Dan West is a name that likely sounds familiar only for its commonplace in the US. It’s an All American moniker that conjures up images of daily stops for cold ones with John Smith after work. But Dan West – this Dan West, is anything but common, or ordinary. This guy is sharp, very sharp, despite what he may attempt to have you believe (your modesty has no business here, Dan). But beyond the man’s brain power resides a commercial sized tanker packed full of witty jokes. Dan’s a legitimately funny man, and when you combine humor with smarts, you’ve got a loaded gun ready to mow you down with laughter. Toss a quality understanding of horror into the mix and it’s balls to the wall insanity.
I know I did my share of praise singing for West’s, The House That Dripped Gore, but it’s hard to pull the plug on that so quickly. This is a novel that needs to be read by the masses. It’s not your typical effort in any way, shape or form. The novel excels in so many areas it’s ludicrous, and once you pick it up, it’s over. You’re not putting this down until the final page has come and gone. It’s just good, quality fun. Imagine going to see a standup comedian, who just so happened to be completely surrounded by nasty ghouls. That’s what this novel is, laughs and terror. I support that whole heartedly.
If HNR was meant to be the website to front the Dan West charge, so be it. I’m happy to lead that movement. And, you can bet I’ll do everything in my power to bring attention to this man’s work. It’s marvelous. It’s a genius piece of art that never stops giving, and reads so smoothly it’s almost unbelievable. Seriously, do not miss The House That Dripped Gore, you’ll be depriving yourself a stellar work of fiction that already stands as one of the finest to hit the market this year.
Horror Novel Reviews: First off, how is the book doing?
Dan West: : I’m in the early stages of attempting to generate publicity for this novel, so at this point in time it isn’t doing much of anything except taking up space on the Amazon.com and Lulu websites. Trying to drum up interest for a self-published novel is a bit like offering to infect people with gonorrhea, meaning that it’s not a very tempting proposition for most websites. There is a stigma, warranted or not, about a lot of self-published work that makes it tricky to get people interested. That’s just the reality of the way this kind of thing works. I’m planning to shoot a ridiculous commercial for the book to post on You Tube to have something to pass around, but I’ve not attempted a publicity campaign for a book before, so I’m flying blind on this one. I hope that answered your question in the most long-winded way possible.
HNR: You have this really interesting… kind of hybrid style. This piece reads as though you’re highly, highly intelligent, but at the same time a bit on the youthful, raucous side. Is your writing style an accurate reflection of who you are?
DW: If I was “highly, highly intelligent” I suppose I would have ended up as an astronomer or a genetic research scientist, rather than some frustrated comedian self-publishing horror novels on the internet, but I appreciate the rather generous classification. I just turned 45, so I might be youthful by the standards of an 80-year-old man or in the way that the Rolling Stones might be youthful playing their 50th anniversary concert dates. I’m still above ground if that constitutes being youthful, and of course I’m still undeniably sexy. “Raucous,” yes … if you mean disorderly and annoying, then I’m guilty as charged. I am very, very “raucous” and have to wear a special helmet, adult diapers and lobster bib when I venture out in public.
HNR: If given the exposure, or the proper platform, do you think that this book can be successful on a grand scale? Perhaps that could even bereworded: do you think people are prepared for your style? It’s fairly unique these days.
DW: I don’t think I’m the one to determine what other readers might be prepared for. Whatever style I have has evolved in its own way over the years and that is all I have to work with. I would love the novel to be successful on a grand scale, certainly, but that might require some kind of situation like “The Day Of The Triffids,” where there is a strange meteor shower and,suddenly, the next morning, everyone exposed to the weird radiation from space suddenly thinks my jokes are funny.
HNR: I know you don’t have a powerhouse promotion machine behind this project. How hard are you promoting the story?
DW: By sending this book to people like you who can tolerate the content and keep a very open mind about what they’ve been sent to read and invest their time in. Also, as I’ve mentioned, I intend to act like an idiot in some You Tube commercial in the near future. I have to think of myself as being the “Alfred Hitchcock” or “William Castle” as the presenter of this material, to give this book some kind of public face to associate the content with. I’m a big fan of the great exploitation filmmakers and I do believe in the power of “showmanship.”
