In Memoriam: Paul O Turin

So sorry to have to say that my good friend & collaborator Paulo (aka Paul O) Turin has passed away after contracting Covid-19.

My sincere condolences to his family & many friends. We were all hoping he’d pull through after three weeks in the ICU in Brazil. Thanks to all the doctors & nurses who tried so hard to keep Paulo alive.

Here’s a photo from much happier times, taken when we worked on the music for ‘On Edge’ together with our band Self Destructive Nature

My friendship with Paulo began in the mid-90s when we were introduced via mutual contacts. We spent many happy hours writing and recording music together, discussing life the universe & everything — and eating penne arabiatta, or pizza, or both. Paulo worked & studied hard and was always inquisitive and determined to master whatever he put his mind to. His musicianship was second to none. Our song Cycles of Abuse featured in my film On Edge, as did Paulo’s killer dance moves (you can spot him in the nightclub scenes that bookend the film). Another composition Defiler featured on the Planet Metal compilation and on Brazilian rock radio.

SDN’s track Defiler featured on Planet Metal Volume 2

When Paulo returned to Brazil, we kept in touch and exchanged family photos (and godawful Dad jokes!). A couple of years ago, Paulo asked for my help in putting together a Wikipedia page about him. But the Wiki editors rejected the page as ‘not notable’!!!

Well, screw them. I’m including the Wikipedia text below in full, in tribute to Paulo, who was very notably a gentle giant, and a brilliantly talented musician. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

(And if any Wikipedia wizards out there can create a page for Paul O Turin, please do so. He would have liked that!)

Sweet dreams Paulo, be at peace, the world will rock a lot less without you x

Paulo in his own words…

Paul O Turin performing live in 2014

Paul O Turin

Background information

Birth name: Paulo Eduardo Turin

Born: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Genres: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Instrumental Rock/Metal

Occupation: Guitarist, songwriter

Instruments: Guitar

Associated acts: Gangland UK, Battlezone, Paul Di’anno, Self Destructive Nature, Aquiles Priester, Felipe Andreoli, Realm of Illusion

Labels: Pony Canyon, Encore Records, Magick Records, Zoom Club Records

Biography

Paulo Turin was born in Brazil but made his mark in metal music in England where he lived for 22 years. He was of Italian heritage. His grandparents moved to Brazil from Venice during the first world war. He spoke English, Italian and Portuguese.

He started playing his father’s acoustic guitar at a very young age and learned music from some music books that also belonged to his father. After begging his parents to buy him an electric guitar for two years, he finally got it at the age of 13. It was a Fender Jaguar copy. The first songs he learned on the electric guitar was from Credence Clear Water Revival, Slade and Chuck Berry but when he heard Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin his guitar playing and musical taste went to a new dimension.

Turin then started taking private guitar lessons with some well known teachers around the Sao Paulo area. The lessons included rock, jazz and music theory. During this period he played with some local bands.

In 1986 Paul took advantage of his European (Italian) citizenship and moved to England where he worked part time and took guitar lessons at the Musicians Academy and at the Guitar Institute. Paul also held a degree in management and graduated to be a University teacher.

Paul O Turin at the Marquee, London

Career

In England, Paul went to several auditions for bands in the underground metal scene of London and got the job as the guitarist of an up and coming act called Gangland UK. They toured the UK nonstop for two years and recorded two songs Beyond the Law and Death Threat for the album Metal for Muthas ‘92 released in Japan. Gangland also put out a single One in a Million/Crazy Angel for the Japanese market.

Paul composed the soundtrack song Cycles of Abuse for the horror film On Edge with Self Destructive Nature (SDN), a band he formed with vocalist and writer/director Frazer Lee. Another SDN song Defiler featured on the Planet Metal compilation. Paulo did session work and played for bands as a hired hand also.

In 1997 he was invited to join Paul Di’anno’s (former Iron Maiden vocalist) Battlezone. They recorded and toured the album Feel My Pain. Paul returned to Brazil in 1999 and put together a band for Paul Di’anno which recorded and toured the album Nomad. Nomad was re-released in 2006 with a few bonus live tracks under the name of The Living Dead.

