Game of Thrones And Elric: The Influence of Michael Moorcock on TV’s Most Popular Show

Why do I love George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones? From the first episode right through to the very end? From the first page of the first volume through to what Martin hasn’t completed yet? I’ll tell you why.
Part of it is why I loved how Game of Thrones closed on the screen. I understood it because I was familiar with the story beats. It’s been told before. To me, Game of Thrones, be it on the screen or the written page – will always be the story of the Young Kingdoms from their point of view.
Who the fuck are the Young Kingdoms, you ask? The young kingdoms were the kingdoms of Man, rising through the ages as our world evolved. They soon overtook the old world of magic and sorcery and elementals, making the earth their own. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? No, it’s not the back story of Game of Thrones, a Song of Ice and Fire. It’s the setting of veteran author Michael Moorcock’s fantasy novels. The similarities to Michael Moorcock’s fantasy world, best known for Elric of Melnibone and the soul-eating sword Stormbringer, and Westeros are many.
And what’s wonderful is Game of Thrones is the complete antithesis to all things Tolkein and seems to subscribe to Moorcock’s theory of #EpicPooh. It’s almost as if Martin’s been writing this as an answer to Epic Pooh theory all along. According to the theory, stories like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are flawed. They’re no more than fundamental Winnie the Pooh stories, wherein standard archetypes go on an adventure in the 100 Acre Wood with no real danger. They don’t take into account the real world ramifications of the wars being fought around their stories. There is death in the real world – and it has an effect on people. Subscribers to the theory are pretty grim in their narratives. Moorcock’s stories were nihilistic, designed as the alternative to Conan or The Hobbit. He was killing everybody long before Tarantino or Martin, for the sake of the matter.
Sounds like Game of Thrones, no?
Jon Snow is a hero not unlike Elric. His Dire Wolf, Ghost (a “White Wolf,” Elric’s moniker – he was an albino and feared in battle.). His sword, Longclaw, although not the cosmic entity that Elric’s Stormbringer was, is still a memorable weapon in canon. Jon was a reluctant prince, the last of his lineage, to a throne who fell in love with his aunt (Daenerys)… Elric was in love with his cousin, Cymorril. Most everyone who is a companion of Jon Snow’s ends up dead. It’s the same with Elric, except for the redheaded Moonglum. And Jon has Tormund, who seems to come out of things alive? Oh – and did I mention, Elric accidentally on purpose killed the cousin he was in love with? Didn’t Jon Snow kill Daeny?
There are similarities between the actual Elric character and the Night King, as well – in appearance and magical powers (Elric was a wizard who controlled the elements and demons).
The Targarians… they are not unlike the Melniboneans, insane, fair featured, inbred, magical in some aspect and oh… who can forget their dragons? And they ruled the world for eons. Yeah, they’re evil to the core and only care about power.
The Three-Eyed Raven who travels through time… and brings to mind the multiverse that is Moorcock’s playground. This makes Brandon Stark an eternal champion… and keeper of the balance.
A diligent eye can find many more similarities between the two. Yeah. Game of Thrones was/is Moorcock for the masses. And I thank George RR Martin for making it consumable for the mainstream. Call it what you want. A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones. Or even the history of the Young Kingdoms… I love it for the same reason we love Dune… and Star Wars. Another example of how one popular franchise was inspired by a previously popular franchise, but a bit Epic Pooh, if that’s your take.

A Book Of Light And Shadow

 

I’ve been writing and creating since I can remember. My Mom started teaching me how to read and write at about three years old and I didn’t waste any time applying what I learned. It was sometime around second grade when I read Edgar Rice Burrough’s Back to the Stone Age, and all I wanted to do was tell stories. My “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and “Goosebumps” was called “More Science Fiction Tales” and the attached volumes. School book drives allowed me access to the classics I knew from Monster Movie Matinee, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. The made for TV horror of the 70s, from Trilogy of Terror and that goddamned Zuni doll to Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’s fairies. Heavy viewings of every Godzilla and King Kong movie, the OG Planet of the Apes franchise and, eventually, Star Wars… all of it molded my imagination and influenced me.

