December 11, 2015

Indiewire hosts Jeff Buhler’s GUTTERMOUTH, a new TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode inspired by the fact that he’s “always been terrified of drains.” Streaming now!


The story for “Guttermouth” involves a man who hears voices coming from a drain. What inspired this premise?

I don’t really know how to explain this, but I’ve always been terrified of drains. Not terrified like I don’t want to take a bath, but ever since I was little, I remember thinking how weird it is that all the water we use just goes down these pipes to some place underground. Stare at the sink for a while and your imagination wanders…

What tradition would you place this story in? On the one hand, it’s got a creepy supernatural tone; at the same time, it’s more of a psychological thriller.

I would put this in the relationship drama department. What is really at play here is a failing relationship and that is something we can all relate to, whether is a partner or friend. The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves and the silly head games we all play with each other.

As a filmmaker, how would you say the process of crafting audio plays differs from making movies?

“The supernatural stuff is really the mirror we hold up to look at ourselves.”

This is my third go around with the “Tales” gang, and I would say I’m finally getting my head around that very question. Audio storytelling is freedom.  There’s no crews, cameras, lights, etc. It’s far closer to theater that way.  The storytelling rests completely on the actors and the sound design, both of which are aspects of filmmaking that I love. I mean, who doesn’t love foley?  It’s just a blast to watch people walking on kitty litter or ripping up bunches of celery for bone snaps.

I was over at Larry Fessenden’s house and accidentally broke an extremely valuable vase. Doing these shows is the only way I can pay Larry back. He promises to knock $200 off my tab every time I turn one in but I don’t really trust him or that Glenn McQuaid fellow. Very shifty, that pair.

More generally, what do you like about working with Glass Eye Pix?

Basically it’s all about creative freedom.  Glass Eye lets creators run with ideas that no one else would touch.  They are supportive throughout the process but not intrusive.  And, most importantly, they’re getting really good at doing these things.  When I see the evolution from Season One to these recent Tales, I am really proud to have been a part of it from the beginning.

You’re currently working on several remakes. What do you make of this particular creative challenge and how does it differ from other projects?

Jacob's Ladder

“Jacob’s Ladder” was the first in what I’m calling my Trilogy of Reboots.  After that, it was a new “Pet Sematary” and then a new “Grudge.”  With each of those projects, the challenge was to find ways to make the current version have a reason to exist other than the name. Each of those scripts are completely different from the original movies — or books — in certain details, but remain true to the spirit of the original stories. They’re all fun and, I think, will not feel like a lame horror cash grab but actually a companion piece to these movies that we, as fans, hold so dearly.

With the “Tales” work, it’s completely just for fun. There are very little restrictions. The stories are all originals. Each one is completely different from the ones before. Writing and directing the “Tales” episodes feels like doing short stories after you’ve been working on giant novels.  They’re quick and fun and best of all, they get made!

What else do you have in the pipeline?

Outside of my Trilogy of Reboots, I’m just finishing a script I’ve been developing with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo — who is also the director of “Pet Sematary” — called “Into The Zombie Underworld,” which takes place in Haiti and delves into the real life experiences of a journalist who lived there just before the earthquake.  It’s all based on real events and very, very scary.  A bit like a gritty and modern “Serpent and the Rainbow” but real dark shit. A lot of fun to write. I also wrote a supernatural thriller called “Descendant” that is being produced this coming year with Screen Gems, and “Lotus,” which will be directed by Nicholas Macarthy, who did a wonderful little film called “The Pact. ”

And of course, I’m always coming up with more ideas for the “Tales” gang.  Gotta pay off that vase…

December 11, 2015

It’s Friday, so it must be time for new TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE! NATURAL SELECTION, by Fessenden, starring Dominic Monaghan, streaming now on Indiewire.
For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows. 

The season continues with filmmaker Larry Fessenden’s “Natural Selection,” starring Dominic Monaghan. Listen to the episode above, and read interviews with Fessenden and Monaghan conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below.

