Sample Chapter from APOCALYPSE AMERICA!

APOCALYPSE AMERICA! By Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin

Sample chapter! “City of Two-Thousand Sins”

Here you will find a sample chapter from APOCALYPSE AMERICA! – the new post-apocalyptic/science-fiction novel by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle formats (FREE on Kindle Unlimited).
(The above pages will eventually be united.)

Las Vegas, Nevada

The city had no name. But then, names weren’t a priority anymore.

One forsaken settlement was pretty much the same as the next: no food, no water, no power, nothing. After the depletion of all fossil fuel resources, the collapse of the world economy and the nuclear war with Mexico, America was in ruins. Swarms of locusts and flesh-eating dust mites ravaged the Midwest and West Coast. Also, the global warming process had accelerated, baking the once-prosperous land into a barren dust bowl.

At one time, the city had been a place of opulence and excitement. Traces of its former glory could be seen everywhere. Marble walls and fountains. Crystal chandeliers. The ruins of gaming tables, stages and bars. At one time, people had enjoyed this city.

Those days of fun and games were long gone.

– – –

Jeb was the official sin-counter.

He was a tall, dark-bearded man with rugged features, surprisingly gentle eyes, and numbers tattooed all over his body. His face featured a ‘24′ on one cheek, a ‘7′ on the other, and a ‘365′ centered on his forehead. He had a ‘111′ on each palm and a ‘222′ on the sole of each foot.

His task was to count the sins of those who lived in the nameless city. He recorded them all in his Book of Sins, which rested on a podium in the Great Hall. This Hall, the spiritual center of their community, was the enormous lobby of their casino-hotel-church.

Each Sunday, he would number and chronicle the sins.

“Sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-seven: Noah slept well past noon and did not do his morning chores,” Jeb read. He smiled as he handed Noah a red token.

The gathering crowd mumbled their approval.

“Sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-eight: Jonah ate bread without giving thanks,” Jeb read.

“That isn’t a sin,” Cain complained. He was a young adult now, and only vaguely remembered the death of Kaila and Farma. “It was not a meal. One does not need to give thanks every time one eats some small morsel.”

“I’m too hungry to care,” Jonah rasped between dry, cracked lips.

– – –

The sunny days roasted the flesh and the windswept nights chilled it to the bone.

Years ago, after the power had gone out for the last time, a man named Herod had removed all the Bibles from the hotel rooms and burned them in trash cans inside a supermarket. He had appointed himself leader, and he’d thought this action would serve his people well. After all, people were more important than books.

The blaze kept everyone there warm all night. The previous night they had used menus and playing cards. Those hadn’t burned well because of their heavy lamination. They gave off sickening fumes and many people became ill. But the Bibles had burned splendidly. They kept everyone nice and warm.

Eventually the people turned against Herod. He hadn’t done anything wrong…. But still, they needed to vent their frustration with the world somehow, and his helpfulness – his patient optimism in the face of maddening despair – had become an annoyance.

A group assigned to the task tied him down outside of the tallest building in the city. Then they went up to the top and starting dropping things down on him out of a penthouse window. There was no special significance in this particular form of torture: it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. In the end, Herod was reduced to a pile of human slush embedded with a medley of broken everyday objects – everything from wine glasses to typewriters.

– – –

“You know the rules, Cain,” Jeb said. “If we all don’t agree that a particular act is a sin, then it has to be put to a vote.”

“Please, don’t,” begged Sarah, an emaciated woman with bleeding gums and many sores on her skin. “Let’s not waste time. I’m famished! The last thing I put in my mouth was a cockroach I’d caught. I gave thanks before I ate it, but I still threw up a minute later. I’m so hungry, I’ll die if I don’t get some food soon.”

“I don’t make the rules,” Jeb said. “I just count the sins. And I shall always do so, until the day we are all too weak to even move. It is my task. I answer to a higher power.” So saying, he looked up, as did everyone else in the Great Hall.

– – –

In the early days after the chaos started, the people in the town went more than a little crazy. The death of Herod set the pace for even more bizarre acts of cruelty, prejudice, and – more often than not – perverse righteousness.

Angry crowds strung up sinners from telephone wires, or burned them alive to appease ancient demons. They crucified the lawyers of the nameless city. Of course, back then it still had a name.

The city had been filled with lewd women with painted lips. Pious men would chain each limb of a woman to a different car, and then the vehicles would each drive toward a different point of the compass. They thought that perhaps this would give direction to their future. But that future was lost in a haze of heat and toxic fumes.

– – –

“We have to take a vote on it,” Jeb said. “All who think it was a sin for Jonah to eat without giving thanks must now say ‘Aye.’”

A loud, hungry round of ayes echoed through the hall. Jeb did not bother to ask to hear nays.

A young boy in the crowd gasped and fell to the floor. Sarah rushed to his side and cradled his head in her lap. “My son is weak from hunger,” she cried. “If we do not have some food soon, he will starve to death.”

Desperate for something – anything – with which to nourish her child, the woman picked a few large scabs off of her arm and pushed these into her son’s mouth. The boy gave thanks before he began to chew.

