TIH 477: David J. Schow on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Twilight Zone Magazine, and Screenwriting

TIH 477 David J. Schow on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Twilight Zone Magazine, and Screenwriting

In this podcast, David J. Schow talks about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Twilight Zone Magazine, screenwriting, and much more.

About David J. Schow

David J. Schow is an American author of horror novels, short stories, and screenplays. His credits include films such as Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Crow, and The Hills Run Red.

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Michael David Wilson 0:29

Welcome to This Is Horror a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers, and creatives about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. And today is the start of a new era. Because this year marks 500 episodes, and 10 years of This Is Horror Podcast. And this is going to be our most successful year yet. We are reaching out to dream guests to deliver a year long celebration of epic proportions. And we kick off 2020 free with an incredible guest. You see today we are talking to David J. Schow. Not only is he the founder of splatter punk, but he is the screenwriter of 90s goth Classic The Crow and he penned one of my favorite short story collections seeing read now long term listeners to This Is Horror may remember that Bob and I spoke at length about the final tale in see and read. not from around here on our Patreon podcast story unboxed. And if you want to listen to that, and I certainly suggest you do, you can access it@patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. But we are not here to talk about Patreon. Hello now, we are here to talk about David J scours journey and evolution as a writer. And in this conversation, of course, as we often do, we talk about early life lessons. So what is it that David learned growing up? And then we also discuss Leatherface, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre free of that infamous gloriously over the top trailer. And we also get into Twilight Zone magazine and how David cause T decline to break almost all of his roles. So we are minutes away from all ad x and a multitude of other things. But before any of that it is time for an advert break. Hey everyone, this

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Michael David Wilson 4:12

Okay with that said, Here it is. It is the legendary David J Schow on desses hora. David, welcome to This Is Horror. And it is now Oh, there you go. So I'd like to begin with let's talk about some of the early life lessons that you learned growing up. So my understanding is that you were a military kid and you moved around a lot. So I'm wondering what kind of lessons you learned in those formative years.

David J. Schow 4:52

Well, I didn't I didn't move around a lot because I was a military kid. My dad was in the military. We didn't start moving all over the country until he retired. From the Air Force, we moved, we moved to essentially, we moved essentially, from Middlesex, to Fort Worth, you know, believe it or not, to Kentucky, to Minnesota, to Arizona, to Huntington Beach, you know, all over the place. And I think what you're getting at there is that I've told the parts of the story before, it's like I did not, I did not go to the same school with the same class of people. From the time I was in the third grade, to the time I was a junior in high school. So we were all over the joint, that means you do not have a group of friends, you have to be fairly self reliant. And as we discovered, my brothers, and I discovered, and none of us are related, by the way, because I'm adopted. So you have to not only become self reliant, but you have to entertain yourself when nobody else will. That means books are terrific, especially if you're as old as I am as ancient as I am right now. So it's a it's a self reliance. It's a self reliance lesson. Basically. Also, let me add, let me add that I never wanted to do anything seriously. Other than write for a living, it struck me at a very early age that this was perhaps a very good thing to do, or at least a kind of a respectable thing. I didn't know all the kind of Google I like the like the waiting and the privation and everything that would entail, but I stuck it out. And weirdly enough, unlike a lot of people that I know in the current writing environment, right. Writing is the only way I have ever made my living.

Michael David Wilson 7:01

Yeah. And so how old were you when this notion struck you that you wanted to be a writer and was there a pivotal moment or an experience that you remember, and it's like a half this is what I want to

David J. Schow 7:17

do is fairly little when when the idea of it was the idea of making shit up for a living. And that struck me as being kind of pretty respectable. So I got a hold of one of a series of typewriters. I started I was flunking out of school at the time, so I started typing on my school papers. By typing all of your school papers you can impress the teachers that you had not previously impressed it. And and then I learned certain tricks about surviving public school that had mystified me before such as you only really need to know one thing to get through public school and that is the ability to pass tests. Once you get that little golden clue, it was a fairly easy surf through where I had been fucking off all through school and flunking out. And but then, you know, a hit, I hit a turning point began typing papers began working on the school paper. Even then, even then, I was writing stories when I was five years old. I wrote a sequel to a creature Black Lagoon movie in a spiral notebook when I was in third grade. Boy, I wish I still had that. But I don't. And as a result of this, I got to the point where I took the SATs in America the college tests right. And through some miracle I aced the English section of the AC T. It was a complete accident I was you know is when you're presented with a lot of multiple choice questions you try most intelligent guests. Well, I aced the English section. So they started throwing a minor scholarship sent me one of the places that offered me a scholarship was the University of Iowa, which I was too stupid to know was a major writing school. Right? At the time I didn't you know, I went with the school that offered me the most money so I could get an apartment. Yeah. And having done that, I floundered around in college for about three semesters. But at that point, it it just occurred to me to try to sell stories to magazines. We used to have these things. Michael and Bob, you may know we used to have these things a long time ago called magazines. It was these paper things. And they had words and yeah, it was like it was like Yeah, it's like cave drawings, you know at this point, but If there were markets for science fiction stories, suspense stories Ellery Queen type stories, you know, mystery and horror stories, not so much horror, but they were out there markets were out there. And I'd started writing what I thought they would buy and sending it to him getting it constantly rejected until it was really a publish or perish kind of thing. I had no fallback. I had no First Bank of mom and dad, you know what I mean? It was just like, well, you're, they're gonna publish something, or you're gonna die. So, so and then some fool at a newspaper sent me a check for an article that I had written. And then I was off off down the slide, I was a reclaimable. After that point, I didn't realize at the I wonder I was living in the middle of the desert. Bob can probably relate to this living in Texas right now. It's, it's very hot in the desert. It's very hot where I am right now. And so I thought I would write an amusing article about people spending too much time in the sun in the desert, especially those those people that would sit in those mesh recliners and bake until they look like beef jerky, you know, basically. And I sent it to the paper and they bought it immediately. And I couldn't figure out why it was my sense of humor that great Oh, it was like, it's because if I send the local paper, the weekend section of the local paper and article about people suntanning, that permits them to go to the University of Arizona, and run a four page spread of women in bathing suits. So it's a win win. So after that, it was within six months of this epiphany that I sold. The first fiction that I ever sold, I sold them to the first place I submitted it to. And they sent me a letter back because I'm this is all learned. This is all learned by doing stuff. And the editor of a magazine named called Galileo send it back to me saying, We love your story, we want to buy it. The words every wannabe writer wants to hear. Then comes the part that you're not ready for where they go. Now, if you can very, very carefully cut about 4000 words out of this. And I did and they did and that was my you know, that was. So you figure. A lot of beginning writers want to be ready to talk about breaking in and breaking into very important. Breaking in