The episode is inspired by the show “Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.” When did you discover the show and how did you get Dominic onboard to play the lead role?

I worked with Dom on Glenn McQuaid’s movie “I Sell the Dead” and we’ve always stayed in touch, so naturally when his show came on, I tuned in. The show has a really fun travel-type vibe, lively editing and exotic locations that become increasingly remote as each episode progresses toward the discovery of some rare creature that Dom is ultimately going to commune with on camera. But what is most meaningful to me is the ethos at work; Dom is fearless but not foolish in the way of daredevil personalities stalking alligators. He is incredibly respectful of the creatures in a trans-species sort of way that is so rare in popular entertainment.

Anyway, whenever I watch a show like that, any reality TV stuff or documentaries, I always think of the cameraman who is entirely invisible to the viewer but presumably doing everything the host is, only with a camera on his shoulders. Like they used to say, Ginger Rogers was doing all Fred Astair’s moves, only backwards and in heels. So I wanted to bring that idea into a story. In all the tales we’ve done, there are very few if any that would be considered “found footage,” so I was inspired to try something with that aspect to it.

“My mind clouds over with frustration at human arrogance…so I write a horror story.”

Next, I thought of how to tell the story personally and of course my trip to the Galapagos came to mind. I don’t travel often but the remote places I’ve been are my favorite and most memorable: Iceland, Alaska, the Redwoods — the places that are about the land and the animals more than the people. You can’t really visit or think about the Galapagos Islands without thinking about evolution and the power of observation and insight that a naturalist like Darwin brought to the world. Of course, all this wonderment leads me to think about the idiotic controversies that we have in our public and political diatribes, and my mind clouds over with frustration at human arrogance and the way religious doctrine is wielded like a blunt club. So I tip over into the dark side and write a horror story.

What were the challenges of representing this setting only through audio? 

I wanted to represent the remoteness of the islands by depicting the travel it takes to get there, and to take the listener from bustling Ecuador to this remote island in the sea populated only by birds. At the very end, it’s just one man and the birds. I used the motif of the chattering birds — boobies, to be precise — which are a species specific to these islands. I also have flamingos in there, which have a very unusual call. The idea was to have the vocalizations of the birds rise and fall with their excitement level and use that as a storytelling device: when they grow silent, the monster is near.

Ever since your first feature “No Telling,” you’ve dealt with ecological themes in your work. How does “Natural Selection” fit into that focus? 

Spoiler alert!

“What is scariest in life is not violence and death but loneliness.” –Larry Fessenden

I think of “Natural Selection” as the story of a man who transforms into another species without fear and horror, showing his true openness to the world. In a way, the story is told from the point of view of the cameraman, who witnesses the horror and then has to confront the same fate himself. In the end, it is a story about how we confront death and change and deal with the unknown. Ross Geary, Dom’s character, undergoes his fate without judgement. It is also, as I have said, about the cameraman. He’s left alone, repeating the same experience, but without the same perspective that eased Geary’s end, so his fate is more chilling. In setting up that ending, I contemplate that what is scariest in life is not violence and death but loneliness, the simple existential truth of existence. It’s a common theme in my work.

What has changed with respect to these issues since you started tackling them in your films?

The world has become more partisan and desperate since I began thinking about ecological things in the mid-eighties. I have seen public discourse go from civilized to irrational and vitriolic. In a sense, all my worst fears are coming true as humankind has become detached from the natural world and lost in a narcissistic death spiral exacerbated by the echo chamber of the internet. All the wars and unrest we are experiencing are resource wars and climate wars, brought on by a global eco-system under deep duress. This was all foreseen decades ago in books I was reading. So while I have always operated under a sense of urgency, there is also now a feeling of resignation and sadness as well.

In a broader sense, how do you avoid simply shilling for your message without losing something in the storytelling department?

Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid

In all my work I am trying to get at a philosophical perspective about an individual’s place in the world. In the final analysis, I am trying to question the mythologies under which we exist, the basic assumptions our society operates under that in my view is not sustainable. This viewpoint, which is very personal, can be alined with the environmental movement and the talking points of various eco-causes. But then again, movies about the devil and exorcisms are in fact assuming a religious context where a devil exists. It is essential to understand where our stories are rooted. My stories may seem preoccupied with “nature,” but that’s because it’s what we as sentient beings are dealing with, not gods and devils. Those things reside in ourselves.

When will we see your next movie?

After this interview I’m sure I’ll never get financed again!

Below, Dominic Monaghan shares some thoughts on how his decision to perform in “Natural Selection.”

'Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan'

What made you want to do this?

Well, I love Larry, Glenn McQuaid, working with Billy Boyd, and “Tales From Beyond the Pale.” All plus points.

How did the production experience differ from what you usually do?

Always the same. Who’s the character? How do I identify with him? How can I add more? How can I help? How can I have fun?

What do you make of the ecological themes in the show? 

Larry very much hit upon something that has made us close friends over the years. We share the same worries and hopes for the future of this planet. We want the same things. We see the same warnings. It’s a cautionary tale — with a little fun!

How does your own program address these issues?

I attempt to inspire curiosity and eradicate fear from some classic situations that typically inspire fear: Travel. Planes. Heights. New things. Cultures. Ideas. Creeds. Unknown foods. And animals, of course.

Why would someone familiar with your show want to check out this episode?

I think they both exist as two separate things just fine, but if you have seen Larry and I in “I Sell the Dead,” or seen Billy and I in “The Lord of the Rings,” maybe you’ll want to check things out more. But it’s a great story full of exciting moments of suspense and intrigue. I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope that shows.

December 5, 2015

My husband after my pregnancy had a big break and as a result - premature ejaculation. We decided to prolong sex with pills. We bought generic Viagra 100mg at, but were afraid to take everything, my husband ate half the evening. The head rustled, it became heavy, the penis was not as stony, but we coped with prematureness. Indiewire presents a guided meditation unlike any you’ve tried before! Graham Reznick’s THE CHAMBERS TAPE (ranked #1 on iTunes Audiobooks in Fiction) is streaming now.


For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows. 

The season continues with filmmaker Graham Reznick’s “The Chambers Tape.” Listen to the episode above, and read an interview with Reznick conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below. 

Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.

The structure of this narrative is very innovative, since it takes the form of a guided meditation. How did this idea come together?

“The Chambers Tape” looks at the sometimes surreptitious use of “science” as the promise of a magical cure-all. (“We’ve infused our special meditation tape with scientific technology to enhance your results!”) It’s a strange racket and distracts from legitimate and truly positive advancements.

There’s always been complicated relationship between the general public and the mental health industry. It’s only in the last 20 or 30 years that the idea of going to therapy has become less taboo. I think there was a strange fear that a psychologist might have some special power, that they could use the power of their voice and choice of words to alter the mind and personality of their patient. They were referred to as head-shrinkers, or shrinks – which implies a fearful, controlling presence.

“There’s always been complicated relationship between the general public and the mental health industry.”

Around the same time that therapy became more acceptable, the New Age movement and eastern practices like meditation became more popular. Guided meditation became a big thing and continues to this day to be incredibly popular on YouTube – with many professional and amateur variations available.

If you really give yourself over to a guided meditation, if you trust in it the way you would trust a therapist, you’re opening yourself up in a vulnerable, impressionable way. What if your guide had less than noble intentions, even nefarious? What if they simply didn’t know what they were doing? Meditation and therapy are incredibly positive things that do a great good for many people, myself included. I wanted to explore the dark flipside of that.

I’m also really interested in the idea of neuro-linguistic programming — the power of spoken words and their effect on the the mind. Can you reshape someone’s reality just by saying the right things?

How did you approach the idea of “The Aviary” tape?

