Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Making a HELLRAISER Musical?

I'm a regular participant in the Concellation Facebook group created to provide people who would have attended conventions canceled due to COVID with a social outlet. In late December I adapted my blog post about how Labyrinth is Hellraiser for kids into a YouTube video and posted it in the group. Someone asked if Hellraiser had a musical number, what would it look like? My response was that you could actually make a full-blown Hellraiser musical.

So here's where I plot out a Hellraiser musical. Some ideas for songs and sequences, complete with the relevant film clips.

*At the beginning, Frank Cotton has a musical number while he solves the Lament Configuration. He discusses how he's experienced every pleasure the world has to offer (with some pretty big hints that many of these pleasures are illegal and/or immoral) and now he's looking for pleasures beyond the world. As he solves the box and the boundaries between the worlds start to thin, an ominous chorus of the Cenobites join in. The song culminates in the solving of the box, the chain-attack on Frank, and the first appearance of Pinhead. Here's the relevant scene in the film.

*When Larry Cotton (Frank's brother) and his second wife Julia move into Frank's old house, we could have a three-person musical number featuring Larry, Julia, and Larry's daughter Kirsty from his first marriage. Larry is hoping moving back to Julia's hometown in Britain will help save their marriage, Julia is lamenting how boring it is to be married to Larry, and Kirsty (arriving later to help) sings about how she misses her biological mother and how much she dislikes Julia.

*Frank's resurrection from the floorboards of the room where he was taken to Hell, culminating in a terrible scream, might be an instrumental number. Alternatively, it could have Frank recounting in some kind of spoken-word fashion the horrible things the Cenobites did to him as his body reassembles itself from the floor.

*Bored at a party attended by Larry, some of his work friends, Kirsty, and Kirsty's new boyfriend Steve, Julia goes to investigate the strange noises in the attic, culminating in the encounter with the skeletal resurrected Frank. There's a duet between the two where Frank begs her to help him fully regain his body while Julia is torn between her disgust at this meatless bony monstrosity and her memories of Frank seducing her before her marriage to Larry. At the end of the song, she agrees to help Frank, provided no harm comes to Larry. Despite his obvious contempt for Larry, Frank agrees.

*We next have a musical montage number (possibly some kind of ballet?) of Julia luring men back to the house and killing them for Frank to feed on. Some near-misses where Larry nearly discovers what's going on and Julia has to come up with an increasingly bad series of excuses to conceal her and Frank's activities.

*Befuddled by his wife's odd behavior, Larry takes Kirsty out to lunch and they discuss the situation. This could be dialogue-only, or a sweet-natured duet between the two of them.

*Kirsty sees Julia bringing a man into the house and comes in, only to see Frank kill him and eat him. Frank then attacks her, either in a sexual fashion or to simply eat her too, but she's able to fight him off with the puzzle box and escape the house. She's taken to the hospital with the box, which she refuses to give up, and locked into her room by the staff, plays with it and accidentally solves it. This calls forth the Cenobites and we have a whole musical number about how the Cenobites are "explorers of the furthest reaches of experience, demons to some [and] angels to others" and how, since she's solved the box, Kirsty must come with them and "taste their pleasures." The terrified Kirsty manages to bargain with them, offering them Frank in return for herself.

*As Kirsty rushes home to warn her father, Frank and Julia murder him and Frank skins him. This is something that wasn't in the movie, but should have been, so the confrontation between the brothers and Larry's murder should be a musical number culminating in Frank's horrific appearance and Larry's death. Kirsty arrives and, momentarily deceived by Frank's disguise as her father, briefly encounters the Cenobites in the house as they brood over Larry's corpse. Frank attacks Kirsty, accidentally killing Julia (whom he feeds on as she's dying) and pursues Kirsty into the attic room where Larry's body is. There Kirsty tricks Frank into confessing his true identity and the Cenobites arrive to claim him.

*The Cenobites then try to abduct Kirsty anyway ("we have such sights to show you"), but she uses the box to banish them. Steve arrives and the two attempt to destroy the box, only for a vagrant to appear, take the box, and transform into a dragon before flying away.

You guys like? There's a ballet based on Dracula and a musical based on Evil Dead, so as long as the musical retains the film's score (or at least a version of it) and the best lines, this could be better cool. Heck, some of the film's best lines like "we have such sights to show you" could be the titles of songs.

(Also, check out the Myopia Movies episode on Hellraiser.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Origin of LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG GUNS, Or "A Lie Can Travel Around the World and Back Again While The Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes”

There's a supposed quote from American author Mark Twain about how, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Many times the first media report about something, regardless of its accuracy or whether the complete story is told, will travel far and people will ignore the follow-up. 

