Streets of Rage

If you haven’t seen the DEMONS films, I highly recommend doing so. The first one is the best, but DEMONS 2 and THE CHURCH also have some great highlights.

What I like about them is their apparent lack of structure and notable character arcs. They simply put interesting people in frightening situations and let the action play out. It’s not a bad model if you’re a writer who finds yourself bored to tears with blueprints like The Hero’s Journey or Save the Cat.

A good example of a book that employs this free structure is KILL FOR SATAN by Bryan Smith. Ryan Harding and I took a similar approach with our new book PANDEMONIUM, letting instincts and logic drive the narrative, rather than contriving a connotational psychodrama to show what our book is really about. Sometimes you just need to have fun. Cut loose and follow a natural progression, rather than attempt to manipulate the narrative. I think it worked out well.

One of the things we did in the novel that we didn’t see much of in the films we hoped to emulate was spill the action out into the streets. I understand why the movies didn’t do it. Every scene costs money in that business. When it comes to writing a book, your budget is limitless (not so much in publishing, but that’s probably another blog). We agreed that the action should spread from the primary location because that was something we’d always wanted to see more of in those old movies.

Also, I love old beat ’em ups like Sega’s STREETS OF RAGE. The fourth entry in that franchise came out this year and was a total godsend for me, who had just gotten back into gaming. While it lacks the splatter and demonic element of our book, STREETS OF RAGE 4 (and its predecessors) have an anarchic spirit that just works. It doesn’t have much in the way of story, because it doesn’t need much in the way of story. If you’re thinking about it too hard, you’re doing it wrong! I like to think PANDEMONIUM works in much the same way.

This is my roundabout way of saying a couple things.

First, if you are a writer, and you’re struggling with finding some heavier theme or subtextual underpinnings to your plot, maybe try scrapping those ideas altogether. Just let the action play out. Follow logic and instinct. If there is something weightier underneath everything, it will shine through without you ham-fisting it and insulting your reader’s intelligence.

Second, I’m officially launching my Twitch channel today! Join me at 2:00 pm, central time. I’ll be playing STREETS OF RAGE 4 and taking your questions about books, games, wrestling, Italian horror, collaborating with another author, and a whole lot else! While I intend to do a lot more than simple gaming with the channel in the future, I want to start with what’s familiar. So, come hang out with me this afternoon. You’ll be glad you did.

Midnight Ramblings

SPIDERGOD

As the world hides behind closed doors, I’ve returned to the world of one of my bleaker works. GODS OF THE DARK WEB now has a sequel in progress. It’s called SPIDERGOD.

It is not directly about our current pandemic.

It’s not about the political shitshow in which we’ve found ourselves in the past decade.

It’s not about incels or mass shootings or shifting identities.

Yet, it’s about all of these things.

I don’t fancy myself a genius or a prophet, but I do think a lot and I listen.

God is always speaking. Sometimes, she whispers. Other times, she screams.

I believe right now, she is doing both.

Here is what she’s saying:

We’re all trapped inside ourselves.

Life has turned into a metaphor for itself.

We’re scared and we’re not alone.


Currently reading: DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison & LAKEHOUSE INFERNAL by Christine Morgan. Both books are excellent efforts from two authors I’m proud to call contemporaries.

Currently watching: THE SECT (dir. Michele Soavi)

sect

Tag Team Writing

As I write this, I’m getting ready to chat with critic and filmmaker Scout Tafoya about a project we hope to collaborate on. We haven’t properly worked together since 2013 when we wrote and he filmed the psychosexal alien thriller Epigenesis, which is currently under submission at various festivals. I always learn so much when he and I talk. We are both critical of some of the pretensions present in this wave of “elevated” horror. His films, while not for everybody, have a naturalism and a humanism that I long to see whenever I go to the movies. Also, his video essays are must-see content. I’m excited to see what we come up with together.

Speaking of collaborations, I’m nearly 30,000 words into a novel co-written by myself and extreme horror luminary Ryan Harding. It’s a tribute of sorts to the insane Demons franchise, set during an underground pro-wrestling show.

Actually, a lot of what I have in the works are collaborative projects. Co-writing a book can be a disaster. Sometimes there’s a styles clash, other times one partner takes the project more seriously than the other. Any number of things can go wrong. But when you’ve got a clear, mutual vision, man, it can be like lightning in a bottle. I plan to write more about collaborating sometime soon. Just not sure if I want to do it here or on my Patreon page.

Speaking of, I’ve posted 25 more pages of Blood and Brimstone, the sequel to Flesh and Fire. You can access them for as little as a dollar right here. Being back in this world is almost like collaborating with myself. There’s a lot of distance between me and this project’s initial inception. I think it will lead to some tighter writing, since I’m less attached to passages I may have to end up cutting. We’ve got 50-ish pages left of Blood and Brimstone, then I’ll start a new serial novel for patrons. I’m thinking it will be a novelization of my yet to be filmed paranormal thriller Seedlings. With the screenplay written, I’ve already got the bones for a novel. I just need to give it some muscles and skin.


Last night I watched the low-budget video nasty Invasion of the Blood Farmers for the first time. It had quite a charm to it. I’d recommend to fans of ultra cheap, campy horror movies.

I’m currently reading To Wallow in Ash and Other Sorrows by Sam Richard, a writer who I’m proud to call a contemporary.


That’s it for now, gang. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RealLucasMangum.