Halloween may be over, but Wreak Havoc Productions is keeping the spirit – and spirits – close at hand, by delving into the mysteries and myths of the Tar Heel State.
In only a few shorts years, Wreak Havoc has emerged as what could almost be described as an entertainment empire, one that encompasses feature films – both narrative (Hank vs. the Undead) and documentary (Sammie the Comic Book Man), dramatic and documentary short films (including Dark Heat, which was incorporated into the horror anthology Witching Hour II, and the pseudo-sequel Hank vs. Dracula), the ongoing Wreak Havoc Film Buffs Podcast (launched in 2016), and the annual Wreak Havoc Horror Film Festival, the third of which took place at the Carolina Theatre of Greensboro in September and was a rousing success. (Indeed, plans are already underway for next year’s festival.)
Now, Wreak Havoc has teamed with A Darker World to unleash its latest undertaking, the biweekly Carolina Haints Podcast. Not “Haunts,” but “Haints” – although the two terms are distinctly related. In the 1976 blaxploitation horror cult classic Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde, a police detective defines a haint as “a cross between the Abominable Snowman and Willie the Werewolf.”
The series focuses on ghost stories, legends, and unexplained mysteries of North Carolina. “It’s not a show about ghost hunting or debunking the paranormal,” Dan Sellers, the series co-creator explained. “It’s simply a storytelling show.”
Thus far, Carolina Haints has explored The Brown Mountain Lights (their premiere episode), Lydia the Phantom Hitchhiker and Capital City Ghosts, and upcoming installments will cover Gate City Theatrics (in Greensboro), Ghosts of Old Salem (in Winston-Salem) and The Strangest House in America (in Kernersville), to name a few.
“In 2010, I launched the Carolina Haints video blog, which was also about North Carolina ghost stories but was more of a travel show where I told the famous stories and showed viewers the real places,” Sellers said. “It was a short-lived thing but helped spark my filmmaking desire. This year I decided the resurrect the idea in podcast form. I’ve been working on this new podcast with writer Jeff Cochran since the beginning of the year. I’ve given him my collection of books about North Carolina ghost stories, which he’s combined with his own collection. Using our combined collection and, of course, the internet, he has tirelessly researched each story. Jeff researches and writes the episodes; I edit, narrate and produce the show.”
Listeners can subscribe to the Carolina Haints Podcast on iTunes, GooglePlay and YouTube, and will soon be available on iHeartRadio and Stitcher. It can also be streamed directly from the official website and is also on Facebook.
Cochran, whose first novel, Sympathy for the Devil (subtitled What the Moon Brings Book 1), was published in May (it’s available on Amazon), is a lifelong devotee not just of the horror/fantasy genre but of artistic creativity in general. He’d known Sellers’ production partner Sammie Cassell years ago but lost touch, only to renew acquaintance in recent years.
“I met Dan at the premiere of Sammie the Comic Book Man and when I was given the opportunity to get involved with them on Midnight Shift (an upcoming horror short), I jumped at it … and I had a blast. It also made me realize the wealth of talented actors and filmmakers that North Carolina has to offer. It’s a fascinating industry.”
Sellers and Cochran immediately wanted to continue and expand their collaboration.
“Shortly after we wrapped Midnight Shift, Dan brought up Carolina Haints,” Cochran said. “My personal feelings about ghosts are somewhat mixed. I guess you’d say that I’m a skeptical believer, although I’ve experienced some things that can’t be explained. I remember hearing about Lydia (the Phantom Hitchhiker) when I was very young, and it left a lasting impression. But the biggest influence was probably my Dad. He was from the mountains of North Carolina and I remember him and his buddies talking about some of the (strange) experiences they had growing up. So I guess I’ve always been attracted to horror and the darker things out there.”
Cochran concurs with Sellers about the podcast’s intent that the podcast is not about what they personally believe or proving the existence of the paranormal, but just sharing the ghost stories of the area, whether they be folklore, legend, or old wives’ tales. Most of the stories have North Carolina origins, but some stories originate from the surrounding states.
“Some of these stories will be familiar to people – like the Brown Mountain Lights or Lydia – and hopefully we’ll introduce people to some stories they’ve never heard before,” Cochran said.
Sellers and Cochran are in pre-production on Trouble Will Cause, a documentary short about the infamous Lawson Family Murders that occurred Christmas Day in Germantown, North Carolina, and also upcoming is the horror spoof The Boogeyman of Black Mountain, with Cassell in the title role. Sellers admits he doesn’t have any long-term plan or formula.
“I just focus on the things I like,” he said. “I try to produce things that I would like to see myself. I never decide on a project with the idea of pleasing other people. It’s always about my own taste, and hopefully, others will find it entertaining as well. I started this venture as a hobby to exercise that creative muscle, if you will – and it has turned into a creative outlet that I very much need.”
For information about all of Wreak Havoc Productions’ current and upcoming projects and events, visit the official website.
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