My interview with artist Gary Pullin about the new INNSMOUTH project is featured in this month’s issue of Rue Morgue Magazine – on stands now!
The INNSMOUTH project is really coming together. I am getting excited to share the finished work!
Here is an excerpt from my wonderful interview with SUPER VILLAINS NETWORK. Thank you Linda Covello!
Hoffine’s entire photographic oeuvre is a bullet list of our most terrifying and horrific fairytales, fantasies, and true crimes of history, all created with the same level of artistry and execution of a big-budget horror film. His sometimes-controversial subject matter ranges from the Big, Bad Wolf as werewolf pedophile, to Jack The Ripper. Hoffine has parlayed his fascination and skill for recreating the most horrific phantasms of the subconscious into a commercial enterprise, but the Lovecraft homage is being underwritten by a successful Kickstarter campaign. The photographer has a philosophical and, at times, academic outlook on the psychology of the horror genre, and can be very eloquent and informative about what haunts us and why when discussing his art and inspiration.
Hoffine explained, “I think you see a lot of people all at once warming up to horror because they’re being exposed to it more, and it’s not so shocking after a while. You start to see, in a weird way, the fun in it. It’s like drinking beer, the first one tastes awful, but you keep sipping and after a while you are enjoying it.”
This may partly explain the success of The Talking Dead, a talk show follow up to The Walking Dead, wherein celebrity guests and at-home viewers riff at times comically on the night’s episode, and bond in a sort of group therapy session.
Continuing with the analogy, Hoffine says, “The more you do it, the less it upsets you – and you are getting more enjoyment out of it. And the desensitization to violence in the media definitely is part of what is making horror more acceptable now, and more popular than it’s ever been. Maybe we’ve hit a certain peak point of saturation with violence in media where now we can handle a Bates or a Hannibal, or something like that, as a protagonist in a mainstream show … The movie monster focuses your real world concerns into something tight and manageable. In that sense, it’s a comfort. Unlike other genres, horror fulfills a genuine sociological function.”
Hoffine maintains that the horror genre pre-dates the horror genre as we now know it, and that these themes were extant in the silent film era, and they were staples in gothic literature and in the myths of all cultures, particularly Greek mythology, as well as in the Bible. He says, “You have these stories throughout history, so it’s definitely something that we’re hardwired for. Those are stories that we understand at our core.” Hoffine recognizes that we are born with an inherent sense of danger, a built-in fear response. “That’s why we’re afraid of the dark; we’re afraid something might come that our senses can’t pick up on … We’re afraid of losing our parents, of pain, of our own mortality. And so these fears are embedded in our very systems, and as we grow older those fears change to reflect more the things that we are actually dealing with.
“Regarding a monster hiding under the bed, my mind recognizes the fact that I’ve slept in this bed so many times and nothing has happened – that the fear eventually gets filed away in the subconscious, but then new, more practical fears start to take over – fears about real things – like losing a girlfriend, or a job, is that mole turning into cancer, could something happen to my kids, injury, getting mugged, your house getting robbed: those fears are valid fears and they can become a preoccupation. But no matter what you do, unless you’re some Buddhist monk who has trained to deal with these kinds of concerns, you’re going to have to grapple with them, on some level, every day.”
Hoffine explains that a lot of those fears are pushed off to the side, or pushed down into the subconscious, but they don’t go away. “You don’t think about nuclear holocaust while you’re trying to do your job every day. But if something comes along that reminds you of nuclear holocaust, you start thinking and worrying about nuclear holocaust. You start thinking about your own mortality. I’m afraid we are the only species on the planet that has to contend with our mortality on a conscious level; it hangs over us.”
Hoffine sees the horror genre as a stand-in for these daily fears, a sort of scapegoat to handle the brunt of the existential crisis of mortality. “With the horror genre, we have some concrete monster, we have a face for our fear; it might have horns, or a hockey mask, it might have pins in its head, it might be the living dead, but always that monster represents the force of chaos that’s going to come in and wreck your life, hurt your body, or end your existence … The movie or the horror story gives you a moment to sort of walk through those fears in a very pointed, albeit artificial, way that helps you grapple with the deeper underlying fears. And those underlying fears are always there. Because you are going to die.” Hoffine makes this last statement with serious emphasis.
“The horror film is sort of like boot camp for the psyche. It’s a rehearsal for your own death. We gravitate to these stories over and over because those concerns are universal. They transcend culture, they transcend age, they simply are there. It’s part of the human condition. So, suddenly, people realize that if you put a story around it on TV, and you don’t really pull back your punches too much on what people need to see to get rattled, then you have something that can really be marketed.” Hoffine adds, “And like all horror fans, the more you spend time with it, the less frightening it is, the more enjoyable it becomes.”
You can find the article in it’s entirety here:
My Sinister Seven Q&A with Rue Morgue Magazine!
We managed to snag photographer JOSHUA HOFFINE fresh from his cinematic debut, the stunning short film BLACK LULLABY, for this week’s Sinister Seven Q&A. Hoffine has been hard at work on INNSMOUTH, a “Lovecraft photograph” inspired by the master’s classic tale The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and starring DOUG JONES and featuring creature design by J. ANTHONY KOSAR.
