Friday, November 08, 2013

A New Fear on Demand Episode featuring fiction and an interview with House of Bad Director Jim Towns

An all new episode of Fear on Demand, Episode 10, is now live and ready for download or listening online. It should be available on iTunes soon as well. It features a bit of flash fiction from Avery Debow, a longtime blog roll friend and author of the novel Resonance. (Read the featured story "Walk of Shame" here.)

It also includes an interview with Jim Towns, co-writer and director of the new film House of Bad, due on DVD and VOD Dec. 3. It's the story of three sisters who rip off a drug dealer and then hide out in an old family home where dark memories lurk. What could go wrong?

It was a real blast to get to chat with Jim, who shares a lot of my interests. He grew up with the Universal Monsters, and he was plagued by some of the same problems I was.

In the day before readily available home video, you read about the flicks and wished you could see them. My local TV station had shown them when I was very young and unappreciative, but by the time I discovered Famous Monsters of Filmland, re-broadcasts were nowhere to be found.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Sid: Before we talk about House of Bad, I understand that you were a fan of the Universal Monsters and that they fueled your interest in horror films and monsters early on. What was your first Universal monster film to see, and how old were you when you saw it?

Jim Towns: I think it was the Lugosi Dracula. You know, when home video, VHS came out, I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, something like that. So, even at a younger age, second or third grade or so I got interested in makeup. My uncle Jim McGiffen, had given me a makeup kit because he had done work on stage, and I just had this natural draw toward this kind of monsterific kind of stuff.

So, my mom, because you couldn't really see the films, much before video became more prominent, I was interested in this thing I couldn't see, so my mom had found a couple of books at some flea markets about the old, classic Universal stuff. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera. I read the voraciously over and over. Tried to do all the makeups with little success in most cases.

In fourth or fifth grade, right around Halloween, the Bela Lugosi Dracula from 1931 was on. I think it was on like two in the morning on a Saturday night, some kind of late night horrorfest. My mom let me stay up. I was like nine or something, and I made it through all the stuff in Transylvania, and then once they got back to England, I just passed right out. It took a few years before I saw the rest of the film.

Sid: Very strong lasting impression then. That led ultimately to some mask making and some early horror film work for you?

Jim Towns: Yeah, yeah, you know in high school, my friend, Mike, and I who'd both grown up loving films, old horror movies, loving Star Wars, we did what every young kid who's into monsters does. We got hold of a camera. In our case it was a VHS camera. We made kind of knock off stuff of The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. The stuff that was going on right then that was really popular.

Then we did a film when we were about 16 called Breakfast at Denny's. It was the only kind of thing we did and finished and actually completed as an actual film. Back then, you started something one afternoon and then you'd lose interest.

Breakfast at Denny's was about a group of kind of wacky cultists who resurrect the one member of the cult who has died. They want to bring him back to life, but he only kind of half comes back, so he's a bit of a zombie.

The idea was that they had to take him to Denny's and get him an egg breakfast to bring him back to a full human state. That was the idea, and it was about a half hour long. We all had such good time, and now I'm doing this. My friend, Grant, who was in the film does films with the American Cinematheque, and Mike is still making films back in Pittsburgh too. I'm writing some stuff for him, so that was sort of the genesis.

Sid: Very cool. Very cool. Could be a nice Denny's ad, huh?

Jim Towns: If they'd want it. One of these days we're going to put it as an extra or an Easter egg on one of the DVDs. It's a little bit of a fun ride.

Hear more of the interview including Jim's thoughts on the importance of understanding the history of the horror genre to todays filmmakers. The full podcast is here


Charles Gramlich said...

Cool. I'll check it out this weekend when I'm home. At work at the moment.

Sidney said...

Cool, Charles. It may be time for me to give another listen to "Thief of Eyes."

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