The Oscars happened today—that’s “today” for us folks here in Oz. I don’t much care who wins or loses, and in particular I get annoyed at how Australia will draw a very long bow to claim someone or something as “our own”. Mel Gibson is back in our good books, even though he was born in New York. All has been forgiven for Russell Crowe, too. We were quick to remember he was born in New Zealand, when Russ started chucking phones around, but we’ve put all that behind us.
The reason my interest in movies has been piqued is that I was channel-surfing the other night and stumbled across The Ten Commandments. Chuck Heston as Moses was more like Abraham Lincoln in his dressing gown. Only Yul Brynner, playing the Pharoah, Ramesses II, offered more than a passing resemblance to your basic pharaoh—maybe because Yul’s Russian? Plus there was a supporting cast of thousands—none of whom looked particularly Jewish or Egyptian either, but no one worried about that kind of thing back then. All the Egyptian princesses looked like they’d stepped straight out of a Manhattan dress shop.
Which reminded me of a book I read years ago… can’t remember what it was called. I’m not a religious type, but I found this book fascinating. The premise was that Jesus’ body was supposedly found buried in a wall. He secretly survived the crucifixion, lived until he was fifty or so, and was entombed in the wall of a house to avoid any further fuss. But was it the real deal or not? What made the book interesting was the forensic examination of the skeleton and whether or not it even came close to how Jesus may have appeared in life. It was the first time I’d come across the concept that Jesus could never have looked like the rather pale, Anglo-Saxon looking chap you see in almost every stained glass window in every church across Europe. He was probably short, dark-skinned and very Arabic. Sometime during the subsequent centuries He got one hell of a makeover.
By the way, in Australia we have a thing called the Heritage Council. God help you, if you own a heritage-listed house and want to paint it a “modern” colour. It’s a capital offense. At best, they’ll throw you in jail and flush the keys down the toilet. Imagine the red tape and grief you’d get from the local council, if you found Jesus’ body in your kitchen wall? I’d quietly plaster over the hole again and tip-toe away without another word. Or maybe chuck the bones in a skip-bin after wrapping them in plastic and writing “asbestos” on the outside. Nobody’s going to check inside that bag.
Back on the subject, despite the minor flaw of no one in the movie appearing remotely Arabic, or Egyptian, and that Chuck Heston spends most of the movie in his shabbiest dressing gown, The Ten Commandments is considered the seventh most successful film ever, grossing $122 million—in 1956. Not bad.
I reckon it was the special effects—which won the film its only Oscar. Seeing them now, they’re a hoot, but back in 1956 they must have been gob-smacking.
The main story has its plot issues. While everyone is following Moses it’s all piety, good behaviour and tramping endlessly through a really large, crap desert. Lured away to false gods, the Hebrew people are endlessly drinking, partying, dancing and shagging each other stupid. Sure, they had to sacrifice the occasional virgin, but that could have been micro-managed better. Really, why do they always sacrifice gorgeous, young female virgins? If I’d had a say in things in 1200BC I’d be sacrificing fat, ugly, bloke virgins. It makes much more sense.
Anyway, I’m just saying that Moses had a pretty tough sell-job—almost too tough to be believed.
Of course, if someone made a movie from one of my books and I was invited to the Oscars, I’d be there in a flash. I might even buy a new tee-shirt and pair of thongs (flip-flops, to the rest of the world) for the red carpet thing.
My latest mega-production isn’t quite in the same class as The Ten Commandments, but it was pretty epic. I’ve produced and narrated my first audiobook. It’s an adaption of my book, Horror Story Volume One, Death Wish. Below is a link to the book on Amazon, but you can see the Audible link to the audiobook version. If you’ve never tried an audiobook, you can sign up for an Audible trial and try mine for free. It won’t cost you a thing, and Audible won’t either. If you end up not liking audiobooks, just opt out at the end of the trial.
I’m expecting a message from Chuck soon. I reckon after he’s heard Death Wish he’ll want the movie rights. Hollywood, here I come. If you’d like to get an email whenever I release a new book, audiobook or write a new blog, just sign up to my newsletter above.
I love space shit. Fill the screen with cool-looking planets and spaceships and stuff, and I’m happy as an alien pig in extra-terrestrial crap. We don’t really need to mess up any of the plot with too much explanation of how all this quantum-physics impossible shit can happen — you know, faster than light travel and super-secret space stations that no one notices. We can ignore all that.
But the movie Interstellar seriously tested my patience.
Not because of the script or storyline — which does have its weird moments. Example? Okay, like the incredibly sophisticated robot/droid thing that looks like a Coke vending machine and can pretty much do anything, but NASA still needs a top-gun human pilot for its last remaining spaceship to “fly” it properly using a little joystick thingy.
No, Interstellar pissed me off because I spent 2 1/2 hours asking myself, “What the fuck did Matthew McConaughey just say?” Between the indecipherable southern drawl and the “I’m so cool I’m never going to raise my voice even when the whole world is turning to shit” delivery I spent most of the movie trying to hear what McConaughey was saying. The useless mumbling bastard needs subtitles — damn! Why didn’t I think of that last night? Sod it, no — sub-titles annoy me.
And then, to really get up my nose, it took headphones and about five rewinds to figure out what Michael Caine was whispering on his death bed scene (sorry, but that’s not really a spoiler) — only to discover it didn’t make sense anyway. Caine gasps and gurgles that apparently the whole thing didn’t have to happen (or something) and Smelly McConaughey (a few years back one of his co-stars complained he never uses deodorant) was on a wild goose chase. Which is utterly at odds with all the urgency and drama powering the story up to that point. But okay, maybe McConaughey muttered something earlier that explains this better and I missed it.
