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Monday, June 28, 2010

Jo Gannon / Robert Knight: Plasmid

Some oddities that I stumbled across whilst emptying shelves...

Plasmid by Robert Knight, based on a screenplay by Jo Gannon  (London, Star 30683, 1980).
*Note: Jo Gannon credited on cover and spine.
There was a sudden swishing of leaves behind him and he twisted around, his face contorting in horror as his eyes alighted on the warped parody of a human being which was advancing on him. The creature was like a ghost, its ivory skin gleaming in the dark, a mud-stained white gown hanging raggedly on its body. It was shaped like a man but looked otherwise inhuman, its scarlet eyes glinting with an uncanny hunger and lust. Eric's heart gave a tremendous jolt and stopped beating. He slumped forward onto the ground, his dead eyes staring upwards but seeing nothing as the nightmare figure moved forward, panting, its arms dangling at its sides. It gazed down at the dead man for a moment, then regarded the dog. It knelt beside the dead animal, tore a leg off the carcass and bit into it, greedily, voraciously, like an animal devouring its prey...
What makes this an oddity is that it is a novelisation for a movie that was never made. It was to have been made by Salon Productions, who produced Adventures of a Taxi Driver and two sequels, which were hugely successful in the late 1970s. Stanley Long was to have directed the movie but it failed to get off the ground. Instead, Long's next project was the three-story horror anthology Screamtime (1983).

The screenplay—in which a scientific experiment to alter DNA in order to make man adaptable to the extreme environments of deserts, the arctics and even the vacuum of space, goes wrong—was credited to Jo Gannon, actually Joe Gannon, who was credited as Editor on Long's trio of Adventures movies. Irish-born Gannon, went to the USA at the age of 17 and was involved as a lighting technician at the Avalon Ballroom. Before long, he was involved with rock acts Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper, doing lighting for Cooper's 1975 Welcome to my Nightmare concert.

Gannon then appears to have returned to the UK in the late-1970s before departing again for America where he has written, directed and produced a number of American TV shows, including Archie Bunker's Place in the 1980s and In the Heat of the Night in the 1990s, with episodes of Moonlighting, The Twilight Zone and Max Headroom along the way. His most recent writing credit, according to IMDB, is an episode of Law and Order Criminal Intent in 2009.

The novelisation, credited to Robert Knight, was written by Christopher Evans, who also wrote a couple of other horror novels under pseudonyms, as well as co-editing anthologies (with Robert Holdstock), editing art books and publishing seven novels under his own name (Capella's Golden Eyes, The Insider, In Limbo, etc.).

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