Teenage Tom found Terry Brooks, Frederick Pohl, Richard Matheson, Robert E. Howard, Stephen King, Michael Moorcock, the magic of Richard Adams and John Carpenter. Each of these people made impressions upon me like none other, further molding how I told the stories I was developing in my mind. Dungeons and Dragons gave me a further outlet for story telling. This carried on into adult Tom and led to his true love, the extremes of horror. Nancy A. Collins, Skipp & Spector, Joe Lansdale, and Brian Keene. Oh, and the beauty of Cormac McCarthy. Through these people I learned there are no barriers. Nothing is taboo. And all of it can – and does – blend together.

And now it gets real. Friday, I share a bunch of my fucked up stories with the world in “A Book of Light And Shadow.” A goal I set nearly 5 and a half years ago has been met. It’s funny how my writing career was launched by my ability to talk. Radio, and in turn podcasting, has opened so many doors for me,. Considering I started upon my writing path as a teenager… to say it’s been a long, strange trip is an understatement. None of it was easy. I wrote 300,000 words for This Is Infamous over two years, allowing me to establish my voice as a writer. I learn more every day. I firmly believe you can never learn enough. I’m a gamer, and why do we play games? To learn. Workshops, mentoring… I suck it all in and apply it.

And the end result is this. A Book Of Light And Shadow. I wanted to release it in May. Back then, the title was Unplugged: Live From R’Lyeh & Tanelorn. I had designed a cover for it, using old friend Patrick Fitzgerald’s drawing of my hero, Ami Nightswan (thus Pat’s credit in the book as an illustrator). None of it sat well with me. So I held off.

What is special about these stories? Why have I included them? Well, some are a great example of things to come from me. Other pieces were previously published, and I’ve touched them up some for this release. Regardless of the why, each story is a chronicle of my progress as a writer. Some were first written, at least in part, over 30 years ago, while I was still in high school. The stories within are genre bending, much like the novels I read growing up. It’s a diverse lot, covering science fiction, horror and fantasy. Much of it blurs together, mashing up the genres. New readers to my fiction need this disclaimer: Don’t expect happy endings. And the whole cat thing… well… yeah (Thanks, Church!).

I hope you enjoy the stories. I know I enjoyed telling them, crafting them. There shall be more to come, coming sooner than you think…

You can pre-order the Kindle version A Book Of Light And Shadow here, or get yourself a paperback copy from me or on Amazon, and it’s available on Prime now.

Anti-Heroes Never Disappoint You

The adage says never meet your heroes, they’ll only disappoint you. I guess I’m safe. The only hero I ever had was New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson.

The Captain died when I was a ripe old age of 11, 40 years ago last month, to be precise. The small engine plane he flew crashed, and my hero was gone, taken from my during a my formative years. I got to see him play live, once, it had been earlier that year. He didn’t exactly play the game, he was nursing an injury preventing him from performing his usual role as catcher. But he did come on as a DH, and nailed a walk off home run for the Yanks only score in a losing effort against the Chicago White Sox.

Since this time, I’ve had Anti-Heroes.

Anti-Heroes aren’t far off from heroes. Much like my departed hero, my Anti-Heroes are blessed with extraordinary skills, regardless of their origin. Anti-Heroes can’t disappoint you. They’re either fictionalized entities or normal peeps, and the irony is the latter often gives birth to the former. As a result, because normal peeps are fallible, both are inherently flawed.

