Howard Waldrop will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal a few months hence. It’s well deserved. There has been no finer short story writer in all of science fiction and fantasy in the past half century than H’ard. No one else writes like Waldrop. And Howard never writes the same story twice.
His best story? Damned hard to say. So many classics.
But one of them, surely surely, is “Night of the Cooters,” a finalist for the Hugo Award and Locus Award (did not win either, alas), and the title story of his second short story collection. Inspired by H.G. Wells and WAR OF THE WORLDS, it is all about the time the Martians invaded Pachuco, Texas.
And now, I am thrilled to announce, the Cooters are coming to the big screen.
Or maybe the small screen. Or the medium-sized screen. But some kind of screen, anyway. Right here in Santa Fe, we have just wrapped principal photography for a brand new film version of the Waldrop classic. “Night of the Cooters” is a short story, and our version is going to be a short film. I’d guess it will come in somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, shot with a combination of live action and state-of-the-art animation. If you loved the story, we think you will love our movie.
Howard has been part of the project since the start, of course. (The start being some five/six years ago).
The screenplay was written by JOE LANSDALE, and who better? The Sage of Nacogdoches, Texas is a major writer in his own right, author of the Hap & Leonard series and about a zillion other books and stories, writer of thrillers, horror stories, science fiction, westerns, historicals, and all manner of other cool stuff.
Directing, and starring as Sheriff Lindley, is the one and only VINCENT D’ONOFRIO.
If you have seen any television or film in the past thirty years or so, you know the work of Vincent D’Onofrio. He was Detective Goren in LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. He was Private Pyle in FULL METAL JACKET. He was the young fisherman who gets jilted at the altar in MYSTIC PIZZA. He was the alien in MEN IN BLACK. He’s the Kingpin in Marvel’s DAREDEVIL series. And… probably my favorite of his roles… he was Robert E. Howard in THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (a wonderful film that deserved a LOT more attention than it got). And more and more. You can check out the full list of his credits on IMDB. He’s simply an extraordinary actor, with a range second to no one, and it was such an honor to work with him.
He’s also a terrific director.
The supporting cast includes Hopper Penn as Sweets, Harrison Page as Luther, Martin Sensmeier as Leo Smith, Cristin McCleary as Atkins, Elias Gallegos as DeSpain, Luce Rains as Skip, Jazzy Kim O’Brien as Lil’ Chisum, and Darius Eteeyan as Billy Strother.
And what about the Cooters, you may ask?
The cooters will be supplied for us by Trioscope Studios. Check out their website at https://www.trioscopestudios.com/ for a smaple of their work… or watch their WWII film THE LIBERATORS on Netflix.
The producers of NIGHT OF THE COOOTERS — in no particular order — are Vincent D’Onofrio, Justin Duval, Joe Dean, Taylor Church, Martin Sensmeier, L.C. Crowly, Greg Jonkajtys, Elias Gallegos, Lenore Gallegos, Amy Filbeck, Joe Lansdale, and Howard Waldrop His Own Self.
And me… though I rather think I may credit myself as The Big Cooter.
When and where will you be able to see NIGHT OF THE COOTERS?
Well, that’s hard to say. We shot everything on green screen, so the post production process is going to be a lengthy one. The ball has now been passed to our friends at Trioscope, who will supply the backgrounds and special effects. We are thinking the final cut won’t be ready until early next year. And once the film is complete… well, alas, I doubt it will be showing at a multiplex near you. It’s a short film, as I said, and shorts just don’t get the distribution of full-length features. They hardly get any distribution at all, sad to say. I expect we will enter COOTERS in some film festivals here and there. Maybe some streamer will pick it up. Maybe we can release it on DVD or Blu-Ray. Maybe we can make a few more Waldrop movies and assemble them all into an anthology of sorts, like CREEPSHOW or TWILIGHT ZONE. One thing I can promise: we will be having a premiere somewhere down the line at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe.
Howard never made much money off his stories. I expect his film won’t make much money either. But that’s not point.
Some stories just need to be told. Some movies just need to be made. Call it a labor of love.