Delve Deeper

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Interview with Lovecraftian Composer Mars Homeworld...

Interview conducted by Sean Smithson


Mars Homeworld.

The name conjures up palatial futuristic cities, set against sweeping crimson landscapes, where strange creatures roam the dunes, and alien craft fill the skies. Alas, Mars Homeworld, is actually a big, lovable, teddy bear of a man, not a celestial body. He is indeed an entity unto himself though, make no mistake.

The creator of some of the most sinister, slithery, unearthly sounds to be found in the milieu of modern genre soundtrack work; Mr. Homeworld has carved out a niche for himself among indy horror filmmakers over the last half bloody talon scoop at a time.

His reputation as being easy going, hard working, knowledgeable, and most importantly inspired, has kept his musical malformation - Dead House Music; growing, and thriving in a universe cold and rife with chaotic forces threatening to thwart one's sanity (read: a messed up indy film scene where it's almost impossible to make any kind of living as a composer). Recent work includes the Greg Lamberson trashsploitation epic SLIME CITY MASSACRE, and the award winning LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN, which is the definitive documentary on the enigmatic writer to date, and features appearances by such hallowed luminaries as John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, and HPL scholar S.T. Joshi. Like many of the protagonists in Mr. Lovecraft's tales, Mars stands at the mouth of a rolling cosmic eternity (read: the musical landscape), seeking to unlock Enochian and eldritch mysteries, in this case with the auditory conjurations he manifests with his wizardly banks of keyboards, guitars, percussion instruments, and a computer with one hell of a lot of RAM.
Before he loses himself completely in the void, let's get some insight as to how Mr. Homeworld copes with the massive responsibility of making music worthy of the Elder Gods!

SEAN: Tell us about your musical background.

MARS: I'm a musician and performer from a family of the same. I think my parents would have been surprised if I hadn't gravitated toward the arts in some capacity.

SEAN: So, I have to ask, is it true you actually lived in (Lovecraft's friend, artist, and fellow weird fiction author) Clark Ashton Smith's house?

MARS: Not quite. But, I live in his home town of Auburn, Ca., and I lived about 20 feet away from this surreal coy pond that Clark himself built back in the 1950's. It had sharp rocks around the rim; all arranged like spires...pretty much just like many of his paintings. My landlord, a truly exceptional soul named Bob Elder, was a close friend of Smith's and had many of his paintings, letters, books, etc. (some of which I own now that Bob has passed away) I was always enamored at being in the presence of such genius in that house, and of course the Lovecraft connection was never lost on me. I spent a lot of time looking into that pond for inspiration.

SEAN: When did you first "discover" HPL?

MARS: I was in High School. I'd read a book by Colin Wilson called THE MIND PARASITES, in which the protagonist kept referencing A horror /pulp writer from the 1920's named H.P. Lovecraft. That was the first seed. Then my circle of friends and I discovered the CALL OF CTHULHU role playing game. Being as we were all horror fans, and looking for something outside DUNGEONS & DRAGONS...COC was a perfect game to learn. And again I saw his name "Horror role-playing in The Worlds Of H. P. Lovecraft". So, that writer was real! I marched over to the library, and checked out "The Doom That Came To Sarnath and Other Tales" and I was hooked. That was it.

SEAN: What was the dark path that led you to the Master?

MARS: Probably a very common one for readers who discover Lovecraft at a young age: A feeling of being disconnected from society to a certain degree. And alienation is at the heart of that. When you're 16 , Lovecraft resonates with you in a way that is truly potent. It's almost overwhelming. If you're of the temperament to hang out in graveyards, and you enjoy that feeling of wondering whats under your bed...HPL is going to deliver big time.

SEAN: You & I were on a panel discussion at last year's Crypticon; about (among other things) music in film. You mentioned that using the human voice as an instrument can be quite empathetic for an audience, as they can relate to it. So, when composing for slithering, tentacled horrors; what do you use as you sonic underpinnings? How do you go about picking an instrument to represent "slime" or an "infinite cosmic void"?

MARS: My approach to scoring for Lovecraftian cinema is rooted in giving the most extraordinary concepts some kind of tangible root in the day-to-day. And then perverting it sonically. I think that is an underlying concept fundamental to Lovecraft's work. For example, the score to "LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN" is full of organic elements like streams, wind, rocks banging together, dogs & cats fighting, etc...but I've taken them and re-shaped them into unrecognizable new elements. I think where most composers get it wrong is by approaching HPL as 100% Music...when the true atmosphere lies within the spaces in-between; the silences, the subtleties. Just treating a Lovecraftian score as all dark classical music is really not thinking too far outside the box. So I do a hybrid.

SEAN: Musically, speaking, how did you enter into the realm of atmospheric music being a kid raised on and playing technical death metal?

MARS: I'd majored in music in school, and even had been awarded a music scholarship (which I spent on rent for my first apartment...and partying, y'know...kid stuff) The chops I developed from playing jazz translated to the complicated style of metal and really pushed me forward faster than perhaps other musicians I knew who'd stayed with the standard top 40 fare. Even the Death Metal I wrote was pretty bizarre by the genre's standards. As in; I incorporated a great deal of fusion Jazz and odd classical arrangements into it, so the leap to full blown film scoring wasn't as extreme as you'd imagine.

I always loved moody, dark classical music, especially the composers who favored percussion and bass instrumentation, like Rimsky Korsakov, Holst, Wagner, ...and then I discovered stuff like "PETER GABRIEL PLAYS LIVE"...that album blew my mind at 14 years old. "The Rhythm Of The Heat" which opens that record, was unlike anything I'd ever heard at that time. That kind of world music became a definite influence. Along with DEAD CAN DANCE, SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES, ANATHEMA...a lot of gothic stuff in there too.

