Selfie taken for the Horror Writers Association Horror Selfies campaign.

Selfie taken for the Horror Writers Association Horror Selfies campaign.

Joe Augustyn started writing short stories in grade school. Visually oriented and drawn to the arts, he considered a career as a fine art painter before deciding to study film, a medium that allowed him to satisfy all of his creative impulses. While a freshman in college he won a Nissan FOCUS Award in a writing category. At the time, the Nissan competition was the most heavily endowed student film competition in the world, surpassing even the Student Academy Awards. The other 10 winners were all grad students. The award ceremony brought Joe to Hollywood, and acceptance into AFI’s Center For Advance Film and Video Studies, the USA’s national film academy, on a producing fellowship.


A panel from an unpublished comic book story written and drawn by the author/artist years ago.

At AFI, Joe worked on a record number of first year video productions and thesis films in positions ranging from assistant director to producer, on productions starring established actors like Christopher Walken, Steven Railsback, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stacy Keach, Alex Rocco, David Keith and Christopher lloyd. After graduation he crewed on several independent productions, as production coordinator, location manager and art department assistant. When a location accident laid him up for half a year with a crippled foot, he turned his attention back to writing. His first professional earnings as a writer came by way of a development deal on a science fiction comedy idea he pitched called “Alien in a Girls Dormitory.” The film never got made because the producers got sidetracked–hired to produce high end rock videos, a deal that led them to found Propaganda Films.

Joe completed two more paid writing assignments and then sold his first spec screenplay, a deal that allowed him creative control as producer. A lifelong horror fan, Joe’s film NIGHT OF THE DEMONS was a commercial and critical success, and a year later he produced NIGHT ANGEL, starring Karen Black and Linden Ashby. The overly ambitious and ill-fated production took a major toll on his health and he subsequently abandoned producing to focus on writing, which suited his temperament and his natural nocturnal biorhythm.


On the set of Night of the Demons with actress Amelia Kinkade and wardrobe assistant Sharon McGunigle. 

He went on to write NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2, collaborating on the story with playwright Jim Penzi. Released by Republic Pictures, it was their most successful film of the year and next to the original, was the biggest success of the franchise. Tired of working the same themes which the executive producers demanded, Joe elected not to write a second sequel. The third film was a disaster. A remake of the original was also produced without his creative involvement, and despite its much bigger budget was a creative and commercial flop.

The original film has continued gaining new fans as each generation of teen viewers discovers its quintessential 80s B movie charm.  In the decades since its initial release it has attained cult status. Zealous fans have gotten tattoos of the characters, named rock bands and songs after the movie, painted paintings of its characters and created websites dedicated to the original Night of the Demons. For many, it’s an annual Halloween tradition to watch it with friends.

Joe has since completed writing assignments for and optioned his original screenplays to majors and indie producers, but in 2001 he returned to his hometown of Philadelphia to focus on writing novels. Incoming screenplay assignments from Hollywood and being the sole caregiver to his aging handicapped parents delayed his plans, but he finally completed his first novel.

THE NINE LIVES OF FELICIA MILLER is the tale of a small town teenage girl who is given the power to shapeshift into any type of feline, a skill she uses to enact deadly revenge on a gang of boys who’ve been tormenting her and her friends.

His second novel, DEAD RAIN: A TALE OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, is an epic “slow moving zombie” adventure in the vein of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD or THE WALKING DEAD.

His third book was non-fiction. GHOSTWRITER: THE POLAROID GHOST & OTHER TRUE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL is a collection of personal experiences of the author’s, his friends and family. Much of the book focuses on the strange case of the self-identified spirit “Wright” who communicates via Polaroid film. The photos have never been debunked despite the efforts of many investigators and technical experts, including UCLA parapsychologist Kerry Gaynor. The house has been featured on several TV shows, from “Sightings” to “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.” Joe personally experienced paranormal activity at the house, as well at other places he writes about in the book.

Upcoming novels include a cautionary tale about a group of college students who experiment with a new drug, with catastrophic results… an edgy vampire novel… and an occult thriller with a military setting. He is no longer writing screenplays but has hopes that his last screenplay HELL2PAY, a horror script with the same wry humor found in Night of the Demons but written for a family audience, will someday find a home.

Joe shares a home in Philadelphia, PA with two cats and an unknown number of spirits.

Nikki                                                                                 Baldur