Part 1 of a 2 or 3 or 5 part series on writing horror.
My writing roots are in playwriting where I wrote comedies with heart and challenging, emotional dramas. Back then, I loved watching horror but didn’t feel comfortable writing it. It felt done. And what was unique, I didn’t think I had the mind to do. Anyone can write a generic slasher or a gory comedy. But the stuff that felt fresh were tapped directly from the inner shadows of some very intelligent people. And the movies were psychological explorations dressed in horror. Most of the time, watching classics from THE HAUNTING to MAGIC, I went to sleep not afraid of the monster under the bed but terrified of the monster under the covers. I didn’t want to write that. That seemed scary. And I mean scary for me as a writer. Stephen King was fun to read, but I can put the book down. He never does.
And then, I got married and things changed. John Wildman wanted to make a movie together. And since OLDBOY was our date night go-to, he wanted to do horror. So we wrote a draft. And then we saw DUMPLINGS.
I was right. I wasn’t connected or accepting enough of my shadow self to create horror and neither was the man I married. We spent our lives being “the nice guy” and “the cute girl. ” Our life research was more a quirky romcom with sarcastic boy and manic pixie girl. We needed more research. And since we had no plans to go on a real killing spree, we watched more movies.
So we rewrote. And watched. Rewrote. Watched. Over. And over.
(That last paragraph is important because I will mention it in my next post about the effect of violence in narrative film.)
The end result was THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE, two pinup cannibals in love and a cutter who will love anyone too much, too fast.
It turns out, I am really enjoying creating with my shadows. And my shadow self is actually a lovely lady who just wants to live on her terms. Since deciding to create more horror films, ICHI THE KILLER, OLDBOY and THE WOMAN have been my touchstones as I am learning that my darkness is heavily influenced by twisted romance and gender politics.
So there’s a little about me. Since writing LADIES, I am often asked why. Why do I create the gore and cruelty. It’s a complicated answer. But an important one. It’s an answer for just me. I can’t speak for any other writer or watcher. But I will speak frankly for me. I welcome comments, criticisms and questions. This is a process and my thoughts will shift as I straighten it all out. So, with my shadow self in the driver’s seat, seat belt ignored and her black finger nails on my hand with her other hand gripping the wheel, let’s go on a ride.