SEAN: In composing, what would you say are the differences between writing metal and writing soundtracks music?

MARS: Although the note selection does overlap a great deal, I'd say the primary difference is one common to writing soundtrack vs. writing "songs" in general. In film scoring, your job is to enhance, NOT to fight for attention. That is my job, and one of the clearest defining things about film scoring that separates it from being in a band, you MUST put ego aside and do what is right for the film, NOT just for your music as you hear it. Its a tightrope; you must care enough to do good work, but be emotionally unattached enough that you're not 100% married to your ideas, as they may have to be changed at a moment's notice if a new last minute edit or a re-shoot comes in. This is why I cannot understand using regular band's music for soundtracks, it may be cost effective, but you're most likely selling the film short with music that hasn't been designed to make the scenes as powerful as possible.

SEAN: You worked on a music project to accompany the CALL OF CTHULHU role playing game in the early 90's. Was the music you wrote for that Choasium product (which was never released) used in another form or adapted to another project?

MARS: Sadly no. It was all done on a 4 track cassette recorder, and the tapes are now Hastur-knows-where. Probably in storage if I'm lucky. I'd love to hear that stuff again.

SEAN: How did you come to start DEADHOUSE MUSIC?

MARS: Well, after years of bands, and being in crappy hotels, etc...I just decided it was time to put away the rock & roll dream, and actually use the classical background and training I had. Since I'd been a rabid fan of genre films and especially Horror films my whole life, I figured that working in the horror genre would be a natural marriage of the dark music I already enjoyed and my favorite film genre. I stared promoting Dead House in late 2005 and never looked back. 21 films, 2 video games, radio, and various other projects later, I'm still passionate about what I do.

SEAN: Are you the sole operator?

MARS: Yessir, the Lord & Master as it were. If anything doesn't get done, I only have myself to blame, and I've found that I'm the person I can most rely on to consistently work hard.

SEAN: How do you land gigs in such a competitive field AND not being centered in Hollywood?

MARS: Ego aside, it doesn't hurt being damn good at what I do. And that doesn't mean I'm the most talented guy out there...far from it. But I have what many artists lack; a strong, strong work ethic. I've never had a dissatisfied client, and usually word of mouth will get you farther than any other kind of advertising you could buy. I have got the art of long distance scoring down at this point, so I haven't felt the need to move to LA, really. If I can score projects from New Zealand, England, Scotland, Canada, and across the country...I can score something in LA without having to live in LA. This is the 21st century, and the technology exists if you know how to use it.

SEAN: Walk us through the process if you would, of a typical job. From gathering musical ideas, refining, recording, editing, tweaking, etc.

MARS: I don't really have a typical job, per se. One of the first things I learned is that they all have unique characteristics. But an ideal gig has me involved from the script level, and I can discuss influences with the director ahead of time. Then I go thru the script and look at it much as a cinematographer might, just paying attention to the places where the most obvious cues are going to need to be...action beats, suspense, etc. If I'm lucky, the director has a musical clue and they will have ideas based upon other music that they like, then it is a matter of building on the good ideas and (tactfully) aiming them away from the bad ones...y'know the overtly cheesy strings, or the painfully cliched stuff. IF I can. Sometimes that's really what they want, so that's what I deliver.

I usually receive the film as a whole (as a "locked" aka: final edit), or sometimes in pieces, scene by scene, or sometimes (recently) I worked from notes I had for previous stuff I'd scored 2 years ago, and wrote music for new scenes that were yet to be shot. Based just on the script. It's always different. Adaptation and flexibility will get you pretty far. I time the scenes out, and begin thinking of where the scene sits in the film as a whole, and start writing music. I use a PC and an editing/recording software called REAPER. It's an amazing alternative to Pro Tools, (which I did have and got rid of...too much proprietary nonsense involved with their hardware) and I like it quite a lot.

Then I upload the finished work and send it to the director/editor/who is assembling the footage and they get a look at it. If they like it, I move on. If they don't, I'll have another go at it. Only on a few occasions in over 20 films have I had to re-do any cues. That's all because of the time spent talking with the director to get it right and be on the same page before I even start writing the music.

SEAN: Where did the name "Mars Homeworld" come from?

MARS: I was in a band with 2 other guys named "Chris", so we all took on pseudonyms. I'm Irish as I'm a redhead in my "natural" (aka: Non-Black no. 1 hair dye) state.

SEAN: Have you had the experience of working with classical musicians, or has your work always been self contained and synth based?

MARS: I've been able to hire solo vocalists, string, and woodwind players on occasion. To enhance the synth orchestrations. That is always a lot of fun, and very rewarding. But, I haven't worked on a project with a budget big enough to warrant hiring a whole chamber orchestra ...Yet. Bear in mind that my "Synth" library is composed of hundreds of gigs sampled from real symphonic instruments, so it's not too far removed from sounding like an authentic orchestra.

SEAN: What is the one HPL project you were born to score, and why?

MARS: Working with the legendary LURKER FILMS was an early blessing; Andrew has done more for promoting quality HPL influenced cinema than anyone else I can think of. FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN was certainly a career highlight; John Carpenter, Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, Bob Price....those guys are heroes of mine. So, I've been fortunate already. BUT, I am telling you , I know what AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS should sound like...and it's NOT another dark symphonic tour-de-force that is interchangeable with a zillion other post-modern super hero needs atmosphere. It needs to be unique, and to enhance the alien aspect so prevalent in HPL's work. In some respects, it needs to be a sonic weapon, as well as a funeral lullaby for humanity. It needs someone who grew up dreaming of writing for Lovecraft film. Guillermo, I'm talking to you mate....NO ONE would work harder to realize that films musical potential than me. Ahem, end of rant.