Since then Turin was writing and recording solo instrumental Rock Metal, and with thrash metal oufit Realm of Illusion, in addition to producing, and hosting guitar masterclasses.

Related links:

https://www.facebook.com/pauloturinlegacy/

Paul O Turin on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7d9Df3eDlbKJATJIGYg7G0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Di’Anno

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquiles_Priester

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felipe_Andreoli

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feel_My_Pain

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search=metal+for+muthas+92&title=Special:Search&fulltext=1&ns0=1

In memoriam: Norman J. Warren

I’m devastated to hear of filmmaker Norman J. Warren‘s passing, and touched to see social media buzzing with fond memories of, and tributes to, this gentleman of horror.

The late, great Norman J. Warren (photo: Vice.com)

My friendship with Norman began just over a decade ago, when a producer recommended me to him as a potential screenwriter on his new movie project. We met in a hotel bar in London and got along like a haunted house on fire. I was hired to do rewrites on Norman’s script ‘Beyond Terror’, which was both a sequel to ‘Terror’ and a ‘greatest hits’ showcase. I was thrilled to be working with him, as I was a fan of Norman’s cult-occult movie ‘Satan’s Slave’ (aka ‘Evil Heritage’) from my VHS video nasties days.

Our collaboration continued and we met up for coffee-fuelled story meetings and regular chinwags at the National Film Theatre café on the South Bank, and sometimes at Norman’s home in West London, where I got to see his vintage movie posters and memorabilia over mugs of tea. Norman had so many great stories from his decades in the film industry, and I loved hearing about him driving around in an open topped car with ‘Terror’ star Glynis Barber in the passenger seat.

(Glynis Barber in Norman J. Warren’s TERROR)

‘Beyond Terror’ was retitled ‘Delusion’ (we joked that we were deluded if we thought it was going to get made) and Norman eventually took the project to China with producer Yixi Sun, to pitch for financing. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Following our work on ‘Delusion’, Norman invited me to brainstorm ideas with him for a horror/thriller film called ‘Shadows’ and I worked up a story outline based on our creative discussions with producer Yixi Sun.

Horror can be a notoriously hard sell when trying to attract funding, especially state funding, and so Norman decided to pursue the art house/surreal thriller route. Following on from ‘Shadows’, Norman and Yixi then developed a script called ‘Susu’, which Norman was going to direct in China. When ill health prevented him from directing, Norman moved into a producing role, with Yixi directing. Norman made a fun short too, for the ‘Turn Your Bloody Phone Off’ segment at FrightFest London.

Alongside all this, I was hard at work on my short folk horror film ‘The Stay’, and Norman mentored me throughout the process with his trademark enthusiasm and words of encouragement. You’ll see his name on the thank you credits at the end of the film (I apologised in advance, in case he didn’t like the movie!).

Norman was a lovely friend and collaborator who always had time for others, even when he was unwell. And I have never known someone to be so excited and upbeat when discussing grisly death scenes over lunch! Norman survived polio during his younger years, and I think that maybe gave him some of his appreciation for life’s possibilities. He was a proper gent, and I will miss him.

Listen to Norman discussing his filmmaking roots and influences on Radio 4’s The Film Programme here.

And you can relive Norman J Warren’s greatest hits in this stonking Indicator Blu Ray box set.

Glancing back at 2020, looking ahead to 2021

(we were all this screaming tree at some point in 2020…)

2020. A year during which any horror writer would be hard pressed to outdo real-life events with any of their fictional terrors.

Glancing back, here’s my horror writing year in review.

Novels

Greyfriars Reformatory my sixth novel, which was published by the fine folks at Flame Tree Press, got some of the most positive reviews i’ve ever had (from Chicago Review of Books, and others). My thanks to all the readers, raters & reviewers!

