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Entertainment Weekly

Books

Doctor Strange screenwriter wants to give you Nightmares with short-story collection

Harper Voyager

Posted on

Keen to get a full, and bad-dream-free, eight hours of sleep tonight? Then we recommend you don’t start reading We are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories. That’s the just-published, and aptly-titled, collection of horror tales from C. Robert Cargill, the co-screenwriter of Scott Derrickson’s 2012 film Sinister and the same director’s recent superhero movie, Doctor Strange.

“It’s very much about how we deal with death and how we deal with the end of things,” says the Austin, Texas-dwelling Cargill of the book. “That’s definitely one of the major themes of We Are Where the Nightmares Go. But I also found that many of the stories are very much about the end of the world or being on the precipice of the end of the world, which was unintentional, but as I was putting the collection together it was like, Wow, a lot of these really are about this. That’s clearly something on my mind.”

Notably nightmarish stories include “A Clean, White Room” (co-penned with Derrickson) about a war veteran tasked with punishing the damned and “Hell Creek,” in which a triceratops attempts to survive a zombie outbreak. Yes, you got that right.

“I was reading that, every 27 million years, something happens that kills off a bunch of life on our planet,” says Cargill, when asked about the inspiration for the latter tale. “I was thinking about that, and I got this wild hair up my ass that was, Hey, what if it’s a zombie apocalypse that happens every 27 million years? And of course, going back in intervals, this includes the wipeout of the dinosaurs. I was like, zombie dinosaurs and a zombie apocalypse that kills out the dinosaurs? That would make a great story!”

Another tale, “I Am the Night You Never Speak of,” is set in the universe of Nightbreed, Clive Barker’s monster-filled 1990 fantasy film based on his novella, Cabal.

“Clive Barker gave his permission to do a book and I was invited to join it,” says the writer, referring to the 2016 anthology, Midian Unmade. “I was a huge huge fan of Cabal when I was a kid. I was one of those horror nerds that had already read the novella, and was sitting down at Nightbreed in the theater, knowing the book inside and out, and being shocked at how radically different it was from the book. But I always loved Nightbreed. I collected the comics for years and I was just always a big fan of the universe. So, when they asked me, I was like, ‘Oh, hell, yes, I’m definitely in.’ That was a really fun story to write.”

Indeed, Cargill is a bona fide movie nut who this weekend is serving, with Derrickson, as jury co-president at Chicago’s Cinepocalypse film festival and gleefully reveals future plans for his big screen-focused podcast Junkfood Cinema, which he hosts with Brian Salisbury.

“We’re doing ‘Summer of 88’ right now,” says the writer. “So, of course, one [film] I’m really excited to go back and talk about is Waxwork, and there’s a couple of other movies that I’m very excited to revisit to see if they hold up, like a crazy movie called Shakedown and Action Jackson. And later this year, I’m really excited to do a month called ‘Guys Who Rock.’ We did one earlier this year called ‘Gals Who Rock,’ [which] was all rock movies starring women. Well, there’s a whole bunch of really cool, kind of culty, obscure rock ‘n’ roll films that I really want to cover.”

Harper Voyager
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