sounds a lot like burglary because it is breaking and entering, actually. So you figure okay, I made my first sale I'm in it was four years before anybody bought anything else

at that point, and I didn't know about ramen them. So let you know that California and everybody was going oh, robins cheap ramen shoe. I had no idea I was a Kraft macaroni and cheese guy, right?

Michael David Wilson 13:18

And so it just kind of placed when this happened. So how old are you at this point where you make the first sale? And what what else? Are you doing? Like? Are you still in school at that point of view? Is it beyond school? What's going on?

David J. Schow 13:36

Yes, I was in my early 20s. And I was at university still. And I was picking up spare change by doing things like running film festivals that you sold memberships to? Right? And I thought wow, I would rather you bobble know what this is like. It's like I thought well, I can make a living running conventions. And it's sort of true. And it's sort of not true. It depends on how you walk that tightrope. Now during this period of time. I had three other jobs that weren't really jobs partially because I got fired from all three. And two of them to my mind don't count because they were writing related. One was working in a bookstore, actually two bookstores, a used bookstore and a new bookstore. So two separately, and the other one was working on the staff of a magazine in Chicago for six months. They were all instructive that you know they paid the bill. But underneath all of this was constantly. I don't want to be an employee in a magazine. I want to be generating my own material and writing. So that's what was going on at this period of time. Yeah, yeah. And it was fired, fired and fired. And the third job the third job Stop me if you've heard this one. Um, the third job was a phone soliciting job that I had for a day and a half before I got fired. And now I couldn't stand it. It was so soul destroying, I couldn't do it. So I thought I would rather they're trying to sell stories to magazines. And very nearly Did you know a couple of times, but the cost of living was low at that point. And I had a very forgiving landlady.

Michael David Wilson 15:31

Yeah, thank goodness. And yeah, Telly sales, it's got to be out there with the absolute worst. So destroying jobs one can have.

David J. Schow 15:43

Well, it's you that's like breaking and entering to you come into people's house uninvited, and try to convince them to buy shit they don't want. Yeah. And I could you can get a spiel on the phone with the best of them. But who the hell wants to do that for a living? How much pride do you have? Well, in my case a lot. And I couldn't I couldn't do it.

Michael David Wilson 16:06

Yeah. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 16:08

I did it for years. You did it for years. Bob. Did it for

Bob Pastorella 16:14

years. And worked for an insurance agent did it for years. But we got smart. You can't control a phone call when you're the one calling. So we would leave messages and have the customers call us back. Because psychologically if someone calls you, that person's not gonna hang up on you.

David J. Schow 16:36

Yeah, they initiated so yeah, yeah.

Bob Pastorella 16:40

Makes Perfect. Then other words, and we, we had it we had we held it down to a great message. I did it for five years make good money, but it is so sucking job. And I gladly went back to selling cars. You know, it was one of those things. It's like, I'm gonna go back

David J. Schow 16:57

to work until at least that's a mercantile exchange. Right? You know, it just sort of like you want. Yeah, it cost this much

Bob Pastorella 17:04

thought. And now, now I'm in the phone business selling, you know, parasitic devices to unsuspecting kids.

David J. Schow 17:13

Yeah. Little aliens that came down from space fused onto their hands and will let go, you have to do everything that they want, including by all those updates, or they will punish you. These little alien device. That's right. Because you guys look like you might have lived during the before times a little bit. You know, both for the for the digital alien invasion. Right? Right. Yeah. You've probably experienced a rotary phone once or twice in your life.

Bob Pastorella 17:45

Yes. Magazines had tons of them. Yeah. One time I was subscribed to like five or six writing magazines. My mom's like, where are you gonna put all that stuff? I'm like, I don't know. I should have kept him. We ended up throwing them out. I did keep Oh, it was

David J. Schow 18:05

like I had crates full of every magazine that I had ever bought filed. Because all of that all of that shit to my brain was reference material.

Michael David Wilson 18:13

Mm hmm. Yeah.

David J. Schow 18:15

Did you go through a phase where you bought Writers Market? Yes. Do you remember? even know what Writers Market is? Writers Market was a huge book they would publish once a year. That was up to date, because every place on something mass Yeah, it was. It was like a phone book. Now we have to explain what a fun book is. Okay. We're becoming trapped.

Michael David Wilson 18:40

It sounds similar to the right as an artist yearbook. But is this the same thing? Or is that like a slightly different version of

David J. Schow 18:49

zoom? It's I assume it's amazingly similar. But basically, it was a yearly updated catalog of every conceivable market where you could send something according to what topic area? Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 19:00

Yeah, that's exactly what right as an artist yearbook is, maybe that's the UK name for the right market? I don't know. But yeah,

David J. Schow 19:10

where did you grow up in the UK, Michael?

Michael David Wilson 19:13

So I grew up in the Midlands, so in the Birmingham area, famous for things such as Black Sabbath, and you Napalm Death for grindcore fans? Yeah, loads loads of fucking good metal bands out in the Midlands. Do you know Gavin badly? I don't know.