Non-fiction

I published two academic chapters:
“Not everything that moves, breathes and talks is alive”: Christianity, Korean Shamanism and Reincarnation in Whispering Corridors (1998) and The Wailing (2016) – published in Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion and Worship in the Horror Film, editors: Rebecca Booth, Valeska Griffiths, Erin Thompson, R.F. Todd (House of Leaves Publishing, 2020)
&
Koji Suzuki’s Ring: A world literary perspective – published in Horror Literature From Gothic to Postmodern: Critical Essays. Editors Nicholas Diak, Michele Brittany (McFarland Publishing, 2020).

I penned guest blogs & articles for the HWA, CrimeReads & Kendall Reviews (among others you can find here).

Screenwriting

I lost two screenwriting commissions due to the pandemic in 2020. I know many film & TV writers struggled last year, and here’s hoping the industry picks up again in 2021, but there’s a way to go yet.

I put my time & energy into writing two speculative feature film screenplays (I’ve learned never to speak too much about those, so let’s just wait and see if they actually become movies).

My screenplay adaptation of Bram Stoker Award®️ nominated debut novel The Lamplighters was a Semi-finalist in the ScreenCraft Horror Screenplay Contest 2020.

Awards

My folk horror film The Stay won two awards on the international festival circuit in 2020:


Exemplar Award – Creepy New Concept & Plot (Creepy Tree Film Festival, USA)


& Best International Film (The Thing in the Basement Horror Fest USA)

The Stay was screened in Official Selection at several film festivals from Los Angeles Lift-off to the Hitchcock Film Awards. Film festivals weren’t the only happenings that were streamed…

Events

Remember those? It was a tough year for conferences and conventions, and my heart goes out to their organisers, who have been forced to postpone, go online, or to cancel outright.

An Evening With Horror Writer Frazer Lee went ahead, and I enjoyed inflicting my horrors on a full house, had fun answering some great questions, and we raised some money for my favourite charity.

The inaugural UK edition of Stokercon was postponed, and then became Chillercon, with the Bram Stoker Awards & Final Frame Film Contest (for which i was a Juror) moving online. Congratulations to the winners & nominees!

I was looking forward to screening The Stay and doing a Q&A about my film work at Contemporary Folk Horror in Film & Media conference, Leeds, until the pandemic delivered its own persistent brand of viral horror. Hopefully it will happen in 2021.

Last but not least — My book launch for Greyfriars Reformatory went online, and together we raised £35 for Hillside Animal Sanctuary through signed book sales — thank you!

Looking forward? I’m hoping to get all kinds of things done in 2021. Making horror stories sometimes helps me to face the real-life ones. And i hope reading/watching them helps you sometimes, too.

If you’re still reading this, I’d just like to wish you & yours the very best of health. And i’ll close on a plea, if i may:

Don’t you dare be one of those characters in horror stories — you know the one who goes down to the basement with a faulty flashlight? Or the one who says, “We’ll cover more ground if we split up.” Just don’t. I’ve written and consumed enough horror stories to know those aproaches rarely pan out so well — for anyone.

Please.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands.

Stay safe out there, and keep others safe.

And if you need to borrow a flashlight, just scream!

x Frazer

#TheCure concerts I have known & loved: NEC Birmingham, 6th December 1987

In the first of an occasional series, I’m marking the anniversary of The Cure concerts i’ve attended over the years, because they are my favourite band and I love them, and because 2020 has made such things into impossible dreams.

The first post has to be my first gig!

On 6th December, way back in 1987, I boarded a coach from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, to go see my first ever Cureshow at Birmingham NEC Arena.

I had seen a few gigs already. Clannad, Big Audio Dynamite, Spear of Destiny, INXS, The Cult, and Fields of the Nephilim (to name a few i can actually remember) but this was the big one.

This was The Cure.

Earlier that year I had seen The Cure in Orange concert film at my local cinema, in Hanley, Staffordshire, with my school friend Susan Greaves. I played ‘The Blood’ to her on my cassette Walkman because she’d never heard it before. We got up & danced at the back while the movie played. It was magic, but (to coin a phrase) I wished it was all real, I wished it couldn’t be a story.

This time, in Birmingham in Winter, it was brilliantly real.

