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Edited by Eric Miller, HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD (out now from
Big Time Books) is an anthology of short horror
fiction stories revolving around the common theme of being set in Tinseltown. Many
of the tales parody the infamous side of LA: the questionable morals, obsession
with youth, what Paul J. Salamoff describes as “hedonism run amuck” in his
story “Bad Fix,” and as Charles Austin Muir calls it in “Alone and Palely
Loitering,” the “world of blonde, vacuous heiresses and their
abdominal-obsessed male counterparts.” The book unapologetically satirizes Old
Hollywood, New Hollywood and everything in between.
HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD is all-encompassing, featuring
stories that span from wonderfully gratuitous, over-the-top gorefests (one of
the many delightful descriptions is as follows from Alan Bernhoft’s “The Legend
of Sleepy Hollywood”: “Warm, dark liquid gushes from the transient’s severed
head, steaming in the cool night air as a fountain of blood sprays from the
neck”) to tales that are genuinely haunting and linger in your mind long
afterward (Travis Baker’s “Pyre” in particular is especially terrifying).
In addition to this, the book packs in much homage to the
classic horror films and directors; in “Cattle Call,” Elizabeth Musgrave
describes the “blackened blood and brain matter splattered against the wall,
George A. Romero style.” William Pacquet’s “Trash Day” features a deli serving
sandwiches named La Bava, La Lenzi, La Argento and La Fulci, topped with
“several olives pierced with toothpicks to the outer crust of the roll, in
homage to the master’s penchant for eye trauma.”
HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD is a unique and refreshing read for
any genre fan, and genuinely impossible to not enjoy. We talked to the book’s
editor, as well as screenwriter, director, producer and all-around Renaissance
man Miller for further details.
FANGORIA: How was the idea for HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD
ERIC MILLER: I’ve always been in love with books and the
written word and had wanted to do a story collection for a long time. When I
started to sense a lot of frustration among my screenwriter friends with the
seemingly endless cycle of writing and rewriting scripts and doing the
Hollywood pitch meeting routine over and over, I decided to try something new
creatively. Since I am friends with lots of horror people and have been making
movies for over 20 years, a horror anthology about Hollywood just made sense.
After years of research and study into publishing, I founded Big Time Books and
put out the call for stories. I got a lot of advice and inspiration from
friends, such as Frank Forte at Asylum press; comic book writer, artist and “Man
of Action” Duncan Rouleau; and screenwriter Shane Bitterling, who was my daily
sounding board (and kick in the ass). Shane also wrote “They Go in Threes” for
the book, and it is a pretty sick look into the old celebrity death myth.
FANG: Can you talk about your involvement in the genre and your
inspiration to compile the book?
MILLER: I grew up as a horror nut in the Midwest, watching
horror films I was way too young for and devouring all the genre books and
magazines I could find: FANGORIA, FAMOUS MONSTERS and so on. When I made my way
to Hollywood, I fell in with a crazy group of Corman and Empire vets that were
pumping out low budget genre movies and I was hooked. I cut my cinematic teeth
with David DeCoteau and John Schouweiler (who did a story in the book called
“Dog Eat Dog”) and their Cinema Home Video label, and later at Full Moon Entertainment
and other companies, where I found that genre film sets (especially horror)
were the best place to learn the business and the most fun to work on.
In between production jobs, I worked as a script reader, did
development work and eventually wrote my own screenplays. I’ve had five
screenplays produced so far, all horror in one way or another: SHADOW MEN,
NIGHT SKIES, ICE SPIDERS, MASK MAKER and SWAMP SHARK. I’ve also had some genre
scripts optioned and did a few uncredited rewrites through the years. I love
making films, but writing is my real passion.
My horror career took a big leap when I was hired as head of
production at the start-up horror boutique Raw Nerve. I had known Scott Spiegel
socially for years, but never had the chance to work with him, and I met Eli
Roth and Boaz Yakin through Raw Nerve; for a while, I literally had the horror
world knocking on my door. I met a ton of great people there and had the chance
to co-produce 2001 MANIACS, as well as see the genesis of the HOSTEL series. It
was great to be at the center of all things horror. I made many friends for
life at Raw Nerve, including my ex-assistant Jed Strahm who is now a director
in his own right. I helped produce his film KNIFEPOINT and let him order me
around for a change. Brett and Drew Pierce from DEADHEADS zombie film fame were
interns there – Drew is also an awesome artist and did the cover for the book.
After I left Raw Nerve, I stayed involved in horror every way I could, writing
my own scripts and producing films.
All of my years of movie work went into making the book.
There are just so many experiences the writers and I have had, so many places
we’ve been, people we’ve met, things we’ve seen, that moviemaking has worked its
way into our blood; I wanted to share some of the behind-the-scenes world with
readers. The stories are obviously fictional, but they are all drawn from those
real experiences and are pretty close to reality until the axes start swinging.
And after, in some cases…
FANG: How did you assemble the writers?
MILLER: I asked for stories just from friends at first,
especially the ones I knew were good writers or had very smart story senses as
directors or producers. I stuck with people with genre credits for the most
part, though if someone could write, it didn’t really matter to me what genre
they worked in – some of the best horror works of all time come from creators
outside the genre box, from the original HAUNTING to 28 DAYS LATER. A few of
the more experienced writers had never actually written in the short story
format before, but they aced the stories anyway – a good writer is a good
Many people came on board right away. Joe Dougherty
(screenwriter of CAST A DEADLY SPELL and writer/producer of TV’s PRETTY LITTLE
LIARS) hit me with his sublime story “Town Car” in a couple of weeks. I got a
lot of commitments and stories, but other friends were just too busy to help,
so I expanded the search a bit to friends of friends and met some great people,
got some wonderful stories that way. In the end, it’s about 60 percent people I
have known for years and 40 percent new writers. I actually forgot to ask a few
friends to contribute – I hope they don’t feel left out. They can rest assured;
I will be hitting them up for the next book.
TO BE CONTINUED
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