Halloween Extravaganza: Robert Herold: Movie Maven Mausoleum Films to Die For

Movie Maven Mausoleum
Films to Die For!

By Robert Herold
Author of The Eidola Project

Finding obscure and/or largely forgotten gems in our genre is a bloody-good treat. And, in addition to reading a great book, what better way is there to celebrate the season? (Or any season!)

Curse of the Demon/Night of the Demon (1957)

The film opens with an admittedly goofy-looking monster. Don’t let that put you off! The director, Jacques Tourneur (of Cat People fame) did not want the creature in the film, but he was overruled by the studio. Night of the Demon is the British version of the film and is thirteen (lucky) minutes longer. Given this is one of my all-time favorites, I’d go with the longer version.

The movie concerns an egotistical warlock who is eliminating those who criticize him. Dana Andrews (who also starred in The Best Years of Our Lives and the noir-classic Laura) and Peggy Cummins (star of another noir classic, Gun Crazy) run afoul of the warlock, played by Niall MacGinnis.

The film has some wonderfully creepy moments, especially when MacGinnis is demonstrating his power during a little picnic he is hosting for the kiddies in the area. Check it out!

A Chinese Ghost Story I, II, & III (1987, 1990, 1991)

(Note: The first of the series was remade in 2011 by Wilson Yip (of Ip Man fame) I have not seen the remake, but most reviewers rate the original higher. I love the original, so I recommend you go with it.)

The first film is about a hapless but good-hearted tax-collector in Medieval China who is forced to stay in a haunted locale and falls in love with a beautiful ghost. Too bad for him, and anyone else who strays near the place, the ghost is under the control of a nasty tree witch. A wonderful story, great special effects for the time, humor, romance, and insane action—what more could one want? Number II in the series is more of a stand-alone film, whereas number III is a sequel. These are a bit difficult to find, but are worth the trouble!

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1972)

Made toward the end of Hammer Studios’ heyday, this gem is largely forgotten. Too bad, because it’s a great film. Dashing Captain Kronos, accompanied by his faithful hunchback friend, Professor Grost, gallop all over the 18th Century English countryside in search of vampires. They’re in luck, or maybe not, depending on your perspective. There’s some nice variations on the familiar vampire theme. This would have made a marvelous television series. I’ve love to write it, if there are any producers out there!

Eyes of Fire (1983)

A precursor to the marvelous the film The Witch (2015), which you must see if you haven’t, Eyes of Fire is also a tale of witchcraft set in early rural America. A group of settlers stumble upon a haunted locale and are terrorized by dangerous spirits. A mysterious girl appears who may hold the key to their survival. The excellent story, acting, and production values make this a great film!

Borgman (2014)

Few people saw this Danish film in America when it was first released. Fortunately, it is available on a ton of streaming services (many for free). This is one of the creepiest films I have ever seen. It gets under your skin like a parasite, making your flesh crawl, and then wiggles around in your brain for days afterward. Are you ready? Prepare for a little confusion, it’s meant to be so, as it is a horror mystery, but you will never be the same again. ‘Enjoy!

The Wicker Man (1973) – Original Film

You may be familiar with the 2006 remake, but I am recommending you go back to review the vastly superior original, starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Cinefantastique Magazine at the time declared it “The Citizen Kane of horror films,” and I agree. It’s an eerie film with excellent acting and a great story. It involves a strait-laced religious policeman who is sent to a remote British isle to investigate a missing girl. Things are amiss in this seemingly idyllic town.

Dark City (1998)

The line between horror and SF is often blurry (consider Alien and its sequels), so you may have missed this gem from the 90’s. The director of The Crow, Alex Proyas, takes us on a noir nightmare with wonderful special effects and acting. The actors and production values are top-notch. The actors include Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland (in one of his best roles), Jennifer Connelly, and William Hurt. It’s a heady mix of horror, mystery, and science fiction you’re sure to love!

A Portrait of Jennie (1948)

If your taste runs toward paranormal romance, I recommend The Portrait of Jennie. This well-acted film features many top actors from the time: Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Ethel Barrymore, and Lillian Gish. Cotton plays a down on his luck artist, whose career starts to change when he meets an enigmatic young woman.

Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)

You have probably seen the original film (if not, do so!), but you may have missed Werner Herzog’s outstanding remake. It is a stylized horror film with excellent acting and sets. Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani are wonderful in the lead roles, and the rats deserve a shout-out too! (I hope they got paid union-scale wages!)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Set the Way-back Machine ™ for one hundred years ago: Following the nightmare of deaths and dashed dreams of glory experienced by Germany because of World War One (to say nothing of the other countries involved) came the genius of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. From the expressionistic sets to wonderfully weird characters and expressionistic acting, the film still has remarkable power to unnerve you. Incidentally, Conrad Veit, who plays the somnambulist, was later considered for the role of Dracula (ultimately given to Bela Lugosi) and still later went on to chew up scenes as Major Strasser in Casablanca. Note: I strongly recommend seeing a version with the contemporary orchestral score by Rainer Viertelboeck. Since Caligari is a silent film, music is a key component, and this soundtrack adds to the creepiness!

