JULIA STARCHILD and other stories

Coming in 2023 . . .

A young boy sees a sexy ultra-violent Barbarella style space opera movie  at a local theater in 1975 and instantly becomes captivated by Julia Starchild, the siren of the stars, played by a marginally-talented Playboy bunny, under the direction of a half-crazed, drug fueled genius who has made deals with every imaginable devil to bring Julia into the world.  And it doesn't stop there.  There are sequels, of course.  While Julia's biggest fan obsesses over each new film in the Starchild Saga, her creator barely survives their making... until the destiny of a super-fan and the fate of a tragic artist collides on the streets of New York City, spawning several generations of exploitation filmmakers who will live in magic and die in darkness, with only the films they made left to mark their passing . . .

Stephen Romano's epic tale of tragedy and triumph, sex and drugs, art and mayhem, and cinematic alchemy will take you on a journey that transcends time and family.  Originally published here at the Express as a serialized novella in six parts, JULIA STARCHILD is now presented in a revised print edition from Animated Alligator Unlimited, with all new chapters and illustrations by Stephen himself.  Accompanied by FIFTEEN ALL-NEW STORIES,  never-before-published, this is Romano's fourth and most challenging collection of short fiction, one that asks his usual hard questions, but probes even further into worlds and realities unknown.

Originally slated for a 2022 release through Eibon Press, this new collection is now slated to hit the public in the Summer of 2023 from Animated Alligator Unlimited. 



In 2005, thirteen of the horror genres most legendary directors were assembled for an unprecedented effort: the creation of “short films” that would present their purest, most undiluted vision. Produced by STARZ and originally aired on Showtime, the first episode was INCIDENT ON AN OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD, a hard-hitting adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s short story by screenwriter Stephen Romano, working with the film’s director, the legendary genre mavrick Don Coscarelli, maker of the PHANTASM films, BUBBA HO TEP and THE BEASTMASTER. Met with unanimous critical praise, the short film remains among the best-reviewed effort of the director’s  career, and most beloved of the series, along with John Carpenter’s CIGARETTE BURNS.

When a car accident on a lonely stretch of mountain road leaves a young woman hurt and alone, a backwoods maniac leads her on an insane chase through the blackest night. But the trauma of it all initiates a recalling of a series of mysterious events from her past and renders her anything but helpless in this Don Coscarelli nail-biter.

Stephen:  “Don and I worked together as screenwriting partners for many years and it was a great honor.  I even did a PHANTASM comic series based on his legendary movie.  We developed so many motion picture projects together, including a couple that would have been really neat to see on the screen, like BUBBA HO-TEP 2 (BUBBA NOSFERATU: CURSE OF THE SHE VAMPIRES), but the only one that actually got made was INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD.  It was my first experience making a real movie on a big union set, and I was there for every day of it.  A real trial by fire!  But we ended up with something special at the end of the day.  It’s my super dark slasher flick with the director of PHANTASM and the writer of MUCHO MOJO.  What more do you want?” 




The first of Stephen’s made-for-TV feature thrillers, produced by genre film legend Pierre David and released internationally by Lifetime Networks.

After her mother dies in an emergency room, teen rebel Joanna Flay goes a little crazy.  But when she’s released from a mental hospital years later, she’s anything but a model citizen, using every deadly trick she learned from her criminal father to seek revenge on Miriam Preston, the doctor she holds responsible mommy’s death.  And that’s not all.  Pretty poison Jo is also getting dangerously close to Doctor Preston’s teenage artist son Bobby… and all hell is about to break loose. 

Stephen:  “Don Coscarelli was my first mentor in film, and I kept my batting average high when Pierre David became my second mentor.  They’re both major legends in the horror world, of course, with Pierre having produced SCANNERS and VIDEODROME, my favorite David Cronenberg films.  And like with Don, Pierre allowed me access to the sets when these were being filmed, he let me see the the dailies, and even the rough assemblies and fine cuts as they were being edited. This one was actually shot second, as a back-to-back deal with WEB CAM GIRLS, which is still my favorite of the two.  We had fun with this because Jo is such an ingenious criminal McGyver type, rigging deadly booby traps and such for her victims, which is different from the norm at Lifetime, where people usually just get knifed or poisoned or whatever.  We’re working in a certain wheelhouse to be sure, but I was able to bring many personal touches to this one.  My comic book company Eibon Press even makes an appearance, with my star artist Pat Carbajal providing Bobby’s art.”




Romano’s second released Lifetime thriller was shot first, under veteran director Doug Campbell, in and around LA.  On the night of its initial release, the film was a top trending topic on Twitter, and was ultimately one of Lifetime’s biggest hits that year.

When Alex Hilers’ hot mess cousin Carolyn vanishes, Alex suspects the worst.  You see, Carolyn has been “camming” lately, and Alex suspects she broke the rules and met one of her clients. No one believes that a madman has abducted Carolyn and it’s now up to Alex to solve the mystery and save her cousin. But what she will find is more terrifying than she could have imagined: A secret monster with a double life who kidnaps only the prettiest Cam Girls and sells their grisly “death clips” online!

Stephen: “I still really love this one, because it was technically the first.  We lived through a real adventure making it and I also got to meet and work with Tonya Kay for the first time, who is an incredible actress and an amazing filmmaker.  (She steals every scene she is in!!)  WEB CAM GIRLS is kind of a slasher whodunnit with a bit of a nasty edge.  It’s easily the most disturbing of the Lifetime films I’ve done.  But I swear putting poor little Alex in the ball gag harness was NOT my idea!”




After her father dies of a heart attack, Julie returns home from college to see her mother Gail. But mommy is not herself these days, acting bizarrely and under the control of Warren Stacey, a highly intelligent criminal who wants to get his hands on her fortune. But it turns out Gail is not alone in her head:  Amy, Simone and Sadie are along for the ride and they are a deadly handful!

