One of the appeals of being a horror writer is creating new monsters. Evil goblins from another dimension, bird-masked serial killers, mind-control Cyclopes, flying blood-sucking snails; creating nightmares is all in a day’s work. All very well but who will oppose this pantheon of terrors? Who will save us from getting chopped up into little pieces and blended in to some freak’s smoothie? In my case, the answer is usually Ray Weaver.
A hero created for my first attempt at film-making The Horror of the Legend of the Night of the Beast, Ray Weaver is a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, womanising, alcoholic journalist and proud of it. He bumbles from one scene to the next, bemused rookie photographer in tow, on the trail of a mysterious and murderous creature. The story concentrates on the end of Ray’s career and although it was just a bit of fun, I became fascinated with this likeable rogue and set out to explore his origins in my book Hidden Places on Earth. I wanted to know how, when and why he became the world’s leading paranormal investigator, reaching for the booze, drugs and ciggies to cushion the blows.
As an original concept on paper, Ray wasn’t much. It was my good friend Anthony Rothwell who breathed some life into the character with his eccentric performance in The Beast (to use it’s much appreciated abbreviated title). Filming Tony doing anything is strangely interesting and comical, even if he’s just doing something mundane like walking down a street. He is equally affectionate towards the character and has kindly provided us with his own insight:
Characteristics of Ray are pretty straight forward. He’s a drunk first and foremost everything else is subsidiary, consequential, coincidental or a curse of luck. Something made him want to be a journalist though and dabbling in the occult has given him the awareness that dark forces are real and are a mainstay effect on the ailments of the world. Something happened to Ray that bent him over a bottle and brought his esteem to where it was at the time of the Beast. But now I’m thinking maybe its a choice thing and maybe it’s a defence too. Who would bother worrying about the compartments of an idiot?
Even though the beginnings and end of Ray have been established, the character still remains interesting to me. After all, there are about twenty years of story in between Hidden Places on Earth and The Beast to tell. I’m working on some new Ray Weaver stories and I hope to team up with Tony again soon to put one or two on film. Talking of which, I’m looking for a creepy old house in the Peak District area to use as a location. If you have a suggestion, please get in touch. I would be most grateful.
D.W. (yes, I had to look up the plural for Cyclops, wouldn’t you?)