Some of my early Anti-Heroes are obvious figures from fiction…

Conan. Snake Plissken. George Taylor. Robert Neville. Hazel. Elric. Hawkeye. Tarzan. John Carter. Starbuck & Apollo. Han Solo. Moon Knight. Supergirl. Carl Kolchak. The Man With No Name…

And some are real people, living and dead…

Musicians…

Ozzy. Dio. Bruce Dickenson & Steve Harris, fuck it – all of Iron Maiden. Ritchie Blackmore. Zakk fucking Wylde. Gary Moore. The Bard: Phil Lynott. Godamn KISS. Shawn Morgan. Johnny Reznik…

Filmmakers…

John fucking Carpenter. James Cameron. Kathryn Bigelow. Quentin Tarantino. Neil Marshal. Adam Wingard.

Wrestlers…

Roddy Piper. Jake Roberts. HHH. Buzz Sawyer. Paul Ellering. Bobby Heenan. Paul Heyman.

Actors…

Michael Biehn. Lee Van Cleef. Kurt Russell. Daniel Day-Lewis.

Actresses…

Fay Wray. Nicole Kidman. Sigourney Weaver.

Writers…

Richard Matheson. John Skipp & Craig Spector. Stephen King. Brian fucking Keene. Nancy A. Collins. Robert E. Howard. L Sprague De Camp. Cormac McCarthy. Frederick Pohl. Richard Adams. William Gibson.

Anti-Heroes can never disappoint you. They’re only human. They only do as a much as humans can do.

The weekend of my birthday in 2005, I had an opportunity to talk to one of these Anti-Heroes: Zakk fucking Wylde. I took that time to express to him not my adoration, but to tell him how much my wife, who typically isn’t a fan of his music, loved a particular song he wrote (In This River.). He appreciated our time – because it wasn’t what he expected. The mother fucker gave me a bear hug. The song has gone on to be his eulogy to Darrell Abbot. When my father in law passed in 2013, I hired Joe Altier to record the song as a special Christmas gift for my wife. It had become her song to identify with her Dad. Zakk Wylde is an amazing musician, but he’s a fucking human.

Last year was a bucket list of Anti-Heroes. I was able to pick the minds of both John Skipp & Craig Spector, and express to them how I always wrote, but I didn’t learn how to write until I read their material. For those not in the “know,” the former rock stars of Splatterpunk horror aren’t on amicable speaking terms. Skipp thought Craig was in the room with us and the look of anxiety over it I saw in his eyes told me he was terrified of seeing his former writing partner. It’s very much on a John Fogherty vs. CCR level. BUT – Craig is battling prostate cancer, the same disease that took my father from me on Superbowl Sunday, 2017. As a result, the empathy I have for Craig is immeasurable.  So, yeah… without a doubt, Skipp & Spector are fucking human.

Later, I got to spend 10 minutes alone with another of my Anti-Heroes, Brian fucking Keene. The talk was rather casual, and when asked for advice on how to apply my work ethic, he reminded me of his blue collar roots, and how he applied that in his approach to writing. He also revealed to me that he, too, suffers from ADHD, a demon I’ve battled since I was a child. He’s fucking Brian Keene. But he’s fucking human. And when he had the fire and burn scare earlier this year… it only reinforced this notion with me.

If you place your heroes, idols, inspirations or muses on too high a pedestal, it’s a set up for failure. You imprint yourself with hubris. It blinds you to the simple fact, these people… they’re only human. They’ll always disappoint you if you look for it, and when you suffer from hubris, it becomes a delusional poison.

Here’s to the Anti-Heroes. Long may they live, flaws and all, to show us…

We’re only human.

Ghost Prequelle: A Rainbow Rising

Ring-a-ring o’ rosies,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down…

Prequelle, Ghost’s latest opus, is a Baroquian masterpiece ripe with enough medieval imagery and hooks to make Ritchie Blackmore jealous. The band’s fourth full length release is, without a doubt, their Rainbow album, and it achieves this feat by summarizing the aforementioned guitar maestro’s body of work into 10 songs. It is a work of aural art, and as any good art should be, it is polarizing. Their fan base, as well as the rock and metal community, are divided on how they feel about Prequelle’s grandiose blend of metal, rock, pop and your local Renaissance Fair. It’s nothing they’ve ever heard before. Or have they?

Outside of the metal community, nobody really knew of Ghost, even when they had won the Grammy for their album Meliora in 2015. Formed in 2006, band leader and lead vocalist Tobias Forge, along with a group of Nameless Ghouls, started on a journey that led them from blending the black metal imagery of King Diamond with a bastardized Catholic mass to what we see today; the world’s premiere theatrical hard rock band. It wasn’t until their second E.P., Popestar and the hit single Square Hammer and a gig opening for Iron Maiden on their latest worldwide tour, that the public began to take notice of the Swedish band. With success also came the lawsuits and controversy, over what and who Ghost was, started. You can google that and form your own opinion. I will say this, the lawsuit may have actually helped Ghost’s cause. Removing the demonic pope characters of Papa Emeritus and replacing them with a Christopher Plummer mask and a new player, Cardinal Copia, may very well have been the last hurdle this band needed to overcome on their path to the top of the charts.

I was introduced the to band through their first E.P., If You Have Ghost, and their cover of Erickson’s If You Have Ghosts. The influence of Dave Grohl, a producer on the E.P., is strong. The Foo Fighters front man plays guitar on their popular cover of Erickson’s classic song about haunted pasts, as well as drums on two of the other tracks. Tobais Forge is a wise student, absorbing everything he observes. He learned from Grohl, of that I have no doubt, and he’s applied every last bit of it since. Forge is much like Grohl, much like Blackmore, in that he is a musical genius seeking to create a specific vision.

Prequelle is anthemic and epic, if it is nothing at all. Set during the time of the Black Death, it tells a loose story about love and death during a time when half the world’s population died. Laden with pop hooks that would make Lady Gaga and her song writing team proud, Prequelle is on par with other classics throughout the decades. Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hearts Club Band, Machine Head, Rumors, Destroyer, Appetite for Destruction, Nevermind and Metallica’s Black album are its peers. It’s the album Blue Oyster Cult always wanted to make, but never did.

Songs such as Dance Macabre and Rats force you to move your hips while they play, channeling KISS’s underrated disco album, Dynasty, if George Lynch and Dokken had played it. He takes a page from John Carpenter with Miasma, a wave synth 80s soundtrack homage ripped straight out of the director’s Prince of Darkness. Ghost openers Zombi no doubt influenced this track, except for the left field saxophone a the song’s epoch, which neatly brings us back to the 80s. The albums other instrumentals are straight out of Ritchie Blackmore’s playbook. The introductory track, Ashes, and the album’s penultimate track, a window into a Hellish cathedral, Helvetesfönster remind one of Rainbow’s Greensleeves adaptation and his current work with Blackmore’s Night. Whereas Blackmore chooses the stringed approach, Forge has gone the route of major chords on an organ and harpsichord. The album’s ballads are its heart. See the Light, Pro Memoria and Life Eternal all lament love through death, reminding you not to forget your mortality. The heaviest song would be Faith, and perhaps the song that will be most overlooked is one of my other favorites, Witch Image. The latter hearkens back to great deep cuts like S.A.T.O. or Little Dolls from Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman.

Prequelle is an album about death, and life and change and rebirth. It is the album Ghost needed to make, the album Tobias Forge needed to make. It is a masterpiece rising from a perfect storm of controversy and growth in an artist. Ghost now stands aside the likes of Deep Purple, Nirvana and Fleetwood Mac. Inspired and beautiful to behold, Prequelle stands out as our first masterpiece album of the 21st century.