This article from NPR discusses the early coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting, including how somebody else was mistakenly identified as the shooter and how some early reports claimed school officials actually let the shooter into the schoolSunil Tripathi was initially identified as one of the Boston Marathon bombers, only for it to come out later he'd committed suicide long before the bombing. More recently and speaking from my personal experience, I initially thought the episode with the students from Covington Catholic High School and Native American activist Nathan Phillips just involved a confrontation between them--the involvement of a third party (a group of street preachers affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelites) didn't appear in any of the news I'd read until some time later. This article from The Atlantic breaks down how the major media failed to point out that the BHI preachers had initially confronted the Native Americans and then attempted to redirect the whole situation toward the Catholic students, instead focusing on student Nick Sandmann, who appeared to be smirking at Phillips while he plays the drums. Several media outlets ended up settling lawsuits with Sandmann, whom I remember being vilified online at the time (to the point the school closed due to threats) and even now.

And this is something that applies to my own writing, in particularly my horror-comedy novella Little People, Big Guns from Deadite Press. I got the initial idea for LPBG from a news story that claimed TV chef Gordon Ramsay had a gay dwarf porn star lookalike named Percy Foster, who was found dead in a badger den. However, the Huffington Post did some digging and found that not only had local police no idea what was going on, but nobody in the porn industry had heard of Mr. Foster, who should be more well-known given his stature and appearance. Furthermore, the initial reporting on the incident came from The Sunday Sport, a British tabloid that, among other things, has claimed a WWII bomber had been found on the Moon. However, before this had happened the initial reporting went viral. The story circulated online--here's a Facebook post from 2014 about it and here is a 2018 article from The Daily Mail. 2018--that's seven years after the incident was debunked. Lies can live forever on the Internet it seems.

However, even though it turns out the whole incident with Mr. Foster didn't actually happen, that got my creative juices flowing. The initial story idea (which just focused on the little people and the killer badgers), after some suggestions from then-editor of Deadite Jeff Burk, soon grew into a bizarre almost true-crime saga involving terrorists, car chases, and even an unnaturally large and dangerous animal. If you like your horror spiced with comedy or if your sense of humor trends very dark, I would recommend checking out Little People, Big Guns.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

My Late 2021 And Early 2022 Convention Schedule

Time to round out 2021 and ring in the first quarter of 2022 with the book signings and appearances I've scheduled so far. This blog post may change as I add events or if COVID leads to event cancellations again.

On Saturday, 12/18, I will be signing at Posman Books at Ponce City Market from 1-3 PM. Back when I had just The Thing in the Woods in the fall of 2017, I had a pretty decent signing there and I'm hoping that lightning strikes twice. Especially since now I've got a bunch more books to sell. :) If you want to let me know you're coming, RSVP on the Facebook event here. Bookstore signings tend to be pretty lucrative for me, since there isn't a table cost like there is for conventions.

As far as conventions are concerned, I will have a hall table at the Atlanta Steampunk Exposition February 11-13, 2022. I might also be speaking on writing-related panels, but that's still being worked out. Since AnachroCon has closed up shop, ASE is consolidating the Atlanta steampunk convention scene. :) And it's been two years since a big steampunk convention in Atlanta, so hopefully there'll be people eager to spend money. This will be the first time the Atlanta steampunk crowd will be seeing The Atlanta Incursion and "Son of Grendel," since those were published in 2020, months after AnachroCon. Hopefully they'll like the new additions.

The final convention I have scheduled so far is Toylanta 2022, slated for March 18-22. Here's where you can buy tickets online. I made a decent amount last time I was there, and with COVID vaccinations being more available and COVID numbers in Georgia declining (fingers crossed that Omicron won't change that), hopefully there'll be more people there. I attended the 2021 Toylanta and haven't put out anything new since then (more on that later), so hopefully there'll be lots of new people.

Between my busy teaching schedule and the fact I've fallen dreadfully behind on producing new books (I wanted to have the sequel to Battle for the Wastelands out sometime this year, but I'm at most halfway through it), I think I'm going to try to limit appearances to one convention or so per month. Also, given how quickly $0.35 per mile adds up, I'm going to try to limit my appearances to metro Atlanta until I've got more books to sell.

If you don't anticipate making it to any of these events, email me at mquinn1984@gmail.com and we can discuss an individual order. I can mail signed books anywhere in the U.S. thanks to Media Mail. Non-US orders I can do, but I'll need to build in additional shipping costs.

