A Spotlight on Black Light from Don Coscarelli

It’s publication week for BLACK LIGHT by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano. Today, producer/ director/ screenwriter and horror expert Don Coscarelli weighs in on what he calls “a damn fine horror novel.”

I first became aware of Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan from their appearance on the reality series Project Greenlight. What stood out was their creative way of putting a story together and their dogged determination to get their movie made on their own terms, despite anything Hollywood heavyweights, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon might throw at them. With the lovable John Gulager selected as director, we watched this holy trinity of terror valiantly strive to make their movie, Feast, on a microbudget. It made for great television, mostly at the expense of these fine writer’s reputations. The fact that they survived the horror of this reality show and have flourished in the genre is a credit to their tenacity and talent. Now they have turned their skills to the novel and have teamed up with Texas writer Stephen Romano to create the amazing new novel, Black Light.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have collaborated on several projects with Mr. Romano including our episode “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” for the Showtime Networks series Masters of Horror and also the sequel script to my film Bubba Ho-tep entitled Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires. I have to admit that I am not unbiased in my opinion of Stephen. He is an amazing writer and I truly enjoy his style and edge and it was a genuine pleasure to be asked to comment on his new book.

Black Light is a fantastic book…freaky too. The basic concept is that “sensitive” Buck Carlsbad, using his ability to manipulate a spectral vision called “Black Light,” can see ghosts everywhere.  Born with an innate talent to capture and subdue spectres, called “The Pull”, Buck uses this skill to stalk and run down the spiritual remains of the most vile humans on earth. But it gets better. Once he finds these malevolent spirits still haunting this mortal coil, Buck pulls them, right down his throat, into his guts and digests them. But it keeps getting better! Then Buck regurgitates the remnants of this spiritual muck into a silver urn and buries it six feet under. These evil Caspers are laid to rest permanently after Buck nails them with the Black Light treatment.

The authors have created a high-energy, fast-paced story that moves from the dark underbelly of Austin through glitzy Hollywood on a white knuckle express straight through hell, by way of Vegas. Some fantastic characters follow the action including Darby, a man Buck has previously killed. Darby is what’s called a “Walker,” a half-living ghost who is always hovering near Buck with pithy advice usually just when he most desperately needs it. Buck also hooks up with Bethany Sin an idolized vision of what Britney Spears might have been. The authors herein posit a fascinating concept which is, what if the genuine entertainment superstars a la Bono and Elvis, were born with the psychic ability to connect with their audiences. In Black Light this power is called “The Gift” and when Buck meets Bethany a potent mix of passion and hallucinatory telepathic lovemaking ensues.

Black Light is a damn fine horror novel by three amazing filmic talents. I’d love to read more from this crew but my better instincts tell me that if they move permanently into the world of literature, the world of movies will be a much dimmer place.

Don Coscarelli is an American film director, producer and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep.