Archive for peekers

Remembering RICK HAUTALA

Posted in 2013, Appreciations, Horror Authors, In Memorium, Special News with tags , , , on March 25, 2013 by knifefighter


The horror community lost one of its bright lights this week, when Rick Hautala passed away on March 21st from a heart attack. He was 64.

It was the capper of an already bad week for horror fans, with the deaths early in the week of David B. Silva, the author and editor who gave us the legendary magazine THE HORROR SHOW (which ran from 1982 to 1991), and who created the industry newsletter, Hellnotes (his novels included THE DISAPPEARED and CHILD OF DARKNESS), and British author James Herbert, who gave us such classics as THE RATS and THE FOG.

Many of us here at Cinema Knife Fight knew Rick personally, and wanted to do something special in his memory, thus this article.

Rick was the author of more than 30 books, starting with MOON DEATH back in 1981, and including such titles as THE MOUNTAIN KING, LITTLE BROTHERS, BEDBUGS and COLD RIVER, as well as several novels using the pseudonym  A.J. Matthews.

Here at Cinema Knife Fight, we mostly talk about movies, and Rick was active in that medium as well. He wrote the screenplays to several short films he did with director Mark Steensland. These include Lovecraft’s Pillow (based on an idea by Stephen King), Peekers (based on the short story by Kealan Patrick Burke), Dead @ 17 (based on the graphic novel by Josh Howard), The Ugly File (based on a short story by Ed Gorman) and Grafitto. All of them are worth seeing, and can be found here.

Many of us first met Rick at writers’ conventions, specifically the New England convention, NeCon, which he had been attending for decades. We got used to seeing his smiling face every year, and looked forward to it. Rick had a great sense of humor and was laughing a lot of the time. He also had a knack for putting people at ease, especially newbies who hadn’t attended very many conventions before. I remember Rick being a highlight of my first NeCon (in 2000), and subsequent ones to follow. I wish I had known him better, he seemed like was a lot of fun to hang out with. He was a seasoned veteran, yet he was always accessible and easy to talk to. He was a fun and talented guy, and he will be missed a lot by those of us who had gotten used to having him around.

My best memories of Rick include sitting with him in a gazebo at NeCon, smoking cigars and laughing. The time Nick Cato and I made a parody of his short film “Peekers,” that made him laugh. And the last time I saw him, last November at AnthoCon in New Hampshire, when Pete Dudar and I had the pleasure of sitting with him and his wife Holly at dinnertime, and sharing some conversation and laughter.

Our thoughts go to out Rick’s wife, Holly Newstein Hautala, and his family, in this sad time.

Some of my other Cinema Knife Fighters wanted to add their own remembrances. Here a few of them.

~L.L. Soares, March 24, 2013



Rick and I were never close friends, but he was a good friend, which says an awful lot about the type of man Rick was.  I met him at NeCon, back in 2001, and immediately, here was this best-selling author talking to me, this horror fiction newbie, like we’d known each other for years.  Sure, part of that is NeCon, and for everyone who’s gone to NeCon knows what I mean, how friendly and accessible everyone is, but most of it was Rick.

Through the years, seeing him at NeCon was for me like getting a chance to hang out with a favorite uncle. I loved listening to his stories, and a highlight for me was always the opportunity to sit in on whatever panel Rick was on.  Inevitably, in a weekend where I’d come away with valuable information (not to mention the occasional “valuable prize” or two) about the genre and the craft, it was always Rick, it seemed, who’d say that one thing that I’d remember most.  Whatever topic he spoke on, he always seemed to nail it, and I’d be sitting there thinking, “That’s it. That’s what it’s all about.”

I’m going to miss him.

—Michael Arruda.  You can read my entire post remembering Rick at my blog .



One of the first people I met at my very first NeCon back in 2000 was this shag-haired bearded man named Rick Hautala. A fantastic writer—and I’m sure there are plenty of other posts and honorariums discussing his work elsewhere—he was also a fantastic man. Laid back, to the point a few years back when I swear he stayed in one spot the entire weekend casually drinking scotch and smoking cigars. For him, and the rest of us, NeCon was vacation. A time to hang out with like-minded souls and talk about nothing but writing. I would search him out every summer and try to spend some time and talking with him about everything. It was funny, everyone else did the same thing, whether he was alone or sitting with his uber-cool wife, writer Holly Newstein, people would search for him and do what I did. Just spend time with him. He was kind to everyone he met, never judged, never put himself over or under anyone else. Welcoming, and funny. Rick loved to laugh, and loved it when the people he was with laughed along. Aside from a few, very enjoyable events outside of the con when I hung out with Rick and others, NeCon was the place he’d be. And if with such limited contact I’m sitting here mourning him and writing this less than a day after his sudden death at the too young age of 64, I can only imagine with a very heavy heart how hard his absence will be to those who were privileged to be called his closest friends. I’m going to miss you Rick. Be well.



