Screaming Spotlight On: ANDRE DUZA (Part 2)
And here is the conclusion of my recent interview with writer Andre Duza.
Did movies influence you as a writer? If so, which ones?
I was really into Sergio Leone’s and Chang Cheh’s films in my teens. George Romero’s early films had a big impact, as did Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. And John Carpenter, during that period from ’78 to ‘87 when he produced Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Christine, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, and Prince of Darkness, definitely left a lasting impression.
I was all about films where the music and the images worked in perfect concert to create a self-contained world that was so detailed that it was almost more real than reality. Even when the movie was bad, it was usually shamelessly so, which in some strange way added to its infectious appeal. In fact, I usually have a soundtrack from these types of films playing in the background while I write. Currently I’ve been working to Lalo Schifrin’s awesome Dirty Harry score. Some of my favorites scores include John Barry’s old Bond stuff, especially Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; almost anything by Goblin and John Carpenter; Pino Donaggio’s The Howling and Body Double; Brad Fiedel’s Terminator and Fright Night scores, Giorgio Moroder’s Cat People; Basil Poledouris’ Conan; Harry Manfredini’s early Friday the 13th stuff (before all those fucking horns); Charles Bernstein’s A Nightmare on Elm Street; Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Barry DeVorzon’s Night of the Creeps; Jonathan Elias’ Vamp; Alain Goraguer’s La Planete Sauvage; Albert Band’s Re-Animator; Fred Myro and Malcolm Seagrave’s Phantasm; the DeWolfe library music, which was sampled heavily for Dawn of the Dead; and the old Shaw Brothers’ kung fu flicks. The list goes on and on.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would be able to manipulate my hair like Medusa from Marvel’s Inhumans to help me get more shit done on a daily basis… and fight crime.
Cool reference. I’ve always dug The Inhumans. I’m more of a fan of Black Bolt myself. Imagine being able to destroy everything just by shouting. Talk about primal scream therapy.
So you have branched out into the comics medium with HOLLOW-EYED MARY. What made you want to write a graphic novel? Are comics a medium you would like to do more in? What about film?
I definitely plan to do more comics. I have a few treatments lying around: one called Infect the President and a werewolf story called UV Junkies. And I’ve been writing screenplays as long as I’ve been writing prose, so I’ve always had aspirations for film.
I noticed in HOLLOW-EYED MARY, one of the main characters is named Griff. I’ve written a few novels, and in almost every one of them there is a character named Griff. In my case, this is a homage to the great filmmaker Samuel Fuller, who had a war buddy in WWII named Griff and had a character with that name in each of his films. I’ve wanted to carry on the tradition. Does any of this have anything to do with why you have a character named Griff?
Nope. I wish I could say there was some great significance to the name, but basically just I came up with Griffin “Griff” Elam’s name by merging two of my favorite old school lyricists: William “Rakim” Griffin and Keith “Guru” Elam.
Do you see recurring themes in your stories? If so, what are they?
I like to muck around in that part of the brain where our inner most secrets live, those nasty thoughts that you wouldn’t dare tell anyone lest they think you were (fill in the blank). Aside from that, I guess there’s a certain degree of cynicism and mistrust evident in my work, and a focus on how we humans treat each other, especially in the face of danger.
(illustration for Big Daddy NoFace. Artwork by Silverfish)
What is your favorite Disney movie?
What do you see as the role of horror in culture? Do you feel that entertainment is the most important part of horror, or do you think it has a deeper meaning?
People always have been and always will be doing bad things to each other in the name of love, or revenge, or honor, or whatever. Horror offers a peek into that dark underbelly of humanity for those people who might say something like, “What could drive a person to do that to someone else?” Then, there’re those, like me, who enjoy a good scare. Either way, I think a writer’s foremost duty, regardless of genre, is to entertain.
Do you see writing as a cathartic process? Are there autobiographical elements evident in your work? How do you feel about that?
It started off that way for me. Over time I began to exaggerate my journal entries as a way of coping with the intense and oftentimes overwhelming thoughts and emotions that I was dealing with. Those exaggerated entries then evolved into stories.
I think most artists are born with a weird hyper-perception that forces us to first notice, and then obsess over little details and nuances in anything we experience. This happens whether we want it to or not. Those of us who learn how to translate those thoughts and ideas to some artistic medium are able to use it as an outlet, while for others it can become like a sickness. Remember the scene from Scanners where Dr. Ruth conducts the experiment with Cameron Vale, when he is strapped to the table and forced to listen to the thoughts of the audience sitting in the room with him? It’s something like that.
(another cool illustration for Big Daddy NoFace. Artwork by Silverfish)
Do you feel it is the writer/artist’s role to dissect things like cultural taboos?
Not necessarily, but for me, coming from a place where intellect is often frowned upon as “trying to be white,” I do feel a certain responsibility to help eradicate that kind of backward thinking.
Give us the lowdown on what to expect for the future from you (upcoming books, website, etc.)
I was recently offered another option for my Dead Bitch Army screenplay, and there’s been some interest in my screenplay for Big Daddy NoFace. My agent is currently shopping around NoFace the novel, and I’m currently working on the next book, a ghost story tentatively titled Down to the White Meat.
I recently decided to throw my hat into the acting ring as well. I’ve done some movie fight choreography training in the past, and that little bit as Griff in the Dead Bitch Army trailer, but that’s about it for experience. Had some headshots done and been making the rounds at auditions.
Speaking of the trailer, I wanted to take a second to mention my friend and former college roommate, Tony Kern, who co-wrote and directed it. Tony’s documentary, A Month of Hungry Ghosts, which chronicles the seventh-lunar-month Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore, got a theatrical release in Asia (including Singapore, where Tony lives), and was just released on DVD here in the states. It’s a great film, and I urge everyone to check it out. You can view the Trailer on YouTube, and you can pick up a copy from Amazon.
Tony is also responsible for the time-lapse stuff that you see at the opening of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He’s currently shooting new stuff for The Tonight Show. We’ve been trying for years to do a feature-length project together, and it seems like we might be finally making some headway. Stay tuned…
You can find me at the following links:
House of Duza – My official website. The site has been going through a complete renovation and is currently only partially up and running. It’s been slow going so far, but it’s almost done.
Which of the Seven Dwarves is your favorite and why?
I’m too much of a loner to constantly tag around with six happy guys.
Haha. I can totally relate to that. Imagine being around such upbeat assholes all the time. Fuck them! Grumpy is the only one who seems sane – no wonder he’s so miserable. Well, I really want to thank you for talking with me. And I’m really looking forward to your future work.