SEAN: Do you work on a flat fee or do you have a sliding scale for less financially equipped filmmakers?

MARS: I have a flat fee to begin with, and I'm willing to bend & flex in various way till it works for the individual project. If I really want to work with someone, or I am madly in love with the filmmaker's vision; then I'm all about doing it for the love of creating something unique. I've contributed free stuff to projects that deserved a break in the past, and I'll probably do so in the future. I'm a fan of cinema first and foremost, so I'm very enthusiastic to help out for the good of the art form where applicable.

So, you Lovecraftian filmmakers out there: Get in touch. Thanks to Craig at Unfilmable for his awesome support of all our mutual madness, and thank you Sean, for a great interview.



Mars on


(Thanks to Sean Smithson and MARS)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Last Lovecraft VOD/DVD trailer...

Dark Sky Films has released a VOD/DVD promotional trailer for Henry Saine's The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (watch it below), and announced the film's DVD pre-release premiere at the Los Angeles' Cinefamily (611 North Fairfax Avenue), Monday, February 7 at 7:30. Several members of the cast and crew will be in attendence, including director Henry Saine, writer Devin McGinn and actors Kyle Davis, Barak Hardley, Gregg Lawrence, Ethan Wilde and Edmund Lupinski...

Click here for details, and look for The Last Lovecraft on DVD February 15th...

(Thanks to

Gurgling, a Lovecraftian tale...

Gurgling, the latest short film from J. Xavier Velasco, is a Lovecraftian tale about Fernando, who is visited by a strange humanoid and led into a crater lake. Once there, he will discover his ominous nature and embrace it...

The film, which deals with the existential questioning of "belonging", is looking for backers to help deal with budget issues caused by the various VFX, CGI and prosthetic make-up effects needed to bring the Lovecraftian creatures to life...

Shooting will take place in an actual crater lake in Alchichica, Mexico, in the hopes that it will be ready for the festival circuit in June...

Check out the Kickstarter page for more...

(Thanks to J. Xavier Velasco)

Quoth Cthulhu: The Black Litany of Nug and Yeb...

Welcome to a special edition of Quoth Cthulhu, featuring Robert M. Price reading Joe Pulver's The Black Litany of Nug and Yeb, complete with introductions by Robert and Joe...

Lovecraft coins the throw-away term "The Black Litany of Nug and Yeb" in one of his letter closings. I thought it too good to discard, so in planning the Chaosium Book of Eibon, I used Will Murray's list of Mythos bits Lovecraft peppered his letters with and decided to have them written up in very truth! I asked long-suffering Joe Pulver to supply these liturgical texts so we could include them in Eibon, as ancient liturgies for the cult of the Old Ones. Others included The Grey Rite of Azathoth and The Kynothrabian Dirge. Joe produced a set of creepily authentic sounding texts. The Black Litany of Nug and Yeb was always my favorite, and I have led the congregation in the responsive reading of it at a NecronomiCon prayer breakfast, at a memorial service for Anton LaVey, on a CD, and at the recent MythosCon. Sometimes you can tell some in the crowd are too scared to join in!

– Robert M. Price

Bob asked me to do these texts and I jumped at the chance to play Dr. Strange for the mythos. His reading of "Nug & Yeb" still blows me away. I liked the text when I penned it, but his reading, well, even scares me to hear when he summons up the earth-clearers. Without Bob and Will Murray's BRILLIANT "To Clear the Earth" this text would never have happened.

– Joe Pulver

'Nug and Yeb' read by Robert M. Price and written by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. From the H.P. Lovecraft tribute album 'Strange Aeons'! Available from Rainfall Records here. Photographs taken in Joe's Nightmarium...

(Thanks to Robert M. Price and Joe Pulver)

Updated: John Dies at the End update...

It's not much, but dropped a little news on a film that is at the top of my must-see list, John Dies at the End! According to the site, "extensive postproduction visual FX are keeping the film's release date up in the air." This is the first time the film has been mentioned as being in post, so lets hope the end is near...

 Written and directed by Don Coscarelli (and based on the novel by David Wong), the film stars Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes (as John and David), Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Doug Jones and Angus Scrimm...

Update: From Don Coscarelli's twitter page, "John Dies at the End" just starting post and VFX. Could be some time. But worth waiting for, I hope!


(Thank to

Prometheus pushed back, new cast announced...

I'm not sure just how Lovecraftian Prometheus (formerly known as the Alien prequel) will be, but based on the Cosmic Horror masterpiece that is Alien; I'm betting Ridley Scott and company will find a way to give this film the master's touch as well...

Casting on the Ridley Scott helmed film is underway with Dread Central reporting that Michael Fassbender will join the previously announced Noomi Rapace, and it has also been revealed that Twentieth Century Fox has pushed the release date back three months to June 8, 2012...

Currently, Damon Lindelof is working with Scott on the new version of the script (originally written by Jon Spaihts)...

(Thanks to Dread Central)

Mindflesh review...

Check out Dread Central's review of Robert Pratten's 2008 film Mindflesh here! The film will be released (on DVD) in the UK by 4DigitalMedia this February...

Mindflesh revolves around Chris Jackson, a gateway for obsessions to pass through, from his mind to the physical world. To close the gateway, he must face his childhood trauma before everyone he knows is killed by extraterrestrials...

(Thanks to Dread Central)

Edgar Allan Poe, PI...

