Author Spotlight Q&A: Dustin McNeill

I chatted with Dustin McNeill about his love for horror films and some of the horror books he’s authored.


I’m from central North Carolina. I went to University of Carolina Greenboro, where I studied film. Instead of using any of that knowledge to make movies, I decided to write about them. I would undoubtedly make the worst movie in history. So far, I’ve written six books and I hope to continue doing it.

Out of all the horror icons, which one is your favorite and why?

It’s usually the last one I’ve watched. Since I’ve just seen “Halloween Kills”, it’s Michael Myers. But the next Friday the 13th, it will be Jason. I’m really fickle in that way.

What are your thoughts on remakes?

I love the idea of remakes even though I realize mostly no one else does.  It’s just like music. If I have a hit song, I want to hear other interpretations of it. For example, when Johnny Cash covered “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. He made it his own. He gave us a version of it we didn’t know we wanted.

If a movie has a great story, I’d love to see a new take on it. I’m not sensitive to “Oh no one else can play this role.” I don’t get why fans get so upset over it. If a movie sucks, just don’t talk about.

What are your books “Taking Shape” and “Taking Shape 2” about?

“Taking Shape” is a book I co-wrote with Travis Mullins. It’s about the making of the first eleven “Halloween” movies. Not necessarily the physical making, but more so the writing and creation of the mythology. We talk about deleted scenes, unused endings, stuff like that. There’s SO much material there, especially with the “Halloween” series. We also wanted to talk about the un-produced sequels because “Halloween” had quite a few. We were going to cover that in an appendix. We quickly realized it was going to be MUCH more than just an appendix or a chapter. We realized it was going to have to be its own book. So then we wrote “Taking Shape 2: The Lost Halloween sequels.”

It covers the almost making of 24 un-produced sequels, with interviews with the screenwriters and their potential directors. I find it funny that “Taking Shape 2” is almost six hundred pages, which is two hundred pages longer than its predecessor.

How hard was it tracking down these writers, let alone being able to read their scripts?

In terms of tracking down any filmmaker, it’s a little bit playing private investigator. Sometimes they have a website or an easy to find publicist. Sometimes In terms of tracking down any filmmaker, it’s a little bit playing private investigator. Sometimes they have a website or an easy to find publicist. Sometimes you have to dig deeper.

In terms of getting the screenplay, there’s been a few “Halloween” scripts that have just leaked. We were fortunate because some of the screenwriters shared their scripts so we could document them in the book.

Which is your favorite un-made “Halloween” sequel and why?

I’ve going to give you a crappy answer, but it’s the one I’ve read last. I think there are so many cool things about all of the twenty four sequels we feature in the book. There’s a “Halloween 4” that brought back Jamie Lee Curtis. I think that was a really neat idea. There’s a “Halloween 7” that had a copy cat killer killing alongside Michael, so you didn’t know which one was killing. “Michael vs. Pinhead” was VERY fun to read.

I think my favorite was the script where Michael goes into a drive in theater and just kills people car by car.

The funny part of that script was it was Halloween night and “Friday The 13th” was playing. So when Michael is going car by car killing people, their screams are blending in with the screams from the film. It’s such a MASSACRE.

You also have a few other books. One of them “Slash Of The Titans”, is about the road to “Freddy Vs Jason.” Which of those unmade sequels is your favorite?

There was one where Jason is put on trial at the beginning of the film, they sedate him, and that’s the opportunity Freddy has to wreak havoc. It’s kind of campy, but I like that one.

What are your thoughts on the ACTUAL film that was made?

I really enjoyed it. There’s so much nostalgia in it so I’m not looking at it clearly. I went to the movies opening weekend, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday with my social group. Is it perfect? No. But it’s such a great merge of two franchises that are fundamentally different.

Do you think they should do a sequel without Robert Englund?

I think we saw with the “Nightmare On Elm Street” remake with Jackie Earl Haley that fans just aren’t ready. My problem wasn’t with Jackie, it was mores so with the script and story. I would love to see a “Nightmare On Elm Street” with a new dream demon because fans are so married to Robert Englund’s portrayal of Freddy, you’re just never going to live up to that legacy.

Buy: “Taking Shape” “Taking Shape 2” “Slash Of The Titans”

Follow Dustin on Twitter / Website