Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Books: "Horror Movie" By Paul Tremblay


Horror Movie

By Paul Tremblay

William Morrow; hardcover, $30.00; available today, Tuesday, June 11th

Paul Tremblay is one of the leading writers in the literary horror fiction genre, as he has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book Awards, and he is the author of The Beast You Are, Growing Things and Other Stories, The Cabin at the End of the World, The Pallbearers Club, and Survivor Song. He has also written the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland.

Tremblay's new book is set in June 1993, centering on a group of young guerrilla filmmakers who spent four weeks making a notorious, as well as disturbing art-house horror flick called Horror Movie

The strange part is that only three of the film's scenes were ever released to the public, but Horror Movie has built a rabid fan base. Now, Hollywood is pushing a reboot, with a huge budget, three decades later.

The only surviving cast member of Horror Movie is the man who played "The Thin Kid." He vividly remembers all the secrets buried within the original screenplay, the bizarre events that happened during filming, and the dangerous lines that were crossed on set, and the tragedy that resulted. 

The thing about disturbing memories is that, when they resurface, the boundaries between reality and film, what's past or present, begin to blur. Nevertheless, he is determined to remake the film, even if it requires him navigating a morass of cynical producers, egomaniacal directors, and surreal fan conventions.

Horror Movie is one of the most compelling psychological thrillers you will read, and the way the book is produced, complete with red-stained pages, only adds to what is an immersive experience.

Tremblay writes in the voice of "The Thin Kid," and in this excerpt, he talks about getting the production off the ground: "Our little movie that couldn't had a crew size that has become fluid in the retelling, magically growing in the years since Valentina uploaded the screenplay and three photo stills to various online message boards and three brief scenes to YouTube in 2008. Now that I live in Los Angeles (temporarily; please, I'm not a real monster) I can't tell you how many people tell me they know someone or are friends of a friend who was on-set. Our set.

Like now. I'm having coffee with one of the producers of the Horror Movie remake. Or is it a reboot? I'm not sure the correct term for what it is they will be doing. Is it a remake of the original film, shot more than thirty years ago, was never screened? 'Reboot' is probably the proper term but not with how it's applied around Hollywood. 

Producer Guy's name is George. Maybe. I'm pretending to forget his name in retribution for our first meeting six months ago, which was over Zoom. While I was holed up in my small, stuffy apartment, he was outdoors, traipsing around a green space. He apologized for the sunglasses and his bouncing, sun-dappled phone image in that I-can-do-whatever-I-want way and explained he just had to get outside, get his steps in, because he'd been stuck in his office all morning and he would be there all afternoon. Translation: I deign to speak to you, however you're not important enough to interrupt a planned walk. A total power play. I was tempted to hang up on him or pretend my computer screen froze, but I didn't. Yeah, I'm talking tougher than I am. I couldn't afford (in all applications of that word) to throw away any chance, as slim as it might be, to get the movie made. Within the winding course of our one-way discussion in which I was nothing but flotsam in the current of his river, he said he'd been looking for horror projects, as 'horror is hot,' but because everything happening in the real world was so grim, he and the studios wanted horror that was 'uplifiting and upbeat.' His own raging waters were too loud for him to hear my derisive snort-laugh or see my eye-roll. I didn't think anything would ever come from that chat.

In the past five years I've had countless calls with studio executives and sycophantic producers who claimed to be serious about rebooting Horror Movie and wanting me on board in a variety of non-decision-making, low-pay capacities, which equated to their hoping I wouldn't shit on them or their overtures publicly, as I and my character inexplicably have a small but vociferous, or voracious, fan base. After being subjected to their performative enthusiasm, elevator pitches (Same movie but a horror-comedy! Same movie but with twentysomethings living in L.A. or San Francisco or Atlanta! Same movie but with an alien! Same movie but with time travel! Same movie but with hope!), and promises to work together, I'd never hear from them again.

But I did hear back from this producer guy. I asked my friend Sarah, an impossibly smart (unlike me) East Coast transplant (like me) screenwriter, what she knew about him and his company. She said he had shit taste, but he got movies made. Two for two...

Listen, I'm a nice person. I am. I'm honest, polite, giving when I can be, commiserative, and I'll give you the white T-shirt off my back if you need it. I can even tolerate being buried in bullshit; it comes with my fucked-up gig. But people lying about being on Horror Movie's set gets to me. I'm sorry, but if you weren't there, you didn't earn the right to say you were. It's less narcissism on my part (though I can’t guarantee there’s not a piece of that in there; does a narcissist know if they are one?), and more my protecting the honor of everyone else’s experience. Since I can’t change anything that happened, it’s all I can do.

Our movie did not feature a crew of hundreds, never mind tens, as in multiple tens. There weren’t many of us then, and, yeah, there are a lot fewer of us still around now.”

No comments:

Post a Comment