A few years back, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post about my pal, screenwriter and director (and novelist), Mick Garris, called "Nice Guys Finish First." I start the the article with one of my favorite quotes about Mick from Stephen King, whose work Mick has often directed (including the TV mini-series of The Stand and The Shining).
"There are two nice people in Hollywood," King once wrote in the introduction to Mick's novel, A Life in the Cinema. "And they are both Mick Garris."
(You can see the whole article here.)
Mick and I first met long ago when we publicists at Universal Pictures. (He dealt exclusively with our horror movies -- hence his joking title as Vice President in Charge of Monsters.) There was no room for him in the main PR Department, so he had a room all by himself underneath the studio commissary. It was sort of creepy, so it fit perfectly. It was there, in fact, that Mick showed me his first-ever movie he'd written and directed. Of all things, it was a wonderful romantic comedy.
For a few years now, Mick -- who is in several Science Fiction and Horror Hall of Fames -- has been one of the hosts of an online website, Trailers from Hell, where filmmakers show movie trailers for either quirky or little known or cheesy or guilty-pleasure films and discuss the movies over them. This week, Mick was finally called upon to talk about three of his own movies -- Sleepwalkers and Riding the Bullet (both done with Stephen King) and Psycho IV: The Beginning, (You can find them all here.)
Psycho IV sort of "re-booted" that film's series, using the original screenwriter and novelist, Joseph Stefano, as well as much of the of classic, original music score by Bernard Hermann, and of course Anthony Perkins -- along with Henry Thomas (from E.T.) and Olivia Hussey (from Romeo and Juliet, though who I saw even before that on stage in London in the original production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie).
In his "Trailer from Hell" video, Mick talks about his risky decision to take on the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock, the creative choices he made to re-address the series, and working with the definitive star of the series who had directed the previous movie and wanted to direct this one, as well.
Little Known Mick Garris Fact:
There's a good chance that you know of the massively successful book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit. It's the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic-class sprinter, who was shot down over the Pacific and had an unbelievable story of survival. Well...Lou Zamperini is Mick's father-in-law! His wife, Cynthia Zamperini (a musician who appears in all of Mick's films...very Hitchkockian, that) is Lou's daughter -- and is even mentioned in the book. I had the chance to meet Lou once, at a book-signing of Mick's, and he's every bit of joyful as he's been presented now to the public. By the way, the book is currently on track to be directed by, of all people, Angelina Jolie, who is seemingly one of its most adoring fans and campaigned hard for the job. The two families had a meeting, and Mick came away much impressed. Mick himself is on board as executive producer, though he always makes clear he's largely there in the wings and as family guardian.)
And with all that aside, we take you now to Mick Garris's charming side of horror.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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