– – –

Years passed, and many people took to living in cars. There was no gasoline left, but they still loved and took pride in their vehicles.

All the cars in town were rolled toward the casino-hotel-churches. People weren’t allowed to live in these holy realms – they were a place for the purging of iniquities. Of course, that was before they realized the true value of sin.

The cars made nice little homes. To keep the cars cool during the day and warm at night, they buried them in the sand. They took out the engines to make more room. Families huddled in their cars, in the cozy darkness. It became traditional to fasten the baby’s cradle in place on the dashboard, so the wee one could reach up and play with the fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror. From this choice location within the car, the baby could also be entertained by watching the insects and vermin that crawled on the other side of the front windshield.

– – –

“It is agreed. Jonah did sin by not giving thanks for his morsel. That leaves the count at one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-eight,” Jeb handed Jonah a green token. “Is there any other sin I should record?”

The group was quiet. One could not make up a sin. For that, they would cut out one’s tongue, and fill the offending mouth with hot coals. There were words about that in those old Bibles – “a tongue for a tongue”? Something like that.

“I had indecent thoughts about Jezebel,” Matthew said. “I thought how delightful it would be to pleasure her for long hours, well into the night.”

“Yes, that is a sin,” Jeb said, writing it down quickly and handing Matthew a gold token. “That is sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine. Any more?”

– – –

Back when power was plentiful and vehicles were used for transportation, people paid good money to sin.

They watched half-naked women prance upon brightly lit stages. People use to gamble night and day. They danced, they gorged, they fought, they swore. There were even whorehouses on the outskirts of town. The brothels did not operate in secret – they were acknowledged businesses.

The country went up in smoke because they did not watch their sins.

During the crazy times, the people were less efficient when it came to dealing with sin. At times, they even wasted precious foodstuffs. Some sinners would be covered in honey and buried up to their necks in sand. They would let armies of red ants eat them alive. Thus would the ants gnaw away the sins of the world. Those tiny, industrious insects were the first sin-eaters.

But not the last.

When the Bibles were burned, one page – from the Book of Mark – had been caught by the wind and blown free. And this page told them a tale of wisdom. It told them all about Legion, a demon who was in fact a collective of evil spirits. Eventually they learned how to apply this wisdom to their lives, so that they might survive.

– – –

Jeb ignored the hungry growls of the crowd. “If no more sins are recorded, we must wait until the next Sunday when we meet.”

“But we can’t wait any longer,” Sarah said. “I must eat, and so must my boy! Please let us finish this.”

“I only follow the rules,” Jeb said. “My task is to count the sins. And since there are no more to count, I must conclude—”

“I pleasured myself,” blurted Barnabas, a thin, middle-aged man with missing teeth. “Just a few minutes before the meeting.”

The room was quiet.

“Thank you,” Jeb said. “That is indeed a sin.” He handed Barnabas a silver token. “We now officially have two-thousand.”

Robed acolytes came forth out of the shadows, pushing slender golden posts mounted on wheeled bases. They arranged these in a pattern throughout the Great Hall. Then they connected the posts with purple velvet robes, creating a long maze that looped around the sacred crap table.

“Everyone who has sinned, line up in the order of the number on your token. Everyone else, please step aside,” Jeb said.

After everyone had lined up, the acolytes came forth with buckets filled with ashes. They used the ash to write everyone’s numbers on their foreheads. Then they collected the tokens and piled them up on the crap table.

Jeb closed his eyes, thrust his hand into the pile, and grabbed a token.

The people in the velvet-roped line-up stared at Jeb with fearful eyes. And yet they also began to wipe drool from their eager mouths.

Jeb looked at the token he had selected. “Number one-hundred and thirty-eight.” He looked in the Book of Sins. “Here it is. ‘Adam drank alcohol until he became ill.’ Yes, he will do. Adam, step forward.”

Adam was a short, bald man who was sweating heavily.

“Please wait here,” Jeb said.

Jeb’s boss made him nervous. This privileged individual was the only person allowed to live in the casino-hotel-church. He lived alone in a high suite – nobody was allowed to go up except Jeb, after the count.

Jeb climbed the stairs, up and up and up.

The crowd waited.

Eventually Jeb’s boss followed his minion back to the hall.

The people, as always, gasped when they saw the boss. His was an appearance to which one could never become accustomed. His skin was as orange as the sun, and his slit-pupil eyes were bright green. His lips were bright red and his hair was long and black. He wore no clothes but carried a burlap sack.

He looked strange, yet in their sun-baked desert world, he did not seem out of place. In fact, he resembled a desert snake.

He was Legion, and he was many.

The people of the city without a name had given much discussion to Legion, for his page was all they had left of the Bible. Their thoughts had drawn him to them. When he’d arrived, he had struck a new bargain with them. A whole new system of vice management.

“Two-thousand sins….” the demon hissed, with a voice like a whispering congregation of evil. “A feast of sin for me. And now, a feast for you.”

