Hel Unbound- Entry 1

In January of 2016 while fueled by an intake of 80's gothic rock, pre-election anxieties, and my bizarrely transformative exposure to Sam Raimi's 'Army of Darkness' (Evil Dead 3) I sat at my tagged up desk- red and black candles burning in the fading Winter-Sun- and penned up a couple paragraphs of story for what I then called "Attack of the Necro Nazis."

This primitive "draft" followed a clueless gaggle of teenagers that had accidentally summoned an army of undead Nazis led by the goddess Hel, intent on destroying the world and bringing an early Ragnarok. Somewhere in these first scribbles I thought it would be a slick move to have Thor come in and save the day. Like most of my earlier stories, "Attack of the Necro Nazis" was dreamt up as a chimeric smorgasbord of inane Pythonesque humor and cheap American slapstick. Within weeks of the inception of "Attack of the Necro Nazis" I began to have some issues with the overall story. I felt I was not handling the subject matter with the care and attention it deserved. I allowed myself to become distracted, and for many months I was happily occupied by other, more immediately important projects. 

November of 2016 brought on a creative surge. Not only was I driven to bring people a story that resonated with the times (ie a flashback to a brand of conservatism and political murkiness not seen since the 70's-80's) but it was at this time when I first watched Stranger Things. Immediately, from the very onset of episode 1 I was deeply in love. Stranger Things showed me how you can tell a story that is genuinely scary, socially relevant and politically intriguing (Cold War paranoia!), while also supplying an enlivening stream of good-natured humor and endearing nostalgia. I found myself working again on "Attack of the Necro Nazis," only this time I new I wanted to give the story a deeper meaning, more emotion, more complexity, more horror. I renamed the story "Raise Hel," feeling that "Attack of the Necro Nazis" had too much of a goofy sound that just wouldn't work anymore. Sadly, I found myself caught up in a slew of other projects that kept me good and busy from December 2016 all the way to October of 2017! 

Starting in March 2017, I began carefully, oh so carefully, watching horror films to give me some perspective on storytelling and special effects. Growing up, my brothers and I were mostly kept away from dark, scary, depressing stories (thankfully too- Spirited Away killed anime for me for years!) During my mid-teen hippie years I also adhered to the idea that one should avoid the dark and negative in order to keep a clean mind, healthy body, and happy soul. However, certain traumas and tragedies gave me a view of the real horror out there in the world after which I found my mind steeled against the spooks of fiction and fantasy. (I am morally opposed to horror films and thrillers featuring a human villain/ torture porn. It's gotta have a bone of sci fi or fantasy for me to watch it.) I began my horror education with classics like Evil Dead 2, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, and Poltergeist. Following that I branched out into other films like Nightbreed, They Live, Return of the Living Dead, The Love Witch, and It Follows (probably one of the scariest things I've seen to date. Don't watch unless you are, like I am, gifted with a strong mental filter. It Follows is literal nightmare fuel.) As I watched I kept careful note of what worked, what didn't, and what I found entertaining or intriguing. Fear does not entertain me. Blood and guts do not keep me in my seat. I got through many of these films hoping that at one point or another I'd be struck by some new plot twist or that I could at least give a shit about the people getting picked off. I find that the vast majority of horror films lack well-built characters and interesting plots. Haunted house? Possessed girlfriend/creepy kid/doll? Sadistic villain that won't stay dead? Dilution of a good franchise by dumbing each sequel down by a factor of 10? Too many films have one or more of these problems. 

When I saw It in the theater in September I was nearly brought to tears (never in all my life has a film done that- not even Bambi.) I was angered and truly saddened not only for the characters in the film, but I was initially angered and disgusted that some demented sicko would write these tragedies down and that another depraved guy would say "let's make it a movie!" My thoughts almost immediately shifted the anger to those who really deserved it- real life murderers and rapists and people who hold life to be anything other than sacred and beautiful. I also reconciled my momentary anger at Stephen King when it re-occurred to me that I draw out the evils I've endured when writing stories as a form of cathartic release and artistic expression. I was confronted with the fact that it is the job of the horror writer to give Form and Name to the unseen evils of our world and put them down in stories where they can and often are beaten our outlived by the protagonist. I took this thought quite personally and nestled it in my heart, making it my mission to release my own pains through art and hopefully give someone else a vessel for release and inspiration. 

Shortly after seeing It I decided to sit down and write a fully formed screenplay for "Raise Hel." The days were getting colder, the nights were getting longer, Stranger Things 2 was due to drop just before Halloween, and it seemed there was no better time to start writing again. In the first two days I put down more than 20 pages of writing, another 10 pages of story and notes were written that same week. 

Now that I'd taken real steps to making my vision a reality I learned that based on what I'd written "Raise Hel" would not work as a title. It's also more than a little similar to this one weird movie from the 80's called Hellraiser, anyone heard of that one before? That's the one with Jason, right?  I came up with a list of potential titles and then ran a poll online- "Hel Unbound" won by a long shot.

I am all at once excited, terrified, eager, and focused. I hope that one day soon I will be announcing that full production has commenced. Until that day though, pages for Hel Unbound can be found on Facebook and Instagram. 

C. Rimbeaux