Monstrous Achievements: Lost Drive-Ins, Terror Teletypes, and Killer Shorts

Greetings, fiends.

It has been some time since my last experiment here, a dissection of another thing that I’d come to love.

 I’ve maintained The Horror Doctor for over two years. It began as the alchemical child of the Pandemic and personal grief. Then it became something else.

I originally was going to use this as a platform, or medium to rewrite horror films into short stories the way I envisioned them in my head – the way I would have written them – hell, Demon Wind was going to be my crowning revised masterpiece. But again, it changed into another thing.

I’ve even mentioned before how I would only focus on reviewing obscure, or more quiet films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, and leave the mainstream horror and weird films to their own devices. But my Blog had other plans. And The Horror Doctor, that was just a working title before I would call it something else, a placeholder for what I was grasping at: finding my voice, and collecting my thoughts in this bizarre and amorphous genre crossing different media. 

But The Horror Doctor has stayed.

And yet, I’m going to just say that The Horror Doctor is going to go on something of a witch’s sabbatical. 

Like my Mythis Bios Blog before it, I haven’t been writing here as often as I once did. Letterboxd really got me to write shorter and more concise, or just stream of consciousness and note-based reviews. My analyses, and syntheses, take time and commitment in which my brain doesn’t always find itself as much these nights. Between going out more now, and my other new activities, I am not in that mindset in the same way as I was when I was here for about two years along with most other people. 

I am not abandoning this Blog, even if WordPress itself has made itself less user-friendly. There are still some Lovecraft films I want to compare to their source material. I also plan to write something about Barbara Crampton’s upcoming adaptation of “The Thing at the Doorstep,” which will have more exploration of sex and identity. You bet your soul I will be back here to deal with that. I know I will find a film I really want to talk about, or reminisce over a story. And hell, I might want to create and cross-post more weird and horror fanfiction. 

This year is almost up, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to say anything about this trajectory or just leave Ray Bradbury here before me talking about a normal child being adopted by monsters, and wishing that he wasn’t human. But I am a monster, in that I have accomplished a lot, and while it is my natural impulse to say that it isn’t nearly enough I want to spend a bit of time telling you what I’ve done before Father Time comes in with his scythe much to the second-hand embarrassment of Death of the Endless whose sense of zen can only be peachy-keen for so long. 

I am a Moderator for the Lost Drive-In Patreon. I did a podcast on Elevated Horror with the Lost Drive-In Discord server’s administrator Magi Savage, and Critically Optimistic: Movie Reviews. Magi is responsible for me having done, and doing, both things. When I wasn’t brushing up on some Eli Roth’s History of Horror to say something intelligent on the horror equivalent to the comics industry marketing their sequential works as “graphic novels,” I make Spoiler Discussion channels, and generally hang out on the Discord while Joe Bob and Darcy the Mailgirl comment on a movie we are streaming: and just in general. The Lost Drive-In Patreon is great, by the way. I never intended to stay so long, and I came for the DVDs of Drive-In Theater and MonsterVision, but I stayed for the mugs and hoodies, and the excellent company in the Patreon Saints server. Darcy created the Patreon to restore and preserve all of Joe Bob Briggs’ commentaries throughout the years, along with other media: as part of Drive-In history, and it is something to definitely check out if you find yourself interested.

Then, I sent a letter into Fangoria responding to its Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr.’s Monstrous Musings column on the Terror Teletype newsletter. It specifically focused on Halloween Ends. Phil decided to publish that letter as a Monstrous Musing itself, for which I am grateful. Did you know that two years ago, when this Blog started, The Horror Doctor was featured as a link on Fangoria’s website? It’s true, and now there is much more content on here than there was last. And it was an honour to have something I wrote in the newsletter. Unfortunately, it only exists on email to subscribers but it was great having my name featured under a Fangoria logo: something that I hope will happen again. If you want to see the contents of what I wrote about Halloween Ends, let me know and I will show it on this Blog. I was told by Barbara Crampton herself that she told Phil that I was a good writer. I have the Tweet preserved, for posterity even now: right along with actual praise from Jerry Smith on that same platform. I wish I could convey what that means to me, but I think it speaks for itself.

But I did something else as well. As of this writing, I created my first ever short film screenplay: a horror film adapted from a short story I made years back. And I entered it into a contest called Killer Shorts: whose judges include Joe Bob, as well as Barbara, and Kane Hodder. I meant to apply to it a year or so before, but I didn’t have a screenplay.

Until now.

It is my first attempt. A prototype. The short story I wrote, that I adapted this monstrosity from, had a tough critique from Strange Horizons, and it was only the first of several stories in the series I made before life and the Pandemic distracted me from continuing them. I am trying to be realistic about my chances in advancing through the rounds, but the mere fact that I made this happen, that I experienced and questioned aspects of my story when I switched from the medium lens of prose to film, and that I will get feedback from some professionals I’ve grown to respect and admire, and that I sent in what I did is an achievement. 

I want to thank my friend Miriam for reminding me of Killer Shorts, and also Killer Shorts Top Ten FInalist and Hollywood HorrorFest Best of Fest winner Phillip Dishon for being interested in my work, and taking a look at what I’ve made after my submission. It is probably too late to format my work properly for Killer Shorts, but he has offered to give me guidance for other film festivals. And as I’m going over this invaluable feedback, I realize there is still a lot for me to learn. 

I am still not where I need to be, I feel, but I am slowly getting to where I want to be. And that is a lot of places. I’ve learned, over these past couple of years, that it isn’t a straight path but several crooked ones that meander and branch off, and that sometimes you need to mentally split up and cover more ground just as much as you should stay together. I wanted to share these triumphs with you as the uncertainties of another year encroach along because you’ve been here, or you just got here and you are interested in what I’m doing.

I’m glad I did this. All of it. And I am thinking of making more screenplays with more of the knowledge and insight that I hope to gain. Who knows: maybe one day there might be a remake of Demon Wind in the works … or something based on that as a monster of my own design. In the end, one of the major reasons I am stepping away a bit from this Blog is to write less about other people’s works, and to make more of my own original creations: or at least more creative endeavours. 

I do plan to earn that Silver Bolo one day. But if I don’t, that is all right too. I just want to construct a monster to be proud of. Happy New Fears, my fiends – from a student of horror.

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