Chris Hollier's period Private Investigator show Poe has been given a greenlight by TV network ABC! The show revolves around Edgar Allan Poe, the world's very first detective, as he uses unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 1840's Boston...

No cast or airdate has been announced, so watch this space for more...

(Thanks to

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Thomas Ligotti film in the works...

To date, Jacob Cooney's The Frolic has been the only cinematic foray into Thomas Ligotti's unique brand of Weird Fiction, but that's about to change thanks to filmmaker Russell Bellew! Russell is currently raising funds, through and a fundraising party scheduled for the end of the month, for an adaptation of Thomas Ligotti's short story Purity...

Currently in pre-production, the film is set to star David Wassilak (as the Dad), Sean Green (as the main character, a boy named Daniel), Matthew Amend and Mark Wilks (as the Shady Figures), Christopher Seuc (as the Young Man), Samantha Smith (as Elisa), Aaron Markham (as the Man in the Long Coat), Kim Marie Fikes (as the Mom), with the role of Candy yet to be cast...

Purity will be shot in and around St. Louis by Russell and a team of Indy Filmmakers from the area, with a June start date in place...

You can find the film on facebook, or head over to to see how you can help! A one dollar donation will get you a special mention in the end credits of the film, so how can you go wrong...

About the film: Living in a dark and dangerous neighborhood, Daniel is a strange young man, living on the fringes of society with his very off beat family. One night Dad has an unexpected visitor and Daniel decides to go to his friend Candy's house and show her the fruits of his Dad's experiment, a squat jar containing a green jelly-like substance. Intertwined with a child killer, drug dealers, and murder, Daniel has to step carefully through this surreal landscape in order to survive...


(Thanks to Russell Bellew)

Updated: The HPLHS announces new screenings...

We're less than a month into 2011, and it already looks like it's going to be a very big year for the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society! Co-founder Sean Branney dropped us a note outlining the latest goings-on with the HPLHS, including the latest on their highly anticipated new film, The Whisperer in Darkness...

First up, their now classic silent film The Call of Cthulhu will screen at the recently announced Famous Monsters Film Festival in Oxnard, CA, along with some soon-to-be-announced additional Lovecraftian programming. Members of the HPLHS will be in attendance...

There will also be several screenings of The Whisperer in Darkness (with many more to be announced), including the Belfast International Film Festival in Northern Ireland in early April, and the previously announced HPLFF in San Pedro, CA this September...

As of this writing, the score for Whisperer has been finished and the film is hurtling towards completion...

Update: The film is now down to the final audio mix, and should be finished in about three weeks...


(Thanks to Sean Branney)

New Cthulhu Key: Legacy teaser...

As we await the official trailer for Cthulhu Key: Legacy, writer/director Jason Heath has released a second teaser trailer to whet our appetite...

Starring Jarod Warren, Joshua Moreno, Sarah Songer, Angela Owen and Kristen Hall (as the Entity), the film revolves around a burned out veteran who must work with a shape shifting alien entity to stop a madman bent on unleashing forces that will destroy reality itself...

Check out the teaser below...

(Thanks to Jason Heath)

Rob Tapert talks Evil Dead remake...

It's been some time since we last mentioned Sam Raimi's proposed Evil Dead remake, so long in fact, that we were sure the project was dead...

Not so it seems, as producer Robert Tapert revealed the following during an interview with

"It's possible; we're looking at a script this month," Tapert said. "What's interesting about 'Evil Dead' is very few people saw it in the format we made it for, which is for the theater... I think Sam wants to embrace the ultimate experience in grueling terror and see it remade for a proper theatrical experience."

Nothing too exciting, but if the project does happen, it will be released through Raimi's Ghost House Pictures...

(Thanks to Dread Cetral)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A fresh dose of Re-Animator...

The second segment of Joester Films adaptation of Herbert West, Re-Animator, as been released! The Plague-Demon, in which West finds an opportunity to use his reagent on a rival amidst a Typhoid plague, was written, produced and directed by Joe Harp...

Check it out below...

(Thanks to Joester Films)

Cthulhupalooza II and the Pocket Call of Cthulhu...

A reminder...

Vancouver, BC – Second Level Wizards Awesome Events Society, a Vancouver not for profit society, is hosting their second H.P. Lovecraft-themed convention and film festival. Join us for a live performance by local Cthulhu rockers The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets with Scythia folk metal, short films from around the world, live burlesque performance by Little Miss Risk, the inaugural Miskatonic Middleschool Annual PTA Bake Sale (Bake Sale proceeds to BC Children's Hospital Foundation) and the world premiere of the Thickets newest music video "20 Minutes of Oxygen". Sponsored by Kerberos Productions.

What: Cthulhupalooza II Lovecraft Convention & Film Fest
When: Feb 18 2011. Media Welcome (Event Begins 7PM)
Where: Rickshaw Theatre 254 E Hastings St.
Details: Tickets are $15 at the door and online at

Celebrate your enthusiasm for forbidden tomes, ancient space gods and eldritch cake by joining us on Feb 19. Prizes for the Miskatonic Middleschool Bake Sale competition are provided by our generous sponsors, entrants should contact us to register at and for rules and regulations. Roaring '20's period costume welcome. It's tentacular!

Check online at and for more information on Cthulhupalooza II, registration, vendor tables and other details.

Filmmakers with Lovecraft-themed shorts are invited to submit a DVD to programming director Toren Atkinson at the address below. There is no submission fee.

Click here for contact informtion...

(Thanks to Toren Atkinson)

Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness...