David J. Schow 19:33

He wrote several infamous books on black metal and gothic music and the goth, fashion and all that stuff Wrangler. I just wondered if you've ever read any of his books?

Michael David Wilson 19:43

No, I haven't. But I mean, just based on that, it definitely sounds like the kind of thing that I be interested in. In terms of tax on black metal, specifically, the one that springs to mind is loads of chaos, which I'm sure you're familiar with. Boris, but yeah, I mean, but Birmingham is a great metal city. I mean, I actually the town that my parents live in a little village called Bewdley. Robert Plant lives there. So just periodically, I just see him right now. Yeah, yeah. Just walking around. Yeah, I don't know what, what more to say about that we could, we could spend a hell of a lot of time talking about metal. And I mean, it's obvious, you know, even from the soundtrack for the CRO, that is exactly the kind of thing that you're into. And actually, in preparation for this podcast, I did rewatch the CRO, only yesterday, and it fucking stands out, man. It's a very cool movie. I mean, it's essentially about a golf going around and killing older motherfuckers. who wronged him or not?

David J. Schow 21:03

You? You've probably seen it more times than I have.

Michael David Wilson 21:07

Well, probably, probably. Yeah. I mean,

David J. Schow 21:10

we'll, we'll circle back to that. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 21:14

Yeah, yeah. And in fact that since I've touched on movies there, I mean, when you decided that you wanted to be a writer, did you have aspirations more to write for the screen for the page? Was that important? Or was really what was important was you were making shit up and entertaining people, it didn't matter what medium? Well, yes, to the

David J. Schow 21:39

Yes to the back part of that question. But there's a condition to that, which was, I never set out to be a screenwriter or a scenarist. Basically, what I assumed would happen was that if I published enough books, somebody would be interested in one of those books, to adapt it to a movie or something. And my find my way in that way, that's not how it happened at all. And I, I tell people, you know, frequently when you do conferences, when you do workshops and stuff like that, people always want to know if you have advice on how to do this. And I say, listen, here's my advice. Because basically, I'm nobody's Daddy, I'm nobody's mentor. And I'm nobody's teacher. You know, there are plenty of teachers out there for those who want them. However, if you want to try doing this, the way that I did it, I didn't plan it this way, my name would just happen this way. But I wrote and published short stories for a decade. And somebody at a movie studio was a fan of them, and called me up and said, Hey, do you want to write A Nightmare on Elm Street film? Okay. I'll go ahead and talk about doing that. And this is what now the Nightmare on Elm Street films we're deep into, deep into the bad sequels, as we call them. And I had a treatment, I presented them with a treatment and they said, that's terrific. We want to hire you to write our movie. I said, that's great. What do we do? You know, tell me what to do next? Well, and forgive me if you've heard parts of this, because I have told the story before. Go across the hall and give me your social security number all one, there's one more thing, we need to see a script you have written. And I was the only schmuck in Hollywood without a script in his back pocket. Because I never expected to be called in so I did not get the job. And the irony of that is that after some, there was no proof that I could write a screenplay. And on the day that they the day I delivered the first draft of that television episode, they looked at it and they said, okay, and within 24 hours, they hired me to write a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. So the first TV show that I ever wrote, and the first feature that I ever wrote, not only both got bought, both got made. Yeah, yeah. Now if you want to, for those of you who want to follow along in my footsteps, if you want to write fiction for 10 years, hoping somebody calls you up. We might get some good stories out of the deal.

Michael David Wilson 24:35

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, what, two massive franchises as well to be involved in for your crazy two films. And

David J. Schow 24:46

I've written for Freddie, I've written for Leatherface. I've written for Jason. I've written for critters. Good work if you can get it.

Michael David Wilson 24:52

Yeah. Well, my understanding with Critters specifically was that one of your motivations was to just shout that you were capable of writing a PG film?

David J. Schow 25:04

Absolutely. Yeah. Because I remember the It wasn't even a meeting. It was us hanging around in an office at new line. And somebody said, How about David to do this? And another guy behind the desk goes, wouldn't even be wouldn't even bother with that it wouldn't be interested in. Besides, I don't think he could write a PG 13 film. And I went, really? Yeah, throw the gauntlet down. So I wrote two of them. And they turned out to be Leonardo DiCaprio. His first feature film. Yeah, critter three. And in critters four, we had Angela Bassett, and Brad Dourif. And they were fun. They were cheap movies. We shot them in an abandoned supermarket on Pico Boulevard. That's where we built all the sets. And and it was it was fun. It was one of the easiest gigs I've ever gotten in my life.

Michael David Wilson 26:00

Yeah, yeah. And I want to immediately jump back to Leatherface Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. Yeah, I mean, this whole conversation is gonna jump all over the place.

David J. Schow 26:18

fault. I jump all over.

Michael David Wilson 26:22

Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, if we

David J. Schow 26:25

can just keep Bob awake. Yeah. It's like, oh, I'm doing good. Fine. Okay, that's good.

Michael David Wilson 26:35

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, obviously at this point, there's only been two other Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not Not like now when we have so many of them. But you've got the iconic, heroine original. And then a very tongue in cheek, comedic slapstick, in the second. So I mean, what what did you set out to do with the third? And what if any direction were you given in terms of tonally what they were looking for with the film?

