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Exclusive: Director talks “THE GATHERING,” Pegg as the devil, Combs as Poe, etc.

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While visiting the set of the sci-fi chiller ABYSM recently, Fango chatted with producer Jon Keeyes, who gave us the latest scoop on his directorial project THE GATHERING and its all-horror-star cast, including one actor returning to a role he’s been celebrated for.

Keeyes has been working on getting THE GATHERING off the ground for a few years now, and the latest addition to the ensemble is giving it a boost. “We’ve got Simon Pegg [pictured above left] attached to it now,” he reveals to us. “He’s going to play the devil, and because of that, we’ve suddenly got a whole lot of interest in THE GATHERING again, and it’s starting to really push forward.” The SHAUN OF THE DEAD/WORLD’S END star/co-writer joins an ensemble that will make any genre fan salivate. “We’ve got Jeffrey Combs playing Edgar Allan Poe,” Keeyes confirms—returning Combs to the part he has essayed so vividly on TV in MASTERS OF HORROR: THE BLACK CAT and on stage in NEVERMORE (pictured above right). “David Naughton is playing H.P. Lovecraft, Doug Bradley is playing Bram Stoker and for Mary Shelley, we’ve got a couple of major female names who have said they’d like to do it, but we’re going to wait and see what happens once the financing lands. And then we’ve got Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Ashley Laurence, Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley, Debbie Rochon and William Sadler committed to do the movie—it’s a huge cast.” And he’s got one more revelation: “Vincent J. Guastini [THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO] is going to be doing the makeup FX.”

Keeyes then elaborates on how THE GATHERING’s screenplay, by Carl Kirshner, rounds up those classic authors: “On Halloween night, the devil brings together Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe in purgatory to tell their best untold tales, the idea being that whoever has the best story of the night gets to leave purgatory forever. That’s the framing device around all the anthology stories within the film.” And while they’re only in the interstitials, those luminaries will get plenty of screen time: “The portions with the devil and the writers are actually a third of the movie,” Keeyes notes. “So that’s a major part of the film; each of those segments will be a good five to seven minutes each time we’re with them.”

As for the tales the authors tell, “We’ve tried to put a spin on the essence of the stories they’re most well-known for. So Bram Stoker tells a vampire tale, but it’s not about Dracula. H.P. Lovecraft’s story is sort of RE-ANIMATOR-esque, set in the Victorian era. We’ve approached it with the idea of what these writers would be like all these years since they died. They’ve got a slighty modern sensibility, as if they’ve kept up with the changing times while they’ve been in purgatory, while still holding onto the personalities and nuances they would have had in the eras they lived in. So there’s a whole lot of bickering and rivalry.

“One of the things I love about THE GATHERING,” he continues, “is that we cover all the horror subgenres—vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, slashers—within our stories, but in the framing segments with the devil and the writers, there’s a real comedic-horror element going on. They’re taking jabs at each other, and they each have a bit of magic they get to play with since they’re undead, so a lot of fun stuff happens with that.”

Keeyes is targeting a May start date for THE GATHERING. Keep your eyes here for updates on that project and the director’s other upcoming films, and our coverage of ABYSM, which was written and directed by Serge Levin and stars Charles Baker (BREAKING BAD’s Skinny Pete), Alex Veadov, Jeff Solomon and genre veteran Michael Ironside.

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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