Official Press Release:

"January 10, 2011, Runnemede, NJ -Be sure not to miss the launch of this event series featuring the first explosive issue as the Danger Girls team up with the incomparable Ash in Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness #1 this coming April! Written by Danger Girl co-creator Andy Hartnell and drawn by Red Sonja's Chris Bolson, featuring covers by Danger Girl co-creator and legendary comics favorite J. Scott Campbell with colorist Nei Ruffino, Paul Renaud, as well as Nick Bradshaw!

Abbey Chase, the world's most daring adventuress, returns to action as she aims to recover a dark and mysterious piece of ancient history. When Abbey learns that the elusive Book of the Dead has resurfaced and fallen into nefarious hands, she and the Danger Girls embark on a mission to track down the powerful tome. But when their journey leads them to cross paths with another seeking the book - a man with a personal vendetta and a literal hand in the book's sordid history - they find themselves spiraling through the most outrageous and sure-to-be-talked-about cross-over event of the year! Don't miss Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness #1 coming up in April 2011!"

"Many artists go through an entire career without one real signature project, and I've been fortunate to have to with both Gen 13 and Danger Girl," says artist J. Scott Campbell. "And I really enjoy the Army of Darkness movies and absolutely love Bruce Campbell! This will be an incredibly compelling series!"

"Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness has been a long time coming," says writer Andy Hartnell. "Fans of the original Danger Girl series may recall seeing the infamous Necronomicon in the library of one Abbey Chase, way back in her days before joining the Danger Girl organization. They've always asked what that was all about. Well, now is the time to revisit that adventure. Now that Abbey is a full-fledged Danger Girl, with her new skills and allies, she also has the 'help' from some knucklehead named Ash."

"Fans that have been clamoring for Army of Darkness to return won't need to wait any longer, and this time Ash has company," says Dynamite Entertainment President Nick Barrucci. "We're extremely excited to have Ash's ongoing series re-launch and also be J. Scott Campbell's and Andy Hartnell re-introduction of Danger Girl to the comics market! Dynamite Entertainment and IDW are proud to have two such unlikely franchises meet-up on what is sure to be one entertaining romp!"

James McAvoy has not been approached by Madness...

Cinema Blend is reporting that actor James McAvoy has not been asked to join the cast of Guillermo Del Toro's adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness. When asked about being approached, James commented, "Not at all. Not at all."

When asked if he'd be interested in the project, he said "I don't know anything about the story, but he's an amazing director. I would be very lucky to be able to work with someone like that one day."

More as it becomes available...

(Thanks to

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blood, Sin & Nightmares: an interview with Joe Pulver...

Kelly Young recently had an opportunity to chat with author Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. about Lovecraft's Mythos, the King in Yellow, music, noir and more! Joe's latest collection, Sin & ashes, was recently released by Hippocampus Press...

Joe, you started writing late in life, and had the first thing you ever wrote published - "Nightmare's Disciple". Walk us through the journey. What led you to start writing, and of all things a Mythos tale, and how did you get that into the hands of a publisher? 

     Hi Kelly, thanks for asking me to do this.
     We got our first computer. No one knew how it worked, and the kids were gonna need it for school work, writing reports, etc., so I got elected to find out how the word processor worked, so I typed a a a a b b b b c c c c etc. Got sick of that. One day I typed a page of text, that became the prologue to Nightmare's Disciple.
     I was an avid reader, a shark. Never considered writing anything, never wanted to. I thought that required talent - and I was certain, when it came to the arts, I didn't have any talent.
     Everything begins in a Supermarket on a Friday morning. I saw a new Brian Lumley book, saw that it wasn't a Cthulhu Mythos book. I wasn't happy and thought, why isn't anybody writing Mythos stuff? Took my groceries home, was talking to a friend on the phone, told him about the Lumley book and Lovecraft. He said you want to read that shit, then you have to write it. I laughed.
That night, sitting at the computer, in the middle of winter, I didn't want to keep typing a a a, so I thought, if you were going to write a Mythos story, what would it be? I typed the first page, which became a prologue. A day or two later, I typed three pages of the first chapter.
     The friend I had talked to on the phone, a literary snob, came over, saw the file, read my four pages. I didn't know he had read that, I was in the other room. When I came back, he said "What are you doing with this?".
     I said, "I'm learning how to use the computer!" [laughs]
     He said, "No, what are you doing with this?" and pointed at the text.
     I said "Nothing, I was just fooling around."
     He said, "This ain't half bad!" coming from someone who read Mann and Nabokov and Ford Maddox Ford, I thought Hah!. He said "What's next?"
     I said: "Nothing."
     A couple of days later, with no real plot in mind, other than Columbo, I didn't want to hide the mystery/crime, I wondered what was on page five. So I typed to find out. When I got there, I wondered what was on page seven. Around page 10 or 15 I thought, "Hmm, as a personal amusement, let's see how far we can go." and I kept typing.
     I had a revised first draft of Nightmare's Disciple and I heard about the NecronomiCon in Salem, Massachusetts. I also heard about Bob Price, "Crypt of Cthulhu", and Necronomicon Press. I thought, I have this manuscript, two of my friends read it, they liked it. So I'd thought go to Salem, find Bob Price, walk up and ask him if he'd read it and tell me if it had any merit.
     I went, found Bob, and he agreed to read it and I didn't hear from him for 11 months. I figured, he thought it was trash, end of story. One morning my phone rang, Bob Price said "Hi, this is Bob Price. I went to my mom's to visit this weekend, took your manuscript. I couldn't put it down. Do you want to hear the introduction?"
     "To what?" I replied.
     "To your book!"
     He read me the introduction which, due to page considerations, as Nightmare's Disciple was 400,000 words, Chaosium elected not to use.
     I was absolutely floored by his introduction, I asked him to read it to me again. Three more times.
     He told me he was an editor at Chaosium, freelance, and he was going to recommend that they put the book out as part of their "Call of Cthulhu Fiction" series. 11 days later I had a contract from Chaosium to publish Nightmare's Disciple.
     I asked them if Bob was going to edit it, as a first time writer and as someone who was not a writer, I wanted a real editor to go through the manuscript. Lynn Willis said "No, it's fine just the way it is." There's where this all started.