David J. Schow 27:08

Well, very clearly, if you've seen the third movie, yeah. Very clearly, they wanted to make to take a property like Leatherface and make him into a franchise like Freddy. Yeah, the very first scene in the movie is of him putting the mask together the same way Freddy is putting the gloves together. Yeah, in the first Nightmare on Elm Street film. Apart from that, it was just make it sequel worthy. was the only mandate, really. And so I was already and this is really ironic and funny. When you think about where horror movies went after this, specifically, they went to this place. And you'll all know these sequels, right? All the sequels, everybody had a fucked up childhood. Everybody is related to everybody else in the franchise by blood. You know what I mean? And I hated both of those ideas. So I thought, why don't we wipe the slate and I'll give another phrase and adopted family that is not related in any way, except that they're all psychopaths. And that, that made right in that movie. Fun. We came up with what we call the Excalibur chainsaw. And then somebody said Excalibur chainsaw. Now you guys have probably seen the trailer to leather face, right? It is absolutely

Michael David Wilson 28:33

ridiculous. Yeah, yeah.

David J. Schow 28:36

Yeah. And literally, it's just up sitting around the office going, well, it should look like the trailer to Excalibur. Yeah, you know, and it's like, done, done. And, you know, it was it, you know, had a couple of production problem. We were the remember, I got this job by writing a TV show script, right? We shot that episode of the TV show. And then we had to start cutting it because it had too much sexual stuff in it, right? We had to cut eight minutes out of a one hour show. And then find something to replace it with. For no budget was two days to shoot. Right? So we're sitting there trying to make up stuff. Similarly, Leatherface, where we, we had the TV show that was chopped to pieces for being too sexy. And the chainsaw movie that was chopped to pieces because we had to go back to the ratings board 11 times. And during the 11 times that we had to go back to the ratings board. We lost all of our advertising. Yeah, we were advertising the movie to open in November. And the MPAA kept saying no, no, no and we missed our opening date. So now all the ad money is spent. So when the movie fine He does come out in January of the following year, there's no ad budget. And and out of the top 10 movies that came out that week we were number 11. Yeah. So flash forward to a couple of years ago, I was down in Hollywood, and they had there was a venue called the silent movie theater. And they hosted an event called center Family Center family went down in disgrace due to sexual scandals among the employees. But before they did, they would use the silent movie theater to have midnight showings of things. But it's sleepwalkers there, and we did psycho to there, you know. And, and we did another face there a couple of years ago. I went down, Billy Butler went down, Ken for Ray was there. And we spoke, you know, a little bit before. And I said, you know, it's like, we were full house for the screening at midnight. on a weekday, we were full house. Everybody was there to see our chopped up version of the movie. And I said, you know, we made the worst Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel ever made. Until they made another one. Yeah. And then we just got better and better yet or in memory. But ra you know, everybody on the cast is my friend. I still see can I still see Billy Butler? I still see ra to this day. We get along better now than we were when we were making the movie.

Michael David Wilson 31:48

Yeah. Yeah. And, and Ken is, of course, an absolute legend of the horror genre who I feel

David J. Schow 31:56

well, he's he's he's a joy. He's a joy. Tony Todd's a joy. Tony was in the crow. Yeah, and Billy's pretty wacky. What's interesting was that Kate Hodge, who is in Leatherface, who like a lot of women who are in franchise horror movies, who are like, it's like, wow, I really don't want that on my resume. This happened, this has happened with a lot of my female stars. Right? It's wrong on my resume. She, uh, she even came around. After one time, she started doing autograph shows and stuff. So you know, now, we all get together. It's pretty much a whole reunion. Yeah. The only person we lost was Miriam burden. heathery. Who was clue Gallagher's wife who played grandma? Or the mom I forget which the woman wheelchair, right. Yeah. But you know, Jennifer Banco was the horrible little blonde child. She's on Facebook.

Michael David Wilson 32:59

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Are you talking about Facebook? Are you still off Facebook? I I had about your permanent, it is a permanent ban, then. There is no coming back?

David J. Schow 33:16

Yes. My girl suggested that we just start over with another identity. Yeah. Because a year ago, at this time, I was selling quite a lot of books. Yeah, via Facebook links. You know, I mean, like a couple $1,000 A month worth of books just out of my own stock. And I never sold a single book off Twitter. And so I wouldn't mind being back on but Facebook changed. In the last during the, you know, we have a before COVID And after COVID. Yeah. And a lot of things, a lot of things mutate. And now, you know, I go to Facebook, right now, correct me if I'm wrong in this impression, but it seems like an endless AAA meeting.

Michael David Wilson 34:07

Bob would have to comment on that. Because I actually came off Facebook in 2020. Myself, I just felt like the value of it was vastly disappearing. So now

David J. Schow 34:19

I got I got tired of looking at cat pictures and food pictures. Yeah, yeah, the AAA aspect of it. It's just all of these people doing all of these posts where it's like, well, we're really not so bad. And it's really kind of depressing to be alive. Aren't we great. Yay, you know, and it's like, it seemed to be that to maybe I'm just making it up.

Bob Pastorella 34:41

It's like that because I went back there probably about two months ago, because there's some photos that I have in my gallery there that aren't on my phone. So I wanted to save those photos to my computer. And so I went and I did that. And then I said well Let me just check the feed. And I knocked myself right the fuck out of there. Because just it's, it's a it's a fucking nightmare, you know? And so I'm like, this is at the point where I was like, Oh yeah, Twitter's much better than this, you know? And now Twitter's kinda like,

David J. Schow 35:21

just wait, it's getting

Bob Pastorella 35:24

I don't know what it could be. It's, it's like one person. If you had it narrowed down to one person, then yeah, we can narrow it down to one person.

Michael David Wilson 35:31

I don't think too as bad as people are making it out to be. I think there's a lot of a panic at the moment over,

David J. Schow 35:39

folks it twittering going nowhere. Yeah, yeah,

Michael David Wilson 35:43

that's it.

Bob Pastorella 35:45

I agree. It's just it's, I don't know, I've, I've noticed some glitch Enos that other people were talking about? And I was like, no, and then they're full of it, you know, and I've noticed it a minute, a minute. So I'm like,

David J. Schow 36:00

I can never wire my brain behind Instagram, though. And stuff like that. So maybe I'm already too old for this.

