'Channel Zero' Creator Nick Antosca On The Creepypasta Origins Of 'Butcher's Block'

Channel Zero, the Syfy horror anthology series inspired by Creeypasta stories and created by Nick Antosca, returns for its third disturbing season this week. Channel Zero: Butcher's Block focuses on a pair of sisters who move to a new town and quickly discover a series of strange, supernatural staircases that appear in the town park. As if that wasn't weird enough, there's a family of cannibals who would just love to have them over for dinner.Antosca spoke with /Film about the Creepypasta inspirations behind Channel Zero and revealed what viewers can expect when the show returns this week.This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Channel Zero is inspired by Creepypasta, and I'm wondering if you could talk about what inspired you to use these online stories as inspiration for the show, and also how you go about choosing which story to use for each season.The [idea] for the show itself comes from having the opportunity to adapt Candle Cove, in particular. That was the one that we had the rights to at the beginning, and it just sort of opened a world of possibilities. There's a million of these stories – [it's] an extraordinary, untapped horror resource. And I love the kind of organic nature of the stories – they can come from anywhere...no matter who you are, you can write one and put it on the internet – and they kind of draw from one another and evolve and incorporate other media. And so it just seemed like a tremendous opportunity for horror storytellers.In terms of how we pick the stories, I mean, I've been a reader of Creepypasta for a long time, so I kind of had an archive in the back of my mind of stories that I loved. Basically, we look for stories that have a great horror concept or a great image...something really strong to build off of [that] allows us room to be creative; room to create a world and build a mythology.Every season I think of as a kind of fan fiction of the original Creepypasta. In a way it's our version of – it's a new mythology of the original story. I've said this before, but I think of each season as kind of like a nightmare that you might have after reading the original story that it's based on.What can you tell us about this new season, Butcher's Block – the inspirations behind it, and what viewers can expect.[Butcher's Block] was inspired by Kerry Hammond's story "Search and Rescue," which is actually a series of posts about strange phenomena usually related to people disappearing in National Parks. My favorite thing from the story, the thing that always stuck with me, was the image of these mysterious staircases appearing and disappearing in places that they shouldn't be.So that's what we started with in the writers room, and it really kind of flowered from there, taking influence from stuff like [Dario] Argento films, Bernard Rose films, David Lynch, Alice in Wonderland...and this season departs more significantly from the original story than the earlier seasons do, so in a way I think of this as its own story inspired by an element of the original Creepypasta. I mean, it's our most heightened, ambitious, insane season yet.You mentioned Argento. Was there a specific Argento films that inspired this, or several?You know, honestly, it's multiple. Suspiria has always been a huge influence – the story of this young woman entering what I think of as kind of a deranged fairy tale. And there are lesser known films that really have a pretty strong influence on it, too, like Phenomena, which is, oddly, one of my favorite Argento films, which I think is not true for most people. But [his] films have a particular nightmare quality, like a beautiful nightmare quality, which is one thing, aesthetically, that was really inspiring to us for this season, something that we tried to capture and make our own.Each season of Channel Zero has its own specific filmmaker working behind the camera. How do you go about finding the right filmmaker for each season?That's a good question. I mean, the show was always designed to be a showcase for great emerging filmmakers – like I want every season to be a showcase for somebody really exciting who I love, and [for it] to have its own flavor and voice. And...every season has a really kind of different visual style and tone.

Arkasha Stevenson, who did all of season three, she had done an indie pilot called Pineapple, which went to Sundance last year, and I saw it and just thought that it was so beautiful and dark and distinctive that she would be like the perfect director to bring this deranged but also kind of funny sensibility to Butcher's Block that was totally different from the previous two seasons.

And, granted, I have an unusual sense of humor, and so does Arkasha, but I think of Butcher's Block as our funniest season. She really came in as a kind of brilliant collaborator and brought a lot of things to the season that nobody else could have.I noticed there was an extremely short time span between the end of last season, No-End House, and the start of this season – about 105 days. How did that end up happening?Well, it's actually a function of how the show is ordered by the network, because they order two seasons at once and then I have no input over when they air. So that's just a scheduling and marketing decision. But, actually, the first two seasons were shot back to back, so No-End House was in the can for months before it aired, and we were actually finishing Butcher's Block up while No-End House was airing.So we had actually shot most of Butcher's Block by the time that No-End House aired. And then everybody was pretty enthusiastic about No-End House at the network and then they were kind of excited and shocked by the stuff they were seeing coming in from Butcher's Block. And we were gonna have it ready, so nobody wanted to wait another year to put it out.My hope is that we'll get two seasons of Channel Zero in 2018. But, like I said, that's just a scheduling kind of SyFy decision. If it's ready, I think there will be another season airing late 2018.Does that mean you have next season already planned out then? Can you tell us about the next season?Oh, yes. Yeah. I can talk about it in very general terms. There have been some reports published of what the fourth season is based on – we haven't officially announced it, but I'm not going to deny those reports, although they're a little off, but they're in the zone. We just signed up a director who I love for that season, most of the scripts are written, and we're going to go shoot it this spring, I believe.[Side note: Rumors right now indicate that season 4 will be inspired by the Creepypasta story "I Found A Hidden Door In My Cellar".]Is there one specific Creepypasta that you haven't gotten to yet that you really hope you'll get to eventually do for the show?There are a couple, honestly. I would love to do Russian Sleep Experiment. We haven't been able to do it because we can't find the original author, and that's been a challenge for a number of famous Creepypasta. I get asked from time to time, well, why don't you do this story or that story? And in some cases 'cause it's not right for us, but in many cases it's because we just can't find the author, and we want to – even if we wildly elaborate on just the core idea – we want to honor the original author, give them credit, give them money. So we could do a generic story of some kind, but I would love to find the original author of these stories that I love.


Channel Zero: Butcher's Block premieres Wednesday, February 7 at 10/9c on SyFy.