Ashley Romans Joins ‘NOS4A2’

Deadline is reporting that Ashley Romans has officially joined the cast of AMC’s NOS4A2. The up-and-coming actress is set to play the role of FBI agent Tabitha Hutter.  Romans is known for her roles on Christmas Crime Story, I’m Dying Up Here, and Shameless. She will join Ashleigh Cummings, Zachary Quinto, Virginia Kull, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Olafur Darri Olafsson on the series.

Based on Joe Hill’s book by the same name, NOS4A2 follows Victoria McQueen, a woman who has the ability to find things that have gone missing. Victoria comes face to face with the deadly Charlie Manx, a supernatural creature that feeds on the souls of children. The 720 page novel was published by William Morrow and Company and released on April 30, 2013. The novel has received mostly positive reviews and even landed on Time Magazine’s ten best books of 2013. read more

‘Heavy Metal’ Magazine Documentary in Development at Fox Digital

Fox Digital Studio, Heavy Metal Media, and 4th Row Films are currently developing a feature film documentary about the history and influence of the quintessential sci-fi/horror/ fantasy comic magazine Heavy Metal according to an exclusive report from Variety.  

Director Douglas Tirola is attached to the film, making it the second time that the director has worked on a documentary based on a magazine, the first being The National Lampoon documentary entitled Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. 

Steven Johnson, Fox Digital’s VP of Production, praised the project, stating that “We are very interested in making pop-culture docs and horror/sci-fi content at FDS. Heavy Metal is the perfect fit; it was a tremendous influence on so many great artists and filmmakers of the genre, and Douglas has a vision that’s going to deliver something really unique.” read more

Ben Mendelsohn to Star in ‘The Outsider’

Variety is reporting that HBO has committed to a series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider. Jason Bateman is set to direct the first two episodes under his Aggregate Films banner which was founded in 2012. Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Bloodlines, Ready Player One, Captain Marvel) has landed the lead role of Ralph Anderson in the series.

Written by Stephen King and published on May 22, 2018 by Scribner the 560-page novel quickly landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The synopsis of the book is:

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can. read more

Production Wraps on Mike Flanagan’s ‘Doctor Sleep’

Doctor Sleep– the highly anticipated follow-up to The Shining by director Mike Flanagan- is one step closer to hitting theaters! The prolific filmmaker announced on his Facebook page that production on the film has officially wrapped. He also reflected on the awesome experience he had making the movie:

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So that's a wrap on DOCTOR SLEEP! It's been a long, crazy, truly unique experience. I read the novel as soon as it came…

Posted by Mike Flanagan on Saturday, December 1, 2018

It’s been a busy year for Flanagan, who recently wowed Netflix viewers with his excellent The Haunting of Hill House series this October. With more than a year until the film’s planned theatrical release date, Flanagan will now focus on his post production duties for the movie. The film is based on Stephen King’s 2013 novel of the same name, and it features the return of Danny Torrance… now all grown up after his traumatic experience at The Overlook Hotel all of those years ago.

Doctor Sleep will hit theaters on January 24th, 2020. The film will star Rebecca Ferguson, Jacob Tremblay, and Ewan McGregor. Stay tuned to Horror News Network for more details on this exciting project as they break!


Vertigo’s ‘Hex Wives’ Writer Ben Blacker: The Horror News Network Interview

For many horror comic fans that came of age in the late 1980s and continued to read and collect comic books into the 90s, Vertigo was their publisher of choice.  With titles such as Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Garth Ennis’ Hellblazer, Vertigo was the place to go for mature, literary horror comics.

This past year, Vertigo has started to go back to their roots with a number of horror and supernatural titles, such as Ben Blacker, Mirka Andolfo, and Marissa Louise’s Hex Wives.  Writer Ben Blacker was able to pull himself away from his cauldron to engage in a lengthy interview about the new series and the ever topical subject of witches.

Horror News Network: Where did the idea for Hex Wives come from?