Matt Damon makes a fat appearance as a stranded astronaut on another planet. It’s only a small role in the overall movie and obviously allowed him to spend more time in the catering tent. Otherwise, existing alone on a remote planet at the other end of the universe is apparently a good way to pack in the calories.
And the ending? No surprise that there seems to be a blatant device for a sequel, but perhaps not. Maybe the director just said, “We’d better stop there, the audience will have had enough by now”. No argument from me.
Tonight it’ll be “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise running around some planet and carrying lots of big-arse guns. Or maybe they’re normal-sized guns and just look big, because Tom Cruise is such a short arse? I’ll let you know.
By the way, if you’d like to see my own efforts at a space shit story, check out Ghost Beyond Earth. Here’s a link to my web page and it’s available as an ebook. Lots of readers reckon it’s science fiction, others say it’s space opera, but I’ve always insisted it’s a ghost story — with a particularly nasty zombie-like dude included, too.
Really, it’s a ghost story.
This is the now-famous Cooper Family ghost photograph. I’m fascinated by pictures like these. Years ago I borrowed a book from the library called (something like) “350 Famous Ghost Photographs” and it contained – no surprises – 350 pictures of ghosts, fairies (Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle was a big believe in fairies or “faeries”) ectoplasms and lots of other paranormal stuff. This picture wasn’t one of them, but the concept behind the book was interesting. Every photograph included was, to the photographer’s knowledge, genuine. In other words, they may well have been the victim of some kind of hoax, but the person who took the picture believed it to be real. With that in mind, it only needs just one of those pictures to be genuine and ghosts exist – and at odds of 350 to 1 what’s the chances…? Actually, you can apply the same thinking to UFO sightings. Really, is every single UFO sighting over the past, let’s say even just a hundred years, completely false? Every… single… one? (Hmm… worth another post I think)
Anyway, one of the pictures in that book prompted my short story called “The Girl In The Back Seat” a totally creepy photograph of a family that got lost driving to friend’s house. They used a pay-phone to call and ask directions, so their hosts were waiting in the driveway to take a photo of their arrival. When the picture was developed, a ghostly girl was sitting in the back seat. It’s the kind of innocent, utterly out-of-the-blue ghost photo that has infinitely more credibility than any team of ghost hunters running around haunted castles.
So what do you think of this one? The background story is distorted and retold by countless websites – many debunking the picture, some suggesting it’s real. Basically, it was a straightforward family photo that proved very, very different when it was developed. Is it a hoax by someone? Well, you’d have to say it’s an imaginative one. Hardly your standard “unexpected ghost in the background” picture.
I think it could be real and no amount of 21st century internet analysis about “wrong” shadows or angles and can lessen the impact of its original form. What possibly caused the hanging man is another debate altogether. Bottom line for me is that they are simply too many of these incidental ghost photographs for each and every one of them to be a hoax. They can’t all be fake – one of them must be real. Just one, remember? Maybe it’s this one?
Here’s the latest installment in my Lukas Boston paranormal thrillers. This is what they call a full-length book at 60K words, but you know… back in the good ol’ days that’d be about half a book – hey still, for US$2.99 you can’t wrong. You can buy it from Amazon here.
Lately with the rebranding of my Lukas Boston thrillers and the Horror Story books my website hasn’t really matched the look and feel of the cover designs, so I’ve gone for a new theme with bits of dripping blood and whatever (sorry Manu, after all your work). It’s still a bit of a work in progress while I get my head around what the theme has to offer.
Let me know what you think!
Back to Horror Writing.
This has been bugging at me for a long time. With eBooks and self-publishing there is a renewed demand for shorter books and what we used to call “short stories”, and this has given new life to my old passion – writing horror. I’ve decided to regularly publish new “short” horror stories – each one will take around an hour or so to read. It’s actually great fun writing this kind of thing, because you can concentrate on the horror, scary bits and hopefully frighten the behooters out of the reader, without labouring away at a full novel that takes perhaps years to write.
To kick things off I’ve split my collection of “Ghost Tales, Four Stories of the Dead Among Us” into four separate books and given the series its own branding and “look” calling each a “Horror Story” with a subtitle and volume number. Each one will be a stand-alone horror story (or perhaps two, if the one tale is too short) and don’t need to be read in any order. These first four are quite long compared to my basic idea of publishing something new every two-three weeks. In fact I have a new one, called “The Hangman’s Ghost” already written and it should be available within a week following a final edit and cover design.
And, even better, I get to compose a new tune for each horror title – an outlet for my music with direction, rather than doodling with song ideas on rainy days. Awesome.
It isn’t the end of my Lukas Boston mysteries. far from it – again, a new as-yet unnamed novel is finished and going through the last edits and cover creation. Mind you, I want to tweak the Lukas Boston series a little… give them a similar branding appearance to the Horror Story covers and remove the “Book 1, Book2…” references, because they really don’t need to be read in any sequence.
So, you’ll see a couple of new books here very soon. Let me know what you think.
Happy reading, Graeme Hague.
This cover is great although it kind of represents only half the story, which begins with a bunch of witchcraft and sorcery from centuries ago. Then the narrative shifts to the modern day, super-computers and a sort Ghost In The Machine theme. Oh, and there’s a haunted German U-Boat from World War 1 – a part of the novel that’s based on a true story. You can find out more on my The Devil’s Numbers page here.