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‘Tales from Beyond the Pale’: An interview with Glenn McQuaid & Larry Fessenden

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It’s near midnight when I make the conference call to Glenn McQuaid and Larry Fessenden. Outside I can hear early Halloween revelers making their way home - shouts, laughter, a distant scream. McQuaid is the writer and director of I Sell the Dead, which starred Indie King of Horror, Fessenden – who has been making horror films as an actor, writer, producer and director since 1985, when he set-up his company Glass Eye Pix.

The line crackles, then a faint casual tone. It’s answered, and there’s something of the séance about their voices – distant, ghostly, far off – as they come through. Eventually ‘Hello,’ Glenn’s soft Irish lilt, and we greet each other through a deafening roar. ‘Like a hurricane’ one of us says. ‘Better try again.’ This time we’re clear, and in the room.

Since 2010, McQuaid and Fessenden have been scaring the bejesus out of listeners, with their anthology radio series of top drawer horror stories called Tales from Beyond the Pale. Recorded live in front of an audience at a New York theater, Tales… brought the magnificent acting skills of Vincent D’Onofrio, Angus Scrimm, Ron Perlman, and James Le Gros, together with the writing talents of Fessenden (who also acted in certain shows), McQuaid, Graham Reznick, Ashley Thorpe, Paul Solet, J. T. Petty, Sarah Langan and Jeff Buhler. These tales of mystery and imagination varied from science fiction (“This Oracle Moon”) to fantasy and horror (“Trawler”, “Hole Digger”, “The Demon Huntsman”, “The Conformation”), and were an instant success.

The original idea for the series came to Glenn, when he and Larry were driving upstate, listening to an old Boris Karloff broadcast.

Glenn McQuaid: ‘Larry and I were driving up to the set of Jim Nichols’ movie, which Larry produced, and we were listening to an old Boris Karloff radio play. The rain started down and we found we were enrapt by this old time radio drama. And I just turned to Larry and started proposing the idea - that this was something that Glass Eye Pix could get behind, and we both talked about it.

‘A coupe of months later, we started to take the idea seriously. It came out of a desire to get a lot more of our own content out there. Initially we had treatments and outlines for projects that had been sitting around too long, and we thought this would be a good platform to get our own work out there, as well as the work of all our friends and collaborators - people like Paul Solet and Jeff Buhler. It was a desire to keep working to keep getting ideas out there, and I think it was very tempting for Larry and I to try something, which was essentially new for us at the time.

‘Basically, the project grew out of a desire to get stuff out there from ourselves, but almost more importantly from other people and step in as curators in a way, and design the anthologies. We reached out to people we’ve either worked with before, or had met and have enjoyed their work.

‘For instance, I met Paul Solet while I was showing I Sell the Dead and he was showing Grace at Fright Fest Presents… in Glasgow, and we just got on well together. When we started shifting gears with Tales from Beyond the Pale, I started reaching out to Paul Solet, Jeff Buhler - he’s another film-maker that I like, and similarly Larry reached out to a few folks he was intrigued by.’

Larry Fessenden: ‘Yeah, we hooked up with Simon Lumley, who I’d never met, I think you met him. Simon Barrett as well, who Glenn and I have both worked with, I was in Simon’s film You’re Next, and Glenn worked with him on V/H/S.

‘It’s really expanding the community, which is the other agenda, something I’ve always tried to do. It’s my theory that if there is enough of us in the same boat, then maybe we can all rise up together and take over Tinsel Town.’
 
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More tales from Glenn McQuaid and Larry Fessenden, after the jump…
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Rising Star: An interview with Glenn McQuaid


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
London Underground Calling: Yuri Suzuki’s iconic Tube Map radio

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Sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki has produced a radio based on Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground Map. Suzuki’s radio was made as part of the Designers in Residence, and will be on display at the London Design Museum until January 13th, 2013.

Now let’s see, where’s Mornington Crescent?
 
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More of Suzuki’s radio, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Spike Milligan’s Meaning of LIfe: An Autobiography of Sorts

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For thirty-six years, Norma Farnes was Spike Milligan’s manager, agent and Mother Confessor. She was also his friend. Since Milligan’s death in 2002, Norma has shown a loyalty to their friendship, which our world of social networks, Friending, Following and +1ing may never replace. For Ms. Farnes has been collating and editing the millions of words written by the late, great comedy genius, into a series of books - Box 18: The Unpublished Spike Milligan, The Compulsive Spike Milligan, Memories of Milligan - and now, Milligan’s Meaning of Life, his “autobiography of sorts”.

Who else but Norma Farnes could have edited together this fabulous collection of loose threads, extracts, and letters, which make Milligan’s Meaning of Life, such a brilliant autobiography.

As Norma explains in her introduction:

‘A sort of autobiography’. Yes, Spike would have liked that. I can hear him saying, ‘Yes, well, I suppose I’ve had a sort of life.’

...His many followers will, no doubt, find gaps, but it wasn’t my intention to give a complete account - rather an impressionistic journey. I did my best, but as Spike used to say to me: ‘That’s what worries me.’

Farnes should have no fears, as she has compiled a marvelous book, cherry-picking from the best of Milligan’s various writings. Farnes has a terrific eye for the telling phrase and revealing sentence, which presents Milligan as a bruised, sensitive, mercurial, inspired and very funny man. A man who had long bouts of severe depression, suffered terrible nervous breakdowns, was riddled with shyness and insecurities, yet through it all produced some of the our best, funniest and most memorable comedy.

During his life, Milligan produced over eighty books, ranging from poetry (Silly Verse for Kids to Small Dreams of a Scorpion), prose (most notably Puckoon, one of the best comic novels written), and his 7 volumes of War memoirs, starting with the hilarious Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall, plays (The Bed-Sitting Room and countless radio scripts form The Goons and his own classic comedy series Q. In very real terms, Milligan produced more work, and of a higher quality, than most novelists or writers ever achieve in a lifetime.

Milligan’s Meaning of Life Edited by Norma Farnes is available from Penguin Books / Viking Books. Check here for details
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Paranormal Peter Sellers


Michael Bentine: The Goon who got away


 
More from Milligan, plus bonus clips, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Rare recording of Kenneth Williams reading Gogol’s ‘Diary of a Madman’, 1963

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Here is a rare and rather wonderful piece of Kenneth Williams’ archive: his brilliant interpretation of Nikolai Gogol’s farcical short story Diary of a Madman .

In 1963, Kenneth Williams agreed to narrate an animated version of Gogol’s Diary of a Madman for film-maker Richard Williams. The pair had previously worked together on the short cartoon Love Me Love Me. According to the splendid biography Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams by Christopher Stevens:

Gogol’s story gave lunatic scope to [Kenneth] Williams’s voices. It told of a lonely clerk, who is driven out of his wits by unrequited love until he succumbs to delusions that, as the uncrowned king of Spain, he is spied upon by talking dogs.

In a recording session that stretched for more than six hours without a break, Williams read from the clerk’s diary in a halting voice, like a man on a window-ledge who cannot will himself to suicide. Other personalities pierced the reading - the sadism of the office supervisor, the contempt of the boss’s daughter, the shrill proclamations of King Ferdinand VIII. ‘I was pretty hard on him, and made him read passages again and again to get the right effect. It freaked him out,’ Richard Williams recalled. ‘At one point he walked out of the studio and I had to run after him. It was a block and a half before I caught up and persuaded him to come back.’ Full of repetition and bitter nonsense, the piece is almost nauseating as the clerk slops and flounders towards insanity. While no recordings exist of Williams in his most unsettling stage roles, Diary of a Madman is proof of his merciless gift for sustained, upsetting performance.

Sadly the animation was never completed, but this incredible recording was later re-edited by the BBC and broadcast on Radio 4 in 1991.

Dramatization by James Burke
Music by Peter Shade
Directed by Richard Williams
Produced by Ned Chaillet
Re-mixed for radio by John Whitehall
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Kenneth Williams: Stop Messin’ About


 
Bonus - Kenneth Williams reads a classic ‘Just William’ tale, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Virtually Kurt Vonnegut
02.09.2011
02:07 pm

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
Literature
Kurt Vonnegut
Radio
Second Life

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I’ve been re-reading Kurt Vonnegut recently, which has been a blast, and led me back to this peach of an interview Mr. Vonnegut gave shortly before his death. Listening to it now only makes the great man all the more missed.

In August 2006, the national, weekly public radio program, The Infinite Mind, made broadcast history as it aired a four-part special taped inside the 3-D virtual on-line community Second Life. Among those interviewed in front of a live, virtual audience was author Kurt Vonnegut. The 40-minute conversation with Vonnegut was the author’s last face-to-face, sit-down interview. The host was The Infinite Mind‘s John Hockenberry, who was with Vonnegut in the studio where the program was created. This is a machinima video of Vonnegut’s interview, taped at the 16-acre virtual broadcast center in Second Life built by Lichtenstein Creative Media, which produces The Infinite Mind.

 
Previously on DM

Portrait of the Artist as Young Man: Unpublished Kurt Vonnegut Short Stories


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment