Harlan Ellison documentary on TV tonight: Don't miss it (or you will make him even angrier!)

Harlan Ellison is a TV writer (the original Star Trek series, The Outer Limits), sci-fi author (his 1967 short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is among the most hauntingly horrific tales ever penned), and counter-culture icon. But, mostly, he’s just angry as hell. At one point in tonight’s documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth (which is on the Sundance Channel at 9 p.m.), the scribe recalls the kind of advice he gives to fellow author Dan Simmons when the latter is having professional problems with someone. "He doesn’t want to know what he should do, he wants to know what I would do," explains Ellison. "And I say, ‘Well, I’d get a garden hoe and I’d bury it in the motherf—er’s head." Elsewhere, he derides the output of Tom Clancy and Judith Krantz as "crap" and essentially likens them to "things that live in Petri dishes." The septuagenarian also compares death to "a salivating fan boy at a Star Trek convention, it’s just out of eyeshot but you know it’s there."

In short, you probably wouldn’t want to be married to Harlan Ellison, a point that is proven when his long-suffering spouse recounts the occasion he locked her out of their house despite the fact that she was naked at the time. But his righteous indignation makes the author a fascinating and hugely entertaining documentary subject. Dreams With Sharp Teeth has no shortage of talking-head contributions from pals such as Robin Williams, Coraline scripter Neil Gaiman, and Battlestar Galactica overlord Ron Moore. But director Erik Nelson wisely devotes large chunks of his film to Ellison himself as he rages against the machine. And pretty much everything else.

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Comments (10 total) Add your comment
  • Sunshine

    You realize that you just called Harlan Ellison a “sci-fi author.” Seriously, Clark, start running now. He’s older but he’s still fit enough to come after you.

  • Baco Noir

    Saw this at the Hot Docs film festival last year in Toronto. It is truly wonderful. This is one guy who gives a lot. In the 80s, I attened one of his lectures; he spoke, non-stop for four hours. Ironically, I’ve always been a bigger fan of his columns than his fiction, but only just. See this, by all means, then track down, if you can, his written work (a lot of it goes in and out of print).

  • Baco Noir

    Nice spelling on my part: ‘Attended’. And Clark, you’re safe. Harlan doesn’t even own a computer.

  • Snarf

    Apparently, “going for gold in cranky” is a lifetime pursuit, not just an Olympic event.

  • justjack

    Harlan is one of my all-time idols, icons, fave writers, however you want to put it. And I’m SO irritated Time Warner Cable doesn’t carry Sundance Channel. B*stards!

  • tamuchi

    Not as angry as I thought it would be…and it was actually sweet to see him watching the old family films of his parents. Loved Gaiman relating the phone message HE left him – classic HE! And nothing about HE’s Politically Incorrect appearances…apparently that rift is far and deep.

  • glenda

    I’ve been a fan since 1968. Even wrote the fellow a nice fan letter 20 or so years ago. He sent me back a very gentlemanly and warm answer, which I was not expecting. Not the answer at all, and the gentlemanliness was welcome, although not completely unanticipated.

    From what I’ve heard of Ellison, if one approaches him civilly and restrains one’s natural stupidity,and is careful to take no liberties, one can get along with him ok. He don’t suffer fools gladly, but most of that anger, as in the case of many angry philosophers, is that of rerequited love. High idealism dissapointed to the point of rage.

    I get it. Hell, haven’t most of us spent the last 8 years in America in a state of high piss off ourselves?

  • website design

    What’s great is that the sponsored link right underneath the article (at least when I read the article) was for “Ulcerative Colitis Info.”

    Which, when you think about the general dememeanor of Ellison, is quite apt.

  • viviennewestwood

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  • Ilyas

    after the reading thgoruh the issue, it definitely has its own unique tone (again, in both in the art and story) and narrative pacing that make it feel like a very different — and very good — series. I was really impressed with it, and this is certainly one to keep an eye on. Harlan Ellison says: “ I think you will come to love me for recommending author Thomas Hall’s literary conceit in R13. I was blindsided, enriched, captivated.”SPX (UK) “ it looks undeniably striking and leaves you wanting more. Job done.”Newsarama says: “This is, seriously, the best series I’ve read all year.”Diamond Scoop says: There’s a good reason that MTV’s Rick Marshall called R-13 the “Best Under-the-Radar Comic Series, and that’s because it is. You may have to ask your retailer to special order it, but do so.”Ain’t It Cool says: Can’t wait to read more of this fun and amazing book! Highly recommended for monster hunters everywhere. Eat. Sleep Geek. says: Simply put, you need Robot 13 in your hands, and the guy you buy your comics from needs it in his (or her) store. Trust me, neither of you will regret the decision. Comicnews.info says: The fusion of Hall’s writing and Bradford’s artwork ultimately creates an exciting, charming, and endearing dark adventure.. Broken Frontier says: I can sum up this series in two words: must buy. Robert Hood says: Edgy and dynamic, Bradford’s art compliments and drives the narrative, which is scripted with no-nonsense clarity by Thomas Hall. Comic Book Junkie says: these pages of the skull-headed robot protagonist fighting a giant octopus are simply delicious Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs says: Four out of five anchors to the eyeball The Girls Entertainment Network says: I’m eager to discover where Hall takes the robot next! Audio Shocker Podcast says: Robot 13 by Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford is pretty awesome SuperPunch says: Replace Hellboy with an undead cyborg in a body that looks like a diving suit, and you get Robot-13, created by Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford. I just read the first tentacle monster-filled issue and give it a thumbs up. Surfing The Bleed says: With a great combination of action and mystery, Robot 13 is a book with tons of potential. Kevin C. says: “ put down that copy of Fortean Times, stop streaming the 1970s episode of In Search Of and check out Robot-13, creation of Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford.”

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