Your short stories have taken hints and cues from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, from silent films and crime novels and film noir, but one source you keep returning to is Robert W. Chambers' "The King in Yellow". Tell us why this particular piece, which has been overlooked by so many others, is so fascinating and important to you.

     I'm a rabid fan of Robert Bloch. Rabid. Bloch gave us Jack the Ripper, Norman, and Juliette. Also I'm a huge fan of Poe. Madness. Murder. To lose one's mind is the scariest thing to me, to enter that unknown, that darkness, terrifies me. The King in Yellow, a book, its words have the power to drive one mad, the concept strikes a deep chord in me, scares me like few others. Add the setting, and my long-standing love of masks! !! The mentions of the play and the names-I have major interest in NAMES due to Lin Carter and his book Imaginary Worlds. Then there's the fact that I discovered Chambers at 16. And that Robert Chambers lived 4 miles from the porch where I was reading "The Yellow Sign", which was less than 30 miles from my house. HOOKED! The work just amazed me, and never left me. It's so rich, it suggests so much to me, I can't escape it's allure, nor do I ever want it to. And I doubt my fascination with the King in Yellow will ever diminish. I am also drawn to how easy I can change settings to fit the KIY... It is a coat of many, many colors.

You seem to be the current Master of Carcosa. Are there any other authors - past or present - that you feel are paying homage to The Tattered King?

     Current Master of Carcosa? Hah! Pass the pipe. I guess, according to some I am... But that's another thing that is not for me to say... What I will say is, I dream here. Play in the phantom veil. It is a place I feel at home, it comes very easily to me. Hell, it's like breathing...
     Yes, there's a canon. Chamber's core stories!! ! Karl Edward Wagner's "The River of Night's Dreaming"!! ! James Blish's "More Light!". Vincent Starrett's "Cordelia's Song". Michael Cisco - "He Will Be There". Ann K. Schwader has several poems I also include in The Canon.
     As a crusader and hardcore King in Yellow purist, that's the canon as I see it. For now! !! Others may have different opinions about it.
     The King in Yellow has absolutely nothing to do with the Cthulhu Mythos! There is not something with tentacles in the lake. I want my Chambers pure. The King in Yellow is my personal crusade. To date I've written one poem, one short, one-act play and approximately 30 King in Yellow stories. I have no idea if they're any good. People like you, Kelly, and Bob Price, and S.T. Joshi and several other notables, consider them to be very meritorious. That's not for me to say. I think some of my King in Yellow material is pretty good, but I don't think I've written anything, yet, that's as good as the texts I mentioned as being part of the canon. That's my dream. To write something that is good enough to be a right and proper part of the canon.
     Richard L. Tierney, Will Murray, John Tynes, Bill Laughlin, Galad Elflandsen, Mike Minnis, Wilum H. Pugmire, and Arinn Dembo have also written worthy King in Yellow texts.
     There may be other things that I haven't seen, but at this point I believe I've read 95 percent of all the King in Yellow material that exists. I, a few years ago, read nearly 200,000 words of unpublished King in Yellow material. I may have missed something. Hell, I may have missed something brilliant. But of what I'm currently aware of, that's where it stands.
     My fantasy for the canon. KIY tales from Liz Hand and Jack O'Connell!! !!

Your writing style differs from story to story - sometimes hard-boiled pulp, other times stream-of-consciousness poetry, and often, a mix of the two. How would you describe your own writing? Give us a crash course in "Pulverese".

     PULVERESE-HA [Laughing. Shaking my head.]
     A poet, I can't recall the name, once said something along the lines of "a poem should be a world unto itself". This applies, as far as I'm concerned, to whatever I'm writing. Each tale is different, unless I using a character again, so different voice/style.
     My writing? I don't consider it writing. Pulver wanted to play guitar. Pulver was a poor kid, couldn't afford a guitar, never got that guitar. Words are my song, I'm finally playing my guitar. As I play, the crunch of Noir, the ballet of Carcosa, the Free-Jazz of Lovecraft's cosmicism, these are the things I bend and weave together.
     I love Noir, Hard-boiled, Pulp, Comics--Make Mine Marvel!, POETRY, SciFi, Bloch, Horror, Dumas, Vachss, it all goes in this cauldron I call a brain, and when I begin a piece, a text, things boil. Frank Zappa would put Doo-Wop and Stravinsky in the same song. To me, that's a fingerpost.
     Let's say we're in a car, driving down a grey, urban street, we turn, ah there's a few trees, green, so we continue along and we have more trees, and then no city. So I'm writing and the scene changes, so why not change voices? We are in a new place we see new things and react differently. I let the text reflect changes like these. Mix. Stretch. Push it. Maybe you are crying, then you're mad as hell, different feelings, different trains of thought and emotion, so let the words reflect the changes. Slow. Fast. Stretch. Find HOT words, hot ways to show it in the sentence. Listless, well, bend it. Again, words, let them SHOW as well convey narative...
     So I have a note and it says "A vampire hires someone to kill another vampire". That's my whole story idea. Is it going to be a poem? Is it going to be this? Is it going to be that? I never know until I start typing, it's then, when I hear the song. I merely write down the notes, or try to.
     Going back to the poet I mentioned, each text is "unto itself". I bring to it, from my cluttered tool-box, whatever IT needs, wants.