Ben Blacker: Hex Wives is the confluence of two ideas I’d been tinkering with in the back of my brain for years, while my writing partner and I were working on a few other projects. Maybe five years ago, I caught an episode of Bewitched on TV. I loved that series when I was a kid; when I’d see it in syndication when I stayed home sick from school. It was a typical episode—Samantha worries about getting dinner on the table for her husband who is bringing his boss home from work. Samantha’s mother, Endora, swings by to tell Samantha that she’s married below her. But this was the first time it struck me that Endora was right! Samantha is this super powerful witch who is “not allowed” by her husband to practice magic! That’s bonkers. Darren didn’t want his wife to be her complete self.

So, this was something chugging along in the back of my head. Meanwhile, I was having more frequent and honest conversations with my wife and my women friends about the way they were really treated at work, in relationships, etc. There were a lot more insidious and ingrained attempts to control women than I had realized. Ways of subjugating or minimizing women and their accomplishments seemed inherent to our patriarchal society.

It really came to a head leading up to the 2016 election when I saw both how people talked about Hillary Clinton and how others talked about the way Clinton was talked about. Never has someone so qualified run for this position and never has someone so unqualified won it. At its base, this came down to a question of the way women are considered and treated.

I learned so much about writing TV from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the lessons from Buffy is about having a central metaphor. When I put these ideas together—an exploration of witch tropes and a desire to write about gender politics—Hex Wives really took shape.

HNN: Your story displays witches across time and of course, starts with Salem.  Why is this historical setting so crucial to the opening of your tale?

Blacker: Hex Wives is, at heart, a love story between Isadora and Nadiya, two (basically) immortal witches. (They can die, but they get reborn as themselves). So, I wanted to give some scope to what I thought of as an epic romance. I wanted to give the impression that these two women were destined to be with each other. That, time and again, they’d find each other. That way, when the bad guys have their way and brainwash all of the witches, and Izzy and Nadiya know nothing of who they are or their past selves, it was really emotionally wrenching.

The other thing I was interested in was setting the boundaries of the book. Witches as a horror trope (and as historical figures) go all the way back to ancient Greece. So, by starting the book in Salem, Mass. (a place I visited often as a Boston-based elementary school kid) and referencing The Crucible (a book I taught a few times back when I use to teach 10th grade English), I was staking out that this would be about American witches (which was part of the initial conception of the book). That said, I’m finding myself going back even further in upcoming stories…

HNN: There are two nine panel scenes in the first two issues where Isadora is getting dressed in front of a mirror.  What is the significance of the mirror and her process in relation to your story?  

Blacker: That first nine-panel grid of Izzy in front of the mirror, getting ready for her day, was the very first image I thought of for this book, about four years ago, and it’s the one from which everything else sprung. There was something about seeing this woman in a private, intimate moment and knowing that she was doing this for someone else (her husband). For this character, putting on make-up, doing her hair, making herself “beautiful,” is all for him. I didn’t know why she was doing it, and it occurred to me that maybe she didn’t either. So, that kind of became the basis of the book. A suburban housewife who doesn’t know herself, doesn’t question her reality, who possesses this secret, even from herself.

I knew I would repeat that motif throughout the first arc and beyond. Mirrors are, of course, a loaded metaphor. Do you remember the ad campaign for Poltergeist II? Probably you don’t, because who would? But basically, it had a narrator saying “Some people are afraid of heights. Other people have a thing about mirrors…” and etc. I was a kid when that came out, and I remember asking my mom why people would be afraid of mirrors. She responded, in THE MOST TERRIFYING POSSIBLE RESPONSE, that people are afraid they’d look into the mirror and see someone who wasn’t them looking back. This fucked me up to this day! (Emanuela Lupacchino did a terrific take on this idea for the cover of Hex Wives #2).

So, without unpacking the entire metaphor of mirrors, I like how they function as an object of horror, a literalization of “knowing one’s self,” and as a tie to witch tropes (“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” and all of that). It was fun taking apart and re-assembling so many witch tropes—broomsticks are another one we tackle—in ways I haven’t necessarily seen in witch media.

