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thomas ligotti


Interview conducted by Mark McLaughlin

There are tough dudes... and then there's Chuck Norris.

There are sexy blondes... and then there's Marilyn Monroe.

There are smart guys... and then there's Albert Einstein.

See where I'm going with this? Lots of folks fit into a category... and then there are those outstanding individuals who not only epitomize, but actually transcend their given category. With that in mind, let me add:

There are writers of horror stories... and then there's Thomas Ligotti.

Ligotti is today's undisputed master of macabre short fiction. His story collections are modern-day classics -- from Songs of A Dead Dreamer to Grimscribe: His Lives and Works to The Nightmare Factory and beyond. His works are noted for their dreamlike quality, surreal and luxuriously detailed.

Even the titles of his stories evoke an exotic sense of the bizarre. Consider "The Lost Art of Twilight"... "The Sect of the Idiot"... " Conversations In A Dead Language"... "The Shadow at the Bottom of the World"... "Flowers of the Abyss"... "Mad Night of Atonement"... "I Have A Special Plan For This World"... and the darkly whimsical, "Professor Nobody's Little Lectures On Supernatural Horror."

Ligotti took a few minutes from his busy schedule to talk with me about his new short film, The Frolic, as well as his various other projects.

Horror Garage: I just watched the masterful short film they made out of your short story, "The Frolic." Is this the first time your work has been made into a film? What are the plans for its distribution -- will it play at any film festivals or conventions?

Thomas Ligotti: This is indeed the first time any of my stories have been adapted as a film. At this time, I believe that the DVD is available only through direct sale from Wonder Entertainment. The film has already been previewed at several conventions and film festivals. For a relatively lengthy review and further information, click here.

HG: What were your thoughts as you watched this movie of your work for the first time? Did you like the performers they picked to play your characters?

Thomas Ligotti: I saw the film in several preliminary forms before I saw the final product. Since I was the co-writer of the script with Brandon Trenz, I was intrigued as hell to see how it would come out vis-ŕ-vis its direction, acting, production design, and everything else one looks for in any film. As I watched it for the first time, I thought: "This looks like a real movie." I know that everyone involved in the production put a lot of work into every aspect of it. I talk about this in the interview included in the book that accompanies the DVD. The performances of the actors were terrific. The two principal actors, Michael Reilly Burke and Maury Sterling are pros that anyone who watches TV and movies has seen. I remember watching some episodes of the show 24 in which Michael Reilly Burke played a character who plots to assassinate the President. And Maury Sterling turns up often on cop shows. Sterling has such a unique presence he stands out in any role he plays. In The Frolic, I think he was allowed to pull out all the stops of his abilities as an actor, which is something you have to see to believe. He both embodied and embellished the character of John Doe from my very early story "The Frolic."

HG: Are any more Ligotti movies in the works?

Thomas Ligotti: There are some tentative plans, but everything in Hollywood is tentative until an actual movie is released.

HG: If you could select any of your past works to be turned into a film, with your choice of director and cast -- with no worries about budget! -- which story would you pick, and who would direct it and star in it?

Thomas Ligotti: My choice of which stories I would like to see adapted as film is skewed toward what I think would make a good movie of the kind that I myself would want to see and that I can imagine would be makeable without transforming it into another creature altogether. From this perspective, the work of mine that I would most want to see made into a film is my short novel My Work Is Not Yet Done. I would want to see a solid, intelligent, and imaginative director go to work on this narrative -- someone like David Fincher, Brad Anderson, or David Cronenberg. Since My Work Is Not Yet Done would demand as much acting and action, these are the first directors that come to mind, since Fincher did The Usual Suspects and Se7en, Brad Anderson did Session 9 -- the best horror movie in recent memory -- and Cronenberg has made the bold statement in an interview that "To me, the ‘talking head’ is the essence of cinema," something that he backs up in both his earlier movies like The Dead Zone and Videodrome, as well as his newer movies like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Regarding actors, I think Johnny Depp would be great, because he can play low-key "normal" characters, as he did in In the Nick of Time, and whack jobs as he did in Sweeney Todd, both of which would be required for the portrayal of Frank Dominio in My Work Is Not Yet Done. Actually, I think that Maury Sterling could also do amazing turn as this character. Oh yeah, Maury Sterling would be great.