A Quiet Place, Jim and the Smell of Home

John Krasinski’s third directorial outing and first genre film, A QUIET PLACE, has taken America by storm. The survival horror film, focusing on a family living in fear of someTHING in a post apocalyptic Adirondack mountains setting, has been able to suspend disbelief with Middle Americans. Making over $50 million in its opening weekend, it becomes the first original horror movie to reach this summit and continues the trend of well made horror films dominating the screen. I’ve seen the film twice since it opened last Thursday. My second viewing was on a Tuesday evening. Each time the theater was packed. And silent. You could hear every bag crinkle, cough and sniffle for 90 minutes.

This seems to be the most common statement a person makes after seeing A QUIET PLACE, now being heralded as the movie that made Millennials shut up in the theater. But there’s much more to this film than this superficial indicator. The film’s story is simple, which allows for basic understanding by the masses inhabiting Middle America. As is the case in most horror films, we establish the rules early on. Much like last year’s IT, the first incident our family encounters lays the foundation that all bets are off and nobody is safe. Unlike IT, which is a well made and entertaining movie but is missing something (like a second half?), A QUIET PLACE pays off in spades.

Like any good horror story there are rules. In this case, they are a titular establishment. A QUIET PLACE indicates sound will be an element and play a key role in the story and it’s the story that propels this film. Screen writers Bryan Wood and Scott Beck, with a little help from Krasinski, keep it simple and stupid. They don’t waste a moment of screen time, either. Each and every thing that happens on screen is for a reason. Some of it is blatant foreshadowing, some is little moments of character development. No matter what a scene establishes, all of it moves the narrative along at a brisk pace. The trailers for A QUIET PLACE are misleading. This is not a slow burn.

There’s also the “Jim Factor.” John Krasinski’s long time role on TV’s THE OFFICE has made him a darling among the Amy Schumer-something female demographic. He’s everyone’s favorite guy. No attempt to hide Jim works for Krasinski. He’s like an action figure. Give him a beard, he’s still Jim with a beard. Stick him in a war movie (13 HOURS), he’s still Jim, with a gun. Make him angry on screen, he’s still Jim, being angry. In this movie, we get to see Jim as a loving Dad and husband at the end of the world. The natural chemistry he has with his wife, Emily Blunt, on screen also contributes to this movie’s success. She’s no Pam, thank God. Quite honestly, everyone hates Pam for dicking Jim around for the better part of a decade. The young actors playing their children are also outstanding. The entire cast contributes to making this believable.

For me it was more than a sense of familiarity with Jim. It was a feeling of home. I’d like to welcome the rest of America to upstate New York. I’ve called it my home most of the past 50 years. There have been a few times I’ve left for extended periods of time, all of them paid for by Uncle Sam and the United States Army. Missouri, Indiana and Arkansas were nice, but they weren’t New York. They smelled different. The flora and fauna was different. Even the weather. As a teenage in boot camp in Missouri I witnessed my first storm coming across the plains. It resembled a demonic gateway to another dimension, floating in space in the distance, lightning erupting from its black, clouded heart. Of course it wasn’t a rift in time and space, it was an illusion created by the horizon. Locals assumed I’d never seen such a spectacle before because I came from the big city of New York. That wasn’t the case. Where I grew up had mountains. Up until this point in my life, I’d never seen a horizon except on water.

There’s something about upstate New York. It’s rolling hills, its corn fields and cow pastures. We’re blessed with two mountain ranges. Our mountains aren’t your traditional mountains. They’re lower peaked than the high, snow-covered points of the Rocky’s, more like hills in the grand scheme of things. The southern tier’s Catskills are a spur of the range that includes the Poconos of Pennsylvania and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. The Castkills are one of the most commercialized mountain ranges in the country and densely populated to the point where they are nearly a suburb of New York City. Further north, our claim to fame becomes the world famous Adirondack range. Where as most mountains are formed when two plates crash together, the ADKs (as we call them) were formed when a massive glacier ground down a massive volcanic dome over a few million years. As a result, beach sand is as prolific in the Adirondacks as clay earth is in the foothills close to the mountains.

