Too Spoopy

Too Spoopy


Random-Ass Interview: Orrin Grey


Orrin Grey is a skeleton, who writes horror fiction.
Check out his new collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts from Word Horde out October 31st!

Pasta or Ziti?

Well, since I had to look up what ziti is—I’m a heathen—I would say pasta, but when I looked it up, ziti looked really good, so now I’m gonna have to go try it…

Spanish language Del Toro, or in English Del Toro?

Del Toro’s Spanish language films certainly have the better track record so far, but his English language films are full of so much promise that it’s tough for me to pick. I still believe that someday we’ll get the movie that finally combines the resonance of his Spanish language filmography with the ambition and enthusiasm of his English language blockbusters, and that will be the ultimate Del Toro movie. For now, Pacific Rim is as close to that as we’ve come, which is probably why it’s my favorite.

Salt or pepper?

Salt, definitely. Everything is better with a little salt.

What happens if a vampire drinks a zombie’s blood?

A very unsatisfied vampire, most likely.

What happens if a zombie bites a vampire?

Only one way to find out?

Actually, not much, the way I figure it. If the zombies are zombies because of magic or something, then the vampire is already a form of the risen dead, so he’s probably about as risen as he can get. And if the zombies are a virus, then the vampire probably doesn’t have a working circulatory system to spread it around. Maybe the vampire would become a carrier in that situation, though. That could be pretty cool.

You heard there’s a genre now called Dreadpunk?
I heard there’s a lot of those at the mall.

There are still people at the mall? As for Dreadpunk, I’ve got no problem with it, though I liked it fine when we just called it Gothic. I guess Dreadpunk is easier to market?

If there’s a Mall of America, does that mean there’s a Mall of Canada?

We should ask a Canadian. Silvia?

How do skeletons procreate?

Get a few drinks in me and maybe you’ll find out.

If something is made by a professional, is it not pro-creation?

Works for me.

Do you think trees feel pain?

Sure, just really, really slowly. We’re probably all in for a terrifying arboreal reckoning one of these decades.

Chainsaw or Shotgun?

I don’t like guns, and chainsaws make too much noise. So just give me an ax or a sword or something and we’ll call it a day.

What if Swamp Thing and The Blob had a baby?

I think you’d end up with this thing:


What is a “Painted Monster”?

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m not really sure. The title comes from a quote from the 1968 Peter Bodganovich film Targets, in which an aging Boris Karloff, basically playing himself, says “My kind of horror is not horror anymore. No one’s afraid of a painted monster.” In that context, Karloff is obviously referring to his own former roles, but he’s also talking about the way that horror cinema was changing in the 60s, the creaky Gothic horrors of yesteryear giving way to more visceral and naturalistic shockers.

In the title story of the collection, the phrase comes into play to refer to a lot of different things. There’s a literal painted monster, in the form of a variant of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son,” and then of course there’s the figure of Constantin Orlok, a makeup artist from the golden age of Hollywood, famous for creating “painted monsters” of his own. When titling the collection, I like to think that I was referencing all of that, while also alluding to the difference between the imaginary (painted) monsters that I love and the much more unappealing real-life monsters of poverty, racism, greed, disease, etc.

When did you decide to have all of your internet avatars be a skeleton?

Be warned, this is kind of a long story. Back in the day, Mike Mignola used to draw these sketches of guys with floating skull heads when he went to conventions. I loved them, and used one as my avatar on LiveJournal for a while (I told you this was back in the day). About the same time, I was working on the staff of a now-defunct magazine of old-fashioned weird fiction called The Willows. My friend Reyna was also on staff, working as a sort of art director. At one point, she was going to draw caricatures of the whole staff to run on the website, and when it came time for her to do mine I told her to draw me as a guy with a floating skull head.

That might have been the end of it, except that I also needed a bio to go along with the drawing. I hate writing bios, so I was taking a long time in getting one put together, and Ben Thomas, who was the editor, wrote this placeholder text to go with the illustration: “Orrin Grey is a skeleton who likes monsters.” It was so much better than any bio I could ever come up with that we kept it, and it became a part of my bio from that day forward. As I got a little more established and started using well-dressed skeletons as my avatar pretty much everywhere, I actually reached out to Mike Mignola to make sure that it was okay, since by then he was using his own skull-head guys on his website and on merchandise and stuff. Fortunately he said yes, and the rest is history.

Favorite movie about the Wendigo?

Y’know, I’ve never actually seen the movie Wendigo? Seems weird, right? So, given that, I’d have to say Ravenous. Unless TV shows count, in which case, Hannibal.

Favorite movie about vampires?

Damn, there are so many movies about vampires, that do so many different things. Normally, I really like vampires that are a little more like monsters and a little less like people, but in spite of that, I’m gonna have to go with some Hammer titles here and say probably The Vampire Lovers. Special bonus points to Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter for having some of the best/weirdest vampire mythology in any movie ever.

Favorite movie with tentacles?

That’s a tough one. Maybe It Came from Beneath the Sea. I’ve also got a (probably underserved) soft spot for Deep Rising.

Does ye have anything to plug?

Well the obvious thing to plug right now would be my latest collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, which is available for preorder now from Word Horde. Of its thirteen stories, three are entirely original to the collection, including the title novelette. The stories pretty much all tie in to film in one way or another, and are arranged to give a sort of crash course in the history of the horror cinema, starting out with silent movies and the films of the 30s and 40s and working their way up through Gialli, kaiju movies, found footage, ghost films, and a variety of others.

Thanks for taking part in el interview.

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