You use a lot of musical references in your writing, and even have a tale that revolves around Jim Morrison. How important is music to your writing? And does music influence the tale, or does the story you're writing decide what music you'll be listening to?

     Yes, music influences my writing, as does art, and other things. Almost all of my texts have internal soundtracks. Sometimes you'll find, at the end of my pieces, my soundtrack notes.
     Sometimes a piece starts because of a piece of music. "Dogs begin to bark all over my Neighbourhood" began when I was listening to Jeff Beck. I thought, that's the story title! But it's not the soundtrack. I stood up, turned around. Saw John Zorn's CD. Spillane. That's the soundtrack. Put the CD in the player. Pushed play. It started. I began to type. When Zorn's composition ended, I was done. Spellchecked it. That's that.
     Most times the soundtracks do not influence me that overtly. But they sometimes do. One of my new texts, is a riff off H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness". I saw the CD "Before and After Science" by Brian Eno sitting on the shelf. The whole story was instantly there.
     Music is a heavy influence, sometimes a text of mine is the direct result of a thought or feeling based on a musical composition. Sometimes, I begin a text and as I'm typing the relevant soundtrack makes itself known to me. It's different for every text.

"Another Desert Night With Blood" has made it into Ellen Datlow's latest "Year's Best Horror" anthology, and you continue to draw rave reviews for your work. Do these kind of accolades mean much to you, or are you past that kind of stuff?

     They mean a lot to me. I, like every other writer, sit alone, bleed, write in the dark alone. I have no idea if anyone will like it. When I'm done, there is no applause. So once I finish a piece, my very first thought is the reader. Will she? Will he? And I start to worry-damn near panic.
     I have been unable to buy an ego. Know anyone who'd like to sell me one? I'm in the market.
     I love the process, but I'm rarely happy with the outcome. I'm unable to distance myself from whatever I'm writing, so I can't see the "whole" of it. Therefore I can't see whether it's any good or not. I sure hope so. I try. I try to give the tale and the reader my best.
     Praise, love it. When I got Ligotti's (out of the blue!) my feet didn't touch the floor for 2 hours. It's very nice to hear readers, and your peers, say your work has merit. Very nice, indeed. I have not gotten over it. I haven't moved beyond it. And I do not want to.
     On the other hand, when somebody destroys you, or one of your texts, it's a powerful body-shot. They hurt.
     I have been amazed and delighted by the praise of Ligotti, Barron, Datlow, Price, Joshi, and others. I don't understand it, but I sure like it. I only hope I can continue to write material that readers and my peers find of merit.

You've written one novel, and then two collections of short form fiction and prose. Do you enjoy telling shorter stories more than the long form? Will we be seeing a new novel any time soon?

     As a reader I love nothing better than novels, immersion in a whole world. Characters, colour, depth. I like short stories too. But as a reader, I prefer the long form-DUNE, Flicker! !!
     There were some who said Nightmare's Disciple was too long. As I said, I asked to have it edited, but was told "No". My reaction to that, was to write short. Severly short. The short form is fun. With the short form you have to put it on the line right away. No time to dally. I interpret that as "hellbent". Prose-wise, poetically, all bets are off. Run like hell. It's sprinting. You're absolutely free. Going 1,000 mph w/ yer hair on fire, that's thrilling.
     Bob Price just asked me, comissioned me, to write a tale set in Leng. He also asked for a tale that was "more linear" and a little less "Pulverese". I told him I'd be happy to, but in my mind, being restricted to a more conventional form of storytelling, it seemed to me that it would be a long tale. I finished it. It's nearly 16,000 words. It was kind of fun to return to the long form.
     I have written a new novel, it's called "The Orphan Palace". It's currently being looked at by a publisher. We'll see if I continue with the long form. I'd like to.
     At the moment I have many short texts accepted for publication this year, and many short pieces that are done that I have yet to submit. I'm also working on half a dozen new short texts. In a perfect world, you'll be seing more novels from me and more collections. I already have half of my next collection, which will be called Portraits of Ruin, complete. And I am very much looking forward to a release later this year from Double Feature Press, which will be comprised of a 40,000 word collection by me (called NIGHT BEGETS) and a 40,000 word collection by Robin Spriggs.
     Absolutely delighted to be in the inaugural book by this new publisher, Double Feature Press. And I am absolutely over the moon to be included in a book that contains the wonderful work of Robin Spriggs.

You wrote Nightmare's Disciple and the stories contained in Blood Will Have Its Season while you were living here in the States, and the majority of SIN & ashes while you've been living in Europe. Do you find that your location has played an important part in the stories you've written? Your newer stories do seem to have more of an "old-world" feel to them.

     Yes, the location is having an effect. You can take the boy out of the US, you can not take the US out of the boy. I suddenly, truly know the value of American soil and what it stands for. That has a very deep effect on my writing. And as a Stranger in a Strange Land, I've gained whole new perspective on a multitude of cultural and personal values. I see new sights. I see new styles of dress. I see new attitudes. And I miss things in ways I could never fathom. A writer is an observer. What he or she sees, can't be avoided and it does find it's way into your work, or at least into the mind, and in my case, the heart as well.

Karl Edward Wagner's classic "The River of Night's Dreaming" was made into an episode of the old Showtime series "The Hunger"… but all references to The King in Yellow were tossed out. There are a few KiY amateur films available… is there anything out there that has grabbed your attention?