Michael David Wilson 36:07

Yeah, we have an Instagram for This Is Horror, but I don't really notice much kind of conversion or benefit from it. I just periodically put some photos of you know, who

David J. Schow 36:25

was on Twitter, because I was waiting for Twitter, replace Facebook. And now, whatever else is gonna replace it in the future? Because it does seem like it seems like Rome is burning, you know, in many ways, it's like, these are going to come crashing down. And we're gonna have to find some way to just so we can, you know, like, stay in touch with each other.

Michael David Wilson 36:45

Right? Yeah, well, I think whatever replaces Twitter, it won't be a Twitter clone. So that's why all of these weird Twitter clones like Hive and Mastodon and whatever the fuck our suit, it's not gonna be like that, it will be something that is completely different. And I'm sure whatever will ultimately replace it doesn't even exist yet. You know, it's got to be innovative. It's got to be easy to use. And it's got to be compulsive, there's got to be a reason to go for it. But I mean, if you look at any social network that has disappeared, like I mean, for example, take MySpace, it didn't just happen one day, it happens gradually. And it happens when there's a better product out there. Which, right now, I don't think there is anything doing what Twitter is doing better. So we'll wait and see. But I reckon it's got at least another three, four, maybe even five years in it. So don't delete your Twitter accounts yet?

David J. Schow 37:52

No, I'm looking forward to exactly what you described. happening. Yeah, yeah, it's, uh, we can't predict the form it's going to take. Because you couldn't predict the form it took last time. Yeah. Yeah. Although I'll tell you guys, I am noticing. There is a minor surge, not not not culture changing or anything like that. But there is a minor surge back to like live journals and blogs, just so you can be a member of something and get somebody's personal point of view that goes on for longer than two sentences.

Michael David Wilson 38:29

Yeah, I think, I think to a point, I think there is definitely more interest in that. And there were a number of communities that have their own discord channel or their own Slack channel, which is, I mean, it's essentially a modernized forum. And of course, in the horror community, we'd be remiss to not mention Brian Keens Forum, which he created a number of months ago. But whichever day John, there you go. Yeah. So if you want to ask David, a question, you can head over to Ken's forum. I think it's called the great thing about

David J. Schow 39:08

heat thing is the great thing about Keynes thing is that it's really easy. Right? Get and that's part of the whole battle right there. Yeah. Because people don't want to go through what we all just went through for the last hour or trying to get on Skype.

Michael David Wilson 39:22

Yeah. That's right. That's right.

David J. Schow 39:27

I also want you to I also want you to let me know if I am not answering your questions adequately. Let me know.

Michael David Wilson 39:35

And this is Oh, good. And I mean, as listeners know, with these This Is Horror conversations. I mean, it's very much a conversation rather than an interview in the traditional sense. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it. It just seems to be a better way to take advantage of this medium. If you just want question answer question answer then. fucking read a print interview. Yeah,

David J. Schow 40:04

that's why I want to know what I don't want to know where you guys are doing.

Michael David Wilson 40:08

Yeah, yeah, that's it. But I think we've social media. I mean, there are obviously a multitude of functions, and particularly for the writer under creative, then yes, we do have this function of wanting to connect with people, particularly with our friends and people within the community. But then there is also a selling and a marketing aspect of social media, even if some people don't want to admit it costs if I can. So that's one of the things that it's all about. And so

David J. Schow 40:43

one of the things one of the things you get asked most often, if you're lucky on social media is people come to you and they say, I need to know how to get your

Michael David Wilson 40:54

books. Yeah. Yeah.

David J. Schow 40:57

They're, you know, there's, there's it's not simple enough out there. Right, a very good system going on Facebook, where it's like you DM me, here it is for a price now. Last year, and this year, I undertook with a friend of mine, who runs a publishing company called Cimarron St. Right, to republish all of my short story collections, because I wanted a uniform edition that would line up on a shelf and all the spines would match. You can see them right behind me there, right over there. Yeah, yeah. And we did. We did 11 books in a year and a half. We started right at the beginning of COVID. And we did 11 books in a year and a half. And it was fun, because I could remix and rearrange all my collections, add new stuff that was unique to each book. So people who had the old book would have a reason to buy the new book, and do these huge afterwards that are kind of autobiographical, especially if you read them in sequence, right? Because I got an excuse. I also write a column like I used to write a column for Fangoria magazine. Yeah. Yeah. Go raving and drooling. Well, I resurrected that column for bare bones magazine, which is published by Cimarron Street. I just turned in my 13th column for them. All right. And one of the columns that I got to do was I got to call up all my old cohorts from Twilight Zone magazine. And say, reminisce with me about this for a little bit. And everybody from everybody from the the managing editors people hadn't heard of like Bob Sabet and stony M Schuler and Steve King, and Joe Lansdale, and, and a pat catagen. You know, and all of these other people all answered me, you know, and so yeah, that was like, that was like one that was really that was really a golden age. And that was the last great national magazine market for horror stories. Except in England, you know, because you had all of those. You had the dark side and fear and yeah, and I got all of those magazines and mail. Yeah, and in fact, the, the the latest issue of Feng phantasmagoria Yes, is devoted to fantasy tales, one of the oldest British horror remains they basically took over from the pan book of horror stories. And, and I was in some early issues of fantasy tales, because yes, I really am that old. So. So I got through this about that a little bit. Yeah, we've got to go on and on about Twilight Zone. I got to call up Ted Klein and bug him for the first time I hadn't spoken to him. Which one year

Michael David Wilson 43:43


Bob Pastorella 43:46

It was a no, I didn't heard a Twilight Zone. I never read it. Until I was at a bookstore. And I see this. I don't know if you can see it, but the camera seeing red Yeah. And I had no idea who you were. I seen this cover and it was an instant by I didn't even read the back. And after that, I read this in like in one setting.