Saturday, December 4, 2021


The other day I watched Labyrinth on the elliptical at the gym and while ironing some clothes. The thought hit me that it has a lot in common with, surprisingly enough, Hellraiser and its sequel Hellraiser 2: Hellbound. Beware spoilers for all three films.

Firstly, both franchises have significant stepmother-stepdaughter drama. Hellraiser protagonist Kirsty Cotton and her stepmother Julia clearly don't get along at the beginning of the first film and once supernatural forces get involved, it escalates into outright violence. In the second film, once Julia has been thoroughly corrupted, she explicitly refers to herself as the wicked stepmother and the evil queen and mocks Kirsty as "Snow White." Meanwhile, protagonist Sarah Williams is openly disrespectful toward her stepmother Irene in Labyrinth, and Irene clearly does not know what to do with her. Knowing her stepdaughter's interest in fantasy, Irene complains that Sarah treats her as a "wicked stepmother."

Furthermore, at the beginning of the film when we first meet here, I get serious Julia vibes off Irene. They're both dressed formally (albeit for different reasons--Irene and Sarah's father are going on a date and Julia just seems like an ice-queen in general) and their hairstyles are somewhat alike. Although there's more open hostility between the two than between Kirsty Cotton and her stepmother Julia in the first Hellraiser, Sarah is several years younger than Kirsty and significantly less mature. Perhaps Julia and Kirsty were similarly hostile when Kirsty was a young teen, although if that were the case I doubt Kirsty's father Larry would have been so foolish as to assume a now-adult Kirsty would want to live with them in their new town or later ask her to help him figure out why Julia is acting so strangely.

Later, when Sarah becomes frustrated by baby Toby's crying, she wishes the Goblin King would take him "far away from me." The crying abruptly stops and when Sarah goes to investigate, we see goblins in the walls, moving under mattresses, etc. That gave me major Hellraiser vibes, especially given how Kirsty's sinister uncle Frank Cotton's personal hell in the second film involved sensual women under sheets (who disappeared when he removed them), how doorways to Hell formed in the walls, etc. You can see some of that in the clips below.

Also, Kirsty in the first Hellraiser solved the puzzle box and summoned the Cenobites completely ignorant of what the box actually did. She was curious about this device that her undead uncle was so protective of, started fiddling with it, and then this happened. 

Like Kirsty, Sarah had no idea that her frustrated wish to be rid of her baby half-brother would actually summon a supernatural being. And although Jareth and his goblin cronies are significantly less rough than Pinhead and his crew are, there are definitely similarities. Here are two YouTube clips depicting Sarah summoning him and his arrival:

The Goblin King is nowhere near as dangerous as Pinhead--the latter is a Dracula-like sadist who attempts to welch on his bargains, while Jareth is more whimsical and kid-friendly--but both are dangerous and sexual creatures with an unhealthy interest in the young, brunette female protagonist.

Oh, and there's that. Pinhead describes himself as his crew as "explorers of the furthest reaches of experience, demons to some and angels to others" and they subjected Frank to "pain and pleasure indivisible" when he was under their control. The almighty TVTropes describes the Cenobites as "the priests of an S&M religion." In the climax of Hellraiser, Pinhead attempts to abduct Kirsty, telling her that, "We have such sights to show you," while the in second film, he confidently allows Kirsty to freely wander his realm, informing her that, "We have eternity to know your flesh." 

The sexuality in Labyrinth is a bit more subtle given how this is a children's movie, but Jareth's infamous bulging crotch has been discussed at length online, we see David Bowie as Sarah's mother's new boyfriend in a newspaper (a romantic rivalry with one's own mother?), and Jareth gets very testy at the notion of Sarah kissing Hoggle, a dwarfish creature whom she befriends in the Labyrinth. This culminates in Sarah essentially getting roofied and dancing with Jareth at a ball, a scene that is downright rapey. And Jareth later straight-up propositions Sarah, telling her, "I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me, love me. Do as I say and I will be your slave."

Finally, both franchises have elaborate mazes. Sarah must solve the titular Labyrinth in thirteen hours to rescue her brother from Jareth, while Kirsty briefly ventures into the Cenobites' realm when she solves the box in the first Hellraiser film. The second film features a more extensive exploration of the Cenobites' maze-like realm.

So although rarely does one associate a children's fantasy film (albeit one with some significant adult subtext) like Labyrinth with the sexual horror of Hellraiser, there are an interesting number of similarities.