Legion stared at Adam intently. The bald man began to swell, and he hunched over until he had to drop to all fours. Bristles popped out of his pink flesh, which grew thick and leathery. His neck bulged out, his eyes sank inward and his nose lengthened into a quivering snout.

The people of the nameless city brought out ropes and soon, they had the fat hog hanging by its hind legs from a beam above one of the stages. Legion pulled two objects from his sack. He stuck an apple in the pig’s mouth, and then handed a butcher knife to Sarah and allowed her to slit the beast’s throat.

“Again you have saved us,” she said.

The green-eyed sin-eater smiled and looked out over the Great Hall, at the sun-scorched, hunger-maddened masses. So many to share so little…. Some would not eat at all. In the end, most would only get a scrap of meat – enough to keep them alive and desperate in this Hell of their own making.

“Yes,” he said. “You are lucky to have me.”


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Paul McCartney Set List June 11, 2018 at the TaxSlayer, Moline, Illinois

Paul McCartney Set List June 11, 2018 at the TaxSlayer, Moline, Illinois

(Paul McCartney photo by Michael McCarty)

Show starts at:

8:15 pm

1. A Hard Day’s Night
(The Beatles song)

2. Save Us
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

3. All My Loving
(The Beatles song)

4. Letting Go
(Paul McCartney & Wings “Venus & Mars”)

5. Who Cares
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

6. Got to Get You Into My Life
(The Beatles song)

7. Come On to Me
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

8. Let Me Roll It
(Paul McCartney & Wings “Band on the Run”)

9. Jimi Hendrick’s “Purple Haze” & guitar tribute jam

10. I’ve Got a Feeling
(The Beatles song)

11. Let ‘Em In
(Paul McCartney & Wings “Wings at the Speed of Sound”)

12. My Valentine
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

13. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
(Paul McCartney & Wings song “Band on the Run”)

14. Maybe I’m Amazed
(Paul McCartney “McCartney”)

15. I’ve Just Seen a Face
(The Beatles song)

16. In Spite of All the Danger
(The Quarrymen demo song)

17. From Me to You
(The Beatles song)

18. Dance Tonight
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

19. Love Me Do
(The Beatles song)

20. Blackbird
(The Beatles song)

21. Here Today
(Paul McCartney “Tug of War”)

22. Queenie Eye
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

23. Lady Madonna
(The Beatles song)

24. Eleanor Rigby
(The Beatles song)

25. Fuh You
(Paul McCartney “Egypt Station”)

26. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
(The Beatles song)

27. Something
(The Beatles song)

28. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
(The Beatles song)

29. Band on the Run
(Paul McCartney & Wings “Band on the Run”)

30. Back in the U.S.S.R.
(The Beatles song)

31. Let It Be
(The Beatles song)

32. Live and Let Die
(Paul McCartney & Wings James Bond Soundtrack song)

33. Hey Jude
(The Beatles song)


34. Birthday
(The Beatles song)

35. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
(The Beatles song)

36. Helter Skelter
(The Beatles song)

37. Golden Slumbers
(The Beatles song)

38. Carry That Weight
(The Beatles song)

39. The End
(The Beatles song)

11:05 pm

(Michael McCarty – photo by Cindy McCarty)

(Cindy McCarty – Photo by Michael McCarty)

The Beatles – 22 songs

Paul McCartney & Wings – 6

Paul McCartney – 8

The Quarrymen – 1

A great selection of material of The Beatles, Paul McCartney & Wings, solo Paul McCartney and even The Quarrymen.

The material from Paul McCartney’s latest “Egypt Station” was also great. I might do a review of that CD sometime, even any of my fans want me too….

Here is a link to Paul McCartney’s Flower in the Dirt Dec 3, 1989 set list:

Beatles & Paul McCartney should check out my interview with Alistar Taylor, whom The Fab Four called “Mr. Fix-It”

Also … Beatles & horror fans, please check out this blog:

If you like this blog or my other blogs, please consider purchasing:
MODERN MYTHMAKERS … right now, the ebook and nook are only .99 cents. Links are below:



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Sizzling Summer Reads

Sizzling Summer Reading By Michael McCarty
Have fun in the Sun with these books

“Summer turns me upside down. Summer summer summer. It’s like a merry go round” – The Cars.

Sweet Summer: BBQs, Bikinis and Books … yes books.

And I bet you are looking for some recommendations of Michael McCarty books to read for your summertime pleasure.

Sure you are ….

But before I get to that list …. here are a recommendation of other authors. .. yes, I do read other authors besides myself.

This my Top 5 Summer Favorite Reads …

1. To The Vanishing Point By Alan Dean Foster.
Frank Sonderberg rents an RV to take his family on a vacation across the desert to go to Las Vegas. On the way, the pick up this beautiful hitchhiker and singer named Mouse and the trip goes to Hell … literary, getting chased by hideous monsters, encounter a demonic gas station, fire breathing cops and ax-wielding rats. Summer vacations don’t get better than this…

It was a tremendous honor that Alan Dean Foster wrote the introduction to my book MODERN MYTHMAKERS …

I also did an interview blog with Mr. Foster and here is the link:

2. Duma Key by Stephen King

Of all Stephen King’s book, this is just one of the best to read during the summer. I can explain more about this book, but I have already written this blog about the book and the link is here:

3. Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon

I really like Nate Kenyon’s Bloodstone, The Bone Factory and The Reach books. But Sparrow Rock is one of my favorites. The story-line is about six teenagers who break in and party in a bomb shelter. Unbeknownst to the teens, the world is about to end very soon. An exciting and creepy page-turner.

