Bad Movie Night
2023 / Patrick Lacey / Grindhouse Press
Puppets, Blood, and Mushroom Pizza
If you haven’t spent a Friday hunkered down on a couch, that belongs to you or a close friend, waited for your food to arrive, and cracked a cold one, as the opening credits to a B-flick film flash across the TV screen, have you ever really lived? I’m going to go ahead and assume you haven’t. Some of my favorite memories have been captured in exactly that setting. A bad movie has the potential of being the most fun. For example; 2020’s Slaxx is absolutely ludicrous, and I know it, but I watched it in the company of great friends, decent drinks, and some pretty delicious pasta, which makes it a film I now have nostalgia for. Patrick Lacey’s latest novel Bad Movie Night takes that fun and nostalgia and turns it on its brutally beaten head.
"You need something bad but charming. Something that can be celebrated for its idiosyncrasies and odd choices. The worst thing a film can be is boring."
Told in the second-person, Bad Movie Night spins its reader into the twisted fate of its protagonist, a fairly successful YouTuber who recently survived a car accident. And then you, the reader, are there with the gang; Ray, Tod, and Eric. You’re drinking beers and shooting the shit, and every so often a scratching occurs to you. A scratching that reminds you of Beth, but all that’s left of her is the scar on your head. You’d rather hunker down with the boys and pop in the elusive Creepies. The film is a Gremlins knock-off, but as it continues on into the second half you and the gang find that this film may actually live up to its macabre reputation. Now you’re descending, falling into the mystery. Who sent you the DVD, where did they get it, and how is it that none of the cast or creators can be reached?
"If Creepies was widely available, it would be a classic. Revered along the same lines as Basket Case. It's got all the right ingredients and it's meant to be watched by a crowd, hence the laughter and Ray choking on his cheese curds."
Bad Movie Night is my kind of novella. It's punchy and doesn't leave you trying to piece the story together well after you've read 110 pages. I have reviewed one other novella on the blog which was Laurel Hightower's Below, and I will say that I enjoyed this one a bit more. It moves at an easy-to-pick-up pace. Was I glued to the page? Not exactly. Was I able to come back to the story with ease? You bet. There's a popcorn-chompin' quality to BMN which is exactly what you should expect from a novella about a haunted film featuring killer puppets. I personally enjoy the puppet aspect probably more than I should have, in fact, I wanted more of that. I could have gone for double the kills, in ridiculous and spectacular manners, especially since you don't have to pay for sets and props when writing a novella. I envisioned the puppets in BMN like even shittier versions of those used in Puppet Master, which is a franchise of films that almost shouldn't exist. The haunted film/tape/cassette genre is one of my favorites and the execution of that aspect of BMN is on point. And then there's the protagonist, his past traumas, and Beth. The protagonist could have been more likable, I felt that maybe using the ex-girlfriend, Beth, as the lynchpin in the protagonist's development just made for a rescue-the-princess type of plot, which has been done to death across media. It would have been more interesting to see the character binge himself to the point of no return, not because he's seeking out Beth, but perhaps his motivations could have been in spite of Beth. Then again this would change a fundamental aspect of the story, and as it is, it can easily be accepted by most audiences.
"I couldn't stop watching. There's something about it, ya know? Something that makes you want to watch. It might not be good in the normal sense but it's fascinating. I couldn't look away. Started feeling this pressure in the back of my throat, like someone was choking me or something. I tried to tell my friends but they were too baked to notice."
Patrick Lacey, Curating Nightmares Since 2015
Patrick first came onto the horror scene with 2015's A Debt To Be Paid. A novella about a mother and daughter outrunning shadowy pursuers. I haven't yet checked it out, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with Patrick's horrific adventures. Pig-human hybrids, websites of suffering, Halloween pop concerts, and teenage cults. There's a wide variety of horrors to be found when picking up one of Patrick's novels. On top of writing and brainstorming, Patrick fills his time hunting down some awesome Halloween decorations (or what I refer to as all-year decorations).
An Interview With The Creator
Q: Which of your works do you think lends itself best to the silver screen, and how would you like to see it? I.e. film, short, or TV series?
A: I'd go with film. I'm not huge on series, mini or otherwise, and that's mostly due to time. I have a family and a day job and free time is a commodity to be used wisely. It's more reasonable to toss on a 90-minute flick than binge a 720-hour show. A story of mine is being adapted as we type. Really digging the turn it's taking but I can't say much more. What I will say is BAD MOVIE NIGHT seems filmy to me. The book's, what, 109 pages? Something in the ballpark? Your average screenplay is 90ish. I think there's enough to play with there, without cutting too much fat or muscle or any other fleshy bits. The budget could be minimal and there's only a few locations. Plus, CREEPIES, the movie within the book, contains puppet monsters, an element lacking in modern cinema.
Q: Having written a few of my own stories, I sometimes struggle with which perspective to take on. What made you decide to write Bad Movie Night in the second person? And how does that play into the story's strengths?
A: The only problem with this question is I don't have an answer. On an average day, I don't know what I'm going to write until it's written, save for a plot beat here, a line of dialogue there. Same goes for perspective. It sort of happens and if it's not jibing, I'll switch to a different one. Couldn't say where the second person came in but I dig the way it's like CREEPIES is cursing you, the reader. It's also got this choose-your-own-adventure vibe that makes eight-year-old me giddy. I will say, though, with that last bit, no one told me the deal with CYOA books, so the first one I read, I read like any other book. Boy, was I confused.
Q: I'm somewhat of a Red Letter Media noob, do you have any recommended episodes?
A: Best part of RLM is you can't go wrong with any episode. They've got a few shows on the channel but the greatest, and the one BMN is riffing on, is Best of the Worst. If you've ever had a few drinks, then a few more, then watched some movies with your buddies, then had yet a few more, then held a discussion, that's what it's like. Difference here, though: these guys know how to properly review a movie. They'll grade schlock on a curve but they're never afraid to call a movie out for being what they perceive as garbage. I think that's important. And also hilarious.
Q: Making the protagonist a youtuber is quite relatable to today's audience. Do you have any experience in the world of influencers and if not did you have someone you were able to reach out to?
A: I just watch/listen to a lot of YouTube while I'm working. Can't say I know any influencers personally. Also can't say I follow any too closely. For me, the channels I respect, they're coming at it like any other job. You can tell the difference between someone working hard on something they dig versus someone only in it for the likes and monetization.
Q: I thoroughly enjoyed how Bad Movie Night came together. What are some of your biggest influences in crafting this story?
A: The elevator pitch would be something like RLM by way of THE RING. I have an affinity for books/movies pertaining to cursed objects or media and am also a huge in-taker of weird fiction. You run all that through a blender with a sprinkle of noir, and I think you wind up with a BAD MOVIE NIGHT smoothie. Sip slowly so as to avoid a brain freeze.
Q: Upon looking into Grindhouse Press I found their submission window to be quite narrow. How did you like working with them and what would you tell someone who is considering submitting to them?
A: They're one of the good ones. I've known Carrie and Andy through the con circuit since 2018, give or take a year on either side. They're great to work with. Very generous with their royalties and the editing's a cut above. They always catch these continuity issues I never would. Things like this fictional movie was a VHS tape sixty pages ago and now it's a laserdisc. The toppest of the notches.
Catch You Guys Next Time!
Welp, that sums up this post. I hope you guys decide to go pick yourself up a copy of BAD MOVIE NIGHT and perhaps you'll be transfixed by the story, perhaps you'll be sucked into the novella, never to return to the mortal plane. I'll be here, at home, watching films to prepare for my 31 days of horror come October. Next, I intend to discuss two horror anthologies, which also feature some of my own work, so set a couple of bucks aside and pick up That Old House: The Bathroom. Spooky season is upon us, so with that, I'll send you guys on your way with a game recommendation. Please, go and download The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Game. Free with game pass. The more people that play this game and talk about it, the more likely we are to get more from this game studio. Play it with a few friends, you'll have a blast!