Since it is Halloween at the end of this month I'll be going back to Turner for each blog post. Horror! Murderers! Evil! Chainsaws! Madness! Science! Guns! Nudity! A cute dog! The novel that has it all.
Some readers have commented that a certain bit "reminds me of the scene in film x when..." or "is like the bit in the novel y in which..." And it always pleases me when they've spotted an influence. The thing is, I grew up loving horror. Films, books, and - later - games. They crafted my psyche from an early age, chipping the wood into jagged splinters full of horrifying unreal beauty. Turner came about from a combination of nightmares and conscious design. I wanted to write a homage to my favourite works, somehow patching elements together to make a new and satisfying whole, whilst still retaining the cheeky winks of a fan. And so I ended up with this lovingly constructed homage to horror tropes: zombie-like killers, hooded and disfigured killers, mad scientists, 'refuge scenes', torture, gruff macho anti-heroes etc.
In this post I'm going to list some of the influences. If you've read the novel, see which ones you spotted - I'll put the similarities in square brackets. The list is not comprehensive, and I've purposefully missed a few out - feel free to add others in the comments. If you intend to read the book then it is probably best not to read on, there may be spoilers.
I thoroughly recommend every work listed below.
Wow, writing this puts me in the mood for horror. Old woman Halloween is coming knocking with bony fingers, remember to leave the door open for her when you go to bed.
Films & TV
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) [The bwystfil, especially when he chases Patti and David; the chainsaw, and facial disfigurement]
- An American Werewolf in London (1981) ['Slaughtered Lamb' pub scenes]
- Exorcist 3 (1990) [blood pumping]
- The Fog (1980) [lighthouse, killers with weapons]
- Night Of The Living Dead (1968) [girl chased by monster, falls over]
- The Warriors (1979) [in terms of the 'night of trial' setting - a high concept for non-literary fiction]
- The Wicker Man (1973) [elements of the setting and Lord John]
- Don’t Look Now (1973) [strange killer in a red hooded coat]
- Pitch Black (2000) [Chris resembling Riddick, at the end he couldn’t protect the woman but is left with the non-adult; has a negative view of people and religions, and is a loner/ex-con]
- Die Hard (1988) [Chris has a minor resemblance to John McClane, especially the barefoot bit and being dropped into a bad situation then becoming the chaotic element within it]
- Silent Scream (1980) [a Hammer House of Horror episode I had seen as a child: cages, behaviour modification, bad science, criminal prisoner - I only made this connection when I saw the episode again in 2016!]
Novels and Stories
- It by Stephen King (1986) [the 'floating' reference in Turner's prologue]
- Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983) [the epilogue where Chris sits with his back to the door, as if something is going to walk in behind him, like end of the PS novel]
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) [Lord John resembled Frankenstien, who followed lines of inquiry such as Paracelsus, even though the rest of the world recognised it as tosh - and still went on to have some success in creating a monster. In this case the spiritual mumbo-jumbo is part of the tosh Lord John has bought into. The fact that he criticised Bran Dddu for the same thing is part of his hypocrisy, something he fails to recognise despite his boasts of understanding and intelligence - playing with some dramatic irony.]
- Poe Must Die by Marc Olden (1978) [Chris Turner resembles Pierce James Figg, and Lord John resembles Jonathan the black magician, both of which I didn't realise until I re-read Olden's novel in 2010.]
- Midnight by Dean Koontz (1989) [in a town of dangerous killers, with a misguided madman in charge who thinks he was destined for great things and wants control over everyone, driving people to madness and killing; refuge scene etc. An imaginative 11 year-old girl in the novel makes some adults jump as if they had seen "a chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing a leather hood to conceal a deformed face" she thinks. Shows the prevalence of that trope.]
- Children of the Corn by Stephen King (1978)
- Intensity by Dean Koontz (1996) - I admired the non-stop forward motion and survival tension once events kicked off.
- Resident Evil 4 (2005) [chainsaw guy; villagers]
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004) [the Giovanni Mansion has a sub-basement for science and black magic; Dr. Aleister Grout and his mansion].
- The series ‘Monster’ from Scream! comic (1984). [Uncle Terry leaves in a hooded coat (especially issue 7) and is a disfigured killer, but he only kills due to the way he had been brought up and mistreated.]
- Chris resembles the anti-hero Harry Exton, from the 2000AD series 'Button Man' (1992), especially in episode 3. He ends up in a head to head with the main antagonist.
- Also in 2000AD prog 862 (1993), Strontium Dogs series ‘The Darkest Star’ part 8, Gronk meets Johnny Alpha who is in constant pain, speaking with ellipses and broken sentences, his body deformed and red and bubbling, wanting to die.
These are some resonances I only came across after I'd already written Turner, pointed out to me by other people. It's not surprising, since many of these are popular tropes in horror.
- Reality: body found on Caldey Island (2011)
- X-Files series 8, episode 4 'Roadrunners' (2000) [Scully alone in an upstairs room, weird locals all approach the building in the dark bearing torches]
- Deadly Premonition (2010) [has a red raincoat killer - not an influence, since the game hadn't been made or heard of when I wrote Turner, but it is the same trope.]
- Fallout 3 [has a vault where the master tried to control people and it turned them into killers; he also had control words to stop them. Also not an influence, for the same reason as Deadly Premonition.]
- Bioshock - I played it in February 2014 for the first time. Control words and mutated warrior Bwystfils!
- I've also been told that there are some similarities to these great-sounding books and stories, though - to my shame - I've not read any of them yet.
- Hater by David Moody (Infected Books, 2006). [Nightmarish situation, with the protagonist trying to survive random violence.]
- Forever Twilight by Peter Crowther (PS Publishing, 2009). [A small group of survivors; communication with the outside world lost; an onslaught of killers acting under the control of another.]
- House of Blood by Bryan Smith (Thunderstorm Books, 2004). [Survivors trying to find safety from bloodshed and death; a master and those under his control; an attempt to overthrow him.]
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft