Exclusive: Universal Studios Hollywood "Halloween Horror Nights" Comic Book Nods to Satan and Vlad the Impaler
Wed, 22 Sep 2010 17:47:02
Universal Studios knows how to do Halloween better than anybody.
Their annual undead party, Halloween Horror Nights, ramps up like never before this year with mazes based on SAW, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, one maze stands out in particular. Universal's Vampyre: Castle of the Undead has its very own lore separate from any pre-existing celluloid.
In fact, writer Max Nichts and artist Patrick Ian Moore conjure that mythos masterfully in their comic book based on the maze—VAMPYRE: Castled of the Undead (Blood Secrets of the Iron Guard). The story follows vampires in Wallachia, Romania in a unique, unforgettable narrative that's as bloody as it is brilliant. This is a first for Halloween Horror Nights, and it'll hopefully pave the way for a franchise…
In honor of Halloween Horror Nights kicking off this Friday September 24, Max Nichts and Patrick Ian Moore spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about the maze, the comic book and so much more.
Would you say VAMPYRE: Castle of the Undead (Blood Secrets of the Iron Guard) warps a classic gothic aesthetic in a very modern way?
Max Nichts: Absolutely! There was a real life group in Romania called "The Iron Guard." They were a nasty Romanian fascist group with very extreme rituals. People didn't realize, but they really did drink blood as part of their ceremonies. They were taking a page from their own mythology. There was a parallel between the legends of Vlad the Impaler and this modern group from the '30s and '40s. Nobody had really covered this turf before, and we sort of skimmed it. There's a lot to be explored there. I brought Patrick in, and he did a great job of visualizing it.
Patrick Ian Moore: As far as the aesthetic goes, I think you hit it right on the head mentioning the picture-book quality. Then there are more classic comics too, so it has a bit of a 1950's look. If a comic book starts out looking scary, the change is less dynamic when the bad things start happening to people. Beginning with that fairy tale style and moving into more gruesome images has a stronger effect.
That juxtaposition is classic for horror.
Patrick Ian Moore: All of the other mazes and haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights are based on intellectual properties that people know the source material. John Murdy [Halloween Horror Nights Creative Director] came up with this maze, and all of the vampires looked amazing. Everything was so scary and horrifying, but there was no back story. It was the first maze that was that way. Creating a story that tied in with it became really exciting. If you like the comic, you're really going to love the maze.
It will definitely be surreal to walk through the maze itself.
Patrick Ian Moore: I did drawings based on a costume designer's rendering, and I've yet to see any of it in flesh and blood. This will be the first time anything I've done has been brought to life in that way where they're going to be right there and can reach out and touch you.
Was the opportunity to create a new mythology for "Halloween Horror Nights" what attracted you to the comic book?
Max Nichts: When I learned that the Vampyre maze wasn't tied to another story, I said, "Well, would you let me have a shot at writing a story and bringing in an artist?" It was an amazing opportunity to do that. That was the impetus for it. Hopefully, we're providing some texture and back story to a great live experience. I've always admired Universal Studios for their ability to translate stories into live experiences.
You didn't shy away from the gore.
Max Nichts: Halloween Horror Nights is pretty gory! They don't pull a lot of punches in that respect. They said, "Go for it!" We did.
Would you want to come back to this world?
Max Nichts: I'd love the opportunity to do another one. It's really just an introduction to what could be a whole series of comics.
Patrick Ian Moore: I'd definitely love to do more with it. The end leaves everything open-ended for so much more to happen.
There's a classic satanic undercurrent to it. Where do you guys come from in terms of influences?
Patrick Ian Moore: As an artist, there are so many. Robert Crumb is one of my favorites. He doesn't do a lot of horror. Growing up, his style was one of the things that influenced me the most. As far as horror comics go, Sandman and Hellblazer are my two all-time favorites. I did also read a lot of The Demon and Daimon: The Son of Satan, which influenced that darker, more classic satanic style that got worked into this one.
Max Nichts: I love the old Harris Comics—Vampirella, in particular, was a real favorite.
Patrick Ian Moore: The Hammer Horror films from the '50s and '60s definitely come to mind as well like Curse the Frankenstein with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Even though it was pretty old at the time, seeing that as a child burned some pretty horrifying images into my mind that I loved. Halloween became my all-time favorite holiday and it still is. Now it is more than ever with Halloween Horror Nights. I've been the last three years, and they've been three of the best Halloweens that I've ever had.
Does the comic book remind you of any songs? There's definitely a rhythm there.
Max Nichts: It wasn't anything specific, but I come out of a music background. My first writing jobs were for Circus Magazine and Hit Parader back in the old days. Music was a tremendous influence, and it's still a passion for me. I'm flattered that you think it has a musical rhythm to it.
Patrick Ian Moore: The only two things I listened to while drawing this were classic Lou Reed and David Bowie. There was a lot of "Spiders from Mars" and "Ziggy Stardust" influencing me!
Will you be going to Halloween Horror Nights?
Check out our latest interview with Rob Zombie and track premiere here!
Learn more about Halloween Horror Nights and buy tickets here!