1. What is the difference between telling a story with a photograph and telling a story with a movie?
The power of a photograph comes from its perceived limitations – it is a fixed moment in time. This inherent feature of the photograph can be used to great effect for Suspense and Horror. Unlike a movie, there is no before and there is no after. There is only the single moment – frozen and unresolvable. And because the image is fixed, and does not fleet across the screen like a movie, the metaphoric aspects of the image can be highlighted as details in the background. This added layer of ‘depth’ engages the viewer in a way that is different than cinema. The photograph becomes more reflective due to its static nature.
2. Tell us about the worst nightmare you’ve ever had.
I once had a terrible nightmare where somebody was hiding in the backseat of my car and slit my throat with a knife. It was the only dream I ever had that made me sit bolt upright in bed with a gasp – just like in the movies.
3. What makes a monster scary?
The absence of humanity, I think. That could be a lack of empathy, or a relish for violence and brutality. Or it can be expressed more symbolically as a non-humanoid monster, or even a distorted human form (like a clown, zombie, or vampire) where obvious humanity has been diminished.
4. What was your inspiration behind making BLACK LULLABY?
BLACK LULLABY was intended to be the climax to my photo series dealing with childhood fears. The inspiration for the film was simply an earnest desire to see one of my photographs move, while preserving the same ‘look’. It is an exercise in building tension, as much as it is about style. More and more, my new ideas are about moving pictures.
5. What inspired you to pursue a photo project based on Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth?
The project began as a suggestion from the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in San Pedro, California. I read the story and loved it. Part of what made it exciting to me visually, was that the story featured a single person being chased through the city streets at night by hordes of monsters. The imagery is similar to I Am Legend, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or any modern zombie movie, but exists first in this story. I like the potential grandeur of this image, it’s spectacle – but I also like the core idea of being hunted down by an entire society.
6. What is the scariest story you have ever read?
Mabye, The Big Toe in Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.
7. What’s next for Joshua Hoffine?
Next year I hope to publish a limited edition book of my photographs and then start work on a full-length Horror movie.
Thank you Rue Morgue!
WHAT IS INNSMOUTH?
My new Horror photo called INNSMOUTH is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth. This image will feature the human victim of the story being pursued and surrounded by a terrifying mob of amphibious people called The Deep Ones, as he tries to escape from the decrepit seaside town of INNSMOUTH.
TV’s FACE/OFF Champion J. Anthony Kosar is creating all of the monster effects, and the human role is going to be played by famous actor Doug Jones, who was Abe Sapien in the HELLBOY movies, as well as The Faun and The Pale Man in PAN’S LABYRINTH (among many others)!
Check out our cool video here:
I discovered Lovecraft a few years ago when Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine commissioned me to shoot a project based on Lovecraft’s story Pickman’s Model. I’ve since become smitten with his writings. He deserves his title as the inventor of modern Horror. Part of what makes him intriguing is the long-standing tradition of other artists contributing to his ‘mythos’. ‘Mythos’ refers to the way his stories are all loosely connected and exist in the same world, like Tarantino films. Other writers, beginning in his own lifetime, began writing homage stories that riffed off of his mythos, making it even grander. This tradition includes contemporary writers like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. This year marks the 125th anniversary of his birth, so I thought this would be a wonderful time to do another Lovecraft project.
In the 1931 story The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the human victim is being chased through the streets by an entire city full of monsters out to get him. The imagery is similar to Invasion of The Body Snatchers, I Am Legend, or any modern zombie movie, but exists first in The Shadow Over Innsmouth. As with our zombie project LAST STAND, I am excited INNSMOUTH will be populated by a horde of monsters, not just one!
I’m trying to find every secret Lovecraft fan on the planet. If you could, please help by sharing info about this project with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or any other place else you can think of!
Here is an easy link you can cut & paste:
Thank you my friends! Hail Cthulhu!
I just launched a Kickstarter campaign for my next ambitious photo project! This image will be based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Shadow Over Innsmouth and stars the great Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Silver Surfer) as well as movie-worthy creature effects by FACE/OFF Champion J. Anthony Kosar!
This is my most ambitious project to date and we have thrown together an amazing array of rewards that include signed prints, unique collectibles, and original masks! Check it out and tell all your friends!
My short film BLACK LULLABY will be playing this weekend at Panic Fest in Kansas City!
It will be part of the Best Shorts of 2014 on Sunday at 3:45 pm at Screenland Armour.
Thanks to Tim KC Canton for including me! Hope to see you there!
Want to see BLACK LULLABY but can’t make it? You can watch it online on my ProVimeo site!
My short film BLACK LULLABY is being released online for Black Friday! Anyone, anywhere can now watch it on my new ProVimeo site – BlackLullaby.com – where you can ‘rent’ a viewing or even download a copy to own. Check it out and tell your friends!
There is a nice article about my work in this month’s issue of Scream Magazine, the UK’s number one Horror magazine!
My short film BLACK LULLABY will be screening at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego this coming Saturday night!
This is a great festival – check it out if you can!
I have launched a 2nd website to showcase my work as a freelance photographer-for-hire. Many people are unaware that beyond my work as an artist, I am also an active commercial photographer – shooting various projects for personal clients, book publishers, record labels, and ad agencies. My clients have been as diverse as rapper TechN9ne, Sony, Living Dead Dolls, and Busch Gardens. No project is too big or too small. Not only do I have a unique vision for each one of my photographs, but I am also fun and very flexible to work with. If you have a project in mind, please check out my new website and give me a shout!