David J. Schow 44:13

Oh man, thank you and and

Bob Pastorella 44:17

it fucked me up in all the great ways and now became a subscriber to Twilight Zone magazine. Which unfortunately suddenly after that kind of went away. So I think I got maybe a year year and a half worth of issues. And don't have them

David J. Schow 44:37

I love seeing so came out seeing red came out in 1990. And while it's on died in 1989, so yeah, it would have been pretty close. Yeah,

Bob Pastorella 44:50

did so this this. I know. I ordered 20 Well, you know, I'm old. I may have gotten it before but you I could have sworn that I got that maybe I'm thinking of something else. Who knows?

David J. Schow 45:06

But still, Tom Canty right here. There'll be very happy to hear that. You saw the cover and bought the book immediately. Because Tom, yes, Tom did the cover of that book. And he just did the cover of one of our one of my reprinted collections for Cimarron Street, which was I, and except in addition to doing the cover, he also did like 20 illustrations for the interior. And we the next book we're bringing out was subterranean press did it as a book called DJ Serbia in 2016. Tom did the cover for that one, too. And he did like 30 New illustrations for the interior. And we're working on another thing right now that I'm requiring him to do like 25 illustrations for he cannot be stopped the guys on machine. Yeah, Tom is the guy who did all of those elaborate covers for the Ellen Datlow years best fantasy and horror. Yeah. anthologies. All those wonderful Alfonse mukha looking looking covers.

Michael David Wilson 46:18

Yeah. And the thing that you and Tom are working on at the moment, is that sweet 13 The short story collection?

David J. Schow 46:26

No, I don't know who the artists for that is. It's coming up. This is something else that we haven't really even announced yet that Cimarron st is going to bring up. It'll be something along the lines of if you saw if you saw weird doom. Yeah, yeah. It's something along those lines. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 46:49

And I love the origin story for weird doom. And I mean, I'm assuming that you know, not everyone listening knows that. So I'd love you to just kind of repeat it for us because it is a good one. And he kind of trolled a lot of people.

David J. Schow 47:07

We were in the process of doing these reprints. And John Scolari who runs Cimarron street called me up and he said, I want to do a sampler just as a kind of a, you know, inexpensive, cheap way to show these people because we did so many books in 11 months. I said, let's take a little samples from each one of them, and put them together. And then gradually, I said, Why don't we pretend like it's the missing issue of a pulp that never exist? And I said, Well, what would that be called? I said it will be called Weird doom. Because I saw a pulp cover that had a story that was described as being like, on the bottom of the cover, a compelling tale of weird doom. Yeah, yeah, I'm going, what is weird doom. If it's not a genre, it should be right. You know what I mean? Well, let's invent it. You know, like, let's, let's create it ourselves. And so I, I used a, I used a Bernie Wrightson painting that I have an original that had never been used in color before. As our cover illustration, Bernie was a friend of mine, I have a lot of Bernie paintings and drawings. Around. I met I met I met Dr. Hal. Yeah, Harry Robbins. He was an illustrator for our promotional material for one of the biggest conventions that you've never heard of, right, which was actually the best genre convention in history. And nobody's ever heard of it. We may get around to it a little bit. But anyway, that was back when I thought I could make money doing stuff like that. Yeah. And I called Harry up in San Francisco, where he lives now and I said, can you do us a virtual Finley, Steven Fabian Han is box style masthead for Wear Doom and he did it in a weekend. And it's a good thing to do me another one. Yeah, do they do the editorials? Okay, I said, How do you mind if I just go through your artwork? And take whatever strikes my fancy that you've used already? And can I just pay you a fee to just reuse that artwork? So we use like 20 pieces of house in weird doom. And we had samples from all the things we were doing in Cimarron Street, different stories, once a nonfiction piece a column. Others are stories from the different collections and then just to to add a cherry on to the top of it. I put a new story in there that had not been published, called caving, which has since been included in polygons years best anthology, so Good for that. And and and, you know now, the the worst thing about it is resisting the temptation to do weird Doom again. Right? Like, maybe we shouldn't resist it. Yeah, yeah. But I thought if time if time came around for a Cimarron st sampler Volume Two, you know it would be well, you know, now we have twice as many books as we did when we did the first one. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, it can happen. It can happen. But the new project that that Tom Canty is illustrating is a little different. It's a little different. It's not like a fake magazine. Right. But we want to do other things. Like I love the whole sub genre of books and magazines and films that don't exist. Yeah. Yeah. And I talked to John, I said, I want to do a magazine called Three fisted defective. So we'll see if that ever goes on it.

Michael David Wilson 51:08

Yeah. Yeah. And we're do my I think you said it was with Doom 23. So of course, if you do another sampler, you can't just do 24. It has to be something like 27 or 29.

David J. Schow 51:24

Yeah, the volume and issue numbers were so fucked up that nobody could figure it out. Yeah, yeah. We'll do like we're doing volume 26 Number 17. Or hole number nine.

Michael David Wilson 51:34

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, did did you ever have any people kind of contacting you about where do you see people trying to track it down? It's like, well, we've got 23. Where the fuck are the other 22? Well, no,

David J. Schow 51:49

no, but we did get can people who were confused about the contents page, because I filled it up with pseudonyms of mine. All right. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, there's one. There's one credited to me. And there's like five other things credited to different names that were all pen names that I used at one time or another, but a lot of people didn't get that going in. Yeah. And there's sort of like, Who are these other people? I've never heard of them. Yeah. So it's, sometimes as Ellen Datlow said, sometimes you have to cut your readers a break.

Michael David Wilson 52:20

Right? Right, you know, yeah. And I mean, my understanding is that you caused the editor of Twilight Zone to break a lot of their own rules that they had set out. So I mean, you started using pseudonyms in Twilight Zone magazine said that there wasn't such a monopoly of David Schow content, because I think not in one episode, you in one issue, sorry, you had multiple stories, and you were also running an eight parter on the outer limits?