     I applaud the efforts of amateur filmmakers when it comes to the King in Yellow. Has anyone made the King in Yellow film I see, and want, no. I have nothing negative to say about any of the short King in Yellow material I have seen so far. I was not there to see what difficulties may or may have not been encountered in the production. I'm not privy to the budget and time constraints of these films. Do these things matter? Yes, they do. That some filmmakers have chosen this as a source material I can only say "Thank you!", because who knows what it will inspire in someone else. And one of the things I am absolutely commited to, is a King in Yellow film that is true to the canon and wins new fans and admirers for the work of Robert W. Chambers.
     Toward that goal I will soon be working with someone I admire a great deal, on a King in Yellow screenplay. We will see, what the future holds, cinematically, for the King in Yellow.

What's next for you? What do you want to do that you haven't done?

     Next for me? I have half a dozen things I am currently working on and am very much looking forward to completing. I am working on and researching, a new novel. Due to the theme, I can't discuss it. It's a great idea. There is probably a whole hell of a lot of people out there who could do it better than I (I'd kill to sit Liz Hand in a chair and whisper in her ear as she wrote this.). But, ideas are gold and this one's mine win, lose, or draw. Due to the subject matter there's a couple of hoops and hurdles I have to deal with to get it done. But I'm hoping to be able to get around them.
     As I said, I'm halfway through my next collection, Portraits of Ruin and am looking forward to working on the King in Yellow screenplay in earnest. Like any other writer I have a slew of story ideas, a few of which the muse is very charmed with.
     The one thing I have not done and long to do is to write a hard-noir novel. No supernatural element, no horror, straight noir. I'd also like to further explore Sci-Fi.
     A couple of last things: I'm hoping SIN & ashes get's discovered by readers. Nightmare's Disciple and Blood Will Have Its Season are both about to become e-books. I'm very much interested to see what the electronic format has in regards to my work.
     I'd like to get an agent. I sure don't know about how one obtains one (I'm not to good at begging)- but I'd sure like to get one.
     My ultimate fantasy would be to write a Dr. Strange novel. No sex. No four-letter words. But no other constraints. Are you listening, Marvel? Yes, Dormammu! !! Dr. Strange is almost as dear to me as the KIY.
     There is also a good chance I'm not done w/ Caligari yet :)

That's it! Thanks for your time and for sharing your wonderful talent!

     I can't thank you and Craig enough for giving me this platform. You guys are both marvelous. And I apologize for rambling so much. Certainly hope I didn't bore the hell out of your readership too much.

     All my bEastly best!! ! 

(Thanks to Kelly Young and Joe Pulver)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quoth the raven...

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe
Born January 19, 1809

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe - read by MorganScorpion

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From Under details emerge...

A week or so ago, filmmaker Jeff Palmer dropped a creepy new teaser trailer (check it out here) on our unsuspecting readers, and now courtesy of KDK12, we have details to go with it...

From Under, currently in the early stages of production, involves a woman who returns after disappearing years ago, only she isn’t quite the same person, and although her body shows no signs of physical harm or abuse, her personality, it seems, has been altered in a terrifyingly haunting manner...

Check out KDK12 for more...

(Thanks to Jeff Palmer)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Alien prequel is no more...

Apparently the idea for the Alien Prequel has morphed into something called Prometheus.

Of course with Angelina Jolie wanting a part I'm not certain the new film will be cosmic horror inspired...

Fans of writers Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore will be happy to know an affordable edition of the book Detour to Othernessis being released. It collects the short stories from the long out of print Bypass to Otherness, Return to Otherness, and 8 additional stories.

Friday, January 14, 2011

HPLHS to distribute Die Farbe...

Huan Vu sends word that he is hard at work on a NTSC version of the Die Farbe DVD that will be distributed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society! No word on special features, but the PAL DVD contains a teaser/trailer and several featurettes...

(Thanks to Huan Vu)

At the Mountains of Madness casting underway...

With production to begin as early as this summer, Dread Central is reporting that offers have been extended to several actors for roles in Guillermo del Toro's At the Mountains of Madness! According to the site, offers have been made to Liam Neeson (although reports that Neeson's reps have denied this), Ron Perlman (this is old news, as it has been known for some time that Perlman will play Larsen) and Hugh Jackman...

 As for Tom Cruise and James McAvoy (who were announced previously), scheduling conflicts could prevent Cruise from taking part in the film (although reports that Cruise is attached), and studio favorite James McAvoy has yet to accept. Although if Cruise is onboard, McAvoy would no longer be needed since they were offered the same role...

More as it becomes available...


Dread Central reviews The Last Lovecraft...

Check out Dread Central's review of Henry Saine's The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu here, and look for it on DVD February 15th...

(Thanks to Dread Central)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brett Piper enters the Witch House...

During a recent interview with, filmmaker Brett Piper (Muckman, They Bite) spoke of his latest project, Nightmare House, which through some creative coincidence, has become a loose adaptation of Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House. Read on for more...
"I've started writing a script I called NIGHTMARE HOUSE. It's about a woman who moves into a new house and starts having weird dreams (I'll bet you saw that coming) which turn out to have consequences on her reality," He told the site, "I had the entire story outlined when I started doing a little research on dreams in movies and literature and found out I had inadvertently "borrowed" the basic premise of H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dreams in the Witch House". As it happened Anthony Polonia, Mark's son, had given me a collection of Lovecraft stories in which "Dreams" was included, so I read it and decided to make my movie a loose adaptation of it, borrowing a few more incidents from Lovecraft where they fit. It's a sort of retroactive adaptation."

Head over to for the rest of the interview...