Ten years ago, I went to my very first Northeastern Writers Conference (Necon).  No small amount of my welcome came from a grinning, bearded guy, who as it turns out was also the face to put with the name of many a book I’d seen before then: Rick Hautala.  His ease and helpfulness were so empowering, as well as endearing; no amount of laughter or booze from any other camper could match that, not in a whole decade of my attendance there.  And only last November, I got to see him again, at AnthoCon!  Two shots of Rick in one year?  Consider me a happy camper!  To have to say goodbye to him is…well, it’s simply not going to happen; I’m only going to say hello every time as we pass by each other with a grin and a laugh (and the occasional raised bottle or glass), forever.  Hey buddy, having fun?  Me too.  Me too.



I only met Rick a couple of times, and I always walked away looking forward to the next time. It’s hard to believe someone I’d only chatted with briefly could leave such a big hole in my life.



The first time I met Rick Hautala was back in 2000. The moment Rick saw me he came right up and shook my hand.  He was all wispy hair and smiles, and donned in his “Hauty” garb of tee shirt, shorts, and Birkenstock sandals.  He literally looked like a road manager for the Grateful Dead.  By the following year at NeCon, Rick was hugging me hello (which caught me very off guard).

Rick’s a fellow Mainer, so it was always cool to shoot the breeze about Maine stuff, about writing, about the business (and all those shady characters in the publishing industry to beware of), about beer and cigars, and whatever else was going on.  Rick played softball with us at NeCon.  He played miniature golf.  He sat on panels and freely shared his wisdom and experience.  He participated in roasts, and made us laugh our asses off.  And, recently, he’d been elevated to the status of NeCon Legend and was awarded the HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

And he was always cool about autographing his books for me.  Always an intimate little note, with his scribbly name and that telltale trademark skull he’d inscribe.  My library has more than a few.  I’d wager yours does, too. Rick Hautala was a great writer.  He was an even better human being.  And he is every bit the legend he will be remembered as.  God bless ya, Hauty!  You will be missed.

(this is an excerpt from Pete’s blog. Read more here)


(Note from LL: Anyone who knew Rick and would like to leave comments below this article, please feel free.

Anyone wanting more information about Rick and his work should check out his  website. )

Farewell, Rick. It was a joy to know you.

Farewell, Rick. It was a joy to know you.



Posted in 2010, Jason Harris Interviews with tags , , , , on July 9, 2010 by knifefighter

by Jason Harris

Kealan Patrick Burke has gone from writing horror to acting in a horror movie.

Burke is starring in SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010), which was written and directed by Greg Lamberson. SCM is the sequel to SLIME CITY (1988). As horror writers, Burke and Lamberson move in the same circles, Burke said.

Lamberson offered Burke a role in SCM after reading one of his Live Journal posts about his theater work in Ireland, Burke said. “This caught Greg’s attention and he asked if I be interested in reading a script for a movie he was developing.”

Lamberson was willing to offer Burke the role of Cory if he liked the script, Burke said. He loved the script, but the movie never got started. Lamberson got back in touch with Burke a year or so later about SCM. He was once again interested, but had reservations after the first experience. “I accepted the part of Cory half-expecting the project to stall. Much to my delight, and a fair share of nervousness, it didn’t,” Burke said.

He had an incredible experience on SCM even though he thought the production was going to be “home movie quality” if he was cast as the male lead. He was astonished to see top of the line equipment and hundreds of extras.

“I showed up on the first day to a full-blown movie set,” Burke recalled. “Everything from that first day suggested relentless professionalism, and this extends from Greg to the other actors and crew, right down to the extras.”

Burke had some tough scenes to shoot. Some of these scenes had him and Jennifer Bihl, the film’s female lead, covered in cold slime for a number of days. “It was not pleasant, but all that mattered was getting the shots, which we did,” Burke said. “But any discomfort was … made up for by the end result, the overall experience, and the good friends I made along the way.”

Even with the tough shoot, Burke would do it all again. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. After all, I’m a writer by trade, not an actor, but among the ambitions I’ve had all my life was to be a monster and to die in a horror movie. I won’t tell you if I achieved both – you’ll have to see the movie to find out.”

Burke doesn’t have any other acting roles on the horizon.  “I didn’t accept the part in SCM with any expectations of fame or a movie career,” Burke said. “It just seemed like fun, an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, if at all, and a great experience to cross off my bucket list. I don’t expect movie offers to come rolling in, though if they did and I found something I liked, I’d have no qualms about doing another film.”

Before acting for the silver screen, Burke got a dose of a movie production when one of his short stories was the basis for the short film. PEEKERS (2008). This came about through an Internet relationship with “low-budget filmmaker” Mark Steensland. They met while visiting the Internet message board, Shocklines. Burke described Shocklines as “made up of authors, editors, publishers, filmmakers, fans, and a host of other folks, all united by their love of horror.” Steensland approached Burke about turning one of his stories into a short film after reading good reviews about some of Burke’s stories. “I sent him a few of what I considered to be the most filmable, particularly on a shoestring budget, and he chose PEEKERS.”   Horror author Rick Hautala wrote the script for PEEKERS.

Burke is focusing more on writing screenplays and short film scripts.  He wrote a short teleplay “Snowmen” which appears in Richard Chizmar’s SMOKE AND MIRRORS collection which features screenplays and teleplays by Frank Darabont, Neil Gaiman, William Peter Blatty, Joe Hill, Stewart O Nan, Brian Keene, Poppy Z. Brite, Joe R. Lansdale and Mick Garris. “Currently, I’m working on a short called ‘Where the Sun Hides’ for a filmmaker in Los Angeles.”