4. Island by Richard Laymon

Several of Laymon’s books are great summer reads including: Funland, The Stake, Bite, The Lake, Resurrection Dreams. Of all those terrific terror reads, my favorite has to be Island to be read at the beach with a beverage of your choice.

You ask why …. read this blog and find out why:

5. Dog Days by Joe McKinney

I had a hard time for the last book on the list. I was thinking of having Mark McLaughlin’s Horror & Abominations (co-written with Michael Sheehan Jr…. but I will write a longer review of that later). Also I was thinking of Joe Hill’s collection Strange Weather, but I might do a review of that later too. The same with Bentley Little’s The Resort.

So I decided on Dog Days by Joe McKinney. This book won a Bram Stoker for YA Novel and it well deserved to win. It is also a killer book to read during the summer month, hot and sticky and full of mystery … just like summer.

I am not going to say much about the book, because once I start talking or writing about it, I just can’t stop. Set in 1983 in the burbs of Houston, a hurricane rocks the community … not only bringing floodwaters and strong winds … but a supernatural killer in the swamp lands of Clear Lake.

It is a brilliant, brilliant book

Still interested in this writer? Michael McCarty … okay … here is some of my books to read in the sun before you burn your buns:


1) APOCALYPSE AMERICA! By Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin

Nothing says summer like the end of the world.

Here is an entire blog about the book too:

2) LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty (Grinning Skull Press)

Snakes, Lakes and Skinny-Dipping … what more could you ask for during the summer

3) DRACULA TRANSFORMED & OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES by Mark McLaughlin & Michael McCarty (Wildside Press)

Two novellas: Lucy Transformed & the title story Dracula Transformed and nine short stories about Dracula and vampires. Some are scary. Some are funny. All of them are entertaining.


35 Interviews with the likes of Ray Bradbury, Elvira, Dean Koontz, The Cast & Crew of Night of the Living Dead, John Saul, John Carpenter, Laurell K. Hamilton, Richard Matheson, Joe McKinney, William F. Nolan, Christopher Moore and many more.

The ebook is only .99 cents too


A terrific short story collection with Beatles robots, vampires, zombies, invisible scientists … you will love it

I also have a blog about FIENDS…. and here is the link:

The books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble …. etc etc etc. Below are the links for Amazon ebooks, trade paperbacks on their site too

(Apocalypse America!)


(Lost Girl of the Lake)

(Modern Mythmakers)

(Dracula Transformed)


(A Little Help From My Fiends)



(Amazon Trade Paperback)

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Post-Apocalyptic Novel Offers Hope For The Future

Post-Apocalyptic Novel Offers Hope For The Future
By Mark McLaughlin

APOCALYPSE AMERICA!, a new science-fiction novel by Quad-Cities authors Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin, tells of a future when the world will be under attack by Internet Witches, flesh-eating dust mites, murderous robots, and mutant scorpions. But according to the authors, the novel is actually a tale of hope and redemption.

“The novel is set in a terrifying future,” McCarty said. “Following a devastating nuclear war, America has turned into a wasteland. A cult of digital beings known as Internet Witches have used their advanced technology to attack the country through its computers. Humanity’s fate rests with Cain, a young nomad who must find a legendary paradise known as Eden. Cain is joined on his trek by new friends and together, they work to save Earth’s remaining people from destruction.”

McLaughlin noted that the protagonist, Cain, is a survivor – an eternal optimist who doesn’t panic. “As a team, Cain and his friends are able to fight monsters and still proceed with their objectives,” he said. “They take a look at the seemingly insurmountable problems around them, assess their resources, and work out an action plan. If something doesn’t work, they try something else. I think that’s a good game-plan for all of us. Don’t let the world get you down. Keep striving for success. Find like-minded friends and work with them to achieve mutual goals.”

“APOCALYPSE AMERICA! may be a post-apocalyptic novel, but there’s an underlying positive message: Never give up!” McCarty said.

“I think this book will resonate with readers because at some point in our lives, we all may face a personal apocalypse,” McLaughlin said. “We may lose a pet, or a job we enjoyed. Our health may suffer. We may even lose a loved one. But no matter what goes wrong in our loves, we still have to move on with our lives. We have to find the strength to face tomorrow, and move forward with purpose.”

McCarty’s recent books include Lost Girl of the Lake (coauthored by Joe McKinney), Conversations with Kreskin (coauthored by The Amazing Kreskin) and Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers.

McLaughlin’s latest paperback releases are Horrors & Abominations and The House of the Ocelot (both co-authored by Michael Sheehan, Jr.).