David J. Schow 52:55

Because yeah, that's because I didn't I didn't want to wait. Yeah. And and and not only that, Ted Klein is the glide bobble? No, because Bob read the foreword to seeing red bobble know that. Ted broke a lot of Twilight Zone rules for me. Yeah. Yeah. And the only reason he gives her doing that is he must have liked the stories. Yeah. And and that's good. And when I had like a, an article on the story in the same issue, well, it just doesn't look good for any magazine, including one that was struggling along all the time, like Twilight Zone was most of the time to depend, as Ted said to openly on a small group of the same writers. Yeah. And so I said, Well, you know, pseudonyms are a grand tradition. Let me just use some pen names. Yeah. And then, ultimately, 30 years later, I'm reprinting those stories under my own name, so it's a win win.

Michael David Wilson 53:55

Yeah. Yeah.

David J. Schow 53:58

I still like to this day, I'll tell you guys. To this day is still fun for people coming. Coming up and going. You know, I read the story a long time ago, I had no idea it was you. But I suspect it. Yeah. Yeah. And it was like, oh, that's, yeah. You couldn't get a greater compliment than that. You know, it's like really they know your style in a field where everybody is just devoted to grinding out words per day like toothpaste, you know, as you recognize a style. Yeah, it's like you read a Ramsey Campbell story, you know, Ramsey style.

Michael David Wilson 54:35

Oh, yeah.

David J. Schow 54:36

Holy cow.

Michael David Wilson 54:37

So yeah. Yeah.

David J. Schow 54:41

Nobody writes. Nobody wrote. Nobody wrote. Nobody writes. Nobody writes like Peter Straub wrote, yeah, this is crazy. That is a unique signature a unique and perimeter that is totally his Yeah. Lansdale Oh,

Michael David Wilson 55:01

oh, yeah, yeah, I mean, frequently we talk about Lands Day or learn in terms of his genre. It's like Joe Lands Day or writes in the Joe Lansdale genre. That's right.

David J. Schow 55:14

Yeah. Yeah. It scares me to know how long I've known Joe. Right. Right. I met Joe at a World Fantasy Con panel, huh? That he and I were both on. And sitting in the front row of the audience was Fritz library. Oh, wow. This is kind of backwards.

Michael David Wilson 55:42

Yeah. Yeah.

David J. Schow 55:45

And it was the only time I ever got to meet Fritz in my life and, and I said, Fritz, I just wanted to tell you that I wrote this story called red light. won the World Fantasy Award. I just wanted to let you know that I'm ripping you off. I'm ripping off your story. The Girl of the hungry eyes, you know, theatrics. Except it's like the girl with the hungry eyes told from the opposite end of the telescope.

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Fritz was okay

with it. Because Harlan had ripped him off to hear a story. That was a complete ripoff of the girl home guys called a Nedra F 5.6. Right, was a literal vampire. Yes. And so having all this history, Harlan Ellison and first labor and my story and we want a trophy. So they call me up to do an audio commentary for the Night Gallery episode, the girl the hungry eyes. Yeah, you know, based on Fritz's story. Now, I don't know if you guys have watched what's been going on with supplements and special features on DVDs and blu rays these days, but they love to take a shovel and just pile extras on the DVDs, because that's a selling point. People look at the back of the DVD and they go, Oh, the more crap it has on I'll buy the version with the most crap on it. Right? They're doing Night Gallery season three. And here's the girl at the hungry eyes, which is a half hour TV show. Okay, from the third season, so they were half an hour night galleries. And they listed in the initial listing they had, oh, and it's gonna have three commentaries. There is no way in the known universe, that you could talk for 90 minutes about the girl the hungry eyes, three times its length, you know? Because what do the guys doing one of the commentary tracks are the guys who wrote the Night Gallery book, the guys that we all have to steal from to do our commentaries, right? Yeah, yeah. So. So in that case, it wound up just being two commentaries. The guys who wrote the book and me, and I got to tell the story of me and Fritz on the audio track, because for its labor is not covered very much in the book that's about Night Gallery. He wrote the very first episode, there was the dead one, I think it's called the dead one. It was the first episode in the series. And then and then the girl that hungry eyes. You're the source stories for both of those. Yeah. And so to get a chance to talk about him, because I think there are certain writers that should not go down on Sung, you know, and Fritz was a favorite. And Fritz was an influence, you know, and we all have, we all have them. And so any chance I get to sing about Fritz or Ted sturgeon, or Harlan or Bob block or anybody like that, I'll do it. Yeah, I have no shame.

Michael David Wilson 58:53

And I know that over the years, you've done a lot of audio commentaries and liner notes, and all these kind of additional bits of commentary for various movies. I'm wondering though, with the rise of streaming, do you think that this art is going to kind of disappear? Or do you think we're going to kind of diversify in some way to get these commentaries out in a different way? Because I mean, if you go to something like Netflix or shudder, or one of the many, many streaming platforms, there aren't really these additional commentaries, you've just got the movie. And that's it.