Burke would like to see all of his stories filmed. “It’s always great to see a filmmaker’s interpretation of your work.”  He would also like to see the deeper psychological stories like “Cobwebs,” “Empathy” and “Underneath” filmed. The latter was optioned by the production company run by Ehren Kruger, who wrote SCREAM 3 (2000) and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009), but nothing came of it, Burke said.

Growing up, he was inspired by Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, to name a few. “I’ve discovered quite a few authors and filmmakers over the past decade whose work I enjoy immensely, like Glen Hirshberg, Sarah Langan, Michael Marshall Smith, John Connolly, David Fincher, Bryan Singer, Christopher Nolan, The Coen brothers. Again, the list is enormous …”

He does have a few books and stories coming out this year. “On the novel front, KIN, my longest book to date, should see the light this year. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful story about misunderstood psychopathic cannibals.  The next few months should see “Cobwebs,” which originally appeared in Pete Crowther’s wonderful POSTSCRIPTS magazine (#11, Summer 2007), reprinted in the next SHIVERS anthology, from Cemetery Dance; a new story “Deadlocked“, in SHROUD magazine; a reprint of my story “The Man Who Breaks the Bad News” in James Roy Daley’s BEST NEW ZOMBIE TALES: VOLUME 1; a segment in Cemetery Dance’s round- robin book THE CRANE HOUSE: A HALLOWEEN STORY; ..on the non-fiction front, I wrote the feature review for the Bentley Little special issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (issue #64); and the short teleplay, ‘Snowmen.’”

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris


Posted in 2010, Jason Harris Interviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by knifefighter

by Jason Harris

Writer and Director Mark Steensland has been making movies since his directorial debut in 1997, the crime drama THE LAST WAY OUT. Since then, he has directed a documentary (THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PHILIP K. DICK (2001)) and a bunch of short films.

Steensland’s first short film was SUCKER (2006). This film is not based on a short story like his other short films. “I had the idea of wanting to lead an audience down one path and have it be not what they thought,” he said about SUCKER. “There are a few things that make us uncomfortable, like a pedophile. I wanted to make the audience uncomfortable with telling that story.”

The idea for SUCKER came to Steensland with an image of a guy hitting a girl with a hammer and her saying “Why did you do that?” “If I made it like the [little] girl was abducting the guy, [the ending] wouldn’t have been a surprise,” he said.

After SUCKER, his next short films were written by author Rick Hautala, whom he met at one of the Rod Serling conferences that Serling held at Ithaca College in upstate New York near the end of his life. “[Rick and I] went to all the different sessions together,” Steensland said.  It was there they discovered that “We have a lot of similar tastes.”

Steensland showed Hautala SUCKER at this conference. He liked it and suggested “We should do something together,” Steensland recalled.

His second short film, LOVERCRAFT’S PILLOW (2006), was inspired by horror author Stephen King, and written by Hautala. King wrote an introduction to a book about H.P Lovecraft, “H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life.” In this introduction, King talks about the 1980 World Horror Convention in Providence, Rhode Island, Steensland said. As King walked around Providence, he ended up looking into a pawn shop window and getting an idea. King wrote it down and toyed with it. King realized he couldn’t do it justice so he urged in his introduction that every writer to take his idea as a jumping-off point and write the story. Hautala did just that, and Steensland filmed it.

Steensland and Hautala’s second project together was DEAD@17 (2007). It is based on a graphic novel by Josh Howard. They were hoping the short film would help them get a theatrical deal. “We optioned the rights to the whole series and found out the film rights weren’t available.”

They learned from their DEAD@17 experience.  They decided to make sure to get the rights to a property before going forward on something. “We made it known on [the] Shocklines [message board] that we were interested in getting the rights [of a property] for a small amount of money,” Steensland recalled of their next step.

Horror writer and actor Kealan Patrick Burke (SLIME CITY MASSACRE (2010)) saw the Shocklines posting and sent them a couple of stories. Steensland liked the stories, but, “They were beyond our scope,” he remembered. Then Burke sent them the story “Peekers,” which Steensland thought was “perfect” for them to do with their resources.

Burke loves the movie, which debuted in 2008, Steensland said. “[PEEKERS] did well at festivals.”

The last short film Steensland has done was THE UGLY FILE (2009) which is based on an Ed Gorman story. There were a few changes he made to Gorman’s story. “Ed’s story doesn’t have the whole end sequence,” Steensland said “It doesn’t have the wall of photos. That’s my invention.”

Steensland and Hautala are now working on PIGEONS FROM HELL based on a short story by Robert E. Howard, the author who created Conan, the Barbarian. “It’s my favorite short story,” Steensland said. “It is the scariest thing I have ever read.” He has always wanted to film this Howard story. It took a long time to find out who owned the rights to the story. His plan is to make it into a feature-length film, with a release date in 2012.

Steensland’s short films can be found on his website:

© Copyright 2010 by Jason Harris