HNN: How does Mirka Andolfo’s art help establish the tone of Hex Wives?   read more

‘Happy Death Day’s’ Christopher Landon to Produce Film Based on Grady Hendrix’s ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’

According to an exclusive report by The Hollywood Reporter, Grady Hendrix’s novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is about to get the silver screen treatment.   Hendrix’s novel, a tale that blends elements of humor, teen drama, and the paranormal, will be produced by Christopher Landon, the writer-director of the Happy Death Day franchise.  

It is unclear at this time if Landon will direct the film, but initial signs are suggesting that the director may very well helm My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  The rights to Hendrix’s book were secured by Endeavor Content and Jenna Lamia (Awkward, 90210) will pen the adaptation.  Hendrix will also serve as a creative consultant.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is Hendrix’s third property to be optioned in the last year, joining “…Horrorstor, about an IKEA that contains more frightening sights than just flimsy furniture…” and Chelsea Stardust’s Satanic Panic, which is described as “…an After Hours-esque dark comedy in a supernatural setting.”

Hendrix has also been busy writing, turning out his latest novel from Quirk Books, We Sold Our Souls in September.  Hendrix also gained wide notoriety for his non-fiction ode to the forgotten horror novels of his youth, the gonzo coffee table book, Paperbacks from Hell (which Horror News Network reviewed last year).  The prolific author even found time to help bring Fangoria back from the dead, with an article in the first issue of the relaunch entitled “In Search of Bigfoot Fiction”.

Stay tuned for more updates on My Best Friend’s Exorcism and the rest of Henrix’s projects, right here at your home for horror journalism, Horror News Network.

R.L. Stine’s ‘Fear Street’ Films Still in the Works

Although it has been a while since we heard anything about the Fear Street films, R.L. Stine took to Twitter to alleviate concerns and confirm that three Fear Street movies are still in the works at Fox.

Leigh Janiak is handling the writing and directing of all three movies which could be shot and released back-to-back-to-back. Janiak is known for directing the unsetting 2014 film Honeymoon which tells the story of a newlywed couple whose honeymoon descends into chaos after the groom fins his wife wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. Janiak has also went on to direct an episode of Outcast and two episodes of Scream: The TV Series.

In 1989 the first Fear Street book The New Girl was published by Simon Pulse.  While the books weren’t as successful as his Goosebumps series, Fear Street still sold over 80 million books and appealed to an older audience of readers.

Keep it locked to Horror News Network for the latest on Fear Street.


‘The Bone Collector’ Series Coming to NBC

Deadline is reporting that NBC has awarded a premium script commitment to a Bone Collector series coming from VJ Boyd and Mark Bianculli. The series synopsis reads as:

The Bone Collector follows Lincoln Rhyme, a retired genius forensic criminologist left paralyzed after an accident on the job. When a harrowing case brings him back to the force, Rhyme partners up with an ambitious young detective, Amelia Sachs, to take down some of the most dangerous criminals in the U.S.

Written by Jeffery Deaver and published in 1997 by Viking Press, The Bone Collector was an instant hit and Deaver continued the series for a total of 11 novels with his latest book, The Skin Collector being released in 2014. A film which was based on the book was released in 1999 and starred Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, Luis Guzman, and Ed O’Neill. Although reviews of the film were mixed it did pull in over $150 million at the box office.

Keep it tuned to Horror News Network for more on The Bone Collector.

‘The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter’ Series in the Works at the CW

Deadline is reporting that the CW Network is developing a series based on Theodora Gross’ debut novel, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. The show will be written by AJ Marechal (Relationship Status, The First) and produced by former CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller.

The book is described as:

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this “tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) debut is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. read more

Remembering Stan Lee’s Influence on the Horror Comic

Stan Lee’s influence on pop culture can not be understated.  The late writer made characters such as Spider-Man, Thor, and Iron Man household names and his fame and notoriety shot into the stratosphere thanks to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008.  Millions of people of all ages who have never picked up a comic book, came accustomed to seeing Lee’s signature cameos in countless blockbusters and he remained one of the most recognizable celebrities in Hollywood due to this very reason.

