Joe Hill has made a lasting presence on the literary horror world with bestselling novels like NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box, along with his dark comic turned Netflix series Locke and Key (the apple doesn't fall far from the Stephen King tree). He's also our guest this week on Inverse Happy Hour, where he revealed some new details about the just-announced movie adaptation of Throttle, a short story he wrote with King, that's headed to HBO Max.
Hill also reveals his favorite TV moment from NOS4A2, how he feels about Netflix's "PG-13" adaption of his "R-rated" comic series Locke and Key, the one genre he still wants to write, and the handful of books that scare Stephen King's son.
Following the Q&A, Hill read an excerpt from “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” one of 13 suspenseful short stories from his Full Throttle collection. It's also a Season 1 episode from Shudder's Creepshow, now available to watch on AMC.
“It's about a group of kids in the 1920s who find the washed-up corpse of a plesiosaur on the shores of Lake Champlain in New York,” he tells Inverse.
Below find some highlights from Inverse Happy Hour with Joe Hill, but check out the full interview and reading in the video above.
On Full Throttle coming to HBO Max — “Full Throttle is my second collection of short stories. It came out in the fall of last year. So there's 13 stories in there, and that includes two short stories that were written in collaboration with my dad. You know, big spoiler, my dad is the bestselling author Stephen King. So my dad and I have collaborated on two short stories. One was called 'In the Tall Grass,’ which was actually made into a Netflix film directed by Vincenzo Natali, the brilliant director of Cube. Vincenzo is a terrific, terrific director. He directed the final two episodes of Season 1 of Locke and Key. So he did In the Tall Grass. And then the other story I wrote with my dad is called ‘Throttle.’”
“That one is a homage to the work of Richard Matheson. Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, and he also wrote a story called Duel which is about a salesman out in the desert who finds himself in a desperate battle with a faceless trucker.”
“And a young protégé named Steven Spielberg directed the movie adaptation for TV, starring Dennis Weaver, and it was generally acknowledged as Spielberg’s first feature. And so I was invited to contribute a short story to a collection that was honoring Richard Matheson, and I had always loved Duel. And my dad loves Richard Matheson, and I asked him if he wanted to jump in with me and we wrote this story about a motorcycle gang battling with a trucker who has a secret agenda of his own.”
“So yeah, that was announced [May 13]. That's being adapted by a scriptwriter and producer named Dana Jackson for HBO Max as a two-hour film, and I'm pretty excited to see how it comes out.”
Inverse may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. We only include products that have been independently selected by Inverse's editorial team.
On Locke and Key's Netflix adaptation vs. the book— “I just look at the earlier versions of the TV show as earlier drafts while we were still trying to come up with, what is the best way to present this story on TV, understanding that the comic is one thing and the TV show is another. They cannot be the same. If the comic book is successful, it succeeds because it takes full advantage of the form, so it does being a comic book really well. But a TV show can't do a comic book really well. What you have to hope for is to do a TV show really well. So that meant changing presentations.”
“The big example we come up with a lot of times is the Head Key. In the comic, you can use this magical key, the Head Key. You can stick it right in the back of someone's neck and then open the top of their head like an aquarium.”
“A TV show can't do a comic book really well. What you have to hope for is to do a TV show really well.”
“And your whole world of thought is in there, and you can reach right into it and grab stuff. It looks really cool in the comic book page, would look really stupid in the TV show, so we had to change it for the TV show. So now, when you stick the key in, a door appears that opens into a world of thought that you could actually walk into and enter and explore.”
“I think the TV show still has a lot of scares in it, especially in the last two episodes where our young heroes find themselves fighting living animated shadows. But I agree that the TV show is PG-13 and the comic book is rated R.”
“The comic book played with a lot of genres. And I think that the TV show decided to lean more heavily into the fantasy elements, the Harry Potter-like elements to open it up for the widest possible audience.”
This article has been edited for brevity and clarity.
A huge thanks to Hill for joining us!