APOCALYPSE AMERICA! is now available on in both paperback and Kindle formats. Please use these links to find out more about the novel in each format:



To find out more about the works of Michael McCarty, visit To learn more about Mark McLaughlin’s projects, visit

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Island By Richard Laymon (Book Review)

A Review of Richard Laymon’s ISLAND
by Michael McCarty

by Richard Laymon
Leisure Books
504 pages
ISBN: 0-8439-4978-3

Tragically Richard Laymon passed away on February 14th, 2001 as he was finally getting the success he deserved. For years, Laymon wrote terrific terror tales but had to get them publish aboard, mostly England, Australia and New Zealand.
Publishers like Leisure and Cemetery Dance started publishing Laymon’s work in the United States at the end the 20th century and he started having great success in his own country. But that soon ended on Valentine’s Day, 2001 when the gentleman of horror passed away at far too young an age.
ISLAND was one of those books published overseas, now it is available in the US and the timing is perfect. With the runaway hit of Tom Hank’s “Castaway,” ISLAND could be subtitled “The Horny Castaway.”
It is the story of a teenager named Rupert Conway who is about to break up with his girlfriend Connie, when he goes on vacation with her family the yacht explodes leaving the crew of seven stranded on a dessert island.
It gets worse.
Much worse.

(Photo of the late, great Richard Laymon)

Also on the island is a serial killer who is systematically killing the male population. Rupert is all alone with three attractive women. At first this seem like paradise, but Rupert quickly accesses he’s next in line.
ISLAND has it all — non-stop adventure, gruesome murders, a beautiful tropical island with three babes in bikinis, references to other island classics such as ROBINSON CRUSOE and GILLIGAN’S ISLAND and plenty of thrills and laughs.
In short, ISLAND should please the legion of Laymon fans out there. A terrific combination of comedy and terror. Highly recommended.
There is also a fitting tribute/introduction by his friend and genre giant Dean Koontz.

Check out this blog about Richard Laymon:

A review of Richard Laymon’s To Wake The Dead:

If you like this review or any of the other interviews or articles on this blog.

Please, please and please consider purchasing MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty …
the ebook is only .99 cents! Less than a dollar

The ebook is only .99 cents!!!!

Kindle & Trade paperback)

(Nook & Trade paperback)

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Interview with Reggie Banister (from the Phantasm films)

Interview with Reggie Bannister (from the Phantasm Films)
by Michael McCarty & Cristopher DeRose

40 years ago, a small indie horror was released called PHANTASM

PHANTASM was a game changer combing horror, science fiction, dark fantasy
on a shoestring budget ….

Cristopher DeRose and I interviewed one of the stars of the film, Reggie Bannister for MORE GIANTS OF THE GENRE by Michael McCarty. (Which is unfortunately out of print).

Cristopher DeRose also reprinted the book SCRIBES OF SPECULATIVE FICTION which is in print.

At the end of this interview, we will have links to my interview book called MODERN MYTHMAKERS and SCRIBES OF SPECULATIVE FICTION.

Please, please and please support both of us artists … we need the support and thank you!!!!

I remember the first time I saw “Phantasm.” I was working at the Bel-Air Drive-In Theater and the movie was a double feature with “Dawn Of The Dead.” There was a lot of buzz about George Romero’s remake of “Night Of The Living Dead,” but all I heard about “Phantasm” was from the movie ad that said: “a truly bizarre science-fiction horror fantasy” which really doesn’t say much at all.
When the film started and the plot unfolded about two parentless brothers living next door to a local funeral parlor. I was hooked. And when The Tall Man threw the brain-drilling sphere that gushes out gallons of blood — I knew this was bound to be a bloody classic.
“Phantasm” was an inventive creepy low-budget macabre masterpiece. One of my favorite characters was Reg (played by Reggie Bannister) the rock n roll ice cream man who rocked his way through the sequels.
I found Reggie Bannister to be a laid-back, friendly guy who really knows how to rock n roll. It was a pleasure talking with a cult legend.

Interview With Reggie Bannister

by Michael McCarty & Cristopher DeRose

Long Beach, California born Reggie Bannister is best known as the ice cream man extraordinare in “Phantasm,” a role he landed after serving in the Viet Nam war and meeting Don Coscarelli, who gave him his first acting gig in Coscarelli’s directorial debut, “Jim, The World’s Greatest.”
Reggie went on to work with Coscarelli in their next pre-“Phantasm” film, “Kenny And Company” before cameras rolled on what would become one of the most memorable (and best) low-budget horror films of all time, “Phantasm,” where he played (fittingly enough) Reg, the guitar-playing ice cream man.
“Survival Quest” followed, as did the three other “Phantasm” sequels. Reggie, a constant fan favorite at horror cons, has continued his acting in not only television, but other movies like “Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation” and “The Wishmaster: Demolitionist,” as well as forming his own production company.
Not one to stay in one avenue of expression, Reggie and his band, Reggie B & the Jizz Wailin’ Ya Doggie recorded their debut CD “Fools Paradise” and continue to perform and record while October Guitars will be creating a signature guitar for him.
Reggie’s latest venture is “Bubba Ho-Tep,” based on a story by Joe R. Lansdale and also stars Ossie Davis and Bruce Campbell. Coscarelli wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

(Reggie Bannister who appeared in all the PHANTASM films, here, battling the flying sphere)

MICHAEL McCARTY: When you were making the first “Phantasm” movie, did you ever imagine that it would still be popular over two decades later and achieve such cult status?