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to me. You could say I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, I wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea I had as a teenager. Ultimately, I hope my book gives you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Website ** Facebook

The Eidola Project

It’s 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.

The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.

Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.

Will any of them survive?

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Robert Herold

Meghan: Hi, Robert. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thank you so much for agreeing to be part of the annual Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Robert Herold: I’ve been a fan of horror ever since I was a little nipper. I decided to rekindle that love much later in life by becoming a horror author and I’m having a blast. You could say that being a horror writer is to die for!

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Robert Herold: I wanted to be a werewolf as a child, later it was The Riddler from Batman. I guess I’ve always had a dark side. I enjoy treasure-hunting in thrift stores and flea markets for books (especially 1930’s-1950’s paperbacks with lurid covers), records, sheet music, and kitschy items. I used to get in trouble in elementary for daydreaming. I’m the only one in Seattle who doesn’t like coffee. (It’s a lonely town!) My all-time favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. I play in a Seattle band called Bluetopia. (OK, that’s six. ‘Good thing I’m not a math teacher!)

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Robert Herold: The Cat In The Hat Comes Back—I loved that brash 6 foot cat and his ability to turn snow pink. (My abilities are limited to yellow.)

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Robert Herold: On audiobook in my car, I’m listening to The Outsider by Stephen King, and in book form, I’m reading The Apothecary Rose by my friend Candace Robb.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Robert Herold: My favorite book this year is The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley. It’s a marvelous tale set in the 17th Century about an annoying man who is sent to the colonies to track down a couple of fugitives during the Restoration period in England.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Robert Herold: I began writing in junior high and had a wonderful English teacher who encouraged me. Later, I put writing aside to pursue music (I play the saxophone & flute) but about five years ago, I came across a sheaf of papers with a ribbon around it. It was from my son, Devon, when he was about eight or nine. A note was attached saying that the paper was for me to use when I start writing again. I decided to put writing back in my life. I’m glad I did!

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Robert Herold: I typically write at home with my chihuahua acting as guard.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Robert Herold: I come with an ending first. I used to outline, but I have more fun when I don’t. It means more time in the editing process, but I’m OK with that.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Robert Herold: Like many authors, the editing process is arduous, but it’s worth it.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Robert Herold: My novel, The Eidola Project, is the most satisfying. I’ve had some success writing pilot scripts, winning a contest and being a finalist, but I’ve never worked so hard on one project and I’m satisfied that I’ve given it my all.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Robert Herold: I’ve read The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett probably a dozen times! His clean powerful prose is masterful, as is his cinematic approach, revealing characterization largely through action and dialogue. I love everything I’ve read by David Liss, Bernard Cornwell, Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Christopher Buckley, Caleb Carr, Peter Straub, Raymond Chandler, Will Thomas, Thomas Harris, Walter Mosley, and many more!

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Robert Herold: An engaging set of characters facing a crisis is key, as is action, realistic dialogue, and masterful use of the English language.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Robert Herold: For me to engage with a character, they need to convey a sense of realism within their world. I need to believe they exist, with a rich backstory, of which I may only know a little. To love a character, they need to have a moral compass and show growth in the course of the tale. I tried to imbue each character with these traits, which took some doing with an ensemble.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Robert Herold: They each reflect a different side to me. I’m not always proud of these aspects, but there they are.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Robert Herold: First impressions do matter. For example, a cute fuzzy bunny would probably not attract many horror fans. On the other hand, if it had blood dripping from its mouth, then perhaps… I had quite a bit of involvement in the cover for The Eidola Project. My publisher contracts with Debbie Taylor, who did a great job!

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Robert Herold: I’ve learned so many things: gratitude for those who have helped me along the way, how to make my prose more powerful, and how to use social media to reach out to potential readers. (‘Still learning!)

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Robert Herold: Killing characters that I have come to love. Oh, well, sometimes they gotta go!

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Robert Herold: Imagine Stephen King, Caleb Carr, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thrown in a blender and mixed up to a bloody froth. My work combines classic elements to make a new taste treat.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Robert Herold: Eidola is a Greek word for ghost. Since the Eidola Project is a team of paranormal investigators, it seemed like a natural (or supernatural) fit.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Robert Herold: Both are wonderful artforms. Given the time investment, I’d say that I find novel writing most fulfilling.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Robert Herold: I hope my books give people the creeps! In addition, as I combine my love of horror with my love of history, I hope can also bring the time in which they are set to life, the late 19th Century.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Robert Herold: By and large, everything that I came up with for the book is still in it, though it went through a million rewrites.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Robert Herold: I may have a movie or TV show in me! I had some success in contests writing pilot scripts (in fact The Eidola Project began as one) and I may return to this one day.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Robert Herold: Book two in the series is already at the editor, and I am 99 pages into book three. I have plans for ten or more titles in this series. Though I will strive to make each book stand on its own.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Robert Herold: Website ** Facebook

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Robert Herold: After reading The Eidola Project, please consider leaving an honest review on one or more sites. In today’s world reviews are golden! Look forward to more Eidola Project books. I’ve only just begun!

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to me. You could say I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, I wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea I had as a teenager. Ultimately, I hope my book gives you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Website ** Facebook

The Eidola Project

It’s 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.

The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.

Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.

Will any of them survive?