“The Aviary” is a real meditation tape from the seventies I heard about in high school, around 1995 or 1996. A friend who made cassette mixes had used a sample from it on one of his tapes. His dad had an original but after he made the mix, he lost the cassette before I could get a copy. I tried to find it online but there’s not a whole lot out there. We found some partial transcripts and tried to recreate it as faithfully as possible but had to take a few liberties to fill in the pieces.

shock value

As for the cast, I’ve been a fan of Misha Collins’ work on “Supernatural” and when Jason Zinoman — who wrote the excellent and absolutely essential book on horror “Shock Value” — mentioned to me they knew each other, I jumped at the opportunity to work with him. He was absolutely perfect for Dr. William Chambers. His voice is so controlled and commanding that there were times in the booth I forgot that I was working with an actor. Instead, I felt as if I were in the presence of the doctor himself. He sunk his teeth into the role and completely nailed it right away. Sophia Takal and Lawrence Levine are friends and both excellent directors and actors, and I’ve always wanted to cast them together as a couple – they’re married in real life. And Kersten Haile was in my segment of a Chiller film last year – a great, versatile actress – plays brief but very important role connected to the true nature of the piece.

We’ve made several cassettes to match the original Aviary release. It’s as accurate a recreation of the real thing as we could manage. A very limited number will soon go up for sale on the “Tales From Beyond The Pale” site. Side A is the “Tales” episode, and Side B is a 35-minute ambient soundscape piece available only on the cassette.

Digital is the preferred and easiest method of consuming as much content as quickly and efficiently as possible, but there’s something very appealing about the formality of the physical medium experience. I listen to (and collect) boatloads of vinyl, and one of my favorite things to do is to put on a record, sit back, and enjoy it – without the urge to click away or jump to another track. There’s a certain focus to it. In our hyper-stimulated era, a 30-minute uninterrupted side is a welcome relief.

How has this production approach impact storytelling for you?

One of the great things about Tales From Beyond The Pale is that it lets the writers and directors play with the expectation of how the audience experiences a “story,” both in the studio and live. This season is no different – there are some really excellent forays into unexpected territory. Glenn and Larry are incredibly encouraging of this kind of experimentation. For “The Chambers Tape,” I wanted to try something that was treated like an actual audio artifact: a primary source that cuts out the middleman (the storyteller) and involves the audience directly with the story itself. Using a meditation tape as the format allowed me to use the second person (which I’ve been intrigued by ever since Choose Your Own Adventure books and “Bright Lights, Big City”). Second person is a powerful, underutilized tool that has the ability to involve the audience even more directly: “You are doing this, you are seeing that.” It places the audience in the middle of the action. But it has its challenges – everyone brings their own personality, interpretations, and baggage to the table. It’s a real collaboration between the piece itself and the audience, which is exciting and unpredictable.

Specifically in regards to audio, I loved working within constraints of the meditation tape format. And a retro seventies style one at that. It was super fun creating the music and the overall sound design for the piece. There’s a dirtiness — an unsteady, detuned waviness to it all that I really enjoy – as if the tape itself is coming apart. I highly recommend listening in a good pair of headphones.

You’ve been experimenting with a lot of media. With Larry Fessenden, you co-wrote the PS4 game “Until Dawn.” What sort of new challenges did that present?

“Until Dawn” was an incredible experience, and writing with Larry is always a pleasure. The process was simultaneously incredibly rigid and remarkably freeing, in that the story beats were very precisely mapped out by the developer, Supermassive Games — who did a brilliant job — but we had to script many different versions of every scenario. So we could really explore character development in a way you don’t really get to do in normal linear writing. My analogy for it is that when you write a character in a film, you daydream about the many different ways a scene could go, how the character could react, how that could change the dynamics of all the other characters. With “Until Dawn,” we didn’t just daydream all those other versions – we wrote them all down.

It’s been a number of years since you tried out 3D with your short film “The Viewer” What do you make of that approach now? Any thoughts on virtual reality headsets?