Nestled in the heart of the river valleys surrounding the Adirondacks lies the small town of Little Falls, NY, where much of A QUIET PLACE was filmed. Like most small towns in New York, it’s felt the economic crunch most of New York has been under the past few decades. Many businesses have closed over the years as people have made a mass exodus from the harsh winters and humid summers, leaving brown fields scattered about the terrain. These temperature extremes bring about distinct scents, many of which change with the seasons. Spring, for example, smells of mud and pollen. Summers are a cornucopia of aromas. Rust and mildew mixed with mowed grass, corn and cow shit. Fall brings the distinct scent of dead leaves. By winter, the combined odors of vehicle exhaust and salt are so thick you can taste them.

I made a similar comparison to Ted Geohagen’s WE ARE STILL HERE three years ago, filmed in Palmyra, NY. Geohagen’s follow up, MOHAWK, was similarly filmed in Highland forest near the towns of Tully and Fabius, NY – no more than a twenty minute drive from my house. POTTERSVILLE, last year’s Netflix Bigfoot comedy featuring Michael Shannon, was filmed in Hamilton, NY. Now, with A QUIET PLACE, the rest of America is finally seeing how beautiful upstate New York is.

Much like the under appreciated BOOK OF ELI, a movie that utilized sound as a factor in its story, A QUIET PLACE is a unique film you should enjoy in a theatrical setting, wherein a complete sensory experience awaits you. You’ll smell and taste this film as much as you see it and hear it. When a good movie is made, the public will follow, and man have they followed this movie. After the award winning success of genre films GET OUT and THE SHAPE OF WATER, A QUIET PLACE stands firmly on my short list of Oscar contenders for 2019.

How to integrate the FOX Marvel Universe into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

It’s done. We finally got that shit cup cake merger of FOX and Disney. The near monopoly on what we watch and how we watch it has presented a decided split in the creative communities. The typical consumer sees this as yet another merger of big companies. Those in the know are rightfully afraid of this merger, as now the Mouse will own all the movies, most of the TV and a controlling portion of the Hulu streaming service. It’s pretty much Viacom vs. Disney at this juncture, with a couple stragglers feeding off the leftovers like remoras on a shark. On the eve of the possible repeal of Net Neutrality, this merger will have long lasting consequences, affecting how you consume media. Then there is the typical movie fanboy/girl. They are wigging out in excitement as they see this as a possible reuniting of two integral ingredients missing from the already successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, I’m talking about the venerable properties the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Long ago, when Marvel was in financial trouble, they sold off film rights for some of their popular titles to a myriad of movies studios. SONY bought Spider-Man and much of his Rogue’s Gallery. Paramount the Hulk and his villains. FOX bought Blade, Ghost Rider, The Punisher, Daredevil (the core of the Marvel Knights titles), as well as the X-men (and anything “Mutant”) and Fantastic Four, including most of the cosmic catalog focused around Marvel’s First Family. The results kept Marvel above water financially, but led to a mixed bag of films. It also led to a few “ultimate” changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe once Marvel Studios took off with Iron Man and the birth of the modern shared universe. The Skrulls, owned by FOX, became their Ultimate Marvel Universe counterparts, the Chitauri, and lacked the former’s shape changing abilities. Inhumans were given the mutant stigma, an allegory for racism. Wand and Pietrio, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively the children of X-Men’s Magneto, were re-imagined as the results of experimenting with an infinity stone. It made for some confusion with fans, but also allowed Marvel Studios to freely change canon and creation of characters without fanboy/girl backlash, the latter being in the know regarding the multi-studio issue, and the rest of America not caring.

The 2014 North Korean cyber-attacks on SONY Studios directly led to SONY getting into bed with Marvel Studios and the sharing of Spider-Man. The studio found themselves in such a rut financially from the attacks, they had to re-coupe somehow. A lapse in attention or caring from FOX led to Daredevil, Punisher and Ghost Rider finding their way back home to Marvel. And now, the Disney-FOX Merger seems to indicate the rest of the pantheon of super beings will soon be joining them. I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

A complete and instant integration of the universes wouldn’t be wise. It needs to be done slowly, both for our sanity and the coffers at FOX/DISNEY.

