Dark Mirages… An Introduction

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I love Film and TV… I should do, I spent six long years at university studying them. And it was during my time at uni that I began reading scripts myself, some as part of my courses, but a lot of them purely for my own entertainment. It’s a hobby that’s stayed with me, through into my career as an author, editor and screenwriter myself.

My favourite kinds of genre shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me or my work. I love the imagination involved in good SF, Fantasy and, especially, Horror movies and television. So, when I began thinking about a new anthology project a little while ago, it seemed an obvious choice to compile a book of TV/Film scripts and treatments. But, to give it a different slant these would be either rare or unmade, or both, meaning that this would be the only opportunity you’d ever get to read them…unless you’re fortunate enough to know the writers, that is.

And there were just so many to choose from, because – as anyone in the business will gladly tell you – a lot more material gets written than gets made. Too much choice, actually… However, to kick off proceedings with this first Dark Mirages, we have six writers whose work I’ve admired for a good while, with projects I’ve long been a fan of.

Michael Marshall Smith and Stephen Jones (aka Smith & Jones) should need no introduction; their work in the genre is tireless and legendary – as is their fabled treatment for an unmade Hellraiser movie that would have been absolutely amazing if it had been filmed! Drawing on what series creator Clive Barker did with his original, and lacing this with nods to some of the other entries, I first came across this project back when I was writing The Hellraiser Films & Their Legacy, so it’s an honour to be able to present it here for your reading pleasure…

I’ve been aware of Stephen Gallagher’s BBC Dracula project for about as long, as Steve has been talking about it for years on various scripting panels. An attempt to ‘strip away all the perverse matinee-idol romanticism and get back to Stoker’s nasty-minded predator’, according to the man himself, this production was sadly cancelled when one executive heard an exaggerated rumour about the status of a rival ITV drama (starring Martin Kemp and the Cheeky Girls!). After reading Steve’s script yourself here, you’ll lament the fact that it didn’t happen just as much as he does…

I first came across – and was bowled over by – Axelle Carolyn’s work a few years ago, when I saw her excellent short movies Hooked and The Halloween Kid, which she wrote and directed after starring herself in movies such as Doomsday, Centurion and Blood + Roses. Most recently, she wrote and directed the superb feature film Soulmate (starring Hellboy II’s Anna Walton), contributed an entry to Tales of Halloween and wrote for the hit Netflix TV series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Here, though, is a rare opportunity to read the story that inspired her first short movie, The Last Post – another touching ghostly tale, which starred genre icon Jean Marsh (The Changeling, Crooked House) – presented alongside the film’s script.

Peter Crowther is another legend in the field, a British journalist, short story writer, novelist, editor, anthologist and – with the equally legendary and multi-award-winning PS Publishing, founded with his wife Nicky – publisher as well. Pete also scripts and the long-lost entry we’re presenting here was meant to be part of the Chiller TV series back in the 1990s, but never appeared. I’m delighted that we can give it a new lease of life in this book. 

I first met the wonderfully talented Muriel Gray when I interviewed her live on stage at FantasyCon over a decade ago. A massive fan of her novels – The Trickster, Furnace and The Ancient – plus her short stories, in particular the superb ‘Shite-Hawks’, I was incredibly nervous. But, Mu being Mu, she soon put me at my ease and we’ve been firm friends ever since. I knew from chats with her that there were treatments and scripts she had written over the years – some with fantastically original premises, like The Seven included here – so I was delighted when I was able to add her to the line-up of this project…

Finally, yet another famous name in the horror genre, Stephen Laws was at the forefront of the ’80s boom with bestselling novels such as Ghost Train, Spectre and The Frighteners, right through to Chasm, Fear Me and Ferocity in the ’90s and 2000s. But, like many other horror prose writers, Steve also carved out another career for himself in film and TV, and we’re lucky enough to have here a supernatural telemovie that, once again, sadly didn’t get made – but is getting a fresh airing in this book.

So, film and TV fans, it only remains for me to say enjoy these scripts and treatments, presented in their original formats, and of course enjoy the Dark Mirages that they conjure up in your imagination! 

Fade to black… Paul Kane

Dark Mirages is published by PS Publishing and can be ordered here

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