I’m a big believer in exploring every possible medium that offers the opportunity to experience a story. 3D is a relatively untapped medium. It’s often used as a gimmick or an afterthought, but there have been interesting exceptions. Virtual reality is just as appealing. I’m working on one project right now as a sound designer, and it’s presenting some incredibly new, complex challenges in regards to audio mixing and design – which is exciting and provides opportunities to do things no one has ever done before. I’ve been developing a VR project very loosely based on “The Viewer” that I’d really like to get made. 3D was something I could experiment with for almost no money at all – but VR is unfortunately much more expensive and technical in ways that are exponentially more daunting, so it’s tough to get anything going without serious finance behind it.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a couple electronic music albums ready to be released – one will be coming out soon and the other I’m about to start shopping around. I co-wrote a movie called “Bushwick,” which just started shooting this week in Brooklyn, with Dave Bautista, which is being directed by Cary Murnion and Jon Milott, who directed “Cooties.” We recently finished mixing Ti West’s new western “In a Valley of Violence,” which I sound-designed and composed some additional music for. And I have a few feature films that are slowly but surely forging their way towards production, hopefully sometime in 2016.

The Chambers Tape

December 5, 2015

Indiewire presents James Felix McKenny’s Season 3 TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE episode, THE TRIBUNAL OF MINOS.


For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows. 

The season continues with filmmaker James Felix McKenny’s “The Tribunal of Minos.” Listen to the episode above, and read an interview with McKenny conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below. 

Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.
Your story involves American tourists getting more than they bargained for in a foreign land. We’ve seen the trope before in horror films. What inspired your take?

I wasn’t really thinking about the whole fear of being away from home or fish out of water trope when I was writing it, but you’re right, it’s a reliable standard. Back when Glenn started talking about doing “Tales” and asked me to do one — I eventually had to bow out of the first two seasons due to commitments to films I was working on — I started listening to these audio dramas put out by Big Finish Productions based on “2000 AD” comics and the classic “Doctor Who” television series that use the original actors from the show.

So my starting point was really the old “Doctor Who” formula of a somewhat condescending older man and younger female companion being dropped in an alien environment where they are pursued by a monster. I’m sort of obsessed and frustrated with the whole American Culture Wars thing, so having these two people from opposite sides of the argument forced to spend time together provided an opportunity to explore that conflict. I was hoping to show that regardless of their beliefs, people are people with their own complexities and contradictions and not just screaming caricatures. Although I did write this story before the current Republican presidential race, which has turned out to be pretty cartoonish.

Your movies always have a very DIY, handmade feel. How did that sensibility translate into the production of a radio play?

Yeah, I love things that are a little rough and look like they were made by humans rather than computers. I really want to keep the old traditions alive, even when working in digital formats.

For the audio drama, obviously there were no props to make or sets to paint, but there was still a lot of stuff I could do myself. Beyond the writing and directing, I cast people I knew and had worked with before on our little handmade films, did the editing and the sound design myself before handing it over to Tom Effenger for the final polish and mix. This is what we try to do with our films — get the thing as close to a finished project as we possibly can before hiring experts to bring it across the finish line.

Angus Scrimm is the main actor here. What’s your history with him?

I cast Angus in the first film we made for Glass Eye Pix in 2003, “The Off Season.” I had him in mind for the role, but didn’t think our $20,000 budget could afford a name actor from Los Angeles. He happened to be on the East Coast for a horror convention the weekend we were to begin shooting, so we gave it a shot to see if he’d be interested in doing it while he was out here. Turns out, he really wanted to visit Maine, where we were shooting, and came up, saving us some money on travel and giving us a very affordable rate as long as we agreed to get him a lobster dinner.

“Regardless of their beliefs, people are people with their own complexities and contradictions and not just screaming caricatures.”

Angus is the sweetest, kindest man you’ll ever meet. We’ve been friends ever since and I always try to work him into any project where casting him makes sense. I think he really clicked with our other main actor in this audio piece, Mizuo Peck, someone whom I met through my friends that form the band Shellshag. Mizuo appeared in another project I did, an odd little sci-fi short  — also somewhat inspired by old “Doctor Who,” I’m just realizing — called Chapter Four. She does a lot of voice work, so she seemed like an obvious choice for this “Tale,” but I think she’s probably best known for playing Sacagawea in the “Night at the Museum” movies.

