John Harrison [Interview]

Welcome to Day 28 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Annual Month of Horror Showcase! We have a fully loaded month of all things horror for you fine folks! October is our favorite month for this very reason, and we are so excited to share 31 full days of film showcases and interviews with some of the finest folks from the world of horror, just as we have been doing for the last 6 years. What started as a simple 5 day showcase, has now blossomed into a full blown month long event. You’re going to love this! Enjoy!

 

It’s Day 28, Folks! Halloween is damn near upon us, and we are still rolling with some incredible interviews. Today’s interview subject is a man who has done some legendary work in the world of horror in the past, and right up to this very day! It’s John Harrison, Everyone! John has done so much incredible work as a filmmaker and composer on so many incredible projects, including the acclaimed Romero 1985 follow up film Day of the Dead, the television adaptation of Dune, 1982’s incredible Romero/Stephen King collab Creepshow, and more recently directing a handful of episodes of the reboot of the aforementioned Creepshow that is available now on Shudder and is getting some damn good reviews for damn good reasons.

John is also an executive producer behind yet another television adaptation of the the legendary tale of Dune that is slated to release next year, and we could not be any more excited about it. He has done some incredible work within the world of horror and beyond, and we are so excited to share his words with you all today. So Folks, please enjoy some beautiful words from the brilliant John Harrison!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of filmmaking? was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve always loved movies and theater. When I was in middle school, our classes were taken to the symphony and theater as part of our ‘cultural education’. At the time, the American Conservatory Theater was in residence in Pittsburgh where I grew up. A fantastic theater company (in residence since the 60’s in San Francisco), doing all kinds of unbelievable work. Everything from Shakespeare, to Pirandello, to Albee and Pinter. I was blown away. I’d never seen anything so good. The experience made me want to be in that world somehow. So I studied theater in boston, then film and TV later in Pittsburgh. My partners and I then put a small production company together, which led to meeting George Romero. The rest is history.

What was your first paid gig in the world of filmmaking? and were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

I had an internship for a while at WQED in Pittsburgh, and there were small films we did for that PBS station. But my first professional paid gig came through our small production company my partners and I had. It was a documentary about drug addiction for a local foundation. Relatively low budget. great experience, trying to produce a half hour film, soup to nuts, and deliver on budget and schedule. That kind of indie production was what it was all about in Pittsburgh back in the day, and the skills we developed have always stayed with me.

In 1985 you worked on the now legendary film Day of the Dead. It remains to this day as one of my favorite horror films of all time. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this amazing project?

It was my second time working with George Romero as his assistant director and composer. (the first was Creepshow). It was a difficult shoot. Weeks and weeks in an old limestone mine in the middle of winter. But it was great fun. we were young, and george had a way of making everyone on the crew feel important. Of course, I had the luxury of being next to him the entire time, from prep, to shoot, to post. The best film school I could have ever wished for.

 

 

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? what sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

The brilliance of the best horror is that it deals with the human condition and all of its rawness in an archtypal and primal way. Horror has existed as a medium for as long as we’ve told each other stories, in all art forms, from Euripides to Dante to Goya to Shelley, Stoker, Poe, and of course, the founders and staples of 20th and 21st century horror – Lovecraft, Cronenberg, King, Rice, Barker, Craven, Romero etc. The fact that it remains a genre used by these artists throughout history speaks for itself.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Too many to list. But one that had a profound effect on me as a kid was Robert Wise’s interpretation of the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting Of Hill House. It was a great influence on me. and it’s still scary as hell.

Do you have any plans for this coming Halloween? Any fun traditions that you try to stick to every year?

Since I just directed episodes of the new Creepshow series (on Shudder TV now) I’m going to spend Halloween at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights where they’re doing a Creepshow homage.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Obviously, I’d love everyone to tune in the new Creepshow, executive produced by my pal, Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead). We tried very hard to honor George and Steve King’s original style, and I think we were successful. it’s going to be a really good show.

A paranormal thriller I wrote is off to publishers at the moment, and we’re hoping it’s out next year. while I wait to find out if Creepshow gets picked up, I’m finishing another novel, this one a supernatural psychological thriller. (i get bored easily, in case you hadn’t guessed).

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

The nightmare I had last night. I really can’t remember it much, but I remember finally realizing it was a dream and had one hell of a time waking myself up. At least I think I did.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Waking up. I think.

 

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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