Marvel got lucky with Iron Man and their cinematic universe. The likeability of the Tony Stark character was a key. He became the center post of the universe. We have since seen Tony, or Stark Industries, in some manner or another, involved with most of the MCU entries. He’s bred a familiarity with American and world wide audiences. Tony Stark, and in turn Steve Rogers, have become friends with the buying consumers. Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans are just as much responsible for the success of the MCU as the films themselves.

The seeds for this were planted with a film that broke all the rules last year. I’m talking about Deadpool. Yes, Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, my friends. The Merc with a mouth is the key to a successful MCU/FOX merger, and I think they already started it without telling anyone.

With the retirement of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (and he’s still not coming back with this deal, people!), Deadpool is now THE guy in the FOX Marvel universe, he’s the consumer’s friend. And he don’t give a fuck, something the general Marvel movies desperately need now. The superhero shared universe formula they mastered is becoming stale. Sub-par entries by competing studios (ie: Warner Bros) are also contributing to the negative glut. But I think the first Deadpool movie already takes place in the current MCU. Let me propose my arguments:

  1. The final battle is on a Helicarrier in a scrap yard. A Helicarrier was not seen in any Marvel Fox film prior to this. Is it a Helicarrier being scrapped after crashing in CAPTAIN AMERICAN: THE WINTER SOLDIER?
  2. The X-Men outfits in the movie are DRASTICALLY different from those in the standard FOX X-Men films. In fact, they are pretty close to those used in the comics.
  3. It’s a different person playing Colossus than any of the previous films.
  4. Yes, I know Deadpool calls out the actors that have played Professor X in the FOX Marvel series. Shush.

Now, with the introduction of Cable in the next Deadpool film, we have the time stream to mess with to put everyone back together again. Cable may come from the OTHER FOX universe, the one we have already seen, or I can also see the recent crop of X-Men movies (Post Last Battle and Wolverine: Origins) as being the reality Cable comes from. Either way, we have a setting for this all and a place to jump off from. Ultimately, I feel Deadpool is the character to lead this charge. He’s already invigorated the Superhero genre by making the R Rating OK. So let him turn the status quo on its head, after getting just average offerings from the new blood, aka Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, the MCU is still reliant on the properties it first crated a decade ago. The success of the quirky Guardians of the Glaxy films and THOR: RAGNAROK are proof this needs to be done.

Now, how about my theory? Am I high? Let me know in the comments!

The Story Behind The Necrocasticon Presents: Hallowed Ground

What you are about to listen to is 30 some odd years in the making. Teenage Tom watched Night of the Comet and a story started brewing in his head. The basic premise, some celestial event causes most of the populace to be eradicated, stuck with him. Shortly after, he read A Boy And His Dog, the Harlan Ellison post apocalyptic classic, and the Bard’s Macbeth. The trio of stories, not unlike the Weird Sisters, gave birth to a bastard child. That child changed and morphed into this audio play over three decades.

Hallowed Ground started as a short story I wrote in 1985 titled “The Calling Speaks,” wherein a wandering “warrior” settles in a village and becomes a promised messiah. The villagers become besieged by a former foe of the warrior. He leaves to battle the foe. Pretty simple. I don’t tell you what happened to the world. 6 years later a relationship break up lead to a retelling of the same story, retaining the name, and now complete with witches and the melting of the polar ice caps as part of the apocalypse, as well as an integral plot device utilized in this audio drama. The story then sat on ice, continuing to brew in my brain, until about 6 years ago. I wanted to bring it back to life.

I needed to create an engine that drove the narrative. I came up with the idea of traveling only during the day and sleeping on holy ground at night, or the evil boogeyman will get you. That led to the story’s first title, Holy Ground, as I wrote it as a novella. Out of this came the “rules,” setting the parameters of the boundaries within the story: “The rules were a simple pair: Only move during the day. Only sleep at night on hallowed ground.” This became “Travel during the day and spend your nights on holy ground.” I came up with the first line, “Jessie could remember when the bees died. It wasn’t long after that people remembered why they were afraid of the dark.” I was on to something good. I plotted it out, started writing it, got stuck and put it away.

The Necrocasticon came to fruition, my buddy Matt Sampere had recently released his first demo songs with his band, Storm Cell. The opening song, Hallowed Ground, brought me back to the Holy Ground story in my head. We asked Matt for permission to use HALLOWED GROUND as our podcast’s theme music and he gladly gave us permission. Shortly after, I interviewed Larry Fessenden about Tales From Beyond the Pale, an audio drama he produces. I got an idea, I’d pull a Ritchie Blackmoore and create an audio drama that would encompass what the Necrocasticon is all about.

You see, about the same time period as I had seen Night of the Comet and read A Boy And His Dog, I also listened to a metricfuckton of Ritchie Blackmoore’s music. Deep Purple, Rainbow and their incestuous family tree that included artists like Ronnie James Dio and Gary Moore. Ritchie Blackmoore, the genius behind Deep Purple and Rainbow, has made a rather comfortable life for himself, by rewriting other people’s songs! Blackmoore listens to a song and says, “I would have done it this way,” and writes a new song that often become more famous than its predecessor. After all, the most iconic riff in the history of rock and heavy metal, Smoke on the Water, is nothing more than Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Played backwards.

What precisely is the Necrocasticon about? It’s about horror AND heavy metal. So I would create an audio drama with a heavy metal soundtrack. I wrote the script for the now HALLOWED GROUND in a week. Giovanni Valentino graciously edited it, as did Jason Pitts. I reached out to a group of talented actors in local theater to do this with us, to play the characters and bring them to life. I approached our friend Steve Kratz about using his band, the Darkroom, as the first artist in the series. The band’s guitarist, Ronnie Dark, is heavily influenced by Ritchie Blackmoore, as a result their music has a great 70’s hard rock sound. I felt their music was perfect for the production, but they never gave me a straight answer. Frustrated and not wanting to do it without them, I shelved the project for 2 years.

In the interim, I improved as a podcaster, purchasing a blue yeti microphone, among other upgrades. I learned it would be very easy to record that audio play, finally, and use it as a special Halloween episode for the Necrocasticon. So I set about putting the gears in motion to do it again. Matt Sampere grew quite a bit as a musician, too. His new band, simply called Sampere, has been having great regional success. And it all clicked. I fell back on Matt’s Storm Cell songs. I felt it was a perfect fit, especially with the song being called Hallowed Ground. The three tunes just sitting on Reverb Nation, doing nothing. Matt graciously approved the use of the songs in the drama and I punched it out.

I brought in Josh Montaque to play the lead role of Jessie Stowe, the Necrocasticon’s Scott Groverston played our Crypt Keeper, Morty the Curator, along with his wife, Michelle, playing our trio of witches. We brought in our friend Elizabeth Gray to play Chastity, the lead female character. Oh, and who can forget the star of the play, the dog. Sergio Leone had his Man With No Name, well, we have our Dog of Many Names, portrayed by my dogs, Rocket and Diego (Diego was Rocket’s stunt double for growling lines, hah!). A special shout out to Richard Yates for providing the photograph used as the cover art (the dog, Titch, sadly passed away last month).

And now you have it, the Hallowed Ground audio drama’s first chapter. A chef’s blend of influences make up its stock. 1 part Night of the Comet, 1 part Macbeth and 1 part A Boy and his Dog. 1 part classic radio play and 1 part rock n roll sound track. All horror and metal, all Necrocasticon. Enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget the rules.