Stephen: “Pierre wanted to make this because he saw SPLIT and was really inspired by it.  He called me as he was leaving the theater and said we had to do this!  It was made back to back with DEADLY INFLUENCER and was a very difficult script to get right.  It ended up on LMN and Lifetime. One of our amazing villains, Joranda Lajoie, went on to co-star in one of my favorite TV shows THE BOYS after us.  Jordana is so great and one of my favorite actresses these days!”




After 18 year old Skylar Madison commits murder to keep her classmates’ social media careers under her thumb, she turns her sights on a new girl.  But spunky Jessica Lake is not so early managed.  Jessica’s hip mother suspects the truth, as the sneaky and manipulative Skylar stays one move ahead, planning a deadly game of her own.

Stephen:  “This one was also hard to write, but I really love how it came out, at least in terms of the acting. Morgan Taylor Campbell is so great as Skylar Madison.  She’s my favorite villain in all these films, the perfect combination of bookish beautiful and venomously crazy!  It’s the only film I’ve ever done where the cast is almost entirely teenage girls. Of all the Lifetime flicks I’ve done, this one had the most amazing TV trailer.  It’s just hilariously over the top.”

CLICK HERE to read a killer review of DEADLY INFLUENCER.



Once a super-tough orphan raised on the streets of LA, eighteen-year-old Taylor is now living a normal life, after being adopted by a couple who run a shelter for people in need.  But Taylor’s criminal past may be catching up with her. She’s got a stalker, and he means business. When her foster father is nearly killed in a night of terror that invades her new home, Taylor goes on the offensive, using every secret she knows about the underworld to find out who hates her enough to destroy everything she loves.

Stephen:  “This one is my favorite because it has the most ME in it.  I was not asked to do draft after draft, and much of what I initially wrote is in the final film.  I hadn’t had a “pure experience” like that since MASTERS OF HORROR.”  Also, like on MASTERS, I was on set every single day, working with the director and producers.  So much of the film works exactly as I was hoping it would.  That’s rare because usually you don’t wanna type your soul into these things. But I took a chance and did it this time, and it was great.”




A hard hitting entry in the outrageous “Psycho Granny Thriller” Lifetime sub-genre, the top-rated NEXT DOOR NIGHTMARE is a fast-moving thrill ride which pits newly married couple Kyle and Sarah Collins against the deranged 76 year old Helen Henderson, recently released from a nuthouse and looking to acquire a new family, complete with a bouncing baby granddaughter!  She’ll do anything to make Sarah love her… including murder.

Stephen:  “We developed this in early 2020, just as the pandemic started breaking.  Though the writing went pretty smoothly, they pushed the shoot to the end of the year for obvious reasons, which meant I had to rewrite it as a “winter thriller” . . . but the final film is beautiful because of all that white wonderland stuff!  And you gotta give it to these tough Canadians: They shot a very difficult and complicated thriller in the dead middle of a freaking snow storm!  That’s real commitment!  Debra Grover delivered the best Lifetime performance of the year, I think.  You really understand Helen through Debra’s eyes.  It’s just chilling. This one was released to massive ratings success and the poster they did was really creepy and beautiful too. It’s the best one done for any of my Lifetime films so far.”


And what’s on the way?  So glad you asked . . .


Premiering later this year . . . the newest Lifetime thriller from screenwriter Stephen Romano comes to you courtesy of veteran producers Pierre David and Tom Berry, who team up with the director of the SHARKNADO films, Anthony C. Ferrante, for a wild ride unlike anything quite seen before.  This outrageous murder mystery blockbuster is now in post-production and stars another genre legend, to be announced soon!  We can’t say who it is just yet, but we can say she’s a major player in horror AND rock and roll movies, and she gives a performance for the ages which will break your heart and chill your blood.  Be very afraid . . .

Stephen:  “I can’t give too much away here, but I have to say that Anthony is making a really ambitious film, and he’s truly delivering some creepy goods.”



CLICK HERE to read the original, uncut liner notes by Stephen Romano.

In addition to the many films he’s written for television, Stephen has provided commentaries on several others, including WEB OF THE SPIDER and the TRAILER TRAMA series, for which he also did key artwork. His most celebrated accomplishment in this arena was STARCRASH in 2010, when Stephen was contacted to co-produce the official HD release of the legendary cult classic and provide outrageous and informative commentary tracks, which were nominated for a Rondo Hatton award that year.  Long forgotten by many people, the film is a campy outer space romp for all ages, released as part of the ROGER CORMAN’S CULT CLASSICS series from SHOUT! FACTORY.  Romano also provided much of the materials used for the film’s lavish 2-disc release, much of which was culled from research from an abandoned book about the making of the film

From the official jacket copy (written by Stephen Romano):

Prepare yourself for a vintage science fiction adventure film you will never forget, as the sultry Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her alien sidekick Akton (Marjoe Gortner) team up with robot lawman Elle (Judd Hamilton) on a high adventure to save the universe. It is a cosmic mash-up of daring escapes, wild special effects, beautiful women in sexy space bikinis and nonstop action on a dozen alien worlds. Roger Corman presents the ultimate European space opera, a colorful and dazzling chase through the galaxy that will blast you through the blackness of a hundred million nights!

Kicked into hyperspace by a maelstrom of ingenious low-budget special effects and the talents of Academy Award winning composer John Barry, the film was a smash hit in 1979 when the wild and humorous sci-fi adventure hit theatres. For over 30 years the film has gained a massive cult following, inspiring devoted legions of Crashers, fan clubs and more. Now, for the first time on DVD, the film is presented in a deluxe two-disc special edition.

CLICK HERE to read the original, uncut liner notes by Stephen Romano.