Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 11 July 2011

A Blast From The Past

Anyone remember a TV series called Death Rattles?

If not, don't worry- you're in good company. Written by controversial playwright and scriptwriter Dennis Shapiro, Death Rattles was a short-lived and decidedly near-the-knuckle horror anthology series from the mid-80s, broadcast in the early days of Channel 4. It caused a fairly big stir at the time- there was pretty graphic nudity, gore, sex and violence and to cap it all it was all shot in the bleak, gritty style you'd more associate with a Ken Loach or Alan Clarke film than with the usually-cheesy effects of genre TV. I heard it actually caused questions to be raised in the House of Commons... but nobody remembers it now (proof that today's headlines are tomorrow's fish-and-chip wrappers- or they were then, anyway.)

I never got to see it at the time, however- it was way past my bedtime for a start (I was barely out of primary school when the bloody thing hit the airwaves.) Years later, though, I got to see some grainy home video recordings a horror-loving mate of mine had picked up at a car-boot sale, and was blown away.

Sadly my friend lost his video copies before we could watch the rest of the series (or I could get a copy for myself) and when I tried to buy it on video or DVD, I found it'd never been released commercially. No chance of it, either, as some dipstick apparently wiped all the master tapes shortly after release.

Fast forward to Fantasycon in Nottingham last year- there were a bunch of us, propping up the bar in the Shitannia Hotel (OK, slouched around one of the tables on chairs and couches, we were beyond standing by then) and up came the subject of classic genre shows. Gary Fry and Stephen Volk were leading the discussion- and then someone mentioned Death Rattles. I'd like to say it was me... so I will. :-)

Turned out a lot of well-known horror writers had never even heard of it, but a good half-dozen of us had. Most had seen the original run, although a couple of us- myself and the expatriate US writer Thana Niveau- had caught it through less orthodox channels. (I was quite chuffed to discover I was the baby of the group.)

With the original series lost forever, Gary Fry came up with the idea of trying to recreate the stories as best we could from memory (the original scripts, even, being unobtainable.) So I got the chance to do justice to The Children Of Moloch, which is still, for me, one of the most disturbing and distressing pieces of television- genre or otherwise- I've ever seen.

Anyway, Gary's Death Rattles anthology is out now, with stories from me, Gary McMahon, Paul Finch, John L Probert, Thana Niveau and Gary Fry himself, plus an introduction from Stephen Volk, and all for a mere £7.99/$14.00 plus P&P. Go on and treat yourself- if you dare (bwahahahahahaha!)