The Special Page
On this month's Special Page
A member of The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) tells us about how he turned his psycho cat into a book and a film


Douglas Clegg
Simon Clark
Dale Kaczmarek
Owl Goingback
Paul Tremblay
Joe R. Lansdale
Ramsey Campbell

Hell's Kitty is a 2018 American comedy horror film based on a web series and a comic book of the same name, which aired during 2011-2015. The web series is said to be based on the true life events of the writer, director, Nicholas Tana's real-life experiences living with his strange cat, Angel. Hell's Kitty made its musical theater debut at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2019. The musical features the American Tracks award winning song Chainsaw Kitty.


The cat that started it all

by Nicholas Tana

What is the future of horror when life feels scarier than anything you can imagine? This is the question I and many of my horror writer friends are asking themselves. And what does all the scary stuff happening right now mean for the future of horror in general? Will it dry up like a raisin in the sun or has it just begun?

Fear is a powerful emotion, on which the horror genre thrives. But is ‘real’ horror something or someone that we can really deal with? I’m talking about the horrors that steal away your very hopes and dreams and that ruin your life. Horror in real life is far more dangerous and damaging than fictional killer alien clowns, possessed children, and evil cats.

Over eight years ago, I wrote about my personal horror story of trying to date in Los Angeles with a cat, rumored to be possessed.  The series, Hell’s Kitty, attracted attention from horror fans and cat lovers alike. At the time, it was mostly a joke, a tribute to horror in general. Now, it feels more like a pleasant escape from the horrors that have become very real for us all.

It’s no longer the psycho killer around the corner who many people fear, it’s the cop or the rioter or that “other” you don’t really know, because of something you saw on the news or read about on someone’s blog. It’s not the boogie man under the bed that most scares us, but the one living in our neighborhood or in our White House.

I recently wrote a short story set during the current pandemic and riots and based on my life with a baby who suffers from a rare, genetic disorder that causes her to have difficult to control seizures. My story also involved UFOs and the recent government supposed admission that UFOs exist, makes this story element seem like fiction. It attracted the attention of respected horror author, Mort Castle, who suggested that I submit it for publication at some of the more popular sci-fi, fantasy and horror publications. You can read the story HERE.

Unfortunately, my story was rejected. However, I was asked by Jeani Rector, the editor of Horror Zine, to write an article on the making of Hell’s Kitty, along with my affiliation with NALIP, the National Latino Independent Producers non-profit organization, which helps Latinos find their voice in entertainment. I was happy to write an article, but felt lost: how was I supposed to write about this fictional horror story when my life had become its own horror story. Even as I write this, my family is trapped at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles on lockdown due to resent riots. My daughter, Catalina, battles with a life-threatening seizure disorder due to a missing gene called SCN1A, which has me dialing 911 almost weekly. Suffice it to say, this horror is very, very real.

But everyone’s life has become a personal horror story these days, with more people unemployed than in anyone’s lifetime (except maybe those who lived through the great depression) and people dying by the hundreds of thousands, forced to hold funerals on Zoom.
In the week of writing this, I lost my uncle to a heart attack and held the Zoom funeral outside the ER, while I spent a week in the ICU with my child in a medically induced coma, the whole time enduring fighting in the streets, helicopters, loud fireworks, and all too many sleepless nights. The fear of COVID-19, this multi-symptom inflammatory disease, which my child is at risk for contracting with every hospital visit, has now become an insidious, omnipresent ghost, haunting my every waking moment.

In short, real life has become stranger than fiction.

So where does that leave horror writers and the genre in general? And what does any of this have to do with Hell’s Kitty?

In 2018, my little hell cat, Angel, was put to sleep as I held her in my arms after she suffered from a long and gradual eight-month lymphoma decline. She had become my inspiration and my art. The movie, Hell’s Kitty, stars real friends and even an actress I dated. Even better, I managed to get famous horror actors to play parodies of the roles for which they were known in the genre, as they appear in the film and web-series and comic. So when I lost my cat, Angel, right after filming the movie Hell’s Kitty, it was as if I had lost my muse.

Still today, the pain and suffering I felt only a few years back, seems more like a walk in the park, given the social isolation of being a dad, having to call 911 weekly, not knowing if my daughter’s disease will mean a trip to the ER, risk of infection, attacks by riotous crowds; or SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death of someone with Epilepsy) as I dream of a better future.

All that may not be standard horror film fare like monsters and ghosts, but I have nevertheless been compelled to turn my latest tragedy into story, and the horrific realities of dealing with my daughter’s disease, the seizures, the riots, the pandemic, everything, into something fictitious, thus my latest short story was born.

What does any of this have to do with NALIP? The organization promotes diversity for Latinos in Hollywood and entertainment. My Mexican born life partner and the mother of my child, Denise Acosta, originally connected me to the organization. It’s through NALIP that I hope to connect with Latinos trying to tell stories that include more than Narcos and issues surrounding immigration. As of writing of this article, I’m looking to write and develop a series with a unique twist on the Dia De Los Muertos tradition.

These days more than ever, diversity is a hot topic. Horror is notoriously filled with mostly white writers and readers. Hollywood made horror. The biggest name in horror is Stephen King. However, the horror genre is alive and well across all cultures and races. Jordan Peale emerged as a powerhouse filmmaker with Get Out, winning an Academy Award.

In Latin culture, the fear of El Cucuy (the Boogey man) and La Lorona is expressed in popular culture today in both stories and movies. Guillermo Del Toro, retold the classic monster story Creature From the Black Lagoon with the more romantic The Shape of Water. For years, popular Latino writers blended elements of magical realism and supernatural into more literary works. Authors like Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Lorca and Bernardo Esquinca come to mind. In many cases, the horrors of social prejudice and trying to fit in, and the ensuing isolation provide fertile ground for fantasy and escape through fictitious, metaphoric horrors.

So where does that leave that state of horror today? There is no telling how the genre will evolve post Covid-19. Whatever happens, I think horror, real or imagined, is with us to stay.

As for Hell’s Kitty, I’ll leave it online for the world to discover and continue writing. I don’t miss the struggles of dating with a potentially possessed cat. But I do miss the freedom of being able to traverse the world free of masks and fear of sickness, and my cat Angel (of course). But I have a daughter now, Catalina (Cat for short), to live for. She requires me to be brave enough to face the inevitable struggles ahead. For now, I’ll write about whatever life horrors come my way, both real and fictional; expect the worst, and hope for the best: a diverse world that can somehow overcome its real horrors, and still enjoy the thrill of a good, purely fictional, scare.

An antidote: Lee Meriwether played Grandma Kyle in Hell's Kitty. She really got scratched during that scene by the cat and bled on my comic.



The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) is a national membership organization that addresses the professional needs of Latinx content creators. We stand as the premiere Latino media organization, addressing for close to 20 years the most underrepresented and the largest ethnic minority in the country. NALIP was founded in 1999 by a group of Latino producers, content creators, academics and media advocates. During the first NALIP conference in San Francisco in June 1999, NALIP was organized by the conference participants, and the mission and organizational guiding principles were adopted.

NALIP's mission is to promote, advance and advocate for Latino content creators across media.

Nicholas Taner

Nicholas Tana with Michael Berryman

Watch Hell's Kitty on Amazon HERE

See the song performed HERE

Nicholas Tana is a proud member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), which promotes Latinos in the entertainment industry. He is also the writer, director and star of Hell’s Kitty, a micro-budget comedy, horror movie about a writer living with a cat that’s possessed, which guest stars more horror icons than any movie in history. You can watch Hell’s Kitty currently on Amazon Prime HERE.

hello kitty


















































































hells kitty