news that the first two seasons are now streaming on Netflix!

So if you’ve been putting off watching the series (for some reason) or have been waiting until the day where you could just binge-watch the series in one grand swoop, then today is your day. There isn’t a better time than now. Just make sure you’re caught up come February.

Hell, yeah.

Are you excited to watch (or rewatch) the first two seasons of “Ash vs Evil Dead” on Netflix? Let us know below!

“Ash vs Evil Dead” stars Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Campbell executive produces the series with Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ivan Raimi, and Rick Jacobson. Season 3’s new showrunners are Mark Verheiden and Moira Grant.

“Ash vs Evil Dead” season 3 hits STARZ Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Synopsis:

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

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