REGGIE BANNISTER: There are two types of movies, that actors secretly or openly want to be involved in. They want to make a really good horror movie and scare the hell out of people or make a cowboy movie and ride a horse. We got to do a horror movie.
When we first did “Phantasm,” it was done with the full intent of making a scary movie. That is what we all wanted to do. I don’t think anybody realized that this would still be going on all these years later. Towards the end of “Phantasm,” I had a gut feeling, that we had done something pretty special.

MICHAEL: What are some of the changes that you have noticed in independent pictures over the years?

REGGIE: Special effects. Across the board with the development of technology and artistic techniques. It started, at first with the special latex for special effects make-up and now we have computer graphics. It’s absolutely amazing stuff.
The down side to the special effects craze — is the story gets lost, good acting gets lost, good concepts get lost to special effects.

MICHAEL: What motivated you to take the role in “Phantasm” in the first place?

REGGIE: Money (laughs).
I’m just kidding. I’m a very creative person and I love to create. Basically we didn’t even discuss money and I really never saw any money until the end of the filming when the picture was picked up. To tell the truth, we all did the movie on spec.
I love to act, I love to play music — that is why I did it then and that is why I still do it now. I still throw myself out there to be a part of low budget or almost no budget movies — but my one rule is it has to be a Screen Actors Guild film.

MICHAEL: “Phantasm III” had more humor in it than the others, do you think that distracted from the horror aspect in the series it was originally based on or not?

REGGIE: Some people thought that it distracted, some loved the humor. My character Reg — is really a humorless character.
He’s a musician who has traveled around the world and played guitar with these bands, got tired of it and wanted to settle down in his own little hometown. What does he do? Open an ice cream parlor. He invents his own venue so he can sit there and play guitar and sell ice cream to the kids in an ice cream truck.
By the second film he’s thrown into this chaotic nightmare, he’s chasing after a Phantasm, characters in a reality that you aren’t even sure they exist.
When he presents his natural character to these situations, it can be pretty funny at times. It is only funny, when it happens to a character who doesn’t think it is humorous or doesn’t know it is humorous.
If you go back through comedy and you see Harold Lloyd who was hanging from a clock tower. Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the gears of a modern mechanized society. You never see those characters understand what they are going through is funny, half of it was tragic. They were putting their lives and bodies on the line for a laugh.
It was only natural, in the third picture, Reg was sold on the idea of trying to vanquish this evil force in the world. Trying to be the soldier, trying to be the heavy-duty warrior type. When in fact he is a musician and an ice cream man (laughs).
There are some people who hate “Phantasm III” because it was humorous, but they still like my character. But I talked to other people who loved “Phantasm III” and thought it was their favorite film in the series.
It evens out.

MICHAEL: Were you concerned that you or anyone else in “Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead” was being overshadowed by The Tall Man played by Angus Scrimm (Lawrence Rory Guy)?

REGGIE: There’s only one Tall Man and there is only one Reg. What is interesting about our relationship, is how it developed. I’m the ice cream man and The Tall Man can’t stand the cold. We are arch nemesis to one another. We are the characters who have faced off to each other in the whole series. Some of the other characters have come and gone. Some have come back. There is always Reg and The Tall Man squaring off.
I don’t feel there is any overshadowing there. I feel The Tall Man is a unique entity, he’s the pro-generator of the entire Paradine. He’s such a necessary character. Reg is a necessary character too — because without those two characters coming together, there isn’t much of a story at all.

MICHAEL: You also appeared in “Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation” with Maud Adams and Clint Howard (director Ron Howard’s brother). How was it being a part of a franchise besides the “Phantasm” series?

REGGIE: I’m really good friends with Brian Yuzna (the director of the movie). Brian always wanted to stick me in one of his movies — he got to direct one part of that franchise. It was a lot of fun. What makes the film experience fun is when you’re working with professionals. I have worked with other people before where it was a chore just to get a scene shot. That’s a drag. But when you work with people like Brian Yuzna or Robert Kurtzman — I was in Wishmaster: The Demolitionist” — Bob is a real pro.
Working on “Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation” — that has to be the longest title in the history of film (laughs).
Brian sent me the script and I was suppose to play the part of an editor of a newspaper called “The Public Eye.” My character was named Eli, he was a nervous habit guy with a lot of high energy. He smoked constantly. I had a problem with that because I hadn’t smoke at the time. I have smoked off and on in my life, but I didn’t smoke at that time for about four years. I thought that might be problematic for me having to smoke.
I tried to talk to Brian about this the first day of shooting. I said, “Brian, can I talk to you about my character.” He said, “yeah, yeah, sure.” “Eli is firing up one cigarette after another. I said how about this. What if it was sunflower seeds. I keep eating sunflower seeds and stick them inside my mouth and I’m spitting out the seeds everywhere, people could be grossed out. It could be a really funny bit.” Brian listened, pulled down on his chin and said, “No Reg, he’s a smoker.”
I said to the assistant director, “Well go get me a couple packs of Marlboro’s.” I was just hours away from shooting.
Do you know what it’s like to smoke when you haven’t smoked? You almost pass out, it makes you so high.
The very first scene of that film, I got through my lines, I didn’t know who the hell I was, or who my character was. And when I watch it back, and know where my head was — during those opening lines — I have to laugh.

