Ginger Nuts of Horror
The film version of The NeverEnding Story made a big impression on me when I was young and undoubtedly influenced my future career as a writer.
First of all, The NeverEnding Story is a damn weird movie, directed by a German named Wolfgang Petersen in 1984 and filmed mainly in West Germany (remember when Germany was totally bi-polar?) except for the Bastian scenes (aka the “real world scenes”) which were filmed, for some reason, in Vancouver. The film itself is a story within a story that hinges on a fantastical world bleeding into the “real” world (very meta) and has a funky 80’s electronica soundtrack—its theme song undoubtedly haunts a lot of people to this day. Even the fact that the E in The NeverEnding Story film title is capitalized is a little weird (the book’s title is simply The Neverending Story.)
The film is also testament to the power of storytelling. The main character, Bastian, is dealing with the very real issues of grieving for his dead mother and being bullied by a roving gang of chubby kids. He finds escape in reading a mysterious fantasy book he’s nabbed, holing up in the creepy attic of his middle school to compulsively read it like some kind of coked up Harry Potter fan, and while he’s busy escaping his life he slowly realizes he’s actually being drawn to confront powerful issues within it. The Childlike Empress is dying—she needs a new name!
My career as a writer has been defined by writing weird, crossing genres, and approaching real world issues and problems through a fantastic lens. The NeverEnding Story showed a young and impressionable David Oppegaard how weird a story could go and how it could even bleed into the “real” world. Its impact on me can’t really be quantified. Hell, I even wrote a semi-not-terrible poem about it once.
Poem for the Childlike Empress in The NeverEnding Story
We were the same age when I first saw you
And I knew already I loved you
But you were trapped behind a glass screen
And lived in a world much more
Exciting than Lake Crystal, MN.
I wanted to be there to hold you
As your beautiful empire crumbled
And the ravenous Nothing came to devour
Even your foggy blue eyes; you were sick,
You needed a new name.
Like Sebastian, I would lose a mother young
And the actress who played you probably
Is a crack whore now all innocence lost
I drink whiskey and write and I hope someday I
Rediscover that one grain of sand.
David Oppegaard is the author of the Bram Stoker nominated The Suicide Collectors and Wormwood, Nevada. David grew up in the small town of Lake Crystal, MN and wrote his first book at the age of fifteen, a 400-page science fiction novel. Since then, he has written several more novels, some published, most not, and is currently working on his 10th novel. Each book has been different, ranging somewhere between literary fiction, speculative fiction, horror fiction, and dark fantasy.
David holds a B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College and an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University. A finalist for the Indiana Review Fiction Award and the Iowa Fiction Award, David has worked as an optician, a receptionist at the U of MN, a standardized test scorer, a farm hand, an editorial assistant, a trash picker for St. Paul public housing, a library circulation assistant, and as a child minder on a British cruise ship. He currently lives in the Midway area of St. Paul, MN.
When the Dennison Mining Company tunnels too far, a bloodthirsty creature is set loose upon the isolated mountain town of Red Earth, Wyoming. If a reluctant alliance of outlaws, miners, misfits, and whores cannot stop the Charred Man, everyone in Red Earth will be dead by morning. A blend of old school horror and gritty Western shootout, And the Hills Opened Up is about fighting for life in the midst of death.
“A feverish foreman, an inexperienced sheriff, a widowed whore, and a kindly outlaw are just some of the engrossing characters in Oppegaard’s page-turner. The narrative is subtle and lovely, contrasting with a creepy, believable monster. The two combine in a story that’s horrific, thrilling, touching, and unflinchingly satisfying to the last page.” -Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review) 3/10/14
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