The seats were the cheapo ones, very near to… the back of the arena. But I didn’t care so much about the seats, I had no intention of staying seated in mine anyhow. The arena lights dimmed and… There was no support band, just ‘Eyemou’ — an experimental film of close-ups on Robert Smith’s mouth and eyes, projected into a screen that covered the stage. The casuals were getting a bit restless during the film, but sixteen year old me was absolutely bloody loving it. The film was the magical bridge between the In Orange movie, and the actual, physical Cure i had yearned to experience live for so long.

I can still feel the goosebumps i felt then, when the opening bars of ‘The Kiss’ kicked in, and the screen dropped to reveal the band I would see again & again & again & again after that fateful first time. Robert’s voice opened like a flower and the crowd went bonkers. And it got better and better.

The next couple of hours were my induction into by now familiar Cure traits:

⁃ The mixed crowd of casuals (one guy was very disappointed they didn’t play The Lovecats and couldn’t believe it when i told him the band couldn’t play it live — true at that time) and die-hards.

⁃ the random b-side/obsCure-ity thrown in to the set to rapturous applause from those in-the-know (that night it was ‘A Japanese Dream’ that surprised the most, i’d been playing my copy to death in the run up to the show).

⁃ and Robert’s charming inability to do onstage banter (’ello! is sometimes the only decipherable phrase to be uttered by our hero).

The coach journey home was a blur as i replayed every note in my backcombed head. I was bewitched, besotted, bewildered — and utterly hooked.

But i’d have to wait until 1989, and The Prayer Tour, to see them again.

And that is another story.

See what The Cure played on 6th December 1987 here.

Follow The Cure on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and visit the official website.

Comment below with your Cure memories! I’d love to hear them!

Proof that one letter can change your life. #OnEdge20

OnEdge20

#OnEdge20 is a series of posts commemorating 20 years since I rolled cameras on my first short film.

DAY 1

Today is exactly 20 years since I rolled cameras on my first short film as writer/director, On Edge.

I don’t like looking back so much, I’d much rather keep my focus on what’s ahead. But 20 years does feel like a pretty significant anniversary, so…

To commemorate each day of the film shoot I will be posting about the making of the film, starting today (24th July) and concluding on the day we wrapped (28th July). I have trawled through the archives to find artefacts that have never been shared online before — until now.

And the first of these is a letter.

A single sheet of headed A4 paper, bearing the logo of Soho’s The Creative Partnership, and the signature of author Christopher Fowler.

It’s a letter that changed my life.

Twenty one years ago, I was studying for a Masters in screenwriting under the tutorship of guru Philip Parker. One of our assignments was to adapt an existing story into a short film script. Around that time, I had become aware of an emerging master of the short horror story, British author Christopher Fowler. I had already devoured a couple of his early novels, including the brilliant Roofworld, and was hungry for more, so I invested (very wisely) in a copy of his collection Sharper Knives, which included a blackly-comic, dental horror story called On Edge. I sat bolt upright in bed and told myself that this story had to be made into a film.

With my homework assignment as further impetus (I always work best to a strict deadline, to this day) I set about adapting the story. The assignment brief meant that the script had to be around 30 pages long. The story was at most going to come in at around fifteen minutes, so I created a subplot in which the impatient patient, Peter Thurlow, was set up for a painful fall by his estranged wife. I also opted to include a bit more detail about Doctor Matthews’ background. Visualising his ‘difficult’ schooldays via flashbacks, i intercut these with the main action culminating in some horrific business with a sharp pencil in an exam hall. (The gory escalation was intended to mirror the horror occurring in the dentist’s chair.)

The homework assignment was a success, but I knew that the film would be incredibly expensive to make at 30 minutes long. As a rule of thumb, at that time it would cost around £1,000 to produce each minute of finished film. To explain this further, I was determined that we were to shoot and deliver on 35mm Cinemascope, to present as cinematic experience as possible — an approach very much shared and supported by my producing partner Joseph Alberti at Robber Baron Productions. On Edge was to be our calling card, and we were confident if we got it right, we might get a feature film project off the ground.  So, in order to make the film realisable on a budget, I immediately dropped the spousal revenge subplot, cutting the script back to around 18 pages. (Still too long, but further edits were to come, as they always do.)