MICHAEL: You worked with Don Coscarelli the producer, writer, cinematographer and director of the first “Phantasm” movie and writer and director for the rest of the series. You just worked with him again in “Bubba Ho-Tep.” What is Don like as a director?

REGGIE: Don is a real perfectionist. He’ll shoot five-to-one. It’s how many times you shoot a scene. He’ll shoot it five times to get the one that he wants. Little details, little innuendoes, little things you extrapolate and read lines differently. He’s really fun to work with.

MICHAEL: Is “Phantasm 4: The Oblivion” the end of the series? Or is there going to be a sequel?

REGGIE: There is a script written (called “Phantasm’s End) by Roger Avary who has written “Pulp Fiction” and “Killing Zoe.” He’s worked with Spelling Entertainment over the years, he’s working with Lion’s Gate on something right now.
Before Don (Coscarelli) got into filming “Bubba Ho-Tep” last year — he was really pushing to get “Phantasm 5” funded. He had to pull away from that because he really wanted to do “Bubba Ho-Tep.”
So its possible, you could see something at the end of this year heating up for “Phantasm 5.”
We normally start shooting “Phantasm” movies in the dead of winter. I don’t know why that is, except maybe some forces in the universe want to see us freeze our asses off (laughs).

MICHAEL: The ending to the first “Phantasm” movie would have been unheard of in a major production. Do you think the smaller budget allowed you greater artistic control?

REGGIE: Absolutely.
That is the joy of independent film. There are a lot of problems with independent films, mostly you don’t have the money and you really have to restrain yourself. You have to figure out how to get by without having any money and look like you’re putting money on the screen.
Talking about special effects, I wish you could have seen us trying to put together some of the special effects for the original “Phantasm.” We still stand beside a camera, with certain scenes with the sphere — the ball flying. In “Phantasm III,” I stood next to the camera in the mausoleum and we took turns throwing the sphere down the hallway — away from the camera — so we could reverse the direction of the sphere coming into the camera. We took turns so we could get the height right for the lens. A long throw so you could see it coming from down the hall. We’ve done some wacky things to get the effects — it has worked well for us.

MICHAEL: What are the pros and cons of doing a direct-to-video movie?

REGGIE: There’s a whole step in the process of marketing a movie to become successful that you lose going direct-to-video. If you could get a theatrical, or limited theatrical release you would be more successful.
With a limited theatrical release, you’re counting on your movie being so good in a few little theaters around the country that people will talk about it. They tell other people to go see it. Then you get more screens. There are films that have grown exponentially from limited release into 1,200 screens, 2,000 screens.
You have a higher level of marketing awareness to the consumer. That means you see ads on TV, your movie gets criticized (laughs) or reviewed in newspapers across the country.
You start to gain some marketability. So when this film does leave the theaters — then you can ship all kinds of video and DVD units. You’ll already have that high level of marketability for the video stores for rentals. And when it goes on to cable stations and people look in their “TV Guide” and say, “Boy, I wanted to see that film. I didn’t see it when it was in the theater.”
Then it goes into general TV release – you might have the network lease the film. It all starts with a theatrical release.
The cons — you have a film that goes direct-to-video, it goes on video shelves unnoticed. It cuts so much out of the process. Who is going to know it is out there to rent it? Or to buy it? Or even to notice it exists?
If you go to theatrical release, you have a world of marketing in front of you. That means a lot of money. That can mean a franchise started, that could mean doing a sequel to that film. But if you go direct-to-video you just show up on video shelves around the country.

MICHAEL: Did “Phantasm II” suffer or benefit from the replacement of Michael Baldwin with James LeGros?

REGGIE: There was some controversy about that. It is always difficult when you see an original film and you fall in love with it and the characters. Michael was much beloved — obviously — that is why his character has been so much a part of the series throughout (Michael Baldwin was in the original, “Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead,” “Phantasm 4: The Oblivion”). When “Phantasm II” came out, there was a controversy among the hardcore fans about the character of Michael and James LeGros.
Having said that, James LeGros did a terrific job. I really enjoyed working with James on that film. We had a lot of fun. He’s a really great guy and a fine actor. He went on to do “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Singles,” he just starred in a movie that is based on “Macbeth” with Christopher Walken in it — it’s a wonderful film, but I can’t recall the name of it offhand.
I can’t tell you how many people come up and tell me, “my favorite film was “Phantasm II.”
What happened was, with “Phantasm II,” a lot of people who hadn’t seen the first one, saw “Phantasm II.” It broke at a time, 1988, when the first film was almost ten years old. There was a whole new generation of people who enjoyed horror films that never saw “Phantasm.” So when they saw “Phantasm II” — it was their initial experience, they had no idea that Michael had been swapped out. They actually had to go back, to see the first one, to find out that character was replaced with another actor.
Even the hardcore fans, who went “I hate “Phantasm II” because they don’t have Michael in it,” have come around and done a 360. Irregardless it is a great film. I have to agree, I think “II” busted out and opened that world of “Phantasm” in a way that had to be done. I think it is a remarkable film for both its special effects and more linear story line that carries the plot so far that it led to “Phantasm III” and “IV.”