The music, by Carrie Bradley, is a distinctive aspect of the episode. How did you get connected with her and collaborate for this piece?

Carrie is a friend of mine that I’ve seen play violin many many times with one of my favorite bands, The Breeders. Actually, all of the music that I had been exposed to over the years has been her performing with others — she’s also worked with Jonathan Richman and Love & Rockets, as well as her own bands The Great Auk, 100-Watt Smile and Ed’s Redeeming Qualities. But it was just a few years ago when she sent me some home recordings of some music she produced entirely on her own. That stuff really stuck with me. I figured the violin would fit well with the Greek setting, but Carrie took it so much further and exceeded my expectations a hundred fold. She wrote, performed and recorded everything herself and that singular vision really adds an incredible third voice to the piece. I can’t wait to rope her into scoring a feature film.

Why does the Glass Eye Pix model work for you?

I had already written, directed, edited and produced my first feature and sold it to a distributor before I came to work for Larry and Glass Eye Pix.

The film was a blood-soaked black comedy, called “CanniBallistic,” where I had only $8000 of my own money to make a movie and had to do a dozen different jobs myself — including making props, buying wardrobe, securing locations, grocery shopping for our four-person crew, building the film’s website, etc., mainly because I’m the cheapest resource that I have.

That’s pretty much how I continued to make movies once I met Larry, who very generously offered to bankroll a few more features that I wanted to do. For the most part, the budgets on our movies have been a lot lower than the rest of the films that Glass Eye Pix produces and I take bringing in a film on or under budget very seriously, so I still perform a lot of different tasks. So do the other members of Team MonsterPants, who all have a wide range of skills thanks to their backgrounds in construction, electrical work, fine art, carpentry, etc., as well as filmmaking. On the first three films we did for Glass Eye Pix, Larry was great about giving us the freedom to do what we do the way we do it, even if our methods could be a bit unconventional at times.

What are the biggest challenges you face with respect to the kind of stories you like to tell?

I really enjoy working in the more fantastic genres, but when I sit down to write I tend to get a little more involved in the characters or whatever message I’m trying to convey than some of the horror or action elements. I always say that my movies are a little too highbrow for traditional or mainstream genre movie fans and way too lowbrow for the art house crowd. This audio drama is probably a perfect example of this, I’m sure there will be plenty of listeners screaming at their mp3 player, “Enough with this talky talky crap, where’s the Minotaur?”

Obviously, there’s a long tradition of social commentary in horror and science fiction,. I’m just not sure it’s always welcome if it takes priority over the scares and action or if it’s not really obvious or heavy-handed. I made a film called “Satan Hates You” a few years back that was an homage to the old Christian scare films and Jack Chick comic tracts. But because I didn’t openly mock Christianity, I took a bit of heat from people who missed the satirical elements and thought I was an actual hardcore right-wing evangelical Christian, which couldn’t be farther for the truth.

I just write things that interest me, which is very satisfying artistically, but my tastes don’t always mesh with those of ticketbuyers and film bloggers. Oh well.

What’s next for you?

I have this sort of very DIY, one-man-band feature film project that I have been pecking away at in my free time over the last couple of years and probably won’t see the light of day for at least a couple more. I’m working on a script for a folk horror feature that I’ll be trying to raise money to shoot next year and I’m also editing a short that I directed called “Candyland,” which features a cast almost entirely made up of 12-year-old girls. We’ll be submitting that one to festivals this summer.

I also produce and co-host the world’s worst podcast, Before Geeks Were Cool, which is available on iTunes and have an ongoing line of designer toys, most of which are a series of action figures called the Sea-Borgs, that I hand sculpt and cast in plastic resin in my home studio. I may never get rich doing any of this stuff, but it’s all very satisfying.

The Tribunal of Minos


December 3, 2015

Graham Reznick’s TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE season 3 episode THE CHAMBERS TAPE just hit #1 on iTunes Fiction Audiobooks. Check it out!

Screenshot 2015-12-03 14.50.23