In a fit of youthful exuberance / pure madness, i decided to send a copy of the script to the author of the short story, Mr Christopher Fowler himself, begging him for the rights to make the film. He replied, and you can see that reply below. I have never shown anyone outside of the production this letter (and I wrote to Christopher last week to ask his permission one more time —  20 years after first doing so — but this time via email, and this time requesting permission to publish his letter on my blog, which I’m happy to say he granted. Thanks again Mr Fowler!).

I remember tucking the letter inside my copy of the shooting script, as a memento of the journey to getting the film made, sure, but also as a reminder to my future self — the future self who is writing this blog entry today — that all it takes sometimes is one person to see some potential in what you are doing, to give you a break, and ultimately to change your life.

Making On Edge changed my life in so many ways. It taught me a lot about directing, screenwriting, and of course the process of adaptation. I have since worked on many screenplays and films as a writer/director and a story consultant, and have published short stories and novels of my own.

Proof that one letter can change your life.

IMG_7997

Tune into the blog tomorrow for more #OnEdge20

Watch On Edge
on Amazon VOD
and DVD

Check out the On Edge
screening history & list of awards
here

In Memoriam: Robin Hardy, writer & director of ‘The Wicker Man’

Robin Hardy was a true original, and his 1973 film The Wicker Man is often and justifiably hailed as the finest British horror film ever made.

The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy & Antony Shaffer

The book is a cracking read, too!

The story of the film’s conception is perhaps as fascinating as The Wicker Man itself, with a studio unsure of what it had on its hands butchering Hardy’s masterpiece in the process of its clumsy and half-hearted initial release.

My own personal obsession with Hardy’s work began when I saw (the theatrical version of) The Wicker Man at a special screening at Glastonbury’s Library of Avalon. A discussion followed the screening of the film about its pagan themes, and I was well and truly hooked.

Those were the early days of VHS video and I managed to track down an alternate cut of the film on a yellowy, fifth-generation pirate copy from Australia. This was later cleaned up using the best possible source materials and released on DVD as The Director’s Cut of the film.

Years later, with the advent of home-HD and the Blu-Ray format, The Wicker Man – The Final Cut arrived, providing a fitting epitaph to Robin Hardy’s life and career as he finally got to release the version of the film that he deemed closest to his original vision.

In 2011 I was very lucky to meet Robin Hardy, for a brief “Hello!”, in person at FrightFest, London. Mr Hardy was there to present the premiere of his sequel The Wicker Tree, adapted from his novel Cowboys For Christ. He was a true gentleman and eccentric – very warm and wickedly funny. (Read my capsule review of the rather wobbly, but joyously bonkers, sequel The Wicker Tree here.)

One unsung hero in the whole Wicker saga is Anthony Shaffer’s brilliant script, which really is one of a kind. The basic storyline was based on Ritual, a novel by David Pinner, which has recently been republished. The novelisation of the film (also written by Shaffer & Hardy) is well worth tracking down (a new edition was published by Tor in 2000) – with some lovely embellishments to the screen story, not least its haunting and ambiguous ending, it provides yet another version of The Wicker Man for us all to enjoy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it is time to “keep my appointment with The Wicker Man.”

R.I.P. Robin Hardy, 1929-2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.35.04

Quoted in The Wicker Man novel by Robin Hardy & Anthony Shaffer

 

The Best Christmas Movie of all time is…

The Exorcist.

This festive tale of the possession of a young innocent by the demon Pazuzu enchanted audiences when it opened on Boxing Day in 1973. And it has continued to cast its seasonal spell ever since.

  

The film’s story opens rather aptly in the Holy Land, where loveable priest Father Merrin’s Christmas wishes come true with the discovery of a beautiful statue. The shots of cute dogs playing together in the sand are particularly heartwarming.

  
Cut to Georgetown (complete with its decidedly festive Icelandic embassy!) and the happy household that young Regan calls home. Her mom’s excitement, when she finds her daughter has been playing that Christmas classic boardgame ‘Ouija’ with her adorable imaginary friend Captain Howdy, is a joy to behold. It’s enough to put your head in a spin.

  

And who could fail to feel that glimmer of Christmas cheer when the demonic possession fully takes hold? These scenes are perhaps the most magical of all, with director William ‘Joy to the World’ Friedkin playfully ensuring that we can see the priests’ breath in Regan’s wintry wonderland bedroom – let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

  

And the icing on the Christmas cake is Mike Oldfield’s twinkling soundtrack. ‘Tubular (Jingle) Bells’ is surely everyone’s Yuletide top of the pops.

So there you have it folks, the ultimate Christmas movie of all time: The Exorcist.

  

“Why you do this~mas to me Dimi?”

Happy Ho-ho-horrordays,

Frazer x

The Next Chapter: Don D’Auria/Samhain Update

On Wednesday, i posted a tribute to my editor extraordinaire, Don D’Auria.

I learned (just hours after posting his tribute) direct from Don via email that Samhain had let him go.  Perversely, Samhain’s marketing department had asked us authors to make tributes to Don as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations. We were only too happy to do so. But then utterly dismayed and confused by his sudden dismissal. Was the call for tributes an attempt to soften the blow? Or a last ditch effort from those on the inside who disagreed with the decision? I guess we’ll never know.

To put it mildly, the horror-net went quietly ballistic. Samhain authors huddled together in cyberspace and howled at the moon, shared their disbelief, anger, disappointment – and support. An official statement from Samhain followed (Ramsey Campbell posted it in the comments section on my Wednesday blog if you want to take a look), the general gist of which was that Don was dropped as a cost-cutting measure and because he isn’t active on social media. As others have commented, it’s a sad state of affairs that Twittering and Farcebooking should take precedence over curating and editing a multiple award-nominated horror line. The former activities are within the purview of marketeers, not necessarily Executive Editors.

My mate Hunter Shea posted a brilliantly optimistic response to the news, and author and genre champion Brian Keene called for a #SamhainBlackout (a call to unfriend and unfollow Samhain’s official social media channels and to follow the individual authors instead).

I personally feel for Don and for the many authors who were looking forward to working with him, either for the first time, or the umpteenth time. Tomorrow is Don’s last day at Samhain and at present, the future’s uncertain.

But one thing is for certain.

Don knows horror fiction and i’m sure he will continue his great and nurturing work elsewhere. I wish Don all the very best for the future, and as he’s also a huge Pink Floyd fan (yet another plus point) this song’s for him.

Don D’Auria, shine on you crazy bloody diamond.

don dauria sa

Halcyon days – Don D’Auria & Samhain in Famous Monsters magazine (copyright Famous Monsters 2014)

And here’s to whatever the next chapter brings!

 

RIP Wes Craven, sweet dreams and thank you for all the nightmares

Wes Craven A Nightmare On Elm Street

a genre giant – on the set of Nightmare On Elm Street (photo source: WesCraven.com)

Horror fans are mourning the loss of a Master of Horror. Wes Craven was a true innovator in the genre who had a knack for taking transgression and giving it mainstream popularity. From his early video nasties through to the live burial scene in The Serpent and the Rainbow (arachnophobes beware!) and the crowd-pleasing jump scares of the Scream series, Uncle Wes knew what scared us. I remember having bruises up my arm for a week after taking the prettiest girl at high school on a date to see A Nightmare on Elm Street – and I hardly slept a wink that night after seeing a red and green car on the walk home (for real – what are the chances). Wes Craven’s filmography is an impressive legacy and he will be sorely missed.

Here is Wes Craven talking about being a filmmaker, about finding something deeper, and about the geek inheriting the Earth in one of my favourite segments from the brilliant Nightmare Series Encyclopedia (1999). It is bittersweet to hear him speak about how he’d like to be remembered.

And remember him we will.

Rest in Peace Wes Craven, sweet dreams – and thank you for all the nightmares.