HNR: This one is just an incredible read and I’m really hoping you’re plugging this one like it’s no man’s business.
DW: I’m certainly going to do my best to get this thing into the spotlight. I have no qualms about promotion. If I want to get anyone to read this thing, I have to sing for my supper. I also don’t mind the showmanship aspect of promotion. It’s all part of entertaining your audience.
HNR: Give me a little bit of background. I’d really like to know about the comedic aspect of your life. I’m guessing the laughs are something you’ve been pulling from people for some time.
DW: I have been obsessed with comedy since I was very young. If there is such a thing as a calling, I certainly suffer from a comedic calling. I became obsessed with comedians such as Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers when I was very, very young and that has never changed. Aside from the horror influence, which is on an almost equal level, there is nothing that interests me more.
HNR: Any major comedic and or horror influences?
DW: I have a multitude of each and they function on an equal level. Horror is a passion—films, literature, whatever. I am a dyed-in-the-wool horror nerd and proud of it. At my age I would fall into the classification of the typical “Monster Kid.” I was raised on Creature Features and Chiller Diller Theater. I love everything from the classic Universal and Hammer horror films to Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci and even Herschell Gordon Lewis. I keep abreast of everything and still enjoy going to horror films, although more selectively these days. These genres aren’t so much interests as they are obsessions with me. Comedy and horror are what define me as a writer and to some extent as a human being. If I had to name favorites the list with be endless. I love John Carpenter, Woody Allen, Monty Python, Mel Brooks, George Romero, Roger Corman, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stephen King, David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper and on and on and on. I read Fangoria and later, Rue Morgue magazine and watched Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd with equal interest. It’s an odd mix of influences, but that’s where my mindset is when I am writing. I love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Dawn of The Dead just as much as I love Sons Of The Desert of A Night At The Opera or Monty Python And The Holy Grail.
HNR: Tell me about the idea to spoof The House That Dripped Blood. Why that picture?
DW: Actually only the book’s title, “The House That Dripped Gore” is a takeoff on that film. The primary source material that this novel is spoofing is Richard Matheson’s “Hell House.” I was heavily influenced by the impact that the film version of that novel had on me as a young horror fan (“The Legend of Hell House,” was the film version’s title.) The other sources that influenced the book are, of course, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Night of the Demon, (the filmed version of “Casting The Runes”), Lucio Fulci’s film “The Beyond” and the work of H.P. Lovecraft
HNR: You’ve written a few other stories, are they similar in nature to The House That Dripped Gore?
DW: I have written several stories in this same vein. Both of my previous books include work that could be considered similar to the humor in The House That Dripped Gore. I’ve always dabbled in the mixture of horror and humor. I can’t help it.
HNR: Now I know that in addition to writing novels you’ve written and directed a few films. Tell me about some of the differences in working each medium.
DW: The chief difference and advantage to writing horror novels is that there are absolutely no budgetary restraints. When you’re writing a novel you never have to stop and think, “Well I can’t really pull that off on this tiny budget.” The only limits you experience when you are writing a novel are those presented by your imagination. In my head I can work on a grand scale that I can never hope to achieve when making low-budget movies. It’s unlimited freedom, and that’s a rather big advantage.
HNR: What’s next for you?
DW: My filmmaking partner, Rick Popko and I are writing a new movie that we plan to start shooting very soon. This will be done with my usual group of collaborators. We’ve been attempting to make another movie for several years, but we’ve experienced many, many problems trying to get something off the ground. This new script is a bit of a “no-brainer”, meaning that you don’t really need to be that intelligent to either make it or watch it. I am also halfway through a rough draft of the sequel to The House That Dripped Gore. It’s somewhat problematic attempting to write a worthwhile sequel, but I think what I have so far has some great stuff in it. I’ve tucked it away for the time being so I could write the new movie script, but I’ll get back to writing that soon.
Huge thanks go out to Dan, who didn’t have to give us the time, but happily did. Go buy The House That Dripped Gore right now. You can thank me later!