MICHAEL: Any last words?

REGGIE: The fact that I’m sitting here and talking to you, and know that the readers of More Giants Of The Genre want to hear my opinions about horror films and film making is extremely gratifying. I really appreciate everybody’s support of my particular job — that what it is really, I’m an actor, that is my job. To have people appreciate your work is awesome to me.
I want to let everyone know, who has read this particular interview, that I just love and appreciate them for supporting me and my work.
I’ve been involved in some productions, that didn’t have a lot of money, but had an incredible amount of integrity and wanted really to give everyone the best of conceptual story lines and the best in visuals and acting performances. People like Don Coscarelli, Brian Yuzna and Bob Kurtzman — they are terrific people and want to do the best for the fans out there.
Thank you, thank you — that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.


Phantasm (1979)

Phantasm II (1988)

Phantasm III:
Lord of the Dead (1994)

Phantasm IV:
Oblivion (1998)

Phantasm V:
Ravager (2016)

If you liked this interview or the other blog article, please consider buying MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty

The ebook for MODERN MYTHMAKERS is only .99 cents … follow the link below… follow your dreams:

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Cristopher DeRose’s SCRIBES OF SPECULATIVE FICTION, which has a few interviews, co-written by me. The link is:

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Duma Key by Stephen King (book review)

Duma Key
By Stephen King

Book Review by Michael McCarty

Rating: ****

Of course Stephen King novels are scary, and for the most part are set in small towns in Maine with dark forests and paranoid neighbors who know all your secrets. You’ll also find vampires and werewolves and aliens….
Every once in awhile, Stephen King throws a curve ball like The Stand which takes place across the United States as the end-of-the-world settles in, or The Shining, based in a Colorado resort during the middle of winter, or Misery, set in a secluded farmhouse in Colorado….
Duma Key is one of those curve balls – in fact, it may even be a fastball, like the kind thrown by King’s favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Instead of being set in Maine, mired in twenty feet of snow in the dead of winter, it takes place in Florida.
You read that correctly – Florida, the Sunshine State. I mean, how scary can Florida be? Overpriced tourist traps? Disney World is closed? Alligators crawl into someone’s backyard swimming pool? Tourists plod around in baggy Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts?
Florida has plenty of bright sunshine, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sunsets … Yet behind all that picturesque prettiness, there is darkness. And the book gets pretty damn scary.
This is classic Stephen King.
The story starts out when protagonist Edgar Freemantle receives head injuries during a crane accident at a construction site. His leg and hips are messed up, and worst of all, he has lost his right arm. He suffers from uncontrollable fits of rage and lapses in his memory, which cause difficulties for his wife. In time, they divorce.
A psychiatrist suggests that he should start over again and rebuild his life.
He responds: “I used to draw; I used to paint a little bit.”
So he moves to Duma Key, Florida, where he discovers he is a very talented painter. He also discovers the hidden terrors that will haunt the town for 500 more pages….

Back when I was with Horror Writers Association, I was the first one to recommend that book for Novel of the Year. It ended up winning that year too.

Stephen King fans might want to check out this other blog I wrote too:

If you like this review or any of the other interviews or articles on this blog.

Please, please and please consider purchasing LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE … inspired by Stephen King’s “The Body” … which was turned into the movie STAND BY ME

Lost Girl of the Lake by 2-time Bram Stoker Winner Joe McKinney & Five Time Bram Stoker Finalist Michael McCarty


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In England:

Lake Livingston: August, 1961.

Mark Gaitlin is 15, the son of one of the wealthiest men in Texas, and on the most boring summer vacation of his life. His days are filled with the pomp and circumstance of country club life, while his nights are a parade of one embarrassment after another at the hands of giggling teenage girls.

But the piney woods above Lake Livingston are dark at night, and hold many secrets for an impressionable youngster on the cusp of becoming a man. And one night, after skinny dipping in the lake with a mysterious local girl, Mark Gaitlin’s life takes a crazy turn into the fire and brimstone religion of backwoods snake handlers and abandoned villages haunted by old family secrets. If he can survive the snakes and the ghosts and his own family’s dark history, he just might make it out of the woods alive.

And something else…he just might become a man.

Also please think about: MODERN MYTHMAKERS by Michael McCarty …
the ebook is only .99 cents! Less than a dollar

The ebook is only .99 cents!!!!

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(Nook & Trade paperback)

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