Comic fans will of course remember Lee as the architect of the original Marvel Universe, who along with artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., and a host of other talented writers and artists, established Marvel Comics as the hip alternative to the stodgy original super hero universe located across town at the offices of DC Comics.  Heroes such as the Incredible Hulk and the “ever-lovin’-blue-eyed Thing” proved to readers that heroes didn’t need matinee idol looks to save the earth, and heroes who questioned their motivations and couldn’t get a date on Saturday night ala Peter Parker assured fans that their idols had some of the same problems they did.  Lee populated his universe with the now cliche “heroes with feet of clay” and not only outsold the “distinguished competition”, but also brought together a diverse, vibrant collection of characters that have stood the test of time. And while super hero fans mourn the passing of Lee at the age of 95, horror comic fans also owe the writer and editor a great deal of thanks for his contributions to the maligned sub-genre.

Before Lee became the guiding force behind Marvel Comics, Lee was at the helm of the company that would later transform into Marvel, called Atlas Comics.  Throughout the 1950s, Lee followed publisher Martin Goodman’s advice and emulated the hits of the competition, and in the early 50s the best selling comics were the over-the-top horror tales from EC Comics.  Lee followed suit with similar horror titles such as Astonishing, Menace, and  Strange Tales.  When horror comics became “public enemy number one” due to Frederic Wertham’s  fear-inducing book Seduction of the Innocent, publishers scrambled to distance themselves from the graphic horror of EC Comics and started the self-censoring organization, the Comics Code Authority.

With the absence of horror comics on the stands and super heroes in a slump, what was a publisher to do?  Lee instead turned to the atomic age giants of science fiction/horror and created an entire stable of titanic creatures that helped keep the lights on at Atlas Comics.  These would become the famous Lee-Kirby monsters such as  Gorgilla, Fin Fang Foom, The Glob, Mumba, Groot, Xemnu “the Hulk”, Elektro, Gargantus, It the Colossus, and Googam, Son of Goom among others.  These city crushing critters helped satiate horror comic fans hunger for content and served as a bridge to the later Marvel Universe (and many of these monsters would find themselves stomping around the same pages as the Fantastic Four and the Avengers in short order once Atlas was re-branded).

After changing pop culture in the 1960’s, Lee entered the 1970s as the Editor in Chief, as well as the new publisher of Marvel Comics, and this was when Lee exerted the most influence on the evolution of the horror comic.  In 1971, Lee took a page from Creepy publisher James Warren, and began producing a wide array of black and white comic magazines aimed at older readers.  These magazines followed in the tradition of the classic EC Comics and didn’t skimp on the gore, adult situations, or violence.  Since these were technically magazines, they were not governed by the CCA, and therefore could push the limits once again.  Horror fans have fond memories of titles such as Vampire Tales, Tales of the Zombie, Monsters Unleashed, The Haunt of Horror, as well as non-horror titles such as the seminal Conan series, The Savage Sword of Conan, and The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.

Seeing the success of the horror magazines, Lee would soon usher in a new age of four color monsters, starting with Tomb of Dracula #1 in April of 1972.  After Tomb, the floodgates of horror opened, with the addition of The Monster of Frankenstein, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, and The Son Of Satan to the newsstand.  Seeing Dracula next to Spider-Man (and he also guest starred in Giant Size Spider-Man #1 in 1974) in the spinner racks of the era brought knowledge of the classic monsters to a whole new generation of fans and these issues  are still some of the most prized that were released during the disco decade (otherwise known as the Bronze Age of Comics).  These characters still grace the pages of Marvel Comics to this day and if not for the influence of Lee, may have been left to decay in the 1950s, along with EC Comics.

Fans will miss Lee for many reasons, but horror fans can thank “The Man” for keeping the monsters alive in Marvel Comics.