David J. Schow 59:39

I think one of the exceptions is the criterion channel. Right. I think they moved. I was gonna bring that up. I think they will let you watch certain special features that they have. But you know, for me, it's just another argument for hard media as opposed to streaming. Right. Yeah, it's streaming stream. Everything is not curated nearly well enough to please me. Hmm. And but but to your first point, I think that I think it's a shake up period too. Because the other thing that's happened, Michael is that now today, they're letting just anybody do a commentary, right wants to they don't necessarily have to know anything. They don't did they go mumble mumble mumble for the whole thing. Now it's like for, for me and Tom Weaver and Tim Lucas and Kim Newman, we write that shit out of our commentaries. Yeah. Because I believe like, like the old radio rule, I believe dead air is death. Yeah. And, and you gotta give that the person listening to it a reason to show up to listen to? And if you don't, you got to at least be a little bit entertaining. Not give them a lecture on something. And so all of these things gotta juggle together. And I think that once we've worn out the available library of stuff that everybody wants to see on streaming, right, even streaming outlets are going to have to try to find other ways to keep their viewers. Yeah. And offering limited access to commentaries or special features might be one of the ways that they can do that.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:19

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it strikes me hearing you talk about this as well. I mean, before we were talking about social media, and how recently, people are looking at going back to blogs and things like Live Journal, and forums. And so I'm wondering, if we're going to have that same kind of rebellion, or just dissatisfaction with streaming that people will go back to hard media, because as you say, it's not curated well enough. And there are so many gaps, and there are things that you want to consume. So why not just buy the blu ray or whatever, that not only gives you the film that you want to see, but it gives you all these extra nuggets and insights into the movie?

David J. Schow 1:02:08

Well, there was when we did two points. When Leatherface first came out on LaserDisc, yeah. Okay, way back when it had two commentary tracks. And one of them was just me and Greg Nicotero. The other one was a Jeff burger. And two of the actors, I think it was RA and probably Billy Butler. And those tracks disappear. When Leatherface went to DVD, there's a commentary track, but it's those two tracks edited together on the DVD. And if you want the raw track where it is just Greg and me talking for an hour, 20 minutes. It's not available anywhere, except on that laser disc.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:59

Wow. Oh,

David J. Schow 1:03:01

the stuff the stuff. The stuff does get lost. Yeah, you know, even you know, it's like in a world where everybody who sees stuff on the internet assume that everything they see on the internet A is for free forever. And B automatically goes to some cloud heaven will be forever. Well, if you've ever seen your favorite website vanish into the ether, you know what bullshit that

Michael David Wilson 1:03:28

is? Yeah, right. Yeah.

David J. Schow 1:03:32

And it's like, it's up to us to curate our own stuff. Nobody's going to do it for us and if they do it for us are going to do it wrong.

Michael David Wilson 1:03:45

Thank you so much for listening to part one with David J. Schow on This Is Horror. Join us again next time for the second and final part where we talk about David partying with the rock band Journey. How splatter punk was born. David's friendship with Robert block, and much more. But if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then become our patron@patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can submit questions to every writer that we chat to on This Is Horror. And speaking of writers coming up, in just a few days, we will be chatting with the legendary master of suspense. Dean Koons so if you have a question for Dean, please do submit it@patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Now I have a feeling that 2023 is going to be a good year for me, actually, I have a feeling that it's gonna be a really good year for so many of us. Now, a lot of you know, because you've been listening for a while, and I've we've talked about this implicitly, or particularly with Jonathan Yanes got a little bit more explicit, but I had a pretty rough run of it in 2020 21, and 22. But I feel that things are shifting. And I think 2023 is going to bring a lot of good things. I'm optimistic that after what is now 19 months apart, I will finally see my daughter, I have a feeling today, I'll be able to resolve my custody case, and finally get a divorce after having been separated from my ex for two years now. But it's not just personally, you see, professionally, I've got a lot of good things going on with my writing. There are a lot of exciting projects in the background. So I reckon that you will see a brand new Michael David Wilson release in 2023. So if you like The Girl in the Video, and They're Watching, then get ready, because another book or two. O is on its way, my friend. It is on its way. Now I said at the start of the show 2020 Free marks a new era of This Is Horror Podcast with 500 episodes, and 10 years at a Show. A show I started in 2013, with Dan Howarth, and everyone's favorite reprobate, John Costello. But this 2023 will be the best year yet the caliber of guests and the quality of conversations, we're going to take it to the next level. But you know, there is an area where I feel I really dropped the ball. And as the Patreon I know talking to Bob, he tells me that, you know, I didn't drop the ball. life circumstances happened. Plus, there was of course, the COVID 19 pandemic. But, you know, when I separated from my x and then found myself away from my door, you're going into that, at the end of 2020, we had over 200 patrons. But right now we have just under 150. And as my life descended into chaos, so did the output of Patreon and also the output of This Is Horror Podcast episodes. And I feel bad about that. But I'm doing all that I can to bring things back to the level that they were in 2020 and of course beyond taking it further. So the writers forum on Discord is growing is more vibrant. We're having more amazing conversations that I appreciate all the patrons and you know, I love having those conversations on Discord. So please, if you are a patron and you've not joined the discord community, sign up for it. If you're not sure how to drop me an email Michael at this is horror.co.uk I'll set you up. But we're also going to be taking story on bogs to the next level. Not only are we going to put out a new episode every single month, but we'll be having a movie and book club in which we all discussed a text or film that we're analyzing for that month. And on the story on botched episode itself. There will be patrons that are joining us guesting on those episodes. So if that sounds fun is another reason to become a patron. We're also going to be implementing more video footage into This Is Horror Podcast specifically on our YouTube channel and Tik Tok. So if that is something that you're in to please join us there we are. This Is Horror Podcast on Tik Tok. And we are This Is Horror on YouTube. My order is to say, Me and Bob, we love you all so much and if you want to support us and help us reach our Patreon goals, you know let's take it to 200 Let's smash 200 Let's take it beyond 200 Then please join us@patreon.com Forward slash dishes horror. Okay friends before I wrap up it is time for an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 1:11:17

Well, that almost does it for this episode. But I would like to wrap up with a quote from legendary Dean Koontz, a future guest on This Is Horror. So here we go. I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life. I will see you in the next episode for the final part with David J Schow. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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1 comment

    • JB Lee on January 10, 2023 at 12:50 am
    • Reply

    DJS’ pseudonyms in TWILIGHT ZONE remind me of August Derleth’s pseudonyms in WEIRD TALES, which he used for the same reason — didn’